The countdown is down! Cactus League play has wrapped up, and as the Dodgers are ready to set out on their road to repeat. We rejoice in the fact that baseball was able to complete a full spring training this year, quite different from our feelings one year ago.
Needless to say, we’re ready for the Dodgers to officially start defense of their 2020 World Championship.
As I’ve learned as a baseball fan, and most especially a Dodgers fan, each season is unique in its own way, which makes predictions on topics such as roster construction and pitching rotations almost impossible. That being said, the editorial team here at Dodgers Nation is not one to back away from a challenge…so we’ve decided to throw out some bold predictions for the season ahead, knowing and hoping that just about anything can happen.
So the one question for this Roundtable is this: Give me 3 of your boldest, wildest and wackiest predictions for the season ahead.
Gail [@GJOH29]: My mind started wandering to crazy places when thinking about this question, but I decided to narrow down my answers to the area Hitting, Pitching, and General Wackiness.
- I saw nothing in Spring Training to back up this prediction, but I’m going with a feeling I had before spring training started: Max Muncy is going to have a monster year. I mean, it wouldn’t be bold, wild or wacky to declare that Mookie or Corey will both finish in the Top 3 in NL MVP voting, so I’ll stick with Mad Max, who I think is going to gift us with more than 40 Bat Drops this season.
- Jimmy Nelson, Comeback Player of the Year
- Andrew Friedman will pull off a deal for a right-handed bat at the trade deadline that will make AJ Preller’s head explode. My crystal ball isn’t telling me just yet who the bat belongs to, but when it happens, it will become quite the Story around baseball.
Brook Smith [@brookme3]: I am anything but bold. Regardless, here are the most bold predictions I have in my arsenal for the 2021 season.
- The Dodgers will move away from the traditional closer role. The game is changing quickly, and LA is generally ahead of the curve in terms of being the first to make those changes. Moving away from Kenley Jansen as the designated closer will be the first move towards a World Series rerun in 2021. Look for Victor Gonzalez, Blake Treinen, and maybe even Tony Gonsolin to get more looks.
- Gavin Lux makes the 2021 All-Star team and is one of the most productive second basemen in MLB.
- Dodgers finish 10 games up in the NL West ahead of the Padres. Bold? Maybe not. But I hope I ruined a Padres’ fans day.
Daniel Palma [@Daniel_Palma96]: You want wacky and bold? I’ll give it my best shot.
- The 2017 Cleveland Indians currently hold the record for longest win streak at 22 games. My bold take is that the Dodgers will break this record at some point in August, the dog days of summer.
- Edwin Rios hit a home run every 11.8 at-bats in 2019. And what was that number in 2020? A whopping 9.5. This man can hit, and he’s going to get a chance to showcase that more often in 2021. I am predicting that Rios will crack 25 home runs or more coming off of the bench for LA.
- Pre-season predictions call for some truly bold takes. And everyone knows that the deadened baseballs don’t affect World Series MVPs. My final prediction is that Corey Seager will lead the team in home runs with 51, followed by Will Smith with 40. Let’s get wild.
Brenna White [@brennnawhite_]: I’m going to do my best here, but let’s talk bold predictions.
- Mookie Betts is going to outplay Mike Trout this season. I’m talking OPS rating, strikeouts, batting average. All of it. Sorry to all Angels fans, but we know Mookie Betts is a top 3 player in the MLB, but will he be able to end this season on top? I think so. Will it end the debate between the two players? Definitely not.
- Dodgers fans witness a complete game shutout from Walker Buehler this season as the Dodgers ace.
- This is as bold as it gets. Joe Kelly has an ERA of 3.00 or less through 40 innings this season. Let’s see if all that attention from last season makes him up his game and hopefully not break anymore windows.
AJ Gonzalez [@AJontheguitar]: Well let’s get bold then, But hopefully not preposterous.
- Chris Taylor Will be one of the 10 most valuable players in the National League, per WAR. The Dodgers trimmed some platooning from their roster, and suddenly Chris Taylor is going to play almost full time. He’s always been valuable, and this year we’re going to see it happen big.
- Corey Knebel will win reliever of the month at least once, and he’s going to be the most valuable pitcher out of the bullpen. Evil Knebel.
- Corey Seager is going to finish in the top two voting for National League MVP. Book it.
Brian Robitaille [@BriRobitaille]: Ok, I love my Dodgers Nation colleagues, but they have it all wrong here. You want bold? Check it…
- Justin Turner ties his career-high for home runs with 27 and plays great defense at third base this year, silencing his critics who said that he lost a step defensively. He also loses another 10 lbs but eventually gains most of it back when his beard grows out a bit more.
- Will Smith leads MLB catchers in OBP, OPS, and wRC+ this year. He also changes his walk-up song to “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” and spends two and a half innings explaining to Cody Bellinger that there is another, more famous, Will Smith out there.
- The Padres give the Dodgers all they can handle this year, and the division doesn’t get decided until the last week of the regular season. But in the end the Dodgers claim their 8th straight division title, thanks in large part to their dominance over the San Francisco Giants, who they go 19-0 against while out-scoring them 114-8.
Adam Salcido [@admsalcido]: Bold predictions huh? Maybe you shouldn’t have allowed me to do this but here it goes.
- We’ll start off easy first. Jimmy Nelson is going to have a huge impact this season. He’s looked great this Spring after recovering from a back injury. Although he’s been a starter for most of his career he’ll become the Dodgers’ most valuable reliever this year. He can easily eat up innings out of the pen or even serve as a valuable setup man for whoever is closing out games.
- Will Smith will hit 30+ home runs this year. Catchers aren’t usually known for their offensive ability, yet Smith is. He only has 91 career games under his belt, but he’s made every one count. During that time he’s sent 23 balls over the fence, so 30 shouldn’t be too far out of reach for him to get to. The last Dodger catcher to surpass that mark was Mike Piazza in 1997 when he mashed 40 home runs. If Austin Barnes wasn’t in the picture, I would’ve gladly predicted 35-40 home runs.
- Here’s where it gets interesting. Dave Roberts recently spoke on how historically good this team could be. While not everyone trusts in what Doc has to say anymore, he may have a point there. This year’s team is absolutely stacked no matter which way you look at it. While PECOTA has them slated to win 104 games this season, I’m going to take a giant leap of faith and say they make a run at and break the record for the most wins in a 162-game season held by the 2001 Seattle Mariners. At the very least they win 110 games.
It’s Time For Dodger Baseball
And here we are! It’s time for title defense in Los Angeles. It’s time to bring it home again. And yes, on Thursday, it will be time for Dodger baseball.