MLB rated teams which got better between the end of last year’s truncated season and Opening Day and finds several who improved (in WaR) more than the Dodgers. But:
Speaking of an already-good NL West team that somehow managed to get better: the Dodgers. Part of this, obviously, was that when the offseason began, they didn’t really have a third baseman, Turner having gone off to a surprisingly lengthy free agency. (The Los Angeles third-base group, at the time seemingly led by Edwin Ríos, ranked 27th in November’s rankings. They’re now ninth.) Otherwise, the position-player group is so deep that the departures of longtime role players like Enrique Hernández and Joc Pederson didn’t really move the needle; this club is well-equipped to handle it.
There was another big add here, of course, and this time from a new face, as reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer signed with the Dodgers in February. In addition to the value he brings — he’s projected for 4.4 WAR himself — he takes some of the workload off others. David Price, for example, was projected to need to throw 144 innings back in November. Now, it’s only 62.
This was already clearly the best team of 2020. It’s almost unfair they’ve now gotten even better.
Kershaw started today’s game and Bauer picked up after him. The two of them went the full nine innings and gave up 11 hits and seven runs.
The game was notable only in that it occasioned Bellinger’s first start of Spring Training, a test of his surgically-repaired shoulder.
Oh by the way, Seager had hit 5 HRs in his last six games before going 1 for 3 today.
Molly Knight at The Athletic:
Lux’s 2020 campaign was a train wreck.
He reported late to the Dodgers’ summer camp due to an unexplained absence, but he did reveal that he did not take part in baseball activities for two weeks. He began the season at the team’s alternate site at USC, and when he finally did get called up to the Dodgers, he looked like a mess. In 19 games, Lux had an OPS of .596. He made throwing errors that made it look like he had the yips. He was left off the postseason roster as the Dodgers went on to win the franchise’s first World Series title since 1988.
This year, the Dodgers can make do with some combination of Chris Taylor, Zach McKinstry and Max Muncy at second base in the event that Lux can’t immediately rebound from his disappointing 2020. But he is only 23 years old and can be forgiven for experiencing a lost season during the pandemic.
Cubs star Javier Báez said earlier this week that he simply was not mentally prepared for last season, and here’s betting Lux wasn’t, either. It’s not fair to judge anyone on how well they performed amid COVID-19. And that is why I’m excited to see if Lux can put last year behind him, secure the second base job and rake his way back into the hearts of Dodgers fans.
Today’s lineup, including one Trevor Bauer making his first start in Dodger Blue: