In case you haven’t heard, the Los Angeles Dodgers are hosting the 2020 Midsummer Classic at Chavez Ravine. There’s a litany of coinciding stadium improvements this off-season, but more important than the window dressing is the substance for one of baseball’s cornerstone franchises- which Dodgers are most likely to make the 2020 All-Star Roster?
Sure it’s a bit early, but let’s a have a little fun looking ahead.
1. Walker Buehler, SP
Surprised to not see the 2019 NL MVP at the top spot? Cody Bellinger deserves every piece of praise after a season for the ages, but Walker Buehler has been less streaky throughout his short career. Bellinger has the higher ceiling, but Buehler has the higher floor. The math is also on Buehler’s side since there are typically more starting pitchers than outfielders on an All-Star roster.
Buehler’s stock around the league has skyrocketed following a tremendous 2019 postseason where he yielded one earned run in two starts against the eventual champion Nationals. Barring an unforeseen setback, the ace of the staff will build on his impressive 2019 finish.
.@Dodgers starters with most Ks through 5 postseason starts:
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) October 4, 2019
2. Cody Bellinger, OF
Few outfielders have the range and arm to couple with prodigious power-hitting like Bellinger. The freshly minted Gold Glover was not just eye-popping highlights in the outfield in 2019. He was top five in both Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and Defense Runs Saved (DRS). For the traditionalists, he ranked in the top ten in Outfield Assists.
Perhaps Bellinger struggles with his contact for a stretch in the first half, but it would be a surprise to see a one of the best all around players in the game omitted from the 2020 All-Star roster one season removed from collecting MVP, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger trophies.
.@Cody_Bellinger = Babe Ruth? ?
Bellinger is the 1st player with 19 HR, 7 assists through a team’s first 52 games since Babe Ruth in 1932. ?
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) May 28, 2019
3. Clayton Kershaw, SP
His best days are in the past, but another All-Star appearance isn’t out of the question if he can keep his ERA respectable while racking up wins. Even for San Francisco Giants fans, Kershaw is an incredibly likable player that deserves to pitch his ninth All-Star Game in front of his hometown fans for the organization that drafted him. It would be a national tragedy worthy of congressional legislation if the southpaw misses the cut while compiling above league average stats.
4. Corey Seager, SS
Before you exit out of this article in disgust, just know that despite playing in 22 fewer games in 2019, Corey Seager had more doubles than Cody Bellinger. Just know that Seager had already amassed two All-Star appearances, won the 2016 Rookie of the Year, won two Silver Sluggers, and had netted a third-place finish in MVP voting – before turning 24!
Yes, the 2019 campaign was an uneven performance, but a full return to form after undergoing Tommy John AND hip surgery was always going to take more than a season. Of course, Seager’s NL All-Star prospects might change if Francisco Lindor was traded to the National League…or maybe to the Dodgers?
5. Gavin Lux, 2B
Speaking of Lindor, the Dodgers admiration for their young infield, and soon to be outfield, top prospect is the main reason a deal hasn’t been completed yet. After posting an absurd 1.197 OPS at Oklahoma City, Lux cooled off in his 23 games in the big leagues in 2019. A more experienced Lux will be on the Opening Day roster and can get hot at the plate in a hurry. Position eligibility will be a factor for his All-Star selection, but what fan doesn’t love voting for a young, hyped-up stud?
Gavin Lux is the most coveted Dodgers player in trade talks. Don’t you think the Brewers, with their unsettled infield, would want the Kenosha, Wis. product in a potential Hader deal? However, belief so far of many is that the Dodgers wouldn’t trade Lux “in any scenario.”
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 17, 2019
6. Justin Turner, 3B/1B(?)
Health, not accolades, is the primary objective for the Dodgers and Justin Turner for 2020. Turner is the heart and soul of this team and not to mention, the best contact hitter in the lineup – especially in October. If Turner ends up battling early season nagging injuries, expect overt caution from the Dodgers. If this team is finally going to win the World Series, it’s hard to imagine them doing it with Turner less than 100 percent.
Two words: load management.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 16, 2017
7. Kenley Jansen, RP
Volume, not quality, may pave Jansen’s road to his fourth All-Star selection. Despite a challenging 2019 season, Jansen still finished eighth in saves. The Dodgers will still be a highly competitive team in 2020 with plenty of wins to closeout in a notoriously pitcher friendly ballpark. His signature cutter is not what it once was, but a sub-3.00 ERA is a reasonable goal if Jansen can effectively mix in his cutter and sinker.
8. Julio Urias, SP
Keeping track of all of the former top prospects for the Dodgers is a challenge. In 2016, Urias was MLB Prospect Watch’s number one left-handed pitching prospect ahead of: Blake Snell (2018 AL Cy Young Winner), Steven Matz, Josh Hader, Sean Manaea, and Amir Garrett. Urias’s ceiling is a big reason the front office was comfortable passing on premier starting pitching this winter.
Velocity, control, and a dirty slider, Urias has everything you want in a starter in this era. Experience you ask? He started an NLCS game at the age of 20! Clearly, the talent has always been there. If he can handle the workload as a full-time starter, 2020 will be the year where talent meets opportunity for Julio Urias.
Julio. Urías. pic.twitter.com/KeORj6H5U8
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 10, 2019
9. Will Smith, C
Post All-Star break, The Fresh Prince finished second for NL catchers with at least 100 plate appearances in three important categories: OPS (.891), most home runs (12), and RBI (36). The guy he was chasing? 2019 All-Star and All-MLB team member J.T. Realmuto. Unfortunately, September hit Smith like a brickwall as his offense production plummeted and his receiving skills were questioned. With Yasmani Grandal now in the AL, Smith has a chance to snatch the crown as the best power hitting catcher in the NL and earn an extra game at Dodger Stadium.
10. Alex Verdugo, OF
Dugie produced up and down the lineup through the spring and early summer before his season was cut short by lower back and oblique injuries. The defense is superb and a reverse split left handed bat is a rare find. Yet another former top Dodger prospect that is well-regarded, versatile, and knows how to take a walk. If he can stay healthy, he can be a .300 hitter and a Gold Glove caliber defender.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 28, 2019