What a difference a new owner makes, right? After finishing in 3rd place in their division the last two seasons (with records right around .500), and going through all kinds of confusion regarding the status of their owner, the Dodgers have made a significant turnaround. They’re within 1 game of a Wild Card spot, though they are are 7 games behind division-leader San Francisco. And, while the monster deal with Boston hasn’t resulted in immediate wins, they are building what looks to be a winning team. The only question is – how much can they win? Let’s look at their chances at a World Series title:
3 Reasons Why
- Relief Pitching – opponents batting .226 (4th in MLB), with a .650 OPS (4th in MLB), and they have allowed the 3rd fewest total bases in MLB. Outside of Kershaw, the starting pitching staff isn’t spectacular. But, the bullpen has had their back all season long. If the Dodgers make it deep into the playoffs, they will be leaning heavily on their talented bullpen – especially after losing Billingsley.
- Team Fielding – the Dodgers are a very good defensive team. They’re right around middle-of-the-pack when it comes to the number of errors they’ve committed. But, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Their team-wide RZR (revised zone rating – a calculation of how often a ball that is hit into a player’s zone is converted into an out) is .849 – 2nd only to the Red Sox in all of baseball. Additionally, they have an above-average rating in DRS (defensive runs saved). Solid defense is extremely important in the postseason.
- A.J. Ellis – Matt Kemp has gone down to injury twice this year. Andre Ethier has been reliable offensively, but he’s no Matt Kemp. The main reason the Dodgers’ offense hasn’t been the worst in the NL is A.J. Ellis. He’s having easily his best offensive year, with an OPS of .800, and he leads the team in OBP (.383). But, he has also been great behind the plate. He’s 5th in MLB in both fielding percentage, and in caught-stealing percentage. What a great asset to have heading into the playoffs!
3 Why Not
- Walks – their pitching staff has the 4th most walks in the NL – more than any other contender. As the long season wears on, and the playoffs begin, walks are a pitching staff’s worst enemy. It adds to the pitch count, and creates scoring opportunities for the opposing team. That becomes deadly in the postseason.
- Scoring Runs – only the Marlins, Mariners, Cubs and Astros have scored fewer runs than the Dodgers this season. And, if you thought getting Kemp back was going to turn that around . . . they’ve scored the fewest runs in baseball in the month of September. Not to sound too obvious, but you need to score runs to win games. And, if your offense is struggling this badly in the regular season, how do you think they will fair in the postseason against consistently good pitching?
- Division Play – for some reason, the Dodgers aren’t very good within their own division. They’re 7 games under .500 against the NL West, but 12 games over .500 against the rest of baseball. And, that alone may be enough to keep them from even reaching the postseason. They play 9 of their remaining 19 games against divisional opponents, giving them little chance to move up in the Wild Card standings.
The Dodgers need to get hot, and get hot now if they expect to go deep into the playoffs. Otherwise, they’ll be hoping all these deals they made will payoff next year. Check back tomorrow for my review of the Detroit Tigers.