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Dodgers' High-Profile Moves Paying off Big in NLDS

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Dodgers' High-Profile Moves Paying off Big in NLDS
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Hanley Ramirez (right) and Yasiel Puig are paying off big-time for the Los Angeles Dodgers so far this postseason.

Talk about bang for the buck.

The Los Angeles Dodgers certainly are getting plenty of that as they've taken a 2-1 lead over the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series after Sunday night's 13-6 victory in L.A.

The Game 3 rout came primarily on the strength of the club's biggest and newest bats.

Shortstop Hanley Ramirez and right fielder Yasiel Puig had three hits, three runs and two RBI apiece. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez drove in two with a pair of knocks, and left fielder Carl Crawford led the team with three RBI thanks to an early three-run home run.

What do those four have in common, aside from the fact that they have propelled the Dodgers to within a game of advancing by putting the hurt on Braves pitching? That's right, not one of them was even in the organization 16 months ago.

In the span of about two months over the summer of 2012, the Dodgers' new ownership brought aboard each of those four hitters, and the team is reaping the rewards this October in its first postseason appearance since 2009.

Puig, the rookie sensation out of Cuba, inked a seven-year, $42 million deal last June, and Ramirez was acquired via trade from the Miami Marlins a month later. That was followed by the August blockbuster with the Boston Red Sox that landed Gonzalez and Crawford.

Of the Dodgers' whopping 10 two-out RBI on Sunday, seven came from that quartet.

Of course, L.A.'s acquisition spree continued over the winter.

The Dodgers signed left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu out of South Korea's professional league. Zack Greinke was handed a $147 million deal that was the largest ever given to a right-hander in baseball history. In fact, those two signed on the same weekend last December.

While Ryu's postseason debut Sunday didn't go well (four earned on six hits in three innings), Greinke threw well in Game 2 (two earned on four hits over six) but wound up with the loss. Both hurlers have had fantastic first seasons in Los Angeles to help the club reach this point.

Game 3 belonged to the bats, which is impressive considering that pitching has been the Dodgers' forte all year long. Their 3.13 rotation ERA, led by Cy Young favorite Clayton Kershaw's 1.83, was easily tops in the sport.

Many expected L.A. to continue to ride those arms this month.

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Even with Matt Kemp (left) and Andre Ethier serving as glorified—and highly paid—cheerleaders due to injury, the Dodgers are raking.

The Dodgers' offensive outburst has been even more impressive because the lineup is far from full strength. Andre Ethier is limited to pinch-hitting duties, and fellow outfielder Matt Kemp—only the team's highest-paid player at $160 million—is out of the playoffs altogether. Both are battling ankle injuries.

No Kemp. No Ethier. No problem.

Through the first three games this postseason, the Dodgers are hitting .333/.390/.524 as a team with four homers and 22 runs. That puts them in the same category as the Red Sox, who had baseball's best offense during the regular season.

While L.A. is getting contributions from holdovers like catcher A.J. Ellis (4-for-8) and third baseman Juan Uribe (4-for-12 with a homer), it's the imports—the big-money, big-name hitters—who are the ones coming up, well, big.

The 2013 season has been one of downs then ups for the Dodgers. The team with the nearly $217 million payroll—the second highest in the majors behind only that of the New York Yankees'—showed just how hot it can get with that incredible 42-8 streak from late June through mid-August.

Now the Dodgers are showing just how much bang they can get for their buck, too.

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