Four Burning Questions The Dodgers Face For The 2015 Season

Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick

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2. How much offense are the Dodgers really losing?

Hanley Ramirez is a dynamic offensive player, who posted an .817 OPS despite long stretches where he didn’t seem to have it all together at the plate. The year before, he was at 1.040.

Few shortstops offer what he does with the bat, and over the course of a 162-game season, it’s difficult to replace. Still, the Dodgers couldn’t invest that much cash in a player who can’t field, particularly with Corey Seager on the way, and everyone knew it.

Ramirez’s departure was a given. Matt Kemp was arguably the second-best hitter in the National League over the second half of last season, and if he’s now fully and sustainably healthy after two injury plagued years — a legitimate question — could be one of the best in 2015.

Jimmy Rollins replaces some Ramirez’s output, if he repeats his 2014 performance. How much of Kemp’s production does Joc Pederson bring? Who knows. It’s almost surely a net loss. On the other hand, Dodgers catchers were catastrophically unproductive in 2014.

Yasmani Grandal (combined with a healthy A.J. Ellis) can’t help but be better. Meanwhile, Howie Kendrick is a legitimate upgrade over Dee Gordon at second base.

So yeah, these Dodgers will score less, but count me among those who believe the difference will be more than accounted for with superior defense. They were horrible up the middle last year. This year, with Rollins, Kendrick and Pederson, they’ll be very good, and the three will contribute to a lineup swapping thump for versatility.

Over the course of the regular season, I think they’ll gain more from the uptick in defense than they’ll lose in offense, besting last year’s strong run differential. How the lineup changes impact the playoffs, when runs are harder to manufacture and single swings carry more weight, is harder to predict.

The Dodgers could certainly miss having two big home run hitters. Then again, better defense would have helped last October, too.

CONTINUE READING: Final Burning Question The Dodgers Face

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    1. Well, the line about him being “agitated” was more colorful originally, too… 🙂


  1. The problem with the assertion that the playoffs are more about the one-swing differential is that the Dodgers lost to the Cards mostly because of pitching and manufactured runs. They weren’t home run derbies, but the Cards put up strings of hits that helped them put runners in position and score runs. Yes, the increased defense will eliminate some of those, but Grandal, Kendrick, and Rollins are no slouches at the plate. I honestly believe this is going to be a team more about the manufactured runs/small ball. Less RISP, which KILLED the Dodgers last year.

    1. Fair. Point wasn’t that there’s no value in timely hitting or manufactured runs in the postseason, just that home runs become more valuable. Look at KC — not a power team by any stretch, but got HUGE home runs throughout. Same for SF. HR derby isn’t it. It’s more like one big HR… and that’s it. Statistically, at least, one-swing power has incredible value in the postseason.


      1. Totally agree that they ARE more valuable because they’re harder to get. I think a lot of focus this season will be on how to get Puig to stay out of his own way, Kershaw to not pressure himself so much, Kershaw to get a little more rest before the playoffs, and the bullpen to perform better. Bullpen and RISP were definitely killers last season, and with the moves made this year I think (well, i HOPE) there’s going to be less issue with that.

        No matter what, this is going to be a very exciting season. I’m stoked for all of the new faces and to see how everything unfolds!

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