A year ago………
Watching the Dodgers win their 3rd straight division series led by the likes of Max Muncy, Pedro Baez, Yazmani Grandal, David Freeze, and Manny Machado I couldn’t help but wonder at how much everything stays the same, and how it all changes from one year to the next.
At this time a year ago Max Muncy had completed his first professional season with the Dodgers and at the age of twenty-six, he didn’t even get a Sept call-up. If thoughts of retirement weren’t spinning around in his head they should have been. A year later, Max Muncy has had one of the most improbable seasons in my lifetime. He didn’t just make the Dodgers, he became a star, and continues to star in the postseason.
At this time a year ago Pedro Baez was the scourge of the Dodger fan base. He was so bad at the end of 2017 that he was left off of the 2017 postseason roster and his Dodger future looked to be in doubt. A year later, Pedro dominated September and is now pitching high leverage games in October, and coming through game after game.
At this time a year ago Caleb Ferguson had pitched his last game in the California League, getting clobbered in their final postseason game. He was an A-Ball pitcher who had some success but was behind a plethora of Dodger prospects and was ranked only 27 but David Hood. A year later, Caleb Ferguson is the Dodgers best answer to the 2016 version of Andrew Miller.
At this time a year ago, Yazmani Grandal was about to get benched for the rest of the postseason ceding the position to Austin Barnes. A year later, Yazmani Grandal who didn’t start one of the seven World Series games in 2017, started every single game of the 2018 NLDS and might just start every postseason game this October. When Grandal gets hot he alone can carry an offense and while he gets complaints about his passed balls, he is also the best power hitting catcher in the National League, and he’s going to get paid this winter.
A year ago Matt Kemp was finishing up a horrible second half for the Atlanta Braves and wondering what his future held for him. Little did he know that a year later he would have been a big piece of the raft that kept the Dodgers afloat while they waited for the rest of the team to get their sea legs. He might not be a key member right now but given that they barely squeaked into the playoffs, they probably aren’t there if not for Matt Kemp.
A year ago Kiké Hernandez was getting ready to clobber the Cubs in the NLCS but he was still just a part-time player, who only played against left-hand pitching. A year later, for the first time in his career, Kiké Hernandez is a full-time second baseman and one of the most valuable players on a team loaded with all-stars.
A year ago Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched his last game on Sept 29th going two innings. A year later Ryu was named the opening pitcher for the postseason for the NLDS and got the Dodgers started with a brilliant game one outing. At this point, you could make an argument that Ryu is the best pitcher in a rotation that has the greatest pitcher of the 21st century, and the best young pitcher in the NL.
A year ago the Dodgers best pitching prospect had failed his Sept audition to be part of the 2017 postseason roster. A year later, Walker Buehler put up one of the best inaugural seasons by a LAD rotation piece in history and just might be the best pitching option in the rotation right now.
A year ago Dylan Floro had been picked up by the Dodgers off of waivers but he never pitched for the big league club. Instead, he was granted free agency on Oct 3rd and was signed by the Reds. The Dodgers must have liked something about him because they traded for him, and now he’s on the postseason roster.
We all know what happened a year ago. How the Dodgers vanquished the Cubs and went to the World Series only to have their two best pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish blow three of the seven games.
I hope a year from now I’m writing about the 2018 World Champion Dodgers and what is different about that team and the 2019 team.
We can only hope.