Dodgers' NL West foes will limit LA's advantage with new MLB rule changes
Good news! The Los Angeles Dodgers' versatile and quick roster is uniquely built for success in the modern era of MLB brought about by a recent spate of rule changes.
Bad news! So are the rosters of the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks, Devil Magic-y St. Louis Cardinals, and fearsome (NL West favorite?) San Diego Padres. Oh. Great.
To win the National League West this season for the remarkable 10th time in the past 11 years, the Dodgers might need to dig a little deeper. It seems, at least at the outset of the season, like the Padres have the easier path after splashing cash on Xander Bogaerts (and Manny Machado) and getting Fernando Tatis Jr. back. Meanwhile, LA is still operating without Walker Buehler atop the rotation, and let Trea and Justin Turner depart in the offseason.
As is always the case, though, the Dodgers remain at the forefront of modern roster building. They might not be anchored by All-Stars at every position, but they have waves of pitching depth still to come in the high minors, and possess a number of versatile (and swift) young hitters like James Outman and Miguel Vargas who are ready to remake the lineup.
Last year, only six teams combined better-than-average MLB base running metrics with advanced strikeout rates, and the Dodgers are among that exclusive group. The only issue? LA doesn't have Trea Turner leading the base running metrics any more, and the Padres and D-Backs are both on the come-up.
Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks will all take advantage of new MLB rules
A full season of Corbin Carroll in the Diamondbacks outfield could result in 80+ additional stolen bases alone, while the Dodgers will be desperately trying to make up Turner's ground, no matter how many bonus steals the bigger bases allow them to rack up. Jake McCarthy, Alek Thomas ... these Snakes in the desert could be running wild.
And, while the Dodgers don't strike out often, keep in mind what The Score pointed out in the article above. The Dodgers lost Turner, Cody Bellinger, and Gavin Lux up the middle, three players whose athleticism allowed them to make shifts especially valuable. LA saved a reported 86 defensive runs last year, and 38 of them came from effective shifting, helping the team hold their opponents to a ridiculously low batting average on balls in play (.033 below league average).
If LA loses speed and a defensive advantage, there's no amount of "Miguel Vargas shifting to second base" that can save them from the potential onslaught coming in both San Diego and Arizona.