Fans of Major League baseball have gotten used to seeing the Los Angeles Dodgers win a lot of games. Not only have the Dodgers made the playoffs the last six seasons, they have made the World Series the last two years as well.
It just doesn’t feel like postseason baseball unless the Dodgers are in the spotlight in October. But what if I told you this run of success was about to end for LA, and that their window for winning the World Series was closed?
Why 2019 Won’t Be The Year For The Dodgers
It is a testament to just how good this Dodgers team has been under the ownership of Magic Johnson, that they enter each season with a World Series title or bust mentality. Despite not having any form of salary cap, baseball has the most parity of any of the big three North American sports.
The NFL has seen the Patriots dominate for the last fifteen years. The NBA drifts from one dynasty to another every couple of years. First from the Lakers and Celtics in the eighties and then the Bulls of the nineties only to then see the Lakers and Spurs dominate for a decade, and now it’s the Warriors turn to win everything.
2019 World Series
The first and foremost reason that the Dodgers aren’t going to win the 2019 World Series is that it is really hard to do! There are 30 MLB teams, and at least half of them have some shot at winning the title this season. And even if the Dodgers were the best team in the majors, which they aren’t, by a longshot, it would be a stretch to say that any team is a lock to win the title.
As good as this Dodgers team has been the last couple of years, they have never taken home the championship. In fact, the Dodgers haven’t won the World Series since 1988. Parity is strike one against the Boys in Blue in 2019.
In what I saw as a downright shocking move, the Dodgers salary dumped earlier this offseason. I didn’t think Magic Johnson was the type of guy that was ever going to salary dump but make no mistake, it happened.
Just before Christmas, Magic gave the Dodgers faithful a present they weren’t used to getting when he blatantly dumped salary to the Cincinnati Reds. The Dodgers sent former All-Star’s Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and Alex Wood to the Big Red Machine for a package headlined by journeyman Homer Bailey who went 1-14 last season.
Many expected the move was to clear up salary and roster space for a big free agent signing like Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. And maybe a big sexy move like that is still coming, but as of right this minute, this Dodgers lineup is significantly worse than the team that couldn’t win it all last season.
The only addition of note so far this offseason for LA is picking up catcher Russell Martin. And while I like Martin, he is a soon to be thirty-six-year-old that is a lifetime .249 hitter.
Projected Starting Lineup
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a decent starting lineup. But I have reason to believe there is going to be some major regression here.
Taylor couldn’t crack the starting lineup in Seattle for years and then had a breakout campaign in 2017, making his first All-Star team. But last year, Taylor saw his batting average drop thirty-four points down to a dismal .254 and had decreased homers and RBI’s as well. Taylor’s 2018 season looked a lot like his previous five seasons where he was a replacement level player before having a great year in 2017.
If I was a betting man, and you know that I am, I would bet that Taylor’s 2019 looks a lot more like his 2018 campaign than his fluky 2017 season. Leadoff guy hitting .250? Not a great start.
That brings us to Seager in the two hole. Seager is a legit blue chipper, and I love his game. But, if you want to get picky, the kid wasn’t hitting a lick in 2018 before going down with an injury that required Tommy John surgery. He also required arthroscopic hip surgery in August. So, to expect Seager to come back from an entire year off and two major surgeries and just go right back to his 2017 form is quite the stretch.
Long term I still think Seager is going to get back to an MVP level, but it could take much of 2019 before he rounds back into his old self, and by that time, the Dodgers may have already fallen out of contention.
The last guy that is a major question mark for me for this Dodgers team is Muncy. There wasn’t a better story in baseball last year than Muncy. Muncy came out of absolutely nowhere last year to explode onto the scene in LA. In two seasons with Oakland, Muncy has just five home runs in two hundred and fifteen at bats. Last season with Los Angeles? Muncy hit thirty-five home runs to lead the team.
Muncy was a decently rated prospect when he was drafted in the fifth round by Oakland in 2012, and is still just twenty-eight years old, so maybe, just maybe, he will look a little bit like he did last year. But to expect this guy to lead the team in homers again this year would be quite the stretch. The Dodgers limited roster is strike two for LA in 2019.
The Dodgers have long prided themselves on their elite starting rotation. Led by Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers have always had one of the better set of arms in the National League. And this year, they should have a better than average group. But Kershaw showed us once again that he can’t be trusted in the postseason. He just can’t seem to stay healthy in the regular season, and when the games really matter in the postseason, he just isn’t the same guy. Last year in the World Series Kershaw had an ERA of 7.36. Ouch.
And the loss of Alex Wood can’t be understated. Wood wasn’t a Cy Young caliber guy like Kershaw, but he went 16-3 two years ago with an ERA of just 2.72. Last year he had a winning record and an ERA of 3.68. His lifetime record is 52-40 with an ERA of 3.29. Wood is a big strong guy and at just twenty-eight years old, still has plenty of years of solid production ahead of him.
The Dodgers are expected to use youngster Julio Urias to replace Wood, and while this kid has electric stuff and could develop into the next Kershaw, he isn’t there yet. The kid is only twenty-two years old and has a lot of growing up to do. His lifetime ERA in the majors is 3.71, and he has pitched just twenty-seven big league innings in the last two seasons.
Could Urias be a huge breakout star for the Dodgers in 2019? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t bet on it. The Dodgers weakened, and aging rotation is strike three in their attempt to win the 2019 World Series!
Are the Dodgers going to make the playoffs in 2019? Probably. I am guessing that Magic Johnson has something up his sleeve and it wouldn’t at all shock me to see the Dodgers pull the string on a major free agent signing or trade before spring training kicks off in March. But at this point, this team is significantly worse than last year’s team, and I don’t see any way that they are going to win the World Series.
Maybe everything breaks right for them, they stay healthy, make a couple of big moves to bolster their weakened lineup and shaky rotation, and make a run to the playoffs for the seventh straight year. But even then, they will still have to turn to Kershaw when it matters, and history tells us that won’t end well. Thanks for reading!