Expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to be celebrating a lot during the playoffs.
Even though there are still plenty of games left to play in the final month of the regular season, the playoff picture is looking pretty clear. Unless one of these teams endures a collapse of epic proportions, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds appear to be the October-bound squads.
But despite a mediocre first half (47-47 record), the Los Angeles Dodgers have arguably emerged as the favorite in the National League. Behind players like Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez and many more, the Dodgers should find ways to best each of the other top NL organizations in the playoffs.
Read on to see why the Los Angeles Dodgers will beat each predicted National League playoff team.
B.J. Upton is only batting .191 on the season.
Even though Justin and B.J. Upton, the Atlanta Braves’ two biggest offseason acquisitions, have proven to be inconsistent and unproductive, respectively, the team has still won a lot of ballgames in 2013. In fact, the Braves have collected 89 victories, which gives them the best record (89-59) in the National League.
Despite their success on paper, the team’s production is still questionable—especially compared to a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Braves' top starting pitchers, for instance, are Julio Teheran (127 ERA+), Mike Minor (a 123 ERA+) and Kris Medlen (a park-adjusted 117 ERA+). Their staff pales in comparison to the Dodgers’ trio of Clayton Kershaw (a 183 ERA+), Zack Greinke (a 129 ERA+) and Ricky Nolasco (a 135 ERA+ since becoming a Dodger).
In addition, the Braves’ top three hitters have been Freddie Freeman (a park-adjusted 138 OPS+), Chris Johnson (a 123 OPS+) and Justin Upton (a 120 OPS+), whereas the Dodgers boast Hanley Ramirez (a 184 OPS+), Yasiel Puig (a 168 OPS+) and Adrian Gonzalez (a 124 OPS+).
Could Adam Wainwright stop the Los Angeles Dodgers offense?
The St. Louis Cardinals always seem to find a way to win—especially in the playoffs. But perhaps if they faced the Los Angeles Dodgers, their luck would change.
Even though the Cardinals and the Dodgers are about tied with a team-combined, park-adjusted 103 and 104 wRC+ on the season, respectively, the Dodgers have seen that offensive metric spike to 109 in the second half. By comparison, the Cardinals offense has struggled in the second half, posting a 89 wRC+—which ranks in the middle of the pack.
The Dodgers' 2.89 FIP is also the best rotation FIP in the second half. And the Cardinals rotation? A mere 4.07 FIP.
Joey Votto's magnificent bat still wouldn't be able to propel the Reds past the Dodgers.
With players like Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo, Mat Latos and Aroldis Chapman, the Reds will be a legitimate threat down the stretch and in the playoffs.
But despite their undeniable talent, the team has been unable to gain any traction on the St. Louis Cardinals or the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Central. Thus, it might endure similar issues with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs, too.
The Reds have posted a park-adjusted 98 wRC+ and 3.58 FIP (rotation) in the second half, which looks diminutive compared to the Dodgers’ 109 wRC+ and 2.89 FIP (rotation).
Anything could happen between these two talented squads in a multi-game series, but the Dodgers still have the upper hand in the contest.
Marlon Byrd was a great deadline acquisition, but both he and the Pirates offense would still get shut down by Clayton Kershaw.
The success of the Pittsburgh Pirates has been one of the best stories in 2013. Despite not advancing to the playoffs or even enjoying a winning season since 1992, the Pirates are en route to accomplishing both feats this year.
Overall good play aside, the Bucs have only posted a 30-25 record in the second half (compared to a 56-37 record in the first half). And while acquiring Marlon Byrd, Justin Morneau and John Buck at the various deadlines have bolstered the Pirates roster, in no way do they possess the same type of overall production as the Dodgers.
If the two teams squared off in the playoffs, the Dodgers’ incredible rotation would shut down Pirates hitters—a feat the Pirates rotation might not be able to reciprocate.
The combination of Clayton Kershaw (a 183 ERA+), Zack Greinke (a 129 ERA+) and Ricky Nolasco (a 135 ERA+ since becoming a Dodger) would do more damage than A.J. Burnett (a 102 ERA+), Francisco Liriano (a 122 ERA+) and Jeff Locke (a 113 ERA+).