Though it is a bit premature to do deep-dive analysis or retrospective of the whirlwind 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers baseball season, some final thoughts linger as we await hot stove season in Major League Baseball.
*Justin Turner could have taken the final step to being a legitimate star, if not superstar. A slump at the very worst time inhibited that, but his sound swing mechanics and quiet hands ensure that he will be an impact bat throughout the remainder of his contract with the Dodgers.
*Corey Seager is the Dodgers’ ‘best’ offensive player but the extent of his elbow/back injuries will be the determinant of his future. Back injuries, specifically, can derail entire careers (eg, Don Mattingly).
*Cody Bellinger did poorly enough with the bat that it’s conceivable his entire ceiling has been downgraded. Based on his regular season, if figured he would be a perennial .275/35/100 guy. Now he looks like he can be pitched to, and players like that hit .240 with 30-35 home runs. He did not adjust, and he has defined holes in his swing. He is young, but extrapolating on 17 strikeouts in a seven-game World Series, that’s pacing for well over 200 strikeouts in a season. And those hitters just do not hit for a high average.
*The makeup of #thisteam was incredible. Kiké Hernandez, Austin Barnes, Kyle Farmer, Kenta Maeda, Charlie Culberson – everybody on the roster contributed. The boat was being rowed in the same direction, thank you to Dave Roberts. A beautiful team to watch.
*What on Earth happened to Yasmani Grandal? In what looked like a season primed for Grandal to become a top-three catcher in baseball, he outright lost the job and was nowhere to be seen in the postseason. Austin Barnes is good, but he really projects to be an average major league catcher and may be more valuable as a utility man. One harkens back to the PED suspension Grandal had in ’13 and wonders. . .
*Does anybody in the sport play with the joie de vivre as Joc Pederson? It does not excuse his slow-pitch softball approach at the plate, but the genuine enthusiasm and impetuous emotion are really fun to watch. He appears to be a beloved teammate, as well. He is likely not the long-term answer in left field, but who knows – maybe this star turn in the World Series is what helps him recover the upward trend he was supposed to have heading into 2017.
*Chris Taylor will be interesting to watch in 2018. Unquestionably one of the most valuable Dodgers in 2017, it will be paramount for the Dodgers to get a feel for whether the former 26th-man can really sustain this performance, or anything close to it. He still ‘feels’ like a fourth outfielder or super-utility guy in the major leagues, long-term.
*Chase Utley. Great ride. Time to head into the sunset (or coaching), Silver Fox.
*Clayton Kershaw. Roberts said it prior to game seven, but he also said it prior to game six – Kershaw was ready either way, and he was supposed to get the last out of the World Series. The way Kershaw is wired – full of fire, competitive as can be – it makes great sense, and might actually be a better role in the postseason for him. It is silly to advocating for a bullpen role for Kershaw, but it is worth noting that he wears that role well.
*Kenley Jansen. Was absolutely unhittable in game six. It appears that the greatness of this closer is finally being recognized.
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*The Dodgers need a legitimate number two starting pitcher. Rich Hill profiles beautifully as a three; Hyun-Jin Ryu is fine, Kenta Maeda is a revelation out of the bullpen and should fill the Andrew Miller role from 2018 forward, but Yu Darvish was completely out of sorts in L.A. since his arrival and it is time to acquire somebody else. Jake Arrieta? Kevin Gausman? Sigh. Perhaps a trade is in the offing, but the Dodgers need another great arm.
*Brandon Morrow was awesome. He’s gotta go be a closer somewhere in 2018, right? Great year, awesome find by the front office.
*Logan Forsythe is going to be just fine in 2018. He was good signing overall despite a nettlesome year. Hampered by injuries and inconsistency during the regular season, he found his way at the most important time, battling and grinding at-bats while posting a .435 On Base Percentage in the postseason.
*#PuigMyFriend. He will never be the best player on the team for a season, but he will definitely have superstar moments and be productive in the right situations. That eight-hole move was phenomenal by Roberts, but the Dodgers’ brass needs to be careful about placing too much pressure and too many expectations on the emotional outfielder. And also, he better win a Gold Glove. There is not a right fielder even close to his prodigious defensive skill package.
*The Dodgers had a good season, but there’s work to be done for 2018.