Spring Training has come to a close and the preseason power rankings are beginning to emerge. It is certainly not surprising to see the Dodgers so highly ranked. However, some are a little more wary of the Dodgers ranking so high. Both ESPN and MLB.com have the Dodgers ranked at #2. As it stands right now the Dodgers are ranked ahead of the New York Yankees and just behind the Houston Astros on both ESPN and MLB.com’s lists.
The initial 2018 power rankings are here. I'm part of the ranking team. I knocked your team down 5 spots because I hate them.https://t.co/cWs6WfxA1D
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) March 28, 2018
It makes perfect sense seeing the Houston Astros ranked #1 on both lists. And few would deny that the New York Yankees are certainly a top-3 team. There is a lot of rumblings about whether or not the Dodgers are the #2 team as it stands right now. So let’s look at why and why not the Dodgers should be ranked #2.
Why They Are Not #2
First, let’s look at why the Dodgers should not be the #2 team. Going into the season Clayton Kershaw is once again the undisputed pitching champion of the National League. With that in mind, it is little wonder why our rotation is considered among the best in the MLB. FanGraphs currently ranks our starting five as having one of the projected highest fWAR in the MLB. However, despite our starting rotation’s quality, there are a lot of questions surrounding the durability of the rotation.
Rich Hill is another year older and still has trouble pitching more than 130 innings. Kenta Maeda is also a quality pitcher, but like many Japanese pitchers, he has had issues going more than 175 innings. Then there is Alex Wood who showed to be a pleasant surprise in the first half of the season. However, he had durability issues down the stretch in the season and subsequently had a much less stellar second half. Hyun-Jin Ryu was also a pleasant surprise with a nice bounce-back season after spending most of the last two on the disabled list. But it is a lot to ask of him to repeat that kind of success this year as well and increase his innings workload.
Beyond our starting five there is not a lot of starting depth that has experience. Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart, Walker Buehler, and Dennis Santana are all young pitchers on the 40-man roster. They can start but many of them are not as seasoned as some would prefer.
Then there are some questions surrounding our lineup. Will Chris Taylor repeat his success from last year or was that a one hit wonder? Is Matt Kemp bring any sort of offensive and defensive value to the team? Will Justin Turner come back from his wrist injury healthy and able to contribute? Is Corey Seager’s elbow going to be a persistent issue? Is Cody Bellinger going to have a lot of strikeout issues this year? These are all very important questions that are key to our lineup being successful or not.
Why They Are #2
Indeed there are many reasons why you could question the #2 ranking of the Dodgers, however, there are many other reasons why that ranking is justified. You could simply look at all the questions surrounding the rotation and point to the fact that our depth and the lack of pitchers throwing more than 150 innings has not hurt us in the last 2 years. As stated above there is little doubt about the type of talent the Dodgers have. But the real question is how much of an impact those innings thrown by the projected starting 5 will have. Even with Kershaw being the only 150+ inning pitcher last year, our rotation was still top 3.
The same type of questions that’s around the lineup also shows that a lot would have to go wrong. Certainly, there is an equal number of things that look to be going in the right direction. With that in mind, it is hard to envision the Dodgers lineup struggling even if one or two members take a step back from last year or struggle with injuries. Remember, last year Justin Turner also spent time on the DL and Adrian Gonzalez opened the year as our starting first baseman. When Gonzo got hurt Cody Bellinger stepped in and ultimately helped carry the offense. Our depth allowed us to survive Turner’s injury as well as Gonzo’s sudden decline. There should be no concerns surrounding our lineup.
The bullpen is as strong as ever. And with the best of the best in Kenley Jansen closing the door, fans should rest easy if the Dodgers have a lead after handing the ball over to the pen. Acquisitions this off-season and Spring Training performances confirm that once again the Dodgers bullpen will be one of the best.
Both Power Rankings cite the immense depth that the Dodgers have. Though we don’t have a lineup full of Aaron Judges and Giancarlo Stantons, our depth ready to help at the Major League level is arguably league best. I believe this season will once again display how enormously deep our entire roster is. And not just the 25-man roster, but also the 40-man roster as a whole. #2 is definitely a fitting preseason power ranking for our Boys in Blue going into the 2018 season.
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