Time sure is flying this year. Seems like just yesterday we were talking about opening day and the start to another year. But after Friday’s game, the Dodgers are already a quarter of the way through the 2019 season.
That means its quarterly report card time. Below, we look at how the Dodgers how done so far this year in different facets of the game and assign them grades. Currently, the Dodgers sit at 26-15, good for first place in the West and the best record in the National League.
Runs per game: 5.35 (2nd in N.L)
BA: .257 (4th in N.L)
Homeruns: 63 (2nd in N.L)
OPS: .802 (2nd in N.L)
wRC+: 116 (1st in N.L)
BB/K: 0.53 (1st in N.L)
The Dodgers offense has been one of the best in the league over the first 40+ games. They’re at the top of the league in practically every major statistical category, as illustrated above. They’re one of the deepest lineups in baseball, and they can beat you with the long ball or by simply running up the opposing pitcher’s pitch counts. They lead the league in BB/K, showing how patient they are at the plate while not striking out much.
Bright Spots: After putting up video game type numbers over the first quarter of the season, Cody Bellinger has not only been the best player on the team, but the best player in baseball. He leads all MLB in Avg (.396), OBP (.478), OPS (1.262), wRC+ (225), Runs (34) RBI (38) and he’s 2nd in homeruns (14.) Bellinger also has six steals and has played great defense. He’s just been incredible.
It’s hard to talk about anyone other than Bellinger with how great he’s played, but an honorable mention should go to Alex Verdugo, who’s been another bright spot for the Dodgers so far. The highly touted prospect is finally getting some playing time this year, and has taken full advantage. In 106 PA, he’s slashing .337/.377/.561.
Room for Improvement: Although the team numbers are great, there are still a few players who’d love to improve on their first quarter stats. Chris Taylor was really struggling early on, slashing an abysmal .171/.263/.257/ through April. However, he’s turned it on over the last week and is beginning to look better at the plate.
Corey Seager hasn’t had his typical offensive year so far this season, hitting just .230/.327/.348 with a .675 OPS. Coming back from two major off-season surgeries, it’s easy to give Seager the benefit of the doubt, and it’s probably too early to be overly concerned with him. With that said, he’s not where he needs to be offensively, and his numbers reflect that.
Starting Pitching: ‘B+’
ERA: 3.55 (4th in N.L)
WHIP: 1.11 (1st in N.L)
FIP: 4.00 (6th in N.L)
IP: 223.1 (1st in N.L)
BAA: .230 (2nd in N.L)
K/BB: 3.72 (1st in N.L)
All things considered, the Dodgers starting pitching has been very solid this year. They had to do without the services of Clayton Kershaw for the first few weeks and missed Rich Hill for the entire first month. Hyun-jin Ryu also had a short stint on the IL. However, their depth has allowed guys like Julio Urias and Ross Stripling to fill in without missing a beat.
Bright Spots: Since the start of the 2018 season, Hyun-Jin Ryu leads all MLB starters with a 1.99 ERA (min 125 IP.) When healthy, he’s been terrific, and this year’s been no different. He’s 4-1 with a 2.03 ERA on the year, and has an insane 22.5 K/BB ratio. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle with players like Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Rill Hill in the rotation, and on paper, Ryu may still be the team’s 3rd or 4th starter. But he’s pitching like an ace so far in 2019 and if he can stay healthy, he could be a significant contributor for the Dodgers staff all year.
Room for Improvement: Coming off a great 2018 season, expectations for Walker Buehler were pretty high this year. But after an abbreviated spring training, his season debut was delayed a few games and he looked a little rusty in his first couple of starts. He has a 4.95 ERA and his strikeouts are down from 9.9 K/9 last season to 7.9 this year. He certainly hasn’t been bad, and still holds a 4-0 record on the year. However, he’s not been the same dominant version of himself that we saw in 2018. With the talent he has though, you could probably expect that to change going forward.
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ERA: 4.50 (10th in N.L)
WHIP: 1.20 (3rd in N.L)
FIP: 4.08 (5th in N.L)
BAA: .232 (6th in N.L)
K/BB: 3.19 (2nd in N.L)
LOB%: 65.4% (14th in N.L)
If there’s been one cause for concern this year for the Dodgers it would likely be their bullpen. Only 3 N.L teams have a higher ERA among relievers then the Dodgers’ 4.50 mark. Their 7 blown saves are also tied for the 2nd most in the N.L.
Bright Spots: Dylan Floro has stood out as one of the few bright spots in the bullpen. He has a spotless 0.00 ERA and a 0.808 WHIP over 16 appearances and 15 innings this year. Opposing batters are hitting just .185 against him and making hard contact only 32.1% of the time, which is the second best percentage on the club. Floro has been one of the more reliable relievers on the team and could see his role expand if he continues to produce well.
Room for Improvement: There’s certainly a lot of room for improvement here. Kenley Jansen hasn’t been himself thus far, and he’s getting hit hard far too frequently. The Dodgers signed Joe Kelly to a 3-year, $25 mil contract this off-season in hopes they had found they 8th inning setup man, but unfortunately, he hasn’t been that. Kelly’s ERA stands at 8.80 and he’s not missing many bats either. Hitters are hitting .348 against him and opponents SwSt% (swinging strike %) is only 7.6%, which is last on the team.
It’s hard to be too critical of a first-place team. The Dodgers surely have areas they can clean up and improve on, but overall, they’re playing very well. There’s still a long way to go, but if the first quarter is a sign at all, the 2019 season is shaping up to be a good one.