Saturday, December 10, 2022

Uncustomed Heroes of 2022: Dodgers


The Los Angeles Dodgers of the 2020s have begun to resemble the Los Angeles Dodgers of the 70s and 80s. Some of the best teams of this stretch, always competitive, the stars are coming out and staying for a while...but there's only one ring to show for it. 

The Dodgers won 111 games this year. If the playoffs only had 4 teams advance, it'd be easier to hold onto that momentum. But a first round bye followed by a series against the red-hot Padres proved to be their undoing, meaning a team that had looked so unstoppable and so formidable all through the year had been stopped before they even got to the NLCS.

What's funnier is they had done this in 2019 already. 

The Dodgers had a ton of big pieces provide them with a successful season, and somehow I only have five extra ones. 

Chris Taylor has been an excellent extra man on this team since coming over in 2016. Since then, he's averaged about a 3 WAR per year in LA. All this being said, 2022 was Taylor's weakest year since joining the team. Thanks to both being a bench man and a brief injury, he only played 118 games, and hit .221 with 89 hits and 43 RBIs, all Dodgers full-season lows. The good news is the Dodgers have Taylor for another 3 years, and there are enough people that can ensure that if he continues his okay stuff from 2022, it won't sink the team.
2023 Prediction: A vast improvement. I also see him starting due to someone getting injured. 

Andrew Heaney is back, folks. We were all really worried 2021 would spell doom for the former Angels hurler, but truth be told he just wasn't a good fit for New York and that tanked his numbers. A year in LA, even if it was injury-shortened, went so much better, with a 3.10 ERA and 110 Ks in 16 games. With Buehler's injury, and short-term outages for Kershaw and Gonsolin, having an extra guy in Heaney come in and overperform was a definite perk for this team, and it's made Heaney much more of a valuable asset for teams. 
2023 Prediction: Another really strong, full season in Arlington. I don't wanna be ballsy and say he's gonna have a better season than DeGrom, but...he certainly could.

The Dodgers' most helpful relief asset this year was Evan Phillips, because anytime a middle relief specialist posts a WAR of a 2.8, higher than Max Muncy to be clear, you've gotta notice. Phillips has bounced around for ages, even being a main piece in the Kevin Gausman to Atlanta deal, but never pitched a full season in relief until now. In 64 games, Phillips shocked batters with a 1.14 ERA, 77 strikeouts and only 8 earned runs. Probably the best Dodger relief season in a while.
2023 Prediction: Well, with Graterol and Bickford and Ferguson, Phillips can have a more okay year without people taking note. I think next year will be a bit more normal for a reliever, but he'll still pitch a ton of innings and be relied upon going into the postseason.

Oh yeah, Craig Kimbrel was the Dodgers' closer this year. They uh...never needed him too often, considering that they had a penchant for pounding the shit out of opposing offenses. Kimbrel only saved 22 games for them, and otherwise he had a 3.75 ERA and a 6-7 record. So...back to my Rod Beck comparison from a few years ago, Kimbrel has reached the point in his career where he's lost a lot of what made him great and he is, more or less, a body for bullpens. Which is all well and good if he can at least work on his control. He figured it out in Chicago, hopefully he figures it out wherever he's going next.
2023 Prediction: He signs somewhere baffling. I fully expect to go 'whaaaat?' when I hear where he's going. 

I...I dunno what to make of this guy. Joey Gallo. Hit home runs with no average for most of his Texas career. Hits home runs with average for one year, Brian Cashman goes HIM, the Yankees trade for him, he, of course, stops hitting for average AND stops hitting home runs. So we get rid of him, trade him to, of all places, the Dodgers. What does he do in LA? He hits .162 with 23 RBIs and 7 homers. Just as anemic as he was in New York. This guy has completely shat away all of his mid-2021 goodwill. HOWEVER,
2023 Prediction: I still think he's gonna sign with a low market team and get something back once he's out of the spotlight and the pressure's off. I think he's just a guy who can't have the pressure on him, like Josh Hamilton. 

Tomorrow, a few members of a Giants team that couldn't live up to their 2021 expectations.

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