Save your angst about the season for at least one more day, Dodger fans. This season is already off to a better start than last season.
Opening Day 2019 was a day for the history books. Six different batters combined to hit eight home runs, an Opening Day record across all of MLB, and tying a Dodger franchise record. 46 home runs were hit across the league on Opening Day, and the Dodgers owned 5.75% of those. They are currently on pace for 1,296 home runs this season.
I quipped on Twitter that the Dodgers were exorcising their demons from last season, taking out their frustrations on those poor helpless baseballs and unsuspecting Diamondbacks pitchers. But when one thinks about it, there was a lot of frustration to unleash.
The Dodgers did not score in the first two games of last season, losing both games 1-0 to the San Francisco Giants. They didn’t hit their eighth home run as a team until the 11th game of the season.
Joc Pederson has been a part of trade rumors for the entire winter, supposedly mentioned in trade talks between the Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians for one of their two top pitchers. He also plays left field, one of the only positions where there is definitely going to be platooning this season. Alex Verdugo has been looking to break through to consistent playing time, and Joc finds himself fighting to remain among the primary outfielders. He went 3-for-5 with two home runs and a double, while batting in the leadoff position. Not a bad way to say you belong.
Super utility man Enrique Hernandez has finally proved himself a starter, taking ownership of the revolving door position that has been second base for the Dodgers. He responded to that honor by hitting two home runs of his own, 3-for-3 overall with a walk.
“Its been really hard to get to the point where I am right now,” Hernandez told reporters after the opener on Thursday afternoon. “The road’s not going to get any easier, but yeah, obviously having a position set, it makes this one a pretty memorable one, it’s the one that you always dream of, you know, being in the starting lineup, and having a position I guess, and one that I will never forget.”
After a breakout year last year, Max Muncy had a terrible spring training. Corey Seager was out most of last season due to elbow and hip surgery. Cody Bellinger saw his numbers fall last season. Austin Barnes saw his capabilities as full-time catcher questioned all off season. All of them hit home runs.
In addition to all the long balls, there was also situational hitting, with Muncy getting a run across with a productive out in the first inning. But one of the biggest standouts to me was there were only three strikeouts.
Not to be forgotten in all of the offense is starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. He went six full innings, scattering four hits and allowing a solo home run to Adam Jones. On a healthy Dodgers pitching staff, he would have been the fourth in line to be chosen as Opening Day starter, and he still went out and dominated.
Justin Turner and A.J. Pollock did not get any hits, but I’m not worried about them. They’ll be just fine. Brock Stewart did not look sharp, but again, I’m not worried about him, because either he will fix what’s wrong or floated back to Oklahoma City. There will undoubtedly be losing streaks and hitless streaks and multiple strikeouts and bad pitching somewhere down the line. But for now, let’s enjoy this gift the Dodgers have given us, a little exhaling to begin the season.