When the 2016 playoffs started, we knew the usual suspects, the players likely to make an impact for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Those players being Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Adrian Gonzalez in the batters box with starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, closer Kenley Jansen, and the rest of the bullpen on the mound. However, like with most things in life, the element of surprise is both exciting and expected.
Should the Dodgers make a deep run in the 2016 Major League Baseball (“MLB”) playoffs, here are the players we think will have the possibility for the greatest impact for the Dodgers to advance.
1. Josh Reddick, acquired before the July 31 trade deadline with starting pitcher Rich Hill for three minor league pitchers, he was brought in to replace or spell Yasiel Puig after his demotion to Triple-A and the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Reddick took a while to get going, but he impressed at the end of the season. His power and glove could prove to be instrumental for the Dodgers especially if he receives the bulk of the playing time against right-handed starting pitchers and relievers.
He will need to provide depth to the Dodgers batting order for the Dodgers to make a deep run in the 2016 playoffs. His performance this offseason is also directly tied to whether the Dodgers will retain him for his services as he reaches free agency prior to the 2017 season.
2. Yasmani Grandal, where most Dodger fans know of his power and defense this year, few others realize that he has become one of the best catchers in baseball over the last two years. During the 2016 regular season, his 27 home runs were second best among all Major League catchers. His 72 runs batted in (RBI) tied for 5th, 64 walks tied for 1st, .339 on base percentage (OBP) was 6th best, and his .816 on base plus slugging percentage (OPS) was 3rd best among all Major League catchers.
On defense, Grandal’s .995 fielding percentage was 7th best, 1,022 putouts 4th best, and his 9.37 range factor was the best among all Major League catchers. The 2015 All-Star is a set for arbitration this offseason and is not a free agent until 2019. He is one of the Dodgers most important players now in the 2016 playoffs and into the immediate future.
3. Grant Dayton, the left-handed reliever started the season in Double-A with the Tulsa Drillers. Drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 11th round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft from Auburn University, after 15.2 innings pitched and a 2.30 earned run average (“ERA”) with 28 strikeouts and three (3) walks at Double-A, the 28 year-old quickly moved to Triple-A Oklahoma City. There he pitched to a 2.48 ERA with 63 strikeouts and eight (8) walks in 36.1 innings pitched. Dayton was even more impressive when you consider that he was throwing in the pitching challenged Texas and Pacific Coast leagues.
Once Dayton arrived in Los Angles, he brought quite the resume. However, he outshined even himself with a 2.05 ERA, 26.1 innings pitched, six (6) walks, and 39 strikeouts. His 0.759 WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) and 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings were equally impressive.
With hitters having such a tough time against left-handed pitching this season, imagine how much more valuable Grant Dayton will be to his team against opposing batters. He contributed 0.2 scoreless innings pitched and a strikeout on Friday. Unfortunately, he gave up two hits and run on Sunday. However, the Dodgers were already losing the game 4-2 when he gave up the run and a game the Dodgers lost 5-2 to even the series at a game a piece.
Honorable mention: Andre Ethier’s left-handed bat coming off the bench.
Remember when the Dodgers bullpen was a sore subject in 2015, no more and Dayton is a key cog in the reason why.
Then remember when the Dodgers needed a top-notch catcher after Russell Martin left in free agency, enter Yasmani Grandal.
Lastly, remember when Yasiel Puig needed a demotion to the minor leagues to remind him of the important things in life, thank you Josh Reddick.
Reddick and Grandal will need to provide power, hits, and consistent defense, while Dayton will need to show his strong and efficient pitching for the Dodgers to have a chance this postseason as the other stars and role players do their part. For more Dodger news going into the postseason check back to Dodgers Nation.