That’s a wrap

The most successful regular season based on wins has finally concluded with the Dodgers topping out at 104 wins.  Even with the Dodgers winning more games in their history it was still a season with a crazy high and a just as crazy low.

It was like the Dodgers had two directors this year, with Alfonso Cuarón manning the helm from April – Aug 15th, and Renny Harlin being asked to take over for a month, while Cuarón spent a month on siesta before coming back and salvaging the disaster that Harlin was turning the season into.

I’ve never quite seen a season like this. For a team that was supposed to win the NL West it ended getting so much help from so many unlikely sources.

Five players that on Feb 1st, were expected to have little to zero impact on the 2017 season but instead turned in an ROY season, a comeback player of the year season (Morrow or Ryu), a game-changing catcher,  and a slugging leadoff hitter.

It all started with Cody Bellinger. Back in February Jim Bowden made a bold prediction that Cody Bellinger would be the Dodgers starting left fielder. He was ridiculed on Twitter but I thought he was onto something.

Just how silly was that prediction? If the Dodgers wanted to field the best team from the get go, maybe he should be? He won’t be but by the end of spring training,  it might be clear that the best left fielder in the Dodger system goes by the name of Cody Bellinger.

When the season started Cody Bellinger was playing 1st base in AAA, by the end of April he was setting major league rookie records and would continue to do so for the rest of the season. He ended up playing 1st, LF, and even Center Field. You could have won a lot of money betting that Cody Bellinger would play over 100 games in 2017 just because he didn’t seem to have a spot.

Not to be outdone Chris Taylor was also in AAA in April, but by July he was the best leadoff hitter in the National League.  Another player with no position he forced his way onto the major league roster and they turned the utility infielder into the starting left fielder. He would eventually become the starting center fielder.

Austin Barnes was fighting for the job of backup catcher and was expected to catch once a week. By the end of the year, you could make the argument that Barnes was not only the Dodgers starting catcher but possibly the best catcher in the National League.

Name PA HR wOBA wRC+ WAR
Austin Barnes 260 8 0.383 140 2.4
Buster Posey 566 12 0.363 127 4.1
Kurt Suzuki 304 18 0.369 127 2.5
Willson Contreras 428 21 0.362 121 3.1
Tyler Flowers 369 12 0.359 121 2.5
Chris Iannetta 311 16 0.364 118 2.1
J.T. Realmuto 575 17 0.334 107 3.7
Yasmani Grandal 479 22 0.325 102 2.5

Brandon Morrow also started the year in AAA and it took until May 29th before the Dodgers brought him up. He’s now the best setup man the Dodgers have had entering the postseason since the days of Kuo.

Ryu was given little chance of being a productive part of the Dodger rotation but ended up making twenty-four starts and is currently in the discussion for a postseason rotation spot.

Pos              Name Age  PA HR  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
1B    Cody Bellinger*  21 543 39 .350 .581 .931  141
LF       Chris Taylor  26 565 21 .354 .497 .851  123
C       Austin Barnes  27 260  8 .404 .484 .888  135

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/1/2017.

Name             Age ERA  G GS    IP ERA+  WHIP  H9 BB9  SO9
Hyun-Jin Ryu*     30 3.77 25 24 126.2  111 1.366 9.1 3.2  8.2
Brandon Morrow    32 2.06 45  0  43.2  204 0.916 6.4 1.9 10.3

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/1/2017.

That is how you win 104 games. You add three dynamite offensive players to a group that already included Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Yazmani Grandal, and twenty-six-year-old Puig.

You find a setup jewel to complement the best relief pitcher in baseball.

To be honest, Ryu had a great season only based on what was expected. His overall work wasn’t that special, and if he had not made twenty-four starts I don’t think the win record of 104 would have noticed.  He was brilliant on Sunday Night baseball, and if any games are scheduled for Sunday Night, I’m giving Ryu the ball.

Yeah, I really would.

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5 Comments

  1. 68elcamino427

    Hold Ryu out of the first five game series.
    Give that forearm more time to heal and recover.
    Ryu will be able to get back in sync with the feel of his release.

    Then deploy Ryu for the seven game series, inserting him in the starting rotation.
    In this scenario Wood is available to back up Ryu and Darvish.

    Like

  2. 68elcamino427

    Wonderful observations here.

    A classic trait of championship teams is when several players have career type seasons.

    “Summer’s almost gone
    We had some good times
    Now they’re gone
    The Winter’s comin’ on
    Summer’s almost gone …”

    -The Doors

    Onward to the Fall Classic!

    Like

  3. Michael

    What a great season. One of my favorite Dodger seasons ever. Thanks for writing this blog and all of the historical perspectives.

    I’ve always wanted to watch a 100+ win Dodger team. It was so fun to watch the nightly dominance during the summer. And then came the losing streak. Like you said, a crazy low. Just another reminder that baseball is unpredictable. As soon as you think a team is among the best ever, or a sure-thing WS winner, it can all turn around.

    Can’t wait for the playoffs.

    Like

    • Certainly my favorite season of the 21st century even though Mannywood was kind of awesome and if not for a couple of inches in Philly in October it might have been that extra special season.
      It was kind of weird that stretch where you felt they could win every game. Teams just don’t click on all cylinders for that length of time. Possibly a victim of their own success, once you claimed the postseason in August, you would have to expect a natural letdown in energy even if you don’t want to admit it.
      The postseason won’t be easy, everyone is tough unless the Rockies knock off the Diamondbacks, it will take a special effort to beat the Dbacks and winner of the Cubs/Nationals. The Nationals are just as hungry as the Dodgers.

      Like

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