In 2022, the Dodgers were the best-hitting team in baseball, leading MLB in pretty much every important offensive category. The bats let them down in the NLDS — especially with runners in scoring position — but in the regular season, there was no better team at the plate.
The 2023 Dodgers will have a different look, most notably that Trea Turner and Justin Turner will both be gone. On the other hand, Cody Bellinger (OPS+ of 78, 22% worse than league average) will be gone, too, and they’ll hopefully get a full, productive season from Max Muncy.
Still, between the subtractions on L.A.’s part and other teams making key additions, Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com ranked the MLB lineups and L.A. dropped all the way down to seventh.
1) Mookie Betts, RF
2) Freddie Freeman, 1B
3) Will Smith, C
4) Max Muncy, 3B
5) J.D. Martinez, DH
6) Gavin Lux, SS
7) Chris Taylor, LF
8) Miguel Vargas, 3B
9) James Outman, CF
It didn’t show up in the National League Division Series vs. the Padres, but this was the best lineup in baseball last season, hands down. The Dodgers were No. 1 in every category that matters. The drop from No. 1 to No. 7 on this list is really not as big a deal as it seems, because these are all quality lineups. But I am dinging them for the losses of the Brothers Turner — Trea and Justin (no, they’re not really brothers), both of whom had wRC+ marks around 25 percent better than league average. Martinez was an All-Star last year, but, on measure, it was his worst full season since he became a big league regular in Detroit. The Dodgers figure to take on a more youthful look in the bottom half of their lineup. Knowing them, it will work out just fine. But for now, let’s wait and see.
Castrovince acknowledges that he probably should have waited until just before Opening Day to do this exercise, and the Dodgers are a great example of why. They still have moves to make, so they’re being judged on an incomplete roster, as you can tell by the fact that Castrovince has them playing two third basemen and no second baseman.
But a lot will come down to how the young players perform, especially Miguel Vargas, who was one of the best hitters in the minors last year but struggled in the big leagues. If Vargas can be something close to his potential and James Outman can be even average, and if Gavin Lux can be close to what he was before the injury last year, they’re an outstanding offensive team. If Chris Taylor remembers how to hit, too, it’s downright unstoppable.
But yeah, the main lesson here is a reminder that it’s only late December.
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