4 Non-Bellinger Highlights from the First Quarter of 2019

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(Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

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 AdvertisedAlex 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.

 

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12 thoughts on “4 Non-Bellinger Highlights from the First Quarter of 2019

  1. Well written Andy. I agree with most of it. Something needs to be said about our bullpen, so I’ll just say the talent is there, maybe the bulldog mentality isn’t. Kelly, Baez and Garcia all have excellent stuff. What they don’t have is a f.u. attitude. Sometimes they appear to throw it over the middle of the plate and hope it doesn’t get hit. We need confidence, consistency and tenacity in high leverage situations. If not them, perhaps May, Gonsolin and … whoever are the ones to go to.

    I’d also take issue with the 3 aces idea. Maybe it’s just a definition of term on which we differ. An ace to me is the guy who takes the ball every 5th day and gives you 200 innings every year. Kershaw usta did that. Not anymore. Ryu threw 190 innings when he was 26, but hasn’t come close since. Buehler looks imminent, but he isn’t there yet. His projections are all over the proverbial map, from 118 to 178 innings pitched. Right now his ERA is over 4. He needs to drop that while completing 6+ every time out. Ace? Maybe not this year, but soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely get that, and why I put it in quotes. Just to the point they they would be the top pitcher on a good 2/3rd of the league teams. I think the time of a true ace has passed, as teams want to protect their investments and don’t want all those innings on their arms

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  2. Going for broke and a WS. Power right handed bat in left field with JOC and a second closer who would be willing to do the 8th with occasional closing duties. Muncy and Verdugo everyday players and hoping either Kiki or CT3 begin to hit better and take 2nd base job. Seager comes back to being Seager! Parade down Figueroa! Go for broke AF. If not now than when!

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  3. Bellinger’s play to get Strasberg yesterday was a thing of beauty. That’s why I watch baseball, to see plays like that. I told everyone the other day when it was mentioned that a bad hitter hit the slam that beat us. Parra is not a bad hitter. Over his time in the majors he kills the Dodgers. He has played more games against the Dodgers than any other team. Although his batting average against LA is only .250, he rises to the occasion and picks his spots to deliver clutch hits. He has 8 homers and 52 RBI’s against LA. He is also a career .279 hitter. We would all hope that Joc had that kind of career average. Puig and the Mad Bum continued their feud yesterday. Yasiel took him deep and did the usual bat flip and Bum got pissed. Alexander has a hip issue and may be put on the IL.

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  4. I know to a lot of you it is out of sight out of mind, but remember, Pollock is still on this team, and come some time in July he is going to be back on the field. And he will most likely get his starting spot back. They are not going to pay a guy that much money to be a part time player.

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  5. History has Alexander the Great but now we have Alexander the Hip.

    Ba-dum-bum-ching!

    Pollock didn’t play much last year and put up 1.9 WAR. He’s only making $4 mil according to BR. It goes up next year. When he’s even older. And more likely to scroinge something. Something else that is. Too bad about that. He has some tools.

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  6. Sure are a lot of injury’s around the majors. The Yankees have been hit harder than most. They would be quite the juggernaut if they had all their weapons. Ferguson sent to OKC on a re-hab assignment. Makes him the obvious choice to replace Alexander if he is put on the IL. Cingrani is still not close to returning.

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      1. He has been pitching, I read that, how effective he has been might be a better question. The few I saw said he was allowing a lot of base runners, bur I did not check his stats…he is probably a lot closer than I think.

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      2. Cingrani – 4 games, 1.33 WHIP. Last time out a clean inning with 1 K. btw, Garlick with his 10th home run yesterday. He’s OPSn 1.014.

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  7. If AF can strengthen the bull pen, a little bit some how, that may be all that the team needs.
    Thanks for keeping your articles on the positive side Andy, as fans it’s easy to get drawn into the negative side, but you always pull us back to the light.

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