The Dodgers hit the All-Star break at 56-35, two games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. They’ve had their ups and downs this season and had to deal with injuries to some key players. Below, we break down how the team’s offense has done so far this year and assign grades for each player. This the first of a two-part series, with the second article covering the team’s pitching.
Team’s Offense Grade: B
Grading the Dodgers offense is a little tricky because it really depends on how much emphasis you put on their expectations going into the year. Currently, the Dodgers offense ranks 5th in the N.L in Avg (.244), 1st in OBP (.338), 2nd in OPS (.759), and 1st in wRC+ (119). They also lead the league in Runs Per Game, at 5.23.
On the surface, those team numbers look pretty good and paint a picture of an above average offense. But when you consider the expectations around the Dodgers lineup this year and look at some of the individual performances so far, it’s a little bit of a different story.
We’re somewhat grading on a curve here, but when you have the lineup that the Dodgers do, you kind of have to. Even with the injuries they’ve sustained this season, the Dodgers haven’t lived up to their offensive capabilities thus far. They also have gone into some prolonged slumps at times, when no one is hitting the ball particularly well.
On the other hand, they haven’t been fully healthy all year long, so that has to be taken into consideration as well.
Individual Player Grades
Will Smith: B-
Since coming into the league in 2019, Smith has been the best offensive catcher in baseball, posting the highest wRC+ and second highest OPS over that timeframe. After a slow start this year, he still has the third highest WAR among catchers (2.6.) His defense can use some improvement, but his offense remains very good. Considering his potential, Smith’s numbers could get even better in the second half.
Austin Barnes: C-
What Barnes lacks offensively, he makes up for with his ability to call a game. His .655 OPS this year is slightly lower than his career .694 mark, and his .208/.327/.328 slash line isn’t ideal. But he’s not in the lineup for his bat, and he still remains Clayton Kershaw’s primary catcher. As far as backup catchers go, Barnes provides the Dodgers with a solid option behind the plate.
Max Muncy: A+
If the Dodgers had an MVP for the first half of the year, Max Muncy would almost certainly be that player. He leads the team in practically every major offensive category (HR, RBI, OBP, Slg, OPS, wRC+, BB/K) and he basically carried the offensive load when other guys were either out with injury or slumping. His .972 OPS is 5th in baseball, and he’s been solid defensively, playing both first and second base when needed.
Gavin Lux: D
The high expectations for Lux may have been a little unfair considering his age and experience at the Major League level, but nonetheless, he hasn’t quite lived up to hype just yet. After a rough April, Lux improved a bit, but still has a team-worst OPS (.672) among qualified players. Another concern is his inability to hit left-handed pitching so far. Lux is slashing .145/.241/.174 on the year against lefties and he could be in danger of losing ABs if his struggles continue.
Chris Taylor: B+
Taylor is in the middle of one of his best seasons since his 2017 debut with the Dodgers. His 134 wRC+ is 3rd on the team, behind only Max Muncy and Justin Turner. His defensive versatility continues to be invaluable as well. If there was one area of improvement for Taylor, it would be his strikeout rate. His K% of 25.7% is the highest on the team among qualified players.
Corey Seager: C
To be fair, Seager’s grade could easily be an “incomplete” given how much time he’s missed since going down with a hand injury in May. After putting up career best numbers last year, and then having a great postseason, expectations were sky high for Seager this season. He hasn’t been great so far (his .783 OPS would be a career low), but again, he’s only had about a quarter of a year’s worth of plate appearances. The Dodgers are surely looking forward to his return in the second half.
Justin Turner: A-
Turner had a red-hot start in April and has continued his success throughout the first half, slashing .307/.394/.500. Among third basemen, Turner has the highest wRC+ (149) this year and only Rafael Devers has a better OPS than Turner’s .894 mark. He continues to be one of the most consistent hitters on the team, as he’s been throughout his 8-year tenure with the Dodgers. His defense may have taken a step back, and at age 36, Turner might need more rest days than before. But he remains a key cog in the middle of the order and his offensive production hasn’t missed a beat.
Mookie Betts: C+
To be clear, Betts isn’t having a bad year by any means. But if we’re going by Mookie standards, he’s definitely not where he needs to be offensively. He’s hitting only .256, and although he’s still getting on base at a good clip (.366 OBP), his .839 OPS is almost 100 points lower than last year. Mookie has got hot recently though, clubbing three home runs in his last five games. He’s too good to keep down for long, so don’t be surprised to see Betts have a monster second half.
Cody Bellinger: D-
Like Seager, Bellinger could get an “incomplete” grade being that he’s only had 141 PA on the year. He’s battled multiple injuries and IL stints this year but he’s only slashing .176/.291/.303 with four home runs and a dismal .593 OPS. He still offers plenty of value with his defense and base running, but Bellinger’s offense hasn’t been there so far. Of course, he could still be getting into his rhythm after missing so much time to start the year. Still, even with a fairly small sample size, his offensive struggles in the first half have been significant.
A.J Pollock: B-
In the shortened 2020 season, Pollock put up some nice numbers (.881 OPS) and really excelled against LHP. After a slow start this year, his production has seen an uptick lately, and he’s now slashing .271/.332/.518. Pollock also has a .911 OPS against lefties this season, and although his numbers vs righties are not quite as good, he appears to have settled into his role as the everyday left fielder.
Those are my thoughts. If you agree or disagree, leave a comment below. And be sure to check out the second part of this article, which will assign grades to the Dodgers pitchers.