Coming into 2012, outside expectations for the Dodgers were low. Aside from Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Andre Ethier, the Dodgers were stocked with a bunch of names that left experts far from excited.
Grantland.com predicted the Dodgers would finish in fourth place in the division with a losing record. Of the eight CBSsports.com experts, only two predicted the Dodgers would finish as high as second place, while Yahoo.com mirrored Grantland’s prediction of a fourth-place club.
Then, Matt Kemp happened.
The Dodgers’ star stormed through the month of April in historic fashion—establishing himself as the game’s best player after just 23 games. During that stretch, Kemp compiled an on-base percentage of .490 with 12 home runs, 25 RBIs and 24 runs—all among the league leaders.
Thanks to the outburst, the Dodgers were among the best teams in baseball with a 16-7 record.
Then, just 13 days into the month of May, things seemed to be on the verge of unraveling. After winning just two of their first five games in May, Kemp injured his hamstring and was reluctantly placed on the DL.
As high as hopes were on May 1, the prospect of adding Kemp to a disabled list that already included Juan Rivera, Jerry Hairston and Juan Uribe seemed problematic. Instead of hoping to extend their division lead, the general feelings seemed to shift towards a goal of simply maintaining it in the absence of their star.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Despite the absence of Kemp, the Dodgers admirably kept things afloat. In fact, the second place Giants didn’t gain a single game on the Dodgers until Monday night.
With Kemp healthy, the Dodgers had a record of 23-11—a winning percentage of .676. Since the injury they are 9-5—a winning percentage of .642.
For those wondering how it all happened, here are 15 reasons the Dodgers were able to survive.