The Bryce Harper rumors are growing, but even with Dodger officials traveling to Las Vegas to meet with him, “What happens in Vegas, will likely stay in Vegas!” Just my opinion. There will likely be some more player movement by the Dodgers this offseason, but I believe that Andrew Friedman is right – the Dodgers really don’t need much, and they certainly don’t need to make changes just for the sake of change. If the team has good chemistry and is young, then sometimes it is better to let them grow together. The difficult part is to know when to fold on a player or stay with them through growing pains. If Harper falls into their lap, so be it, but I am not holding my breath.
It’s obviosuly not up to me, but if the season started today, here is what I would consider to be out best starters, I will discuss my opinions of each player with regard to:
- Worst Case Scenerio
- Best Case Scenerio
- Most Likely Scenerio
Here we go!
Austin Barnes – C
Upside– Austin Barnes is very versitile and can play just about anywhere in the infield as well as catch. However, he would only play 2B or 3B in an emergency as he has focused on catching for the past two seasons. He is a very good pitch framer and performs well behind the plate.
Downside– He does not have a rocket arm, so he cannot throw out speedy runners. His bat was absent for all of 2018 as he hit only .205 for the season while slugging a miserable .290.
Worst Case– Austin does not regain the hitting tool he showed in 2017 and fails to hit in 2019 as well. His throwing arm becomes a liability.
Best Case– He regains his stroke and hits .289 with a .408 OB% and .895 OPS like he did in 2017.
Most Likely– I think he will fall somewhere in between his great season on 2017 and horrid season of 2018. If he could put up 300 to 350 AB’s and hit his career average (.240/.364 OB%/.735 OPS) as well as play great defense, he could be a solid piece in a powerful lineup as the #8 hitter. He is not likely to play enough to get many AB’s over 300. He would need a solid backup or catching partner. That could come after the All-Star game in one Keibert Ruiz. I’m serious. He may be ready THAT soon.
Cody Bellinger – 1B
Upside– Cody Bellinger is one of the best defensive first basemen in baseball, certainly the best 1B on the Dodgers. However, he is also the best centerfielder on the team. The problem is that he can only play one position at a time. In a perfect world, he would be the first baseman every game. With his reach and athletic ability he will save many runs over the course of a season as the first baseman. He also has a very strong arm and is the second fastest player on the team. His ability to play CF puts him in the Top Tier of centerfielders. He has 50 HR potential and is young and shows the ability to adapt.
Downside– He has had issues with low and inside pitches for a while and pitches high in the zone. He was pathetic in the 2017 World Series and even worse in 2018. He is prone to striking out on certain pitches, high or low in the zone.
Worst Case– He does not evolve and adapt and continues to be a guy who hits 20-25 HR and bats .250-.260 while playing great defense.
Best Case– He continues to adapt and evolve and cuts down on his strikeouts while improving his pitch recognition. He could flirt with .300 and hit 50 HR if he can adjust.
Most Likely– I think he will adjust and improve incrementally in 2019. Something like a .270 BA with a .360 OB% and 30+ HR would be easily attainable. If left at 1B he will win several Gold Gloves.
Max Muncy – 2B
Upside– Max has a great pitch recognition as well as a very quick bat. He has just figured out how to hit at the MLB level. He will strike out a bunch and walk a bunch. He should be a player who can hit 30+ HR every year with a high OPS.
Downside– He strikes out too much and fails to walk. He is challenged with the glove… mostly range.
Worst Case– He gets exposed and becomes Juan Uribe… minus the glove.
Best Case– With a full season of playing, he is capable of 40+ HR and could OPS in the high .900’s – that’s superstar material.
Most Likely– I think he can maintain his level of hitting in 2019 and if given all of Spring Training at 2B, he can become an adequate and willing defensive second baseman. I see .250 BA with 30+ HR asnd a high OB%. His bat would be among the best at 2B. He just needs a lot of reps and Kike can be his caddy defensively.
Corey Seager – SS
Upside– Corey was one of the Top Three Shortstops in baseball before the 2018 season. He should be able to get even better and improve for the next 3 or 4 years before his ultimate move to 3B.
Downside– He is big for a SS and maybe the surgeries will impeed him.
Worst Case– His injuries rob him of his agility and throwing and he ends up having to play 1B or he loses his bat speed due to his hip.
Best Case– Corey was a budding superstar before his injuries. With 100% recovery he is a MVP Candidate with .300+ BA and 30+ HR capability while playing very well defensively.
Most Likely– Assuming he will be healthy (which is a big assumption), I could see him starting slowly and regaining his stroke back by mid-season. A .285 BA with 25 HR would be a huge plus. I think he can deliver that… maybe more in 2019.
Justin Turner – 3B
Upside– Hands-down the best hitter on the Dodgers, and heart and soul of the team. If he can stay healthy, he can be a TOP 5 MVP Candidate.
Downside– He crowds the plate and gets his share of HBP. That, and his age and health are big concerns. That’s a big reason David Freese was resigned. Wait! He’s old too!
Worst Case– He gets injured by a pitch and also hurts a knee again and it is a long season where he only get a couple hundred at bats.
Best Case– JT plays in 150 games batting .334 with 33 HR and 115 RBI. That’s possible… if he stays healthy.
Most Likely– I hope for a Best Case Scenerio, but we are likley to see him replicate last year. I do hope he can stay healthier a little longer.
Joc Pederson – LF
Upside– Joc has tremendous power and I list him as the starting Left Fielder because there are more right-handed pitchers than LHP. He made some improvments last year and if he keeps it up he can be quite a force.
Downside– I would not consider Joc to be a studious person or a tireless worker… as yet! Maybe he can change that, and he could easily take two steps back.
Worst Case– He reverts to old habits and hits .180.
Best Case– Joc gets 450 AB’s and hits 35 HR while hitting .250 and playing decent defense.
Most Likely– Probably somewhere in the middle: 27 HR and a .245 BA with a .340 OB%. I’ll take that!
Chris Taylor – CF
Upside– CT3 broke out in 2017 and looked to be on a path to being a really good player… if not a star. He’s learning CF and has the speed to play there.
Downside– See 2018. He struck out 31% of the time and likely set the all-time record of looking at called third strikes.
Worst Case– He plays the same as last year.
Best Case– He adjusts and reverts to the player he was in 2017.
Most Likely– Again, probably somewhere in the middle: .270 BA/.345 OB%, 20 HR and fewer strikeouts (10% fewer?).
Yasiel Puig – RF
Upside– Yasiel still has not realized his immense potential (maybe he never will), but this is a guy who is a cross between Bo Jackson and Roberto Clemente. He has the talent to be an MVP.
Downside– Look at 2016.
Worst Case– He reverts to 2016 and early 2017 and/or is on the DL all year with hamstring issues.
Best Case– .320 BA/.390 OB%/40 HR/120 RBI and Gold Glove Defense in RF.
Most Likely– What he did in 2018 is probably what we can expect.
David Freese – Utility
Upside– Freese is a leader of men and a guy who shows up, shuts up and steps up. He has a career .275 BA with a .349 OB%. He’s a solid utility guy and pinch hitter – Just don’t overuse him.
Downside– He will be 36 next year and could be on the downhill slide.
Worst Case– He reverts back to 2015 with the Angels when he hit .257.
Best Case– He gets 250-275 AB’s and hits over .300.
Most Likely– Probably pretty close to the Best Case.
Kike Hernandez – Utility
Upside– He becomes JD Martinez.
Downside– He stays Kike Hernandez.
Worst Case– 2016 when he hit .190 with a ,283 OB%.
Best Case– He builds on last year where he hit .256/.336 OB%/.806 OPS with 21 HR.
Most Likely– Probably a little better than last year, but not JD Martinez. He’s still likely the best utilityman in MLB!
Matt Kemp – LF, RF, PH
Upside– He has another year like last year.
Downside– He gains the weight back and reverts to the old Matt Kemp..
Worst Case– He’s done and the Dodgers cut him.
Best Case– In 300 AB’s he hits 20 HR.
Most Likely– I am not optimistic about Matt like I was last year. He will likely be a role player and get a few big hits.
Alex Verdugo – LF, CF, RF
Upside– Tony Gwynn.
Downside– Andrew Toles.
Worst Case– His attitude is not improved and he has a limited view due to where his head is.
Best Case– Leadoff hitter with a .400 OB% and excellent defense in RF. Keep him out of CF as much as possible.
Most Likely– Puig is traded and Alex plays RF and win the ROY.
Andrew Toles – LF, CF, RF
Upside– 4th outfielder.
Worst Case– When he was in the Rays minor league system.
Best Case– He wins a spot as the 4th outfielder.
Most Likely– It depends upon who gets traded.
I didn’t list a catcher because Ruiz and Smith are not ready and Gale is an Emergency Only Catcher. There will be trades and signings and who knows what, but this is what the Dodgers have now. It’s not Murderers’ Row, but it’s enough to win the NL West and other opportunities will arise at the Trade Deadline.
I left Kyle Farmer off because I do not think he is a viable option. I hope I am wrong. Matt Beaty and /or Edwin Rios could see time, but that’s to be determined.
Next: I’ll evaluate the pitchers.