MADISON, March 21, 2014 — Over the next few weeks this column will unveil MLB Power Rankings starting with the weakest team and working towards the strongest. Today the process continues by looking at number 6, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
2013 Record: 92-70 with a +67 run differential.
Key Additions: 2B Alexander Guerrero, RHP Dan Haren, RHP Jamey Wright, RHP Chris Perez, IF Justin Turner, IF Chone Figgins, LHP Paul Maholm and SS Erisbel Arruebarreuna,
Key Losses: 2B Mark Ellis, LHP Chris Capuano, IF Jerry Hairston Jr, RHP Ronald Belisario, IF Michael Young, IF Nick Punto, SS Justin Sellers, RHP Ricky Nolasco and RHP Carlos Marmol
Projected 2014 Lineup:
OF Yasiel Puig
OF Carl Crawford/Andre Ethier
SS Hanley Ramirez
1B Adrian Gonzalez
OF Matt Kemp
3B Juan Uribe
C AJ Ellis
2B Dee Gordon
Projected 2014 Rotation:
Josh Beckett/Chad Billingsley/Paul Maholm
Best Case: The Dodgers stay much healthier than in 2013. Matt Kemp returns quickly and posts something resembling a .285/.350/.475 slash line. Hanley Ramirez stays healthy all season and produces a .310/.400/.550 line. Yasiel Puig follows up last year’s tremendous rookie year and becomes the star of stars in the Dodgers lineup with a .320/.360/.600 slash line.
The rotation is the best in all of baseball as Kershaw and Greinke both finish in the top five in NL Cy Young voting while Ryu and Haren provide stability taking the ball and providing above average innings in the third and fourth spots. The bullpen is lights out as Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen lock down the eighth and ninth innings. The Dodgers run away with the NL West clinching the division on September 3.
Worst Case: Injuries prevent the Dodgers from hitting on all cylinders for most of the year. Hanley Ramirez battles injuries all year, playing just 65 games and exposing the Dodgers lack of middle infield depth as they are forced to turn to the likes of Justin Turner, Dee Gordon, Alexander Guerrero and even Chone Figgins to see time there, as none perform well.
The rotation is hampered by injuries as Dan Haren, Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley all spend the bulk of the year on the DL and Paul Maholm, Zach Lee and others provide below average production. The Dodgers play at the same pace they did last year prior to their hot streak and finish third in the NL West.
Prospect Watch: The Dodgers have some talent in the minors that should be on the way to help the club soon if they can get a shot in the lineup. The closest to the majors is OF Joc Pederson, who has impressed this spring and posted a .278/.381/.497 slash line in AA last year. If Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp both end up on the DL it could present an opening for Pederson to make an impact in L.A.
Zach Lee, a right-handed starter, could find himself in L.A. if their depth is tested by injuries like last year. Lee posted a 3.22 ERA with 131 K’s in 142.2 innings at AA last year. Further down the line is LHP Julio Urias who logged 54.1 innings with a 2.48 ERA and 67 K’s in A ball last year as a 16-year-old. Finally, Corey Seager is likely to be moved off of shortstop although his bat will carry, and he posted a .269/.351/.473 line in A and high A last year.