The first quarter of the Dodgers‘ 2019 season is already in the books. Time flies when you’re having fun and have one of the best records in baseball.
Since the Dodgers have an off-day before taking on the Padres for a short two game set at Dodger Stadium, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at some highlights from the first 43 games.
27-16 Record—This one maybe isn’t quite so unexpected as it is a pleasant surprise. The Dodgers are supposed to be this good, as they had been the previous season. But, this time last year, fans and critics alike were wondering just what the heck was going on. This season, the Dodgers avoided the seemingly usual slow start in April, and for the most part, are rolling right along. They are in first place in the NL West, four games ahead of both the Diamondbacks and the Padres, and have the most wins in the majors, although they are behind a few teams in percentage points. As long as they keep this up they can secure home field advantage all throughout the playoffs.
Max Muncy—Affectionately referred to as “The Wolf” by Dodger fans, Max Muncy was a revelation when he came up and joined the Dodgers last season. Many worried he wouldn’t be able to repeat his incredible 2018 season, but so far, he’s been performing well. His current slash line of .258/.351/.477/.828 is lower than his overall line last year, but not by much. His eight home runs extrapolate to another 30 home run season. He already has one less stolen base than he did all of last year. But maybe the biggest takeaway is his improved defense. Muncy has shown his ability to play third, second and first base very capably. A huge bonus on a team that values its versatility.
Alex Verdugo, As Advertised—Alex Verdugo has spent his due time in the minors, but could not be contained there any longer. An unfortunate infection in the elbow of A.J. Pollock has lead to more playing time for the rookie, and he has taken full advantage of it. He currently has a stellar slash line of .333/.377/.552/.930 with four home runs, two triples, and seven doubles. The 22 year old isn’t afraid of first-class pitching, as he went 2-for-2 against Max Scherzer on Saturday. He not only does it with the bat, he’s also currently third in the majors in Most Defensive Runs Saved.
Verdugo is earning high praise from the veterans on the team, too. Clayton Kershaw stated he loves the energy “The Kid” brings to the clubhouse, likening it to Puig’s, but with less distractions. The Dodgers have a legit chance to add another Rookie of the Year to their long, long list of players over the years.
Hyun-Jin Ryu Is a Treasure—There aren’t enough superlatives for what Hyun-Jin Ryu has been like since he returned from the IL last season. One quick glance at Twitter will give you stat after amazing stat. These are just a few that really stood out to me:
And lastly, this quote really stands out to me as to what kind of person Ryu is, as well as a competitor. In reference to Cody Bellinger‘s incredible possible no-hitter-saving play in the sixth inning, he had this to say:
“He made a huge play and kept the no-hit bid going. And I want to say sorry to him because I could have accomplished something thanks to that play but in the end I gave up a hit.”
The Dodgers are truly blessed with three “aces” on their team, the trio of Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Ryu.
There’s so much else that hasn’t even been mentioned, like Bellinger’s all out dominance at the plate, and Kershaw’s fine pitching despite his drop in velocity. The Dodgers just need to get rid of the mental lapses in defense and straighten out the bullpen, and they will be head and shoulders above the rest of the league.