8. Joc Competes in the Home Run Derby
Pederson’s showcases of power were catching eyes throughout the league, especially in the first half of the season. So, of course he deserved a spot on the Home Run Derby roster alongside the league’s foremost power hitters. His performance in one of the most exciting derbies in recent memory was more than enough to make those who made that decision feel great about his selection. He would make it to the finals and fall to Todd Frazier, local hero.
7. Corey Seager Hits His First Career Homer
Seager’s debut was exciting enough, as he shined in nearly every facet of the game. The lone exception: he forced Dodgers fans to wait a little while to watch his first-ever major league home run.
Jeez. What a bust.
The moment would come in Arizona, where Seager ripped a line drive that sailed over the right field wall. Seager didn’t flash overwhelming power with the Dodgers, but he’s still young and, more importantly, seems willing to take what pitchers give him.
6. Scott Van Slyke Walks Off Against Miami
Winning in the ninth inning is usually dramatic enough. Winning in the ninth inning off a towering shot to left field as the crowd goes wild? Even more awesome. “Stache Van Smash” supplied the fireworks on a gorgeous Southern California evening. On a personal level, this game went a long way in convincing my wife (an Angels fan) to lean a little closer to the bright side, as her first Dodger game ever ended in such dramatic fashion.
[button color=”blue” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”https://dodgersnation.com/10-dodgers-offseason-storylines-to-watch/2015/10/26″]Offseason Storylines to Watch[/button]
5. Alexander Guerrero’s Grand Night
Speaking of drama. Let’s go to Coors field, where the Dodgers trailed by three and were down to their last pitch. The bases were loaded and the game could sway in their favor with the right swing of the bat. Guerrero had just that swing up his sleeve. He crushed a grand slam to take the lead and the Dodgers would close out the Rockies in the next half of the inning.
4. Clayton Kershaw Fans 15 Giants
Given how great Kershaw has been these last couple years, the career bests tend to be especially special. A complete game has become almost boring for Kershaw, so he provided just a little extra for the fans in the form of absolutely dominating the rival Giants to the tune of 15 (!) strikeouts – a career high. Even the utmost fan of offense would marvel at the way those curveballs fall out of the air as batters fall off of their feet.
3. Clayton Kershaw Reaches 300 K’s
Greinke’s season was positively historic, and yet you could make the argument a teammate was even more dominant. Kershaw started the season “slow” by his standards and still racked up more strikeouts than anyone in the major leagues by a fair margin. No one had struck out more than 300 batters since 2002 when Randy Johnson (a fairly decent lefty in his own right) accomplished the amazing feat. Again, as baseball is so great at celebrating moments like these, goosebumps were a-plenty both in and outside of Dodgers stadium when Kershaw joined the 300 club.
2. Zack Greinke’s Scoreless Streak
Anytime a pitcher accomplishes something that hadn’t been done more than a decade and would only earn a bronze medal for moments in a season, you know the pitching staff is pretty special. What Kershaw and Greinke did this season was nothing short of incredible. In this case, Greinke held opponents scoreless for an astonishing 45 2/3 innings (not including the All Star Game) – the longest such streak since Orel Hershiser’s in 1988. That the streak ended against the New York Mets just further twists the knife as those sons of… I’m gonna take a walk.
Okay, I’m back.
Congratulations to Greinke on an incredible run and we can only hope he remains in Los Angeles beyond this offseason.
1. Kershaw Throws Complete Game To Clinch Division in San Francisco
Heading into this performance, there were still questions about Kershaw in big moments. Sure, it’s mostly narrative aided by terrible luck and an even worse bullpen more often than not, but hey, who needs perspective? The nine innings Kershaw put together in San Francisco to officially put his Dodgers into the playoffs were something to behold.
Critics of Kershaw will probably (unfairly and, frankly, idiotically) maintain he shrinks in big moments, but his handling the Giants, at their park with the postseason on the line was the kind of thing I and other fans will never forget. Those aforementioned critics didn’t have much to say that night.