Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, July 17, 2014

With Sixty Percent of Season Gone, Some Predictions on How the It Will End

With MLB play about to resume after the All Star break, the Dodgers have played ninety-seven games, which comes out to be 60% of the season.  They have the best record in the National League, by the skin of their teeth.  Yet they’re also a mere 2.5 games from not making the playoffs as well.  The post season picture is that close, with no true dominant team in the National League.
Photo by Jon SooHoo, LA Dodgers, (courtesy of Dodgersphotoblog.mlblogs.com)

One bad week and they can be out of the playoff picture.  One 7 game winning streak and they could take a commanding lead.  The volatility of the league is quite fluid.  As of now there are nineteen teams still in playoff contention in MLB, meaning that trade partners should be limited when the deadline hits in about two weeks.

So there are two ways to look at the Dodger season so far, and I’ll pick the glass half full option.  The ball club hasn’t hit it’s stride yet.  Not even reaching a 4 game winning streak all season.  Guys like Kemp, Ethier, Gonzalez, Ramirez, Ellis, and Wilson are underperforming, and they’re still in first place.   At least some of those guys are bound to improve.  

Then there is the pithing, it’s too good.  They have the best starting staff in the league.  Whether it is Kershaw, Grinke, Beckett or Ryu, those guys are putting up quality start after quality start.  Everyone but Haren is hitting their stride and even he has had his positive moments this year.  The bullpen has improved and is holding its own.  Jansen is coming back. Howell has been spectacular.  League is back to where he was two years ago.

Their play on the road - stellar.  Which means that their home field play is bound to get better (as it has for the past month).  Their play within the NL West is markedly improved from last year (28-18) and there is a lot of inter-division play left.  Though they start play against competition that is pretty tough for the remainder of July, take a look at their September schedule.  The only ball club over .500 they will be playing will be the Giants.  It’ll be the rest of the NL West and the lowly Cubs in September during that 30 game stretch run at the end.

Photo by Jon SooHoo, LA Dodgers, (courtesy of Dodgersphotoblog.mlblogs.com)

Even if the Dodgers find themselves a few games back going into September, they’ll still be in good position to win the division with that cupcake schedule at the end.  So I say 2014 is looking good for the Dodgers.  There's room for improvement.  There are players that will pick up the pace.  The late season schedule is favorable and they are bound to play better baseball at home.

Here are a few of my mid-season predictions addressing how the season will end.

  1. The Dodgers end the season at 95-67, leaving the Giants a full 6 games behind to take the NL West.  I still think the Giants are a wildcard team though.
  2. Clayton Kershaw ends the season with a 20-5 record and an ERA of 2.02 as he wins his third Cy Young Award.  He’ll strikeout less than 200 for the first time in a while, but that's good as he'll be stronger in post season play because of it. 
  3. Yasiel Puig finishes right at .300 with 24 homers and .945 OPS.  He is awarded a gold glove award.
  4. Zack Greinke finishes at 20-12, making the Dodgers the first team in a while to sport two 20 game winners.  His ERA of 2.94 will end up being the third lowest of the starting staff though because Josh Beckett’s 2.64 ERA will come up in second behind Kershaw.  Beckett will finish with 14 wins and will be a solid third option pitching in the post-season.
  5. Dee Gordon completes 2014 leading the league in stolen bases with 79, while being caught 19 times.  He keeps his on-base % up around .345 and he’ll score close to 100 runs on the year.
  6. AJ Ellis lifts his batting average 40 points to finish the year at .254.  We’ll find that his time sitting earlier in the season was a blessing in disguise as he is well rested and he proves to be a significant surprise contributor in the final month of the season.
  7. Matt Kemp continues to improve and finds additional pop in his bat, hitting 13 homers in the final 65 games, finishing with 21 dingers.  His bat heats up for a stretch and he carries the club for several games, giving us all glimpses of the Matt Kemp pre-shoulder surgery.
  8. Adrian Gonzalez struggles through his toughest season in years, failing to adequately adjust to those defensive shifts against him.  He still drives in runs and hits 25 homers on the year, but that usual BA in the .300 range settles for .260 this year.
  9. With the 95 win season, the Dodgers clinch home field advantage in post season play.  They take wild card winner San Francisco in the first round, and then face nemesis St. Louis in the NLCS, but this time they dominate and take the series in five games.  The World Series will be against Oakland.  Dodgers win it in 6 games.
Feel free to jump in and comment with your predictions.  It's going to be a fun two and a half months.

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