Nothing To Fear But The Los Angeles Dodgers: Danger Ahead in The NL West
There are four teams in the NL West with a huge, inescapable problem: the Los Angeles Dodgers. If you think the team’s 10-5 start is an aberration, think again.
Take the lineup. The team currently ranks first in the National League in every important category you can think of including batting average, runs scored, OBP, SLG and stolen bases.
From top to bottom, the lineup does not have a single hole, with center field phenom Matt Kemp hitting seventh and Casey Blake (who the team recently traded one of its top five prospects for) hitting eighth.
Sure, Kemp and new second baseman Orlando Hudson have come out of the gates at a dead sprint, but shortstop Rafael Furcal and catcher Russell Martin are toiling away with batting averages around .250. This is not a team that has been playing over its head.
Though it is unlikely the team will maintain its .296 AVG or .386 OBP for the remainder of the season, it’s conceivable that with a healthy Furcal and new installations like Hudson and the infamous Manny Ramirez manning left field, this team could score 150 additional runs over last year’s total of 700.
That is a frightening prospect for other National League teams, especially when one considers that the Dodgers’ pitching staff may be improved as well.
Through Los Angeles’ first fifteen games, the team once again ranks first or second in the National League in just about any statistic that matters. First in BAA, first in WHIP and second in the league with a very respectable 3.74 team ERA, this staff has all the makings to be dominant.
Though the team lost ace Derek Lowe in the off season, the Dodgers also let Brad Penny walk, a country-boy righty who lost nine games in 17 starts in Los Angeles and carried with him a not-so spectacular 6.27 ERA in 2008.
Enter Randy Wolf, a full season of Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley with another season of work under his belt. And now, one of the best staffs in the game last year may not have lost a step, and arguably, may have more talent now than ever.
So what does all this mean for the rest of the rest of the National League West?
To put it bluntly, it’s pretty tough to find the silver lining on this one. The Dodgers currently rank first in both leagues with a +38 run differential and the team doesn’t look like it has any plans of slowing down.
With the Diamondbacks sporting an anemic offense, the Giants sending out Fred Lewis and Bengie Molina to head the team’s lineup every day, and the Rockies showing no signs of life, the San Diego upstarts seem to be the only team that really wants to compete with the division favorites.
And when the San Diego Padres are your best hope, a team that desperately tried to trade the face of the franchise over the off season and which relies on a 5-7 malnourished David Eckstein to spark an offense every night, this could be a long season for everyone.
I’m not saying the season is over, but when September rolls around (or early August for that matter) and Los Angeles is twelve games up and refuses to let up, don’t let me say I told you so.
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