Los Angeles Dodgers: Chronic Underachievers or Future Champions?

in sports •  2 months ago

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Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Max Muncy, and maybe even Matt Kemp. If that looks like the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting lineup, it’s pretty close, if a bit neglectful of catchers and middle infielders. But those names have something else in common besides Dodger blue: you could call it Dodger Blues.

At their best, that is a powerful group of hitters.

There is not a single name on that list who has not been a legitimate recipient or contender for either an All Star selection, Most Valuable Player (MVP) or Rookie of the Year award in recent years. Each of those players has had at least one GREAT year, followed by a prolonged slump. I’ll cut Justin Turner some slack because he was injured earlier this year and he has produced for an extended period (he's not on my list). Also, Max Muncy is the latest phenom to join that list; his slump is quite recent and perhaps he will show more consistency over time than the others.

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But what about those other guys?

Joc Pederson was an All Star in his first full season. Two years later, he was underachieving so badly that he was demoted to the minor leagues to regain his mojo. Yasiel Puig was supposed to be the next big thing, and he showed flashes of brilliance his first two seasons (plus that gun of an arm), but after that he hit only 11 home runs in each of the next two years. Both of those guys may be bouncing back beyond mediocrity this year, but a team expects more consistency than that out of its top players.

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The sophomore slump has been in full force this year. 2017 Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger hit 39 home runs in his first full year, but has just 20 this year and his OPS is 125 points lower. If there was a Dodger “out of nowhere” award, last year’s would have been won easily by Chris Taylor, a journeyman who had achieved little before the Dodgers took a chance on him. And last year, he was one of their shining stars at the plate, producing offense like no one believed he was capable of previously. But this year, he clearly regressed. As of the time of this writing, Taylor was leading the league in strikeouts with a batting average that’s down 40 points and an OPS that’s 100 points lower than last year’s.

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The Dodgers seem to have someone each year who fills the gap.

For most of this season, it was “out of nowhere” Max Muncy, another low-priced acquisition who hadn’t shown much promise before donning Dodger blue. For the first half of this year, he was probably the team’s best hitter, barely missing the All Star team but drawing an invitation to the Home Run Derby. He then had a rough July before appearing to turn it on again in August. We will see if Muncy joins the ranks of his inconsistent teammates or if he proves to be a perennial source of offense, more like a Justin Turner or Corey Seager (their recent injuries notwithstanding).

And I forgot Matt Kemp. How does he fit into this? He doesn’t, but he’s an older version of some of these other players. He’s had MVP-type seasons, but also badly underachieving ones. In that way, his career may be something of a blueprint for the younger players. Kemp also has played for San Diego and Atlanta, now on his second stint with the Dodgers. It’s safe to say that no one expected him to be such a great player for the Dodgers this time around (there were some experts forecasting that the team would cut him from the roster before this season started), yet he lost some weight in the offseason and then carried the team’s offense almost single-handedly for parts of 2018.

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Last year, the Dodgers appeared to be one of the deepest and most talented teams in recent memory. But these slumps or regressions have continued. Just when they think they have an MVP candidate in one of these players, he does his best to play himself out of a starting job for an extended period. The inconsistency must be maddening for the front office, as it certainly is for the fans.

For a team that is still being picked to make the playoffs, the above might be cause for concern. But the Dodgers have an extremely strong lineup. Most teams would kill to have a few of their hitters, even though these guys have shown this curious cycle of flash-in-the-pan followed by extended spells of chronic under-performance. In addition to the above names and a few others, they have added Manny Machado and Brian Dozier to the middle of their infield (Machado to fill in for injured shortstop Corey Seager). On a good day, there are very few names in the Dodger lineup that are not All Star caliber players.

Relief pitching is the bigger issue right now.

The bigger worry for the Los Angeles Dodgers, if indeed they are playoff-bound, is their pitching. They keep winning the division each year, yet each year their pitching is not quite good enough. Last year, they went out and acquired Yu Darvish late in the season. And while he helped them then, he was terrible in the World Series. Will they seek additional help this year for their starting pitching or their ailing bullpen?

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It’s clear that closer Kenley Jansen is not himself lately. Maybe it’s his heart issue (he’s had an irregular heartbeat). Maybe he’s just thrown too hard for too many years now. Most closers have a short shelf life except for the inhuman ones who just keep on ticking (e.g. Trevor Hoffman).

Even if Jansen is not done, the Dodgers were looking for a bullpen setup arm before his current troubles. I’ve never cared for this front office’s strategy of relying on high injury risk, high upside pitchers the last few years, since many of them have been injured for long stretches (though others have out-performed expectations). They are getting a couple of those guys back from injuries now, so currently the starting pitching is looking better than the back end of the bullpen.

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Ouch. Wrong uniform for Dodgers fans.

They sure could use 1-2 additional arms to close out the 8th and 9th Innings. I also never understood how the Dodgers could let Tony Watson and others walk away after last year without replacing them and still expect to be as good as they were before. This Dodgers team is not as good and the competition is stronger. But if they go on a winning streak, it still might be good enough to place first in a terrible division. From there, the postseason is more about good pitching performances, tight defense, and timely hitting.

I think this team could have done a better job acquiring some more pitching help by now. We'll see if they improve their roster any more. Without good pitching, winning in the playoffs is possible, but even assuming they get all the way through, it's hard to envision them beating a Boston or a Houston. (Quite honestly, we could add New York, Cleveland, and Oakland to that list because the Top 5 AL teams are all better than these Dodgers right now.)

Dogs or Champions?

Is this team a bunch of chronically under-achieving dogs or can this group finally step up and win a championship? Anything less than that would be a disappointment for LA. I would have made a joke using the team's official mascot, but the Dodgers do not have one. So I think I'll have another Dodger Dog while I watch.

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Images are trading cards from the Topps Company. Top photo shows a Dodger Dog, Creative Commons via Flickr.com by Eileen Rose. Bottom photo (showing actor Christopher Lloyd announcing the starting lineups at an exhibition game) is Creative Commons via Wikimedia.com by Ken Lund.

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Baseball is a sport that I have not really bothered to watch or understand the game play. Is the coach not responsible for their poor or great performance? Or are the players training responsibility the job of the players themselves?

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The coach does not have much influence over players' performances, though a really good coach can help put players in the situations where they can best succeed. It makes some difference, but usually not much.

looks like the 2018 dodgers aren’t great. time to repair and hopefully get some good trades in by 2019 and get to the playoffs. so many injuries :(

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Maybe so, but one good winning streak could win them that division. After that, I'm not sure.

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yeah i am also not sure that

Even though I've not been a fan of baseball, but critically looking at this post; I figured out something awesome.

Just like in the case of Joc Pederson; sometimes, failure may present itself in the course of one's life's journey. But it is our responses to these that would either place us in the winning side or the other side.

Just like I said to someone sometimes ago; falling (or failing) in the course of trying to succeed doesn't qualify someone a failure; but when they refuse to rise back up.

Joc Pederson moved from MVP to relegation zone, but that didn't make him a failure - but it would have; if he allowed it to.

After all, failure; sometimes; could be just a minor setback that normally sets a better pace for a great comeback.

Nice piece again sir

Dodgers all day!!

The team is in good shape. We've got quality all over the field...our record in 1-run games is bad...and that's largely luck. We must also allow for the Diamondback and Rockies to be good teams too...they have earned the wins just as we have. Most importantly MLB seasons are long challenging things...the Dodgers are built to withstand the rigors of a season...but this year's pool of injuries has pushed that depth to it's limits. The team controls it's own destiny as we head to Sept..that is more than most teams...We'll be fine.

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Yes, I think some of the injured guys are coming back at just the right time. It's still a much better team on paper than Arizona or Colorado; we'll see if LA can fulfill that promise.

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Agree for sure. the teams strengths are depth and interchangeability those have already proven to be invaluable. They'll be ok.

The Dodgers sound like the baseball version of Arsenal Football Club.

I say this almost every year but I mean it this time we winning it all next season and nothing will stop us not even the ASStros

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Almost got them last year. But that Astros starting pitching staff + the lineup? Ugh.

Dodgers are the best. They are my favorite team. I love Puig, he is so funny and he is a good player. But I am sad that Utley is retiring at the end of 2018. I hope Dodgers Chronic Underachievers or Future Champions.

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Puig is great entertainment, whether he's hitting well or not!

OMG, the photo header of your post made me fail to focus, @donkeypong I'm sorry: D (lol)

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Just trying to see if anyone is awake and actually reading the posts. :)

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This is what I am thinking too! @donkeypong

I don’t really understand how baseball works somehow, first someone throws a ball, then someone kicks and run... seems like that, got too little chance to watch it in Belgium lol.

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Throwing, hitting, and catching, basically. If someone hits the ball without it being caught, that player can run around the bases, stopping once the ball comes back in. Others try to hit the ball and that player can keep running around the bases. Getting around all four bases equals one run (1 point). Each team needs to stop hitting after three put outs (the other team catching the ball or tagging a runner, etc.). Three outs per inning, nine innings per game. The team with the most points wins.

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Clear explanation. Thanks Tom. I’ll quickly watch a match to go through it ;)

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I've watched baseball for a while now on TV and am yet to fully grasp its technique, however, I noticed is not a game so common, neither has huge crowd payload in the Olympics, I don't know if you noticed that.
I love it when fans review what there stars are up to as game season starts, such isn't that common here.

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Latin America, North America, and East Asia seem to be the main regions interested in this game. It is not so popular elsewhere.

Isn't it strange how a player can be so electric, so productive for one team, then they get traded to another team and are mediocre at best... or how they could be mediocre and then after getting traded they suddenly become a star player? It seems that the Dodgers have the same issue with players who stay on their team. It would be interesting to see what changes in each of those player's lives during the off-season. Do they stop training? New relationship? New contract? New endorsement deals?

At one point those players were productive, so they have the physical capability. Is it just mental? And if so, what changed? It's an interesting thing to ponder.

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It is interesting. The Dodgers also have had their share of luck pulling guys off of other teams' scrap heaps (Turner, Taylor, Muncy) who change their swing a bit and start producing. But the slump has been real for some of these guys...

This summer has been so hot and humid in LA and Dodger Stadium feels different. Something in the air is keeping these guys from hitting. Maybe it's as simple as not knowing how to play in the heat. The energy level of the whole city is way down.

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That's an interesting analysis. Maybe it has affected the pitchers. West Coast teams' hitters get most of their HRs on the road, though, and remember that many of these guys grew up and played in humid continental climates like the Midwest, East, and Southeast. Perhaps it's the combination of humidity and long fences.

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It's weird. It's been an awful summer. I was at night game and it was over 100 at first pitch. The heat just broke today on the west side so I'm hoping for some relief. I grew up in Florida but its been awhile since I experienced humidity like this. It was 104 during the Dead & Company Show at Dodger Field, I thought I was gonna die lol. But either way the Dodgers gotta suck it up and play ball.

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The nice thing about heat on the West Coast, besides usually being dry, is that most days there's a coastal breeze that cools things down at night. When it doesn't cool down, something seems wrong. Lots of hurricanes/typhoons in other parts of the Pacific this summer; we'll see what the winter looks like here.

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When I lived in Vegas I would go see the Mets minor league team. 115 degrees for night games. You'd think the Mets would be the best team in Baseball because the players would be afraid to be sent down lol. It was so brutal. I don't know how they allow a baseball team to play outside in Vegas.

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That sounds brutal. How 'bout the Raiders moving to town with 20+ pounds of gear on each guy? I don't know what that new stadium will be like (maybe AC'ed, for all I know) and the NFL season gets into cooler weather. Only way to survive minor league baseball in those places is to be heavily inebriated. After all, it's minor league baseball.

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the stadium is gonna be awesome. Here is a tour. I need to make $375,000 on steem this month to get a luxury box lol. I'll save you a seat. https://www.reviewjournal.com/business/stadium/first-look-at-details-of-new-raiders-stadium-in-las-vegas-may-answer-questions/

Let's see maybe they will improve throughout the season
and get themselves a better roster. Will never know anything
can happen during the season or maybe a miracle will happen
that they would win haha. Anyway, Thank you so much for sharing
this! Have a wonderful day!

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They're only a few games out of first place in the division, so winning is possible, but for the playoffs, I don't trust this team unless they step it up.

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Yes, you are right. They have to step it up for the playoffs.

I thought that the Dodgers would run away with the National league after getting Machado, but they have been disappointing...

The game BASEBALL which has gained immense popularity since its inception and won millions of hearts. This sport is truly very enjoyable to watch as well as to play.
A very big appreciation from my side @donkeypong for helping us revisit this awesome game with the legends.

Baseball is my favorite game. In this summer we play baseball when we go to the village with friends. It's a game very polpular. I like it very much.
Actually, the game is very useful for us. Apart from entertainment, the game teaches us a lot.
Anyway, your posts are very good to me. Thank you very much for sharing the post among us.

amaizing 😍

DBAcks division baby!

just saw you share about dodgers...will check about them later then but thanks @donkeypong

Great post, I love you sports baseball and softball team is working for your beautiful creativity I appreciate your valuable content
Thanks for sharing this post

Check out all the best moments from the Dodgers 2017 season and World Series run! all clips belong to MLB and the Dodgers. I hope they will be future champion .

really they are all very talented players,

Do you think people will still watch baseball in 20 years. It's not quite the most exciting sport in the world.

good creative post @donkeypong

Useful post. I love your blog, @donkeypong

Great post. I know they came up one game short, but im not sure I’ll ever see a Dodger team this good again, even if they eventually win it all

@donkeypong I Loved Baseball all of my Life. I even Played in High School and College. Always was my Favorite Sport. Now I Could Careless about these Over Paid Babies. I stopped watching Pro Sports of all kinds about 5 Years Ago and to be Honest with you I have some Great Memories of many Games that I was at Live in Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium and even in D-Backs Stadium but now Even if the tickets were FREE to see a Game I would not even Waste My Time. So much More to LIFE than Pro Sports..........I Leave the Bread and Circus now to the Sheep.

I really like this game, I once received an award from the president, it's amazing

@donkeypong, I had only little bit knowledge about baseball gaming those days. But now I have more knowledge and rules about baseball. Try to understand more watching game. I never heard some of teams. I looked LA played games. There style awesome. Is your favorite game wanna Baseball? Have any choices otherwise?

Hello Friend how are you? When you published in Venezuela, it was early in the morning, I was asleep but it happened to say hello

The main image of your post sent me breakfast very early, I was hungry it looks delisious

The Official schedule of the Dodgers, including home and away schedule and promotions. [August 2018]

Screenshot:

IMG_20180827_110651_396.jpg

Category: News

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If you showed me next month's schedule, it would mean more (especially for gauging strength of schedule), since this month is almost done.

very good thinking. good article about Dodgers

Very nice article! @steemsports has upvoted your post. We created a @steemsports Guild that has several of our writers and other sports fans set up to vote great sports articles like yours. We would love you to join our Guild. Check it out at https://beta.steemvoter.com/ Thanks!

cronic underachivers.

Sports that have a strong physique, prioritizing better teamwork during the game until it is over. Hopefully victory is always near us. Good luck always....?

They look like a great player @donkeypong, Say hello to them.

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Oh amigo,sinceramente no se mucho de jugadores, me gusta el baseball, pero además de ver el juego me gusta disfrutar de un hotdog y una gaseosa jaja pero no se los nombres de sus jugadores
Gracias por compartir este buen contenido
Saludos desde Venezuela @donkeypong
Oh man, I honestly don't know much about players, I like baseball, but besides watching the game I like to enjoy a hotdog and a soda jaja but I don't know the names of its players
Thanks for sharing this good content
Greetings from Venezuela
Again...
THANK YOU!

Even though the season with very hot weather these players still look very excited, extraordinary

To listen to the audio version of this article click on the play image.

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I say that these players are just humans and they would slack on sometimes but gets better at times so we just have to rely on their skills if they would put fully their hearts on their game or not especially the pitchers which can really make or break the game @donkeypong

The guy in the third photo is a great pose! I don't know anything about these Championships. But I see a beautiful model. A good shot for the photographer. This player looks cool)))

Thanks @donkeypong but I want to know more about that Dodger Dog you got. It looks like a Hall of Famer Contender LOL

relatively consistently however I mean it this time we winning everything next season and nothing will stop us not by any means the ASStros