It’s not often that a team has the Cy Young award winner and a legitimate MVP candidate (finished 2nd) in the same year. How then with Kershaw and Kemp did the Dodgers barely break .500 and finish 11 1/2 games behind the D-Backs in their division and miss the playoffs by 7 1/2 games? The Dodgers were taken down last year by the turmoil surrounding the team ownership as Frank McCourt went through an ugly divorce into which the team and MLB got dragged. With that situation resolved and a new owner soon to be in place, the Dodgers front-office appears to be heading in the right direction.
Somewhat surprisingly, the on-the-field Dodgers and decisions made by GM Ned Coletti seemed largely unaffected by all the turmoil. Manager Don Mattingly has a year of experience under his belt and will look to guide the storied-franchise of “Dodger-Blue” back to the playoffs. Here’s who they’ve got and how I think they stack up, both from a purely baseball standpoint, as well as for those of us addicted to fantasy baseball.
Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano-2 veteran additions expected to jump right in to the starting rotation. Capuano had one nice year which was last year with the Mets. Harang’s numbers were good but he pitched in Petco so it’s hare to say how much he has left.
Jerry Hairston Jr., Mark Ellis
Hiroki Kuroda-SP, Rod Barajas-C, Casey Bake-3B, Jamey Carroll-Inf, Aaron Miles-2b, Jonathan Broxton-RP, Hong-Chih Kuo-RP, Jon Garland-SP, Vicente Padilla-SP
1. Dee Gordon-SS: Gordon assest is his speed. He doesn’t walk much, doesn’t take a lot of pitches, and has virtually no power. If you’re looking for cheap steals at the end of the draft, he can be a great pick. If you’re look for anything else, I advise you look elsewhere
2. Mark Ellis-2B: Ellis is only 30 and like Gordon offers little in the area of power. His OBP is usually ok and with Kemp and Ethier behind him he should score some runs. He did hit .297 in the 2-hole last year. In deep mixed leagues he might be worth a late round pick
3. Matt Kemp-CF: You could make a case, and some do, for Kemp as the best overall player in the game. He’s a top 5 pick in every draft usually top 3. He’s an elite producer in every offensive category and will anchor any fantasy team he’s on.
4. Andre Ethier-RF: Ethier can be one of the best hitters in the league for stretches of the season, but also has recurring injuries that tend to drag his stats downward as the season goes on. He’s already struggling this spring with a bad back, but has looked like he’s recovered from his minor knee surgery. He’s a solid mid-round pick once all the big names are taken.
5. James Loney-1B: Loney is a deep-option at first base. He’s usually good for double-digit homers and an average near .300. He’s not an elite option, but he’s a solid depth pick in the middle or at the end of your draft.
6. Jerry Sands/Juan Rivera-LF: Depending on who gets more time, either one of these players could be worth a look in mixed leagues. Sands may begin the season in the minors, but he’s the more intriguing option long-term. Stay away from this situation in most mixed leagues until it gets more clearly defined
7. Juan Uribe-3B: Uribe struggled mightily last year batting just .204 and playing just 77 games. Until he shows he’s bouncing back, go another way at 3B.
8. A.J. Ellis/Matt Treanor-C: Not much fantasy value unless one of them claims all the playing time and gets hot with the bat. It looks to be a pretty even time-share with Ellis getting the slight advantage.
1. Clayton Kershaw: Kershaw is one of the top starters in the League. Barring injury, he looks lined up for another dominant season.
2. Chad Billingsley: Billingsley was supposed to end up a staff ace like Kershaw, but hasn’t panned out nearly as well. He finished 11-11 last year with an ERA over 4 and until something changes, don’t expect much better. He’s an end-of-the-draft pick in mixed-leagues formats.
3. Ted Lilly-Lilly is entering his 14th season in the bigs. He’s not a big strikeout option, but he’ll get wins (12 last year) and his ERA will be mid-3′s. He’s worth a pick at the end of the draft in almost all formats.
4. Aaron Harang- He’s possibly an end of the draft selection after a move to the NL West and Petco Park helped re-jump-start his career. He finished with a record of 14-7 with a 3.64 ERA in 28 starts and be able to have that kind of year again in the spacious confines of Chavez Ravine. He’s best left as a streamer’s pick in favorable matchups.
5. Chris Capuano-Coming off a decent year, Capuano moves to the Dodgers who vastly overpaid him. I’d avoid him if at all possible.
Javy Guerra- Guerra performed well after being named the closer finishing with 21 saves. He doesn’t have elite stuff, but was very effective. He may not have much security though, since Kenley Jansen (see below) is expected to start the year in the ‘pen and will be ready in case of injury or if Guerra stubmls.
Most Overrated Player
Dee Gordon-Gordon will get you steals, but don’t expect much else. If you add him at the end of the draft, he’ll be an asset. Just don’t get carried away and try to force him to be a top 15 SS. In positive news, his plate discipline appears to have improved this spring, and if he can get on base more, he’ll get more steals and runs. I’m not saying he has no value, but he is only really helpful in one category much like a closer would be. He could end up coming off the bench or in the minors if his average plummets too low, but I think he ends up useful, but not close to elite at his position overall.
Most Underrated Player
Ted Lilly-Lilly is not going to blow you away or have 17 strikeout games. The MLB veteran has bounced around, but had pitched will in LA the last few years. Dodger Stadium’s space helps to be sure but Lilly is reliable for a sub 4 ERA (the last 5 years) and 10+ wins (the last 9 years). He’s not a sexy, sleeper pick of a prospect noone has heard of that turns out to be the next Kershaw, but he’s steady and useful in almost any format.
Potential Fantasy Sleeper
Kenley Jansen-Jansen has electric stuff and should be the Dodgers closer of the future. The reason you may be able to get him late in drafts is that the job may not be his yet. Javy Guerra is the incumbent and Jansen may start the season as his primary-set-up-man. Jansen has the potential to be this year’s version of Jordan Walden or Craig Kimbrel and burst onto the scene as a elite fantasy closer.