Of the three teams that spent big money this past offseason (Dodgers, Angels & Blue Jays), only the Dodgers have been able to turn that into wins. Although, it appears that one of their “cheaper” players has more to do with their winning ways than all of the big spending – but, we’ll get into that in a moment. The bottom line is that the Dodgers have all but wrapped up their division (a 13-game lead over 2nd place Arizona), and are fighting for home-field in the playoffs. The question that remains is – how deep into the playoffs will they go? Could they win it all?
3 Reasons Why
- Yasiel Puig – $159 million for Zack Greinke, $160 million for Matt Kemp, over $115 million left on Adrian Gonzalez‘ contract, $102.5 million left on Carl Crawford‘s, $31.5 million over the next 2 seasons for Josh Beckett. This is the kind of spending the Dodgers were looking at as they entered the 2013 season. And, through June 2nd, where had it led them? Nine games below .500, last place in the NL West, and the same record as the Chicago Cubs, who are in the midst of a long-term rebuilding project. Enter Puig – a young, Cuban outfielder, who was signed in 2012 for 7 years at just $42 million. Suddenly, the offense comes alive. And, thanks to his .960 OPS, in games that Puig has started, the Dodgers are 56-24! An amazing turnaround for a team that seemed destined to be the posterchild for why big spending does not lead to big winning.
- Situational Hitting – in the NL, only the Cardinals have a better OBP than the Dodgers when there are runners in scoring position with 2 outs (.351). Tacking on runs in those situations is a vital skill in the postseason.
- Situational Pitching – the Dodgers’ pitching staff has the lowest ERA in the NL when there are runners in scoring position (9.51). They also possess the 3rd best LOB% in the NL (75.6%), just behind the Braves and Reds.
3 Why Not
- Basepath Brutes – the Dodgers have one of the worst UBR ratings in the NL (-7.1). This tells me that they are primarily a station-to-station team on the basepaths, relying on their slugging to score runs. And, while that is certainly a valid way to score runs in the regular season, it doesn’t work as well against the best pitching staffs you’ll see in the playoffs.
- Closing it Out – only the Brewers, Cubs and Diamondbacks have blown more saves than the Dodgers in the NL. In fact, their ERA after the 8th inning is 3.59 (10th in the NL).
- Feasting on the Weak – only the Nationals have played more (and won more) against teams below .500. The Dodgers have won 53 games against teams below .500, which is why their strength of schedule is one of the worst in the NL. Several times over the years, we have seen this translate into quick exits for teams that suddenly face stiff competition in the postseason.
What will the end of the 2013 season look like in L.A.? Vote below: