Dodgers: 3 Factors That Could Make or Break 2018 Season

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Cody Bellinger
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Cody Bellinger /
2 of 4
LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 24: Cody Bellinger
LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 24: Cody Bellinger /

Sophomore Slumps?

The Dodgers had a monster rookie contribution from the only actual rookie in this group, Cody Bellinger. Chris Taylor, Alex Wood, and Austin Barnes are technically not rookies but 2017 was their first season with substantial playing time in a starting role. All three had fantastic seasons, but as is with many breakouts and rookies everyone wonders if they can keep it up.

Bellinger surprised the league with his ability to adapt to big league pitching and hit virtually anything in the strike zone. With exception to the hard curve ball down and in, which killed the Dodgers lefties in the World Series. If Bellinger can adjust his swing to cover that part of the plate, he’ll put up big numbers again in 2018.

More from Dodgers Way

Alex Wood’s first half last season was unbelievable. His second half made it believable. The lefty showed heavy signs of fatigue with his shoulder issues and inability to locate down in the zone. That brings up concerns about whether he can sustain his effectiveness through an entire season. If he maintains his velocity and location, he’ll be in contention with Rich Hill for the number two spot. Otherwise, it’s easy to see him break even with an ERA in the high 3’s, low 4’s.

Chris Taylor’s discipline and plate coverage keeps his 2018 expectations optimistic. His average may dip naturally with more at-bats, but he should remain productive both with the bat and with his legs. Austin Barnes struggled for the first time all season in the World Series. His short, compact swing makes it hard for him to slump for an extended period, which looks optimistic. The one concern is how opposing defenses play him.