The Los Angeles Dodgers showed up to win in 2015. With two of the top three finishers for the NL Cy Young award, their playoff rotation was stacked. In the end, the Dodgers went home while the Mets advanced to the NLCS, and then World Series before losing to the Royals. That’s not what ownership wants. That’s not what management wants. That’s not what the players want.
Former manager Don Mattingly has already been replaced by Dave Roberts and you can be sure the 2016 retooling won’t stop there. But what got LA to this point?
For all their payroll commitments, the Dodgers had a below average offense, scoring just 667 runs—fewer than the Mets, who were considered an extremely weak offense in the first half. While LA was in the bottom half in doubles, the team was sixth in home runs and third in walks. But this also wasn’t a high-whiff, homer-happy club: the Dodgers were just a tick over average in strikeouts (1258 vs. 1248).
It was a tale of two halves for catcher Yasmani Grandal: .282/.401/.526 in the first and just .162/.280/.218 in the second. While his overall line of .234/.353/.404 is production any team will take from their catcher, seven of his 16 home runs came in June (and 14 in the first half). 10 of his 12 doubles were in the first half as well.
The same can be said about center fielder Joc Pederson: .230/.364/.487 with 20 homers in the first and just .178/.317/.300 with six home runs in the second half. Although, we have to keep in mind that Pederson is young and just completed his rookie year. And he wasn’t completely lost. For instance, his first and second half strikeout (29.2 vs. 28.8 percent) and walk rates (15.8 vs. 15.5 percent) were right in line.
Justin Turner continued to make Mets fans upset with his LA play: .294/.370/.491 with 26 doubles and 16 homers. Adrian Gonzalez remained rock solid: 28 homers while hitting .257/.350/.480. Yasiel Puig played in just 79 games while battling injury and Mattingly with 11 homers and an overall .255/.322/.436 performance. In a late-season call-up, top prospect Corey Seager hit .337/.425/.561. He’ll take over a shortstop in 2016.
There’s not much more to be said about the top of the Dodgers rotation: Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke finished behind Jake Arrieta for the NL Cy Young. Kershaw struck out 301 batters in 232.2 innings with a 2.13 ERA and 1.99 FIP. Greinke tossed ten fewer innings and struck out 101 fewer batters. He finished with a 1.66 ERA and 2.76 FIP. It doesn’t get much better than those two.
Brett Anderson turned in a full, healthy season with 180 innings, a 3.69 ERA (3.94 FIP) and 116 Ks. He accepted his qualifying offer and will be back for 2016.
Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias made 21 and 13 starts, respectively with ERAs (and FIPs) of 3.62 (3.91) and 4.06 (4.32).
Alex Wood was acquired from the Braves in a strange trade that also included the Marlins and starter Mat Latos. Still just 24 and under control through 2020, the southpaw had a 4.35 ERA (4.10 FIP) in his 70 innings on the west coast. With a career ERA of 3.30 over parts of three years in the majors, he could be a rotation fixture going forward.
Brandon McCarthy tossed just 23 innings before succumbing to Tommy John surgery, and Kenley Jansen was excellent once more as the closer: 2.41 ERA (2.14 FIP), 52.1 innings, 80 strikeouts. Other than Jansen, however, the bullpen could use some retooling.
Was it a successful season?
The Dodgers are in this to win championships. They were eliminated in the first round of playoffs after the wild card game this year and that’s just not good enough. LA spent $300 million on a roster that had two aces had no legitimate star offensive player.
Pederson or Seager could become that guy. Maybe Yasiel Puig gets back on track too. But in 2015 the team simply fell short of expectations. The goal isn’t a Yankees Dynasty, just a championship for a team that’s competitive every year.
But this was also the first year of a new front office. A full winter and 2016 will be a better judge of Andrew Friedman’s plan.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs