Opening Day is six weeks away and the Los Angeles Dodgers are gearing up for what will be a very different 2023 season after all the changes over the last few months. Dating back to the conclusion of the 2020 season, this roster has taken an unimaginable amount of hits.
Some fans might not be overly optimistic about this upcoming campaign because of the apparent downgrades on paper. Gavin Lux is in for Trea Turner. Nobody, at the moment, is filling in for Cody Bellinger. Max Muncy is starting at third with Justin Turner gone. Miguel Vargas is playing second base, apparently? The rotation is objectively worse thanks to injuries and departures.
But perhaps deescalated expectations could help take some pressure off. If we're being honest, the San Diego Padres probably have more of the spotlight on them after an NLCS appearance and the addition of Xander Bogaerts/return of Fernando Tatis Jr.
That could allow the Dodgers to cruise under the radar and still maintain their stranglehold on the NL West, which, as Freddie Freeman said, is still LA's to lose. So, in the spirit of optimism, here are three rosy predictions for the Dodgers heading into 2023.
3 optimistic projections for the 2023 Los Angeles Dodgers
Max Muncy Returns to Team MVP Status
Before his untimely elbow injury in Game 162 of the 2021 season, Max Muncy was the Dodgers' Team MVP that year. The All-Star slashed .249/.368/.527 with 95 runs scored, 36 homers and 94 RBI in 144 games. He even cut back on his strikeouts. Those numbers got him a 10th-place finish in the NL MVP voting.
Muncy was essentially the team leader in every major offensive category from a full-time standpoint (only Chris Taylor played in more games, and Trea Turner/Corey Seager bested him in some numbers with a fraction of the amount of games played).
Then that elbow injury knocked him out of the postseason and severely affected his 2022 season, where he witnessed a big downturn because he had to adjust his swing mechanics due to mobility issues. He eventually figured it out and had a very productive August and September.
This offseason, Muncy revealed the mobility is back and he's feeling normal, which could set the stage for a return to form (2018, 2019 and 2021). Assuming the injury is no longer holding him back and he's entrenched at the third base position for 2023, expect big things from one of the most underrated sluggers in the game.