A few years ago, a blog called The Post Game was published with the picture I just posted on the cover page. There is no photo credit, but they evidently photoshopped it, so kudos to them. I hope they don’t mind my using it. In the article they quoted Clayton Kershaw:
“It’s funny that’s a headline story — World Series or bust,” Kershaw told ThePostGame. “I feel like every team would say that, because what are we all here for, if we’re not trying to win the World Series. That’s all I meant by that.”
Well, the Dodgers did not win in 2014, but they did win their division for the second time in a row and in 2015, the Dodgers advanced to the National League Division series before being eliminated. In 2016, they went a step further and were eliminated by the eventual winner of the World Series – the Chicago Cubs.
The natural sequence of things is for them to go to the World Series in 2017… well, not just go… but win! It’s a lot of pressure and a lot of it involves “luck” but 2017 will be considered a BUST without an appearance in the Fall Classic.
What will happen this season? That is the big question and you know I have answers. I think the team is better in 2017 that it was in 2016 and I will give you some reason why:
- The team is much deeper than last year. The Dodgers used 15 starters last season including Mike Bolsinger, Bud Norris and Nick Tepesch. This year, the Dodgers have 9 quality starters and I doubt they use more than 10 (however, I do not see that as a bad thing – it’s just a different thing). All told, the Dodgers has nearly 40 players who deserved to be on the 25 man roster… and would be if they were on other teams.
- This is Turner Wards second full year. The Dodger offense improved dramatically under Ward the second half of 2016. They hit .241 with a .708 OPS the first half of last year and .260 and .754 OPS the second half. That was a considerable improvement and I think you will see the same incremental improvement as well , not just because of Turner Ward, but also because youngsters like Joc Pederson are maturing… maybe even Yasiel Puig.
- Confidence is growing. This team is becoming more confident. It’s a process you go through and they are starting to understand what it takes to win.
- They added more and better RH bats. Of course, Franklin Gutierrez and Logan Forsythe come to mind, but Yasmani Grandal, Justin Turner, Joc Pederson and Corey Seager are intent on hitting LH pitching better. With Ward’s help and a healthy Trayce Thompson, SVS and/or Puig, I think Lefties will not own the Dodgers as in recent times past.
- The front office are not just stat geeks and numbers guys. They actually value character (measure that) and have programs in place throughout the system to develop and improve it.
Those reasons form the foundation of my optimism. OK, what do I predict?
Lucky Thirteen Predictions
- The Dodgers will have four players in the Top 10 in MVP Voting including Justin Turner (look for over 30 HR), Corey Seager and Clayton Kershaw.
- Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal will each hit close to 40 HR.
- Adrian Gonzalez will continue his downhill slide.
- Logan Forsythe will have a career year.
- Clayton Kershaw and the current other Dodger starters will win 60 games between them.
- Clayton will win another Cy Young, beating out a pitcher who will outhomer him.
- Julio Urias will have a sub 3.00 ERA and will start the season in Early May.
- I have no opinion on Yasiel Puig or Andrew Toles, but Cody Bellinger will take over in RF, LF or 1B in the second half of the season.
- Not everything will go right, but there will not be as many injuries as last year and the Dodgers will win 95 games.
- Alex Wood and Ross Stripling will prove to be a formidable duo and will pitch nearly 200 innings between them.
- There will be a shocking trade.
- Dodgers win the World Series as Three Lefties Dominate the Playoffs – Kershaw, Urias and Hill.
- Clayton Kershaw will be World Series MVP.
OK, here’s the deal: You can criticize my predictions ONLY if you make your own too! Let’s hear them!
My guess on Opening Day Lineup:
- Forsythe 2B
- Seager SS
- Turner 3B
- Grandal C
- A-Gon 1B
- Pederson CF
- Toles LF
- Puig RF
- Kershaw P