Buster Olney recently listed his TOP 10 SUPER UNITS. Now, this will likely change as more players sign contracts or more trades are made. In fact, Gerrit Cole being traded to the Astros arguably changes the Starting Rotation Power Ratings. Here’s where the Dodgers landed on Olney’s lists:
Top 10 Rotations
The Astros could now be #1 on paper.
Top 10 Lineups
Dodgers were #10. I think this is low and I’ll tell you why later.
Top 10 Bullpens
- Dodgers (even after losing Morrow)
Top 10 Defenses
Top 10 Teams
Top 10 Rightfielders
- Aaron Judge
- Ginacarlo Stanton (how can they play 2 RF’ers?)
- Bryce Harper
- Mookie Betts
- JD Martinez
- Yasiel Puig – Yes that Puig!
Top 10 Centerfielders
- Mike Trout
- Charlie Blackmon
- George Springer
- Lorenzo Cain
- Tommy Pham
- Byron Buxton
- Chris Taylor – During the postseason, a Cubs official said, “I’m not sure anybody is squaring up the ball more consistently than he is right now.”
- Ender Inciarte
- Odubal Herrera
- Kevin Kiermaier
Top 10 First Basemen
- Joey Votto
- Freddie Freeman
- Paul Goldschmidt
- Anthony Rizzo
- Cody Bellinger – Who has added 15 pounds of muscle through conditioning and nutrition.
Top 10 Third Basemen
- Nolan Arenado
- Jose Ramirez
- Anthony Rendon
- Kris Bryant
- Manny Machado
- Josh Donaldson
- Justin Turner
Top 10 Shortstops
- Francisco Lindor
- Carlos Correa
- Corey Seager
Top 10 Catchers
- Buster Posey
If you could add Grandal and Barnes together, they might be Top 5!
Top 10 Starting Pitchers
- Max Scherzer
- Corey Kluber
- Chris Sale
- Clayton Kersahw
Top 10 Relievers
- Kenley Jansen
- Craig Kimbrel
- Andrew Miller
A lot of Dodger fans are dejected that the Dodgers did not trade for Giancarlo Stanton, after-all, he wanted to be a Dodger, but I can think of about 250 million reasons why that might not be the deal Dodger fans think. In fact, the odds are, it will not be a good move for the Yankees. If you look at past history, you know that’s right… but in your heart you want to sign EVERY PLAYER who was the best at their position last year. But, what will they do this year?
Andrew Friedman said he did not want to block the youngsters so it seemed unlikely he would sign a starting pitcher, plus he is loathe to give up minor league prospects on their “Secret Do Not Trade List.” What he says means nothing. He could sign Darvish tomorrow… or not! Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.
It’s early, but I am going to tell you why I am more optimistic this year than in 2017… and I think you will have to acknowledge that in the Winter of 2016 and 2017 many (even on this board) were prone to negativity about the Dodgers. Yes, 30 years – I get it! But, I also see huge progress. Let me tell you my reasons for optimism:
The Core of the Team Will Get Even Better
- You saw what Chris Taylor did last year. By the end of 2018, Chris Taylor will be recognized as one of the Top 3 or 4 Centerfielders in the game. Give him some stability in the lineup and watch him bloom! He will build on last years’ success. If not a superstar, he’s a star!
- Cody Bellinger will become a Superstar and Gold Glove First Baseman. By the end of 2018, he may be the best 1B in all of baseball.
- Logan Forsythe is playing for his last contract and I think he will have a breakout year – kind of like Zach Cosart did in his walk year. Watch this guy!
- I have to refrain from making predictions about Yasiel Puig, but there is a lot of potential left in his tank. If he can build on last year…. YIKES!
- Whoever plays LF could have a huge year. Toles, Kemp, Hernandez, Verdugo, Pederson – One of these guys could be crazy-good. I just have no clue who it might be. Well, I have a clue – one of those 5! Hint: Matt Kemp + Chip on his shoulder + Humbled + Home again + Turner Ward + Not having to be the big dog could = Success!
The Starting Staff Will Get Better
- I think it starts with Clayton being disrespected as the #4 starter in baseball. Hopefully, he has learned how to manage his back issues. In some cases, they can be managed. In others they can’t. Clayton has every reason to put up Cy Young numbers again… including his opt out… which he will, if healthy! I’m not saying he will leave.
- I think Hyun-Jin Ryu will have a very good season as he heads to free agency. I would expect to see him with about 180 innings and a 3.00 ERA.
- Alex Wood will be stronger and able to pitch more – and he has shown he really knows how to pitch. I look for him to pitch 170+ innings
- If a pitcher is ever poised for a Career Year it is Rich Hill in 2018. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. He’s in excellent shape and I can see him pitching 150+ innings. If he does, the results will be outstanding.
- I think Buehler and/or Urias will be in the rotation before the end of the year. I am not sure Buehler needs more seasoning at AAA, as much as he just needs to pitch.
The Bullpen Will Be Stronger
- As crazy as that seems, I think it will be true.
- I think Baez will begin evolving – we have seen flashes of it and he can be a force.
- Cingrani, Fields, Garcia, Font, Baker, Liberatore, Parades and Owens all will be part of that OKC Shuttle. This is incredible depth!
- Koehler and Alexander will more than offset the loss of Brandon Morrow.
- Two pitchers I think will impact the bullpen to a huge extent are Brock Stewart and Kenta Maeda. I think both can be lock-down relievers. Maeda will start the season in the rotation, but Urias or Buehler may end up taking his spot. The other one could also end up in the pen.
- Let’s not forget about Ross Stripling who has pitched 174 innings the past two years with a 3.87 ERA.
The Team Depth is Incredible
The Dodgers truly have 40 players on their roster and will use them all. It’s going to be fun to watch the evolution of the young guys… guys like Stewart, Stripling and Austin Barnes. Barnes could be a force. One national sports writer said that if he were starting a team now, he would chose Austin Barnes as catcher, not because e is better than Buster Posey NOW, but Posey is on the downside if his career – Barnes is on the upside.
You know Grandal will be working to get his job back and maybe be more open with working on his swing. The Dodger’s catching is in excellent shape with Barnes and Grandal. Everyone is expecting Barnes to be THE GUY and he may be, but do not forget Yasmani Grandal. He had a sub-par season last year, but he’s still young and you just never know… why do players slump one year and come back with a vengeance the next?
There’s More Help on the Farm
- Obviously, Walker Buehler is the Dodgers’ top prospect, but when will he be ready?? We all can have opinions, but the fact is: we don’t really know. I’m probably in the minority, but I think he just might need to to pitch in the Majors at the end of Spring Training. We will see.
- Alex Verdugo could be ready or maybe he needs to go back to AAA and work on his launch angles. He’s close, any way you slice it.
- Will Smith may be MLB worthy very soon and KayBear Ruiz is on a fast track. Watch out!
- Yadier Alvarez has incredible raw talent – if he can’t cut it as a starter this year, he might go to the pen. Ditto for Dennis Santana.
- Yusneil Diaz is smooth as silk and closer than you might think.
- Jake Peter has a shot at making this team.
The Astros Are Everyone’s Ideal Team Right About Now
Many Dodger fans are upset with FAZ and impressed with what the Astros have done. This reminds me of the D-Bags when they signed Greinke. Everyone was in love with them… and they tanked. Justin Verlander is not capable of again putting up a 1.06 ERA like he did with Houston last year. In his previous 4 years with Detroit, he put up ERA’s of 3.82, 3.04, 3.38 and 4.54. He will be 35 next month and I think he was pitching on adrenaline for Houston last year.
Dallas Keuchel is 30 and has won the Cy Young, but there is a pattern: he has been up and down. In 2015, he won the Cy young with a 2.48 ERA and followed that up with a 4.55 ERA in 2016. He’s no sure thing.
… and Gerrit Cole is Gerrit Cole. He is certainly tantalizing but after putting up a 2.60 ERA in 2015, he followed that up with a 3.88 ERA in 2016 and 4.26 in 2017 and he had injury issues in 2016, like lots of pitchers. Maybe he will do better in the AL. McCullers has lots of upside, but has never pitched more than 125 innings and has Charlie Morton suddenly at 34 become Cy Young?
Certainly, the Astros are a great team, but I remain unconvinced they are better than the Dodgers who have only nibbled around the edges… because they don’t have to.