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Dodgers Mid-Season Report Card: How Do Bellinger, Kershaw, and More Grade Out?

Breaking down the first half of the year for the Dodgers, and assigning them grades.



It may be hard to believe, but the 2020 MLB season is already halfway over. The Dodgers sit at 22-8, good for first place in the NL West, four games up on the second place Padres. They have the best record in baseball and lead the league in Run Differential.

In other words, so far, so good. Below we look at how the Dodgers have done in each area of the game and assigned them “mid-term” grades.

Offense

Entering this year, the Dodgers were expected to be a force offensively. They added Mookie Betts to an already great lineup, so expectations were sky-high. So far this season they have performed well, getting production from up and down the lineup.

Halfway through the year, here’s what the Dodgers’ offense has posted and where it ranks in MLB

  • AVG, .250 (11th)
  • OBP, .330 (7th)
  • SLG, .474 (3rd)
  • OPS, .805 (3rd)
  • wRC+, 120 (3rd)
  • HR, 59 (1st)

The Dodgers lead the league in Runs Per Game (5.70) and also have the lowest K% in baseball, at 19.5%.

Despite a slow start, Betts has shown why he’s one of the best players in the league, hitting .300/.369/.664, with a 1.032 OPS and a team-high 11 home runs. Corey Seager looks like he’s back to the 2016-2017 version of himself, posting a .925 OPS.

If there have been any areas of concern for the offense, it’s been two players who have normally been their most reliable. Both Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy have been tops on the team offensively over the last couple of years. However, so far in 2020, neither guy has been his typical self. Bellinger has a wRC+ of 97 (162 last year) while Muncy sits at 103 (134 in 2019 and 162 in 2018.) However, both players seem to be coming on as of late and maybe hitting their stride.

The fact that the Dodgers have the best record in baseball with Bellinger and Muncy struggling as they have just shows the depth of their lineup.

Top Performers:  Mookie Betts, Corey Seager

Grade:  A-. This could probably be an ‘A’ but I almost feel like the Dodgers should be graded on a curve here considering their potential. They’ve been very good but have room for improvement.

Starting Pitching

The depth of the Dodgers starting rotation has been on full display this year. Clayton Kershaw missed the first week of the season with a back injury and Alex Wood went down after his first start. But the Dodgers didn’t miss a beat, plugging in their young guns like Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, who have both shown glimpses of their potential and stabilized the rotation.

This year, the Dodgers starters rank as follows:

  • ERA, 2nd
  • WHIP, 5th
  • FIP, 14th
  • K/BB, 6th
  • BAA, 6th

One of the most notable developments has been Clayton Kershaw’s velocity, which has seen an uptick after two years of decline. He’s sitting at 92-94MPH consistently this year, creating a bigger gap between his fastball and slider. Through four starts, Kershaw is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA, 0.792 WHIP, and a 10.9 K/9, which would be his best mark since 2015. It’s a very short sample size, but these are still very promising signs for Kershaw.

Walker Buehler has had a slow start to 2020, posting a 4.32 ERA through five starts. He looked a lot better in his last start though, pitching six innings of one-run ball and striking out 11. Similarly to the offense preforming well without typical production from Bellinger and Muncy, the Dodgers rotation excelling without Buehler being his normal self shows they could be even better in the second half of the year.

Top Performers:  Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin

Grade:  B+.  Much like the offense, the Dodgers starting rotation has been very good, but there is still room for improvement. The depth of the staff has been a huge benefit and there will likely be some battles for the last couple of rotation spots as the second half of the year progresses.

Bullpen

The Dodgers bullpen has been one of their biggest strengths so far this year, perhaps surprisingly to some. They rank as follows

  • ERA 1st
  • WHIP, 1st
  • FIP, 2nd
  • K/BB, 7th
  • BAA, 2nd

After a disappointing 2019 campaign, Kenley Jansen is seven for seven in save opportunities this year. Expanded rosters have allowed the Dodgers to maximize their depth, and they’ve got contributions from the entire bullpen. Guys like Caleb Ferguson, Jake McGee, Blake Treinen, Pedro Baez, Brusdar Graterol, and Dylan Floro have all made positive contributions.

Top Performers:  Caleb Ferguson, Jake McGee, Kenly Jansen

Grade:  A.  The team’s Achilles heel in the past, the Dodgers bullpen looks to be one of their strengths now. It’s only been a 30-game span, but it has to give Dave Roberts a good feeling knowing he can turn to a bunch of different options late in the game.

Overall

Grade:  A-.  The Dodgers came into the 2020 season as heavy favorites to get back to the World Series and possibly win it all. Halfway through the season, they’ve performed well and seem right on track. And the fact that the team actually has more players underachieving than overachieving must make Dodgers fans feel like the team could be even better in the second half. The Dodgers are not only the class of the NL West but the entire National League.

Of course, they probably aren’t concerned too much about the regular season… they have bigger goals in mind.

NEXT: Dodgers Fans Want More Than 60 Games with This Team

Written by Brian Robitaille

Originally from Southern California, and currently stationed in Northern Virginia, Brian is a devoted Dodgers fan, and has been since he was a kid. He's an Active Duty member of the U.S Air Force, and has been serving for the last 16 years. While he loves all things sports related, and supports all his teams (Lakers, Steelers, L.A Kings, & USC) his true passion is the Dodgers, and loves writing about the boys in blue.

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  1. The problem is records do not matter teams only need to make the playoffs. In their greed the MLB decided not to reward any division winners and everyone has to play a 3 game series.
    Dodgers just need to hope they don’t run into a couple of hot pitchers, batters, bad ball bounces or horrible umpires.
    Umpires with erratic strike zones can freeze a teams offense.

    • Absolutely correct. The only good thing about the 3 game series is no travel. All three games will be played at the same park. But the umpires are the wild card. The strike zone is such a mess right now, it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen from pitch to pitch.

  2. Kershaw A++
    More heat and more offspeed stuff.

    Bellinger D+
    Right at the Mendoza line. Improving, but hard not to. Needs to stop swinging for the fence. Go the other way. Hit line drives. Let home runs happen. Stop trying to jack everything out.

    • How about CB take the break to go back and look at the film from last year and give up on the changes he made during the off season. Cody! It ain’t working. Great hitters make adjustments… You only have to go back to last years mechanics to fix your swing. We don’t care if you strike out a lot. Keep hitting them out of the park with people on base and we will take that to the bank!

  3. Urias may be more effective as a reliever, but moving him would leave a hole in the rotation. Replace Stripling with Gonsolin and try to get some insurance before the trade deadline. Lance Lynn is a possibility.

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