With the new year upon us, it marks a new beginning for billions of people around the world. It also marks the beginning of a brand new year for the Dodgers and Dodger fans alike.
What better way to kick off 2016 with some superlatives? Going yearbook style, here are a few that we thought of at Dodgers Nation.
MOST LIKELY IMPACTFUL ADDITION: COREY SEAGER
When Corey Seager was called up last September, he wasted no time in wreaking havoc upon the rest of the N.L. West. He finished the season batting .337 in 98 at-bats, hitting 4 homers and driving in 17 runs. With his rookie status still intact for the 2016 season, I would not be surprised if he earns some Rookie of the Year nods from writers at the end of the year.
Of course, the honorable mention for this superlative is teenage phenom Julio Urias. Urias is the most coveted pitching prospect in the entire league, but it remains to be seen whether the Dodger brass feel he is ready to pitch in the show.
MOST LIKELY TO OVERACHIEVE: KIKE HERNANDEZ
This winter has given fans more questions than answers. With the Dodgers showing no plans to bring back second baseman Howie Kendrick, many have been asking, who will be playing second base in 2016? Well, one very capable candidate for the everyday role at second seems to have been lost among all of the chatter.
Kike Hernandez was acquired last winter in a trade that sent Dee Gordon to the Marlins in exchange for Andrew Heaney, Chris Hatcher and Hernandez. (Heaney was then flipped to Anaheim for Kendrick.) Splitting time between almost every position on the diamond, Kike proceeded to have a splendid rookie campaign. In 202 at-bats last year, he batted .307 and swatted 7 home runs. Not only do I think he can succeed in 2016, but he could become a fixture at second base for years to come.
CLASS CLOWN: SCOTT VAN SLYKE
Scotty has been a reliable utility man off the bench for some time now. He has displayed his ability to hit for average (last season being the exception) and for power, but never have we seen someone do his best work from the bench. From hot-foot pranks to standoffs with opposing ball players, Van Slyke has the look of someone who is happy to be there while remaining productive. As long as he is able to give Adrian Gonzalez some rest days at first base next season, may he always be able to make us smile with whatever dugout shenanigans he cooks up.
MOST LIKELY TO BE TRADED: YASIEL PUIG
Well well well… what can we say about Puig that hasn’t already been said?
The young Cuban has all the potential in the world to be a perennial all-star, if he could only avoid the tabloids and the DL. After a phenomenal rookie season, Puig has gained a few pounds and has been underwhelming at the plate. While his latest social media posts have shown him going through some rigorous workout routines, his teammates haven’t been shy at all about expressing their concerns about the “Wild Horse.”
Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi wish to see if Puig can become the force of nature they know he can be, but the heat is on for Puig. His welcome with Dodgers fans is rapidly wearing thin and I can’t help but get the feeling that if he does not storm onto the scene early in the 2016 season, he may be packing his bags for some players to be named later.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: ANDRE ETHIER
For almost four years now, Ethier has been embroiled in the drama occurring in the Dodgers’ outfield. With so many players and only three outfield spots, the two-time all star has had to play nice with management and fellow teammates while he spent more time on the bench than he would probably like. Not this year, though. Andre still has some quality performances left in him and 2016 will be his renaissance.
Ethier finished last year with 14 homers and batted just a shade under .300 in 395 at-bats. After spending far too much time in the dugout than on the field, it’s safe to say that Ethier has a fire in his belly and he has the veteran know-how to turn that passion into an all-star caliber campaign. Don’t be too surprised if he has another season like the ones he had in 2009 and 2010.
MR. CONGENIALITY: JOC PEDERSON
While he did struggle mightily late in the 2015 season, there is no denying that the young Joc Pederson plays the game with all of his heart. His speed in the outfield leads him to make some gold glove caliber catches. Joc put in some work with the leather last year, making diving snags, leaping catches at the wall and has shown a pretty good arm as well. If he can improve his approach at the plate without sacrificing too much power, he could be the player who best represents the Dodgers’ dynamic lineup. His joyful attitude in the field and immense talent will make him an exciting player to watch for fans and the rest of the league.