ESPN Senior Writer David Schoenfield released his “Ten Most Intriguing in NL West” list today, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Los Angeles Dodgers have a few players on the list. However, they represent nearly half of the list.
The six non-Dodgers on the list were ex-Dodger Zack Greinke (#1), Johnny Cueto (#2), A.J. Pollock (#5), Matt Duffy (#6), Wil Myers (#8), and Carlos Gonzalez (#9). So, what Dodgers were on the list then? Well, the answer shouldn’t surprise you.
In order, the four were Corey Seager (#3), Yasiel Puig (#4), Clayton Kershaw (#7), and Joc Pederson (#10). As you would expect, all four are players who figure to factor into the team’s long-term plan and process.
Here are just some excerpts on each player:
Corey Seager: There’s going to be a lot of pressure on the 22-year-old trying to be a key cog on a team with the highest payroll in the game, but like his older brother Kyle of the Mariners, he’s a baseball rat who should thrive in the spotlight.
Yasiel Puig: The fan club is a lot smaller than it was a year ago after an injury-marred campaign in which he hit .255/.322/.436 and played just 79 games. Was it a good year for him? No. But such are the weight of expectations: He still had a better wRC+ than Ian Kinsler, Daniel Murphy, Evan Longoria, Matt Kemp, Adam Jones, Howie Kendrick or Adrian Beltre. My point: The talent is still there.
Clayton Kershaw: In two years, he’s increased his strikeout rate from 25.6 percent to 33.8 percent. Yes, he’s apparently becoming even more dominant. I’d certainly pick him to win the Cy Young Award.
Joc Pederson: From June 5 on: .176/.319/.301, 105 strikeouts in 97 games. He still drew a lot of walks but the all-out swing produced just nine home runs. He’ll have to make adjustments and that will be intriguing to watch.
If the Dodgers are to have a stellar 2016 season, then these four need to show up in a big way. You already know what you’re going going to get out of Kershaw, but the other three seem like a bunch of question marks at this stage.
If they all pan out, this could be a magical season. It still could be if two of the three do, but if only one (or none) hold up to their end of the bargain, then this could be a tough season to endure and the Dodgers will enter next offseason with even more questions to answer throughout the organization.
Either way, as Schoenfield notes, 2016 will certainly be intriguing to watch.