It may be hard to believe, but the 2020 MLB season is already halfway over. The Dodgers sit at 22-8, good for first place in the NL West, four games up on the second place Padres. They have the best record in baseball and lead the league in Run Differential.
30 down, 30 to go. Top of the charts. You love to see it…
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) August 24, 2020
In other words, so far, so good. Below we look at how the Dodgers have done in each area of the game and assigned them “mid-term” grades.
Entering this year, the Dodgers were expected to be a force offensively. They added Mookie Betts to an already great lineup, so expectations were sky-high. So far this season they have performed well, getting production from up and down the lineup.
Halfway through the year, here’s what the Dodgers’ offense has posted and where it ranks in MLB
- AVG, .250 (11th)
- OBP, .330 (7th)
- SLG, .474 (3rd)
- OPS, .805 (3rd)
- wRC+, 120 (3rd)
- HR, 59 (1st)
The Dodgers lead the league in Runs Per Game (5.70) and also have the lowest K% in baseball, at 19.5%.
Despite a slow start, Betts has shown why he’s one of the best players in the league, hitting .300/.369/.664, with a 1.032 OPS and a team-high 11 home runs. Corey Seager looks like he’s back to the 2016-2017 version of himself, posting a .925 OPS.
If there have been any areas of concern for the offense, it’s been two players who have normally been their most reliable. Both Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy have been tops on the team offensively over the last couple of years. However, so far in 2020, neither guy has been his typical self. Bellinger has a wRC+ of 97 (162 last year) while Muncy sits at 103 (134 in 2019 and 162 in 2018.) However, both players seem to be coming on as of late and maybe hitting their stride.
The fact that the Dodgers have the best record in baseball with Bellinger and Muncy struggling as they have just shows the depth of their lineup.
Top Performers: Mookie Betts, Corey Seager
Grade: A-. This could probably be an ‘A’ but I almost feel like the Dodgers should be graded on a curve here considering their potential. They’ve been very good but have room for improvement.
The depth of the Dodgers starting rotation has been on full display this year. Clayton Kershaw missed the first week of the season with a back injury and Alex Wood went down after his first start. But the Dodgers didn’t miss a beat, plugging in their young guns like Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, who have both shown glimpses of their potential and stabilized the rotation.
This year, the Dodgers starters rank as follows:
- ERA, 2nd
- WHIP, 5th
- FIP, 14th
- K/BB, 6th
- BAA, 6th
One of the most notable developments has been Clayton Kershaw’s velocity, which has seen an uptick after two years of decline. He’s sitting at 92-94MPH consistently this year, creating a bigger gap between his fastball and slider. Through four starts, Kershaw is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA, 0.792 WHIP, and a 10.9 K/9, which would be his best mark since 2015. It’s a very short sample size, but these are still very promising signs for Kershaw.
Vintage Clayton Kershaw.
Frame it. ??
11th K. pic.twitter.com/hE6b5EbMt1
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 21, 2020
Walker Buehler has had a slow start to 2020, posting a 4.32 ERA through five starts. He looked a lot better in his last start though, pitching six innings of one-run ball and striking out 11. Similarly to the offense preforming well without typical production from Bellinger and Muncy, the Dodgers rotation excelling without Buehler being his normal self shows they could be even better in the second half of the year.
Top Performers: Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin
Grade: B+. Much like the offense, the Dodgers starting rotation has been very good, but there is still room for improvement. The depth of the staff has been a huge benefit and there will likely be some battles for the last couple of rotation spots as the second half of the year progresses.
The Dodgers bullpen has been one of their biggest strengths so far this year, perhaps surprisingly to some. They rank as follows
- ERA 1st
- WHIP, 1st
- FIP, 2nd
- K/BB, 7th
- BAA, 2nd
After a disappointing 2019 campaign, Kenley Jansen is seven for seven in save opportunities this year. Expanded rosters have allowed the Dodgers to maximize their depth, and they’ve got contributions from the entire bullpen. Guys like Caleb Ferguson, Jake McGee, Blake Treinen, Pedro Baez, Brusdar Graterol, and Dylan Floro have all made positive contributions.
Top Performers: Caleb Ferguson, Jake McGee, Kenly Jansen
Grade: A. The team’s Achilles heel in the past, the Dodgers bullpen looks to be one of their strengths now. It’s only been a 30-game span, but it has to give Dave Roberts a good feeling knowing he can turn to a bunch of different options late in the game.
Grade: A-. The Dodgers came into the 2020 season as heavy favorites to get back to the World Series and possibly win it all. Halfway through the season, they’ve performed well and seem right on track. And the fact that the team actually has more players underachieving than overachieving must make Dodgers fans feel like the team could be even better in the second half. The Dodgers are not only the class of the NL West but the entire National League.
Of course, they probably aren’t concerned too much about the regular season… they have bigger goals in mind.