The Los Angeles Dodgers have such a star-studded roster that their diamonds in the rough are often overlooked.
But they shouldn’t be! After all, when you take as many well-reasoned shots in the dark as the Dodgers do, you eventually end up with Max Muncy — as well as two of the names on our “most underrated” list.
LA’s bread and butter has been turning garbage into gold, even more so than overpaying for top talent … though that’s not what folks in San Francisco want to hear. They’d rather think of themselves as the only folks smart enough to unearth talent, while they watch the Dodgers buy titles from their ivory tower.
Uh … joke’s on them.
When compiling our “most underrated” list, we immediately gravitated to one specific area full of plugged gaps, second chances and fist pumps: the bullpen.
After combing through the roster and checking advanced stats/exit velocities, we also chose one other Dodgers addition who’s been playing very well since the day he arrived, but has never quite gotten his just due.
Yes, we know the two specific reasons why. But we’ll do our best to get him his flowers anyway.
Based on 2021 performance and the likelihood it’s replicated in key areas of need for the Dodgers, this trio isn’t getting enough love for what they can provide in 2022 and beyond — as well as the standout performances they’ve already banked.
3 most underrated Dodgers on 2022 roster
3. Alex Vesia
No, he’s not just about the celebrations — though they are pretty fun.
25-year-old Alex Vesia could not have been a more different entity during his first season in Los Angeles than he was during his fan-less 2020 cameo with the Miami Marlins. Who knows? Maybe being 24 was extra daunting for the power lefty. Maybe he’s a reverse Julius Randle — completely unable to perform without a crowd’s noise spurring him on, home or away.
Whatever the case may be, the Dodgers turned a youngster with an 18.69 ERA in five games into a bullpen menace who posted a remarkable 0.975 WHIP with only 17 hits allowed in 40 innings this past season.
Is there a potential for slight regression this season? Sure. Vesia’s FIP of 4.22 doesn’t quite match his remarkable 183 ERA+, proving his actual performance blew the league average mark out of the water. Vesia’s fastball spin, though, is well above average (78th percentile), and there’s a solid chance that he could level up the pitch yet again and maintain his above-average ability to keep people off base and strand them once they do sneak on there.
With a bullpen that’s suddenly thinner than ever — yes, even the 2021 edition that featured a whole bunch of stuff tossed at the wall had Kenley Jansen and Joe Kelly in the back end — Vesia will need to produce more like a seasoned veteran than a surprise star in 2022.
Entering the season, though, there aren’t enough people nationwide who view him as what he really might: a bullpen weapon only a tier below elite options like Blake Treinen.