With the 2023 MLB season starting Thursday, Los Angeles Dodgers fans can toss aside all the "projections" and "on paper" discussions as the action begins. There's no turning back now, and the analysts can't save the San Diego Padres anymore!
The Dodgers' Opening Day roster is very different from the 2022 version, which has tipped the scales in San Diego's favor, with many not very bullish on LA's chances given the losses of stars like Trea Turner and Tyler Anderson as well as key figureheads like Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger.
But this team still has Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman leading the way. Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urías are two of the best pitchers in the game. The ascension of Miguel Vargas and James Outman could easily out-perform the offensive games of JT and Belli. Resurgent campaigns from Max Muncy and Chris Taylor could really blow the lid off, too.
And hey, if all of it comes together, then we could be calling these bold predictions absolute realities once October arrives. What do you say?
4 bold predictions for the Dodgers heading into the 2023 season
James Outman hits 20 home runs
This prediction might sound unlikely because of the presumed lack of at-bats in store for Outman this season, as well as the fact he's a rookie and still probably needs time to adjust to MLB pitching.
However, Outman had a great Spring Training to earn an Opening Day roster spot. He will most likely start the season in a platoon role where he plays only against right-handed starters, but if Outman parlays his Spring Training performance into a hot start in the regular season, he'll more than likely gain more playing time as the season progresses. There's room in the Dodgers lineup behind the top five hitters (Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, J.D. Martinez and Max Muncy), and it wouldn't be outrageous if the slugger was batting sixth come the middle of the summer.
If that's the case, he could match the type of season Braves rookie Michael Harris II (who hit 19 HR in 114 games) had in 2022, with respect to power numbers.