I don’t know about you, but the Dodgers losing to the Cubs in the NLCS still stings like a fresh wound. The Cubs did establish themselves as the superior team, but the Dodgers did seem to beat themselves, and fatigue was a factor.
To recap the playoffs, I’ve written a report card that summarizes each player’s performance in the playoffs, from Corey Seager to Yasiel Puig to Luis Avilan. There won’t be any inflation of grades or anything; I’m going to give it how it is.
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Chase Utley: C-
Utley, in short, had a terrible postseason. As the starting second baseman, leadoff man, and the only player with a championship, Utley massively underperformed. In the NLDS, Utley only mustered up 3 hits in all five games with a batting average of .188. He also had a couple of fielding errors. In the NLCS against the Cubs, Utley didn’t even get a hit at all. Just two walks, and that’s it. Utley struck out eight times in the playoffs. The only thing keeping Utley from not failing is his game winning RBI single to keep the Dodgers afloat in Game 4 against Washington.
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Howie Kendrick: D
Kendrick didn’t have a memorable postseason. Kendrick fared well against the Nationals, averaging .333 in just nine plate appearances. He only had one extra base hit. Howie fell flat against the Cubs, averaging a mere .154. Andrew Toles largely overshadowed Kendrick in left field this postseason.
Yasmani Grandal: C
Grandal was absolutely terrible batting this October, but what saves him in passing is his stellar fielding. Grandal impressively threw out Bryce Harper in Game One, and was simply more active as a catcher than Carlos Ruiz. He also ignited the crowd in what felt like his only hit in the playoffs with his golf swing home run against Jake Arietta.
Josh Reddick: B
Reddick consistently got on base this postseason. He hit .267 against the Nationals and an astounding .364 against the Cubs. He overcame his early slump in L.A. and produced. The only thing holding Reddick back from an A is his inability to hit off of left-handers.
Adrian Gonzalez: B+
Gonzalez gets such a high grade because he actually performed better against the Cubs than against the Nats. Gonzalez provided the only offense of the night in Game 2’s victory with a solo home run, and hit .300 or above in all of the NLCS except Game 6. Gonzalez will be 35 next season, and it is curious to see how long his power can last.
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Corey Seager: B+
Seager started off the Dodgers playoff hopes with a bang- a solo shot in the top of the first in Game One against Washington. Seager followed that up with another homerun in Game 2, but after that, Seager didn’t do much. He finished the NLDS with a .130 batting average and didn’t do too bad against the Cubs, averaging .286. Seager admitted to fatigue after the Dodgers were eliminated, something understandable for a rookie but cannot happen again as he turns into a more experienced player.
Andre Ethier: B
Ethier rose to the challenge as pinch hitter for the Dodgers. He extended the Dodgers hopes for a comeback in the NLDS with a clutch two-out single to bring up Chase Utley. Other than that, Ethier’s postseason wasn’t too memorable as he wasn’t given many opportunities.
Yasiel Puig: F
I thought this postseason was Puig’s time to breakout and prove that he belongs, but his production didn’t back me up. Puig didn’t get a hit at all against Washington and did better against the Cubs with a BA of .286. But Puig never got an extra base hit, or an RBI. Puig also almost ran over Pederson while catching a fly ball in Washington. He also didn’t have a highlight defensive play to try to win me over to give him a passing grade.
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Joc Pederson: B-
Pederson had very low expectations coming into this postseason after last year’s, and he over performed. He hit a clutch home run in Game 5 of the NLDS to give the Dodgers momentum, but labored through a tough NLCS as the team’s everyday center fielder. Pederson was sent out there even against both right-handers and left-handers every game. It will be interesting to see if Pederson’s development will effect next season.
Justin Turner: B
Turner was by far the best hitter on the Dodgers against Washington. He had a huge homerun to start the series and a go-ahead RBI triple to win Game 5. He then went on to have a below Turner-esque NLCS, averaging .200. The way Turner goes is the way the Dodgers go. Signing Turner will be very important this offseason.
Kiké Hernandez: F
There was some surprise that Hernandez didn’t make the NLDS roster, but his doubters had the last laugh as Kiké did nothing against the Cubs. Eleven plate appearances, no hits.
Austin Barnes: C
Barnes only had one plate appearances in the NLDS and that was a strikeout. He didn’t play in the NLCS. But Barnes did come in as a pinch runner and scored in Game 5, so he passes.
Charlie Culberson: F
Culberson made the NLDS roster but not the NLCS roster. Culberson did not get a hit in seven plate appearances against Washington.
Carlos Ruiz: C+
Ruiz’s claim to fame was a home run to bring the Dodgers back in Game 3 of the NLDS. He also hit an RBI single to give the Dodgers the lead in Game 5 against Washington. Other than that, he sometimes looked slow as a catcher. Javier Baez of the Cubs stole home in Game One, which was partially on Ruiz. Ruiz didn’t produce in the NLCS when the Dave Roberts didn’t play Grandal.
Andrew Toles: B+
Tolsey had a fantastic postseason hitting the ball. Like Reddick, Toles got on the base all the time. He had the Dodgers top batting average against the Cubs, averaging .462. Toles was so close to earning an A, but his fielding has been below than what’s expected. He easily could have thrown out Ben Zobrist in Game 4 but he overthrew the ball, causing the first of 10 Chicago runs in Game 4 of the NLCS.
Joe Blanton: B
Blanton was lights out against the Nats, only giving up a hit in five combined innings. But the wheels fell of the wagon against the Cubs. In 3 combined innings, Blanton gave up seven hits and seven earned runs. His slider wasn’t breaking as it should have been. After an amazing regular season and NLDS, Blanton’s shaky NLCS puts his future in doubt as a Dodger.
Rich Hill: B
Hill, like Blanton, had a shaky postseason but in reverse. Hill wasn’t great in Game 2 against the Nats and had a short outing in Game 5, but had the game of his life when he faced the Cubs. His status coming back feels up in the air.
Pedro Baez: B
Baez doesn’t make any sense to me. He’s slow, we prepare for the worst when he pitches, and then he does a good job. He was great in the NLDS, but like Blanton, was exposed against the Cubs. Baez’s magical run of getting batters out ended with a thud.
Alex Wood: C
Wood wasn’t on the NLDS roster, and came in during cleanup duty during the Cubs 5-0 rout in Game 6. Wood allowed two hits in two innings in the game’s garbage time. Not a lot to look at.
Josh Fields: B
Fields wasn’t called upon a lot, but when he played, he got the job done. He only allowed one hit in 2.1 innings of his time in the postseason.
Kenta Maeda: D
Maeda was not impressive in all three games he started in the playoffs. He never went past the fourth inning in any of his starts, and allowed eight total runs. He had trouble with his command and had a total ERA of 6.75. Unless Maeda drastically improves, he cannot be relied to be the #2 starter in the Dodger rotation.
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Luis Avilan: B-
Avilan didn’t get a lot of action (3.2 combined innings) but gave up a hit every time he pitches minus once. He wasn’t given a lot of responsibility and did fine for what he had.
Ross Stripling: D
Stripling didn’t pitch a lot and was fine against the Nats, but was terrible against the Cubs. In Game 4, he allowed four runs on five hits in 0.1 innings. He then followed this outing with two hits in 1.1 innings to finish out Game 5. Not super memorable.
Julio Urias: C
Urias was a very memorable figure in this year’s playoffs. He came in against the Nats in Game 5 without pitching for a few weeks, and he pitched two scoreless innings and picked off Bryce Harper, which got Joe Maddon riled up. Urias then had a tough time against the Cubs in Game 4. He allowed four runs and didn’t get to the fourth inning. Urias is still developing and will hopefully be an ace going foreword.
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Grant Dayton: B
Dayton was one of the Dodgers best relievers, but he strangely had a short leash each time he pitched. Dayton never pitched an inning or more at one time. The only blunder he gave up was a home run to Chris Heisey against Washington that shrunk the Dodgers lead from 4-1 to 4-3. Other than that, Dayton was great. Roberts should have used Dayton more.
Clayton Kershaw: A-
Clayton Kershaw pitched in every Dodger win this postseason except for one. Game One against the Nats his stuff wasn’t all there, but he labored through and got the win. Game 4 against the Nats he proved up to the task on short rest. Kershaw closed in Game 5, and I know there’s bias when I’m saying this, but that in itself was a legendary performance. Kershaw came back and was masterful in seven innings in Game 2 against the Cubs. Kershaw didn’t finish on a good note in Game 6, but without Kershaw, who knows it the Dodgers would even win a game in the playoffs.
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Kenley Jansen: A
Someone has to get an A, and that award goes to Kenley Jansen. Jansen was tested like none before, and he was up to the challenge. His first challenge was a five out save in Game One against Washington, and he got it. He came in the sixth inning in Game 5 and did his job. Jansen got the six out save in Chicago in Game 2 to preserve the Dodgers 1-0 win. Even in the Dodgers final loss against the Cubs, Jansen pitched three innings of no hit baseball. He was by far the Dodgers best reliever and arguably best pitcher the team had. Signing him this offseason will be very important.
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