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30 in 30

The Turf’s 30 in 30: The Los Angeles Dodgers

Try. Try Again. Try not to lose three times.

Photo by KennethHan, is part of the Public Domain.

The Turf’s 30 in 30: The Los Angeles Dodgers


Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

2018 Record: 92-71

2018 Finish: 1st in NL West, 3rd in the National League

Surprises in 2018

Slow Start

The lack of enthusiasm the team expressed in the first half of the 2018 season, was the first surprise from the Dodgers. Boy, was it ugly, at one point falling all the way down to 4th place in the NL West, with a 16-26 record. Many thought their season was over at that point.

After losing the 2017 World Series, the Dodgers looked to make a strong push for the crown, but it didn’t look like they were the same team in early June 2018 as they were in October 2017. With roster like theirs, it was hard to believe they could start 16-26.

However, they battled back after that terrible start going 37-17 to cruise into All-Star break atop of the NL West.

Max Muncy

The person most surprised to see Max Muncy in the finals of the 2018 Home Run Derby, was not Bryce Harper, but probably Muncy himself. After all, he began the season in the minors.

After being picked up by the Dodgers as a free agent the previous year, after a tough stint with the Athletics, Muncy began 2018 in Oklahoma City. However, after less than three weeks in Triple-A, Muncy was up with the big league club and never looked back.

In 2018, Muncy led the Dodgers in OPS, Slugging Percentage, Walks and Home Runs, besting Cody Bellinger’s 2nd place effort of 25 by 10, giving Muncy a grand total of 35. With a team full of All-Star caliber players, Muncy was found money for the Dodgers.

While his regular season was good, Muncy put himself into the history books with a swing in October. Sure the Dodgers lost the World Series 4-1 to the Boston Red Sox, but Muncy was very much responsible for that one win.

In the bottom of the 18th, Muncy took Nathan Eovaldi to a full count. Three innings before, Muncy sent a Eovaldi fastball just wide of the right field foul pole. This felt like a crack in the otherwise solid Eovaldi the Dodgers had seen so far this series. However, on Eovali’s 97th pitch in relief, Muncy did not miss, sending the ball deep into the night sky, evoking images of Kirk Gibson rounding the bases almost 30 years before.

Max Muncy was found money for the Dodgers, and if he can keep up with his 2018 numbers, he’ll be a mainstay at Dodger Stadium.

Veteran Play

The Dodgers had a few key veterans this season come into this very young locker room and be key contributors. I really credit players like Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill for holding this team together.

Matt Kemp, the former Dodger *MVP Runner Up* turned Padre turned Brave traded back to Dodger, was very important to the resurgence of the Dodgers. The over the hill Kemp was actually the most consistent Dodger in the first half of the season, hitting .310/.352/.522 with 15 home runs. Kemp earned a spot in the All-Star game, batted 5th and went 1 for 2 with a double. After the All-Star break, Kemp was below average but still shined in certain moments including taking Chris Sale deep in the World Series.

Rich Hill had a fantastic 2018, despite not receiving much run support from his teammates. Hill had a bit of a slow start to the season and struggling with a bit of a blister problem. After a month layoff, Hill returned to the rotation. Rich Most people might remember Dodger skipper Dave Roberts pulling the plug on Rich Hill in game 4 of the World Series, after hill pitch 6.1 very solid innings and the team had a 4-0 cushion. Hill finished with an 11-5 record and proved Father Time wrong once again.

Disappointments of 2018

The World Series

Believe it or not, for 2 years in a row, the Dodgers have come up short on the World’s largest stage. Granted the team they lost to was one of the better teams baseball, as the Boston Red Sox‌ dominated in 2018. No matter who their opponent was, the Dodgers were expected to bring home championship rings. Once more, the team was sent home packing to sulk, review and see what they can improve upon in spring training.

The Red Sox came into Dodger Stadium on October 28th, took home the championship thus ending the Dodgers 2018 season. This was in front of 54,000 fans mostly wearing Dodger blue. Despite having the swag and craziness of Puig, the youth of Seager, Bellinger, and Taylor, as well as the veteran leadership of the aforementioned Rich Hill, Matt Kemp, and David Freese, the Dodgers fell short.

The Red Sox humiliated the Dodgers in the World Series, beating them 4-1 all the while J.D. Martinez, Steve Pearce and Mookie Betts took Clayton Kershaw deep to really put the nail in the coffin. Clayton Kershaw was also another postseason disappointment, adding more to the legend of his October shortcomings.

It’s one thing to go seven games against the Houston Astros, it’s another to narrowly avoid getting swept by the Boston Red Sox.

Looking Ahead to 2019

I have to say, even though LA has lost a few players, it sure seems as if its reload and let’s go for it again time in Cali. They are a very talented team that once they find their grove and start to click they really do damage. What was really impressive about LA this season was that it really was not one player carrying the team. It was a multitude of players. It was multiple guys from Max Muncy to Rich Hill and a little bit of Yasiel Puig.

Departures

A few crucial departures such as Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig will see the Dodgers roster looking a bit different in 2019. Puig was said to have been a bit of a headache in the clubhouse, though in my eyes, Puig is a very gifted player and can provide a certain spark when needed. He will be missed, at the very least, by me.

Manny Machado is a player I like, but I see him heading for a bit of a decline. He didn’t provide as much spark to the team as some hoped. With Machado a free agent looking for big money, I don’t see him returning to LA in blue. However, it’s possible the Dodgers could land Bryce Harper, depending on how desperate they are to get over their World Series slump. The Dodgers sent Kemp, Puig and Alex Wood to the Cincinnati Reds to clear some payroll.

I believe this team is lead by a core of youthful players who are ready to take the next step. I feel as though Corey Seager could contend for MVP, Kershaw could also win the Cy Young, again. This team could be dominant and I think they are going to finish 98-64, 1st in the NL West, World Series Contender.

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