Dodgers 2019 Regular Season One for the Record Books

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It’s hard to believe that the season is over. It’s was just March, and now here we are once again on the cusp of the playoffs. In that time, the Los Angeles Dodgers gave us a regular season for the record books. Record homers, record rookies, and record wins.

With a sweep of the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers finished with a record of 106-56. They did it by not going 18-1 or 17-2 against a particularly bad team, either, as those teams over in the AL did, either. Those 106 wins are best ever for a Dodgers team, besting both the 2017 Los Angeles record of 104, and the Brooklyn Dodgers record of 105.

The longest losing streak of the season was six, in early April, and the longest winning streak was seven games to close out the season. They won 34 series, a +273 run differential, and 21 games ahead of the second place Arizona Diamondbacks. A far cry from just last season when they had to play a game 163 to determine who would win the NL West.

The Dodgers most likely have the NL MVP on their team. Cody Bellinger finished the regular season with 47 homers, .305 batting average, 1.035 OPS and 115 RBI. He started the season in another world, batting .416 with 10 homers runs through the end of April. While his production declined throughout the season, he never dipped below .300 and shows signs of turning it back on as the regular season ended.

Before the season started, writers and fans alike thought Max Muncy should be traded while his value was high. Many thought he would not sustain his 2018 success. All he did was make the All-Star team, play two positions in first and second, and hit 35 homers. One of those home runs will forever go down in Dodgers lore, when he hit a bomb off Madison Bumgarner of the Giants who of course took exception to it. After some jarring, Max told Bumgarner to “go get it out of the ocean!”, giving Dodger fans everywhere delight and another reason to buy a t-shirt.

In addition to Muncy and Bellinger, Joc Pederson had 36 home runs on the season, giving the Dodgers three players over the 35 home run mark. They also had 11 players with 10 home runs or more.

On the pitching side, the Dodgers also did very well, leading the majors in team ERA at 3.37, and WHIP of 1.10. They allowed the second fewest home runs in a year that everyone hit homers, issued the least amount of walks, and allowed the least amount of hits and runs.

Individually, Hyun-Jin Ryu finished the season with the lowest ERA in all of baseball, 2.32. Overall he finished at 14-5, with a 1.01 WHIP. He was unstoppable to start the year, and faltered a bit in the later part of the season. He has looked great in the last few outings, and ready for October. Ryu didn’t do it with insane fastballs and strikeouts, but rather by missing bats and inducing weak hits. He also saved his best bit of the season for last, hitting a home run in his final start, causing everyone from fans to the Dodgers broadcast team to literary jump for joy.

Clayton Kershaw also enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in 2019. Another player written off as past his time and not the ace of the staff anymore, Kershaw ended the regular season 16-5, with an ERA of 3.03. While that ERA is the second highest of his career, it was good enough for 10th overall in the majors.

But truly, the Pitcher of the Year for the Dodgers pitching staff was Russell Martin. Usually behind home plate, Martin was called upon to pitch in a few blowout games to save some relief pitchers’ arms. He appeared in four games, for a total of 4.0 innings, and only allowed two hits, and finished the season with a 0.00 ERA. Not too shabby for an aging catcher.

But when most of us look back at the Dodgers’ 2019 regular season, it will be remembered as the Year of the Rookie. Alex Verdugo, Will Smith, Dustin May, Gavin Lux, Tony Gonsolin, and Matt Beaty all made huge impacts on the team this season, even though none of the them were with the team for the whole season.

Verdugo forced the Dodgers to include him on the roster to begin the year, by his hot spring training and impressive start to the season. He is currently derailed by injury, however and is unlikely to be back for the playoffs. Thanks to starting catcher Austin Barnes having a terrible year at the plate, Will Smith became the full time starting catcher and never relinquished the spot. He had 15 homers in only 170 at-bats, batting .253 for the year. Once again, he regressed towards the end of the season but has now made the right adjustments to being in the majors.

Gavin Lux started the season at Double-A Tulsa, and has most likely found himself on the postseason roster. Pitchers Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin also both have a really good chance at pitching for the Dodgers in the postseason out of the bullpen. And while Matt Beaty isn’t producing quite as well as he was when he was brought up, he had quite a few timely hits to win multiple games for the Boys in Blue.

Who could forget when the Dodgers played the Colorado Rockies in June and every game was won by a different Rookie who walked it off. Matt Beaty started it off with a winning two run homer, Verdugo followed the next night with a homer to win it in 11 innings, and Smith finished off the weekend and the Rockies with a three-run winner of his own. No team had ever won a series like that until the Dodgers did.

So many highlights from the season, and we didn’t even touch on the game where the Dodgers won on five consecutive walks, or Corey Seager looking so much like his old self, and tying the NL lead for doubles even after missing a big chunk of the season to injury.

I didn’t think we’d see another team like the 2017 team, because that team seemed truly special. But there is also something incredibly special about this one. The players have all bought into the “doesn’t matter who it is, so long as it gets done” mentality. Many players have talked about how the rookies feel welcomed, and free to be themselves, and that comfortability is transparent on field. Over the last two seasons the Dodgers have gathered all they need to know about winning a World Championship, and bring the heartache of losing the last two with them to this quest to finally win it all.

It could be easy to fall victim to the tiring nature of two long postseasons back to back, be affected by so many changes to the roster and new faces in the dugout. But this team seems nonplussed, having their greatest regular season ever and hopefully, one of their greatest postseasons ever.

 

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13 thoughts on “Dodgers 2019 Regular Season One for the Record Books

  1. Good analysis Andy. It was certainly the year of the rookie and Belli bombs. Muncy missed 100 RBI’s by a hair. They came close to having 12 guys in double figures with Beaty crushing 9. Seager finished 1 homer shy of 20, and drove in a ton of runs in September. Turner missed beating his career high in dingers, again slugging 27. Had he been healthy the last 2 weeks I am pretty sure he would have passed that mark.Big difference between this bunch and the 2017 team is the fact that they are much better with runners in scoring position, they strike out less than that bunch, although sometimes it seems like that’s not true, and they have actually pitched better. Baez has re-invented himself, Buehler improved on his rookie season and pitched a couple of the most dominant games since Kershaw no-hit Colorado a few years ago. Ryu was a beast. He had a rough patch for a little bit, but came back strong. HR’s were CK’s biggest bane. But he gave up mostly solo shots and limited the damage. Jansen will be on the playoff roster and he has seemed over the last few outings to have regained the confidence he seemed to have lost early in the year. I do think losing Verdugo took a little fire out of the lineup because that kid plays like his hair is on fire. But Joc exceeded expectations, Pollock since he has been healthy has been a solid contributor. Smith and Martin solidified the defense behind the dish. If the Dodgers have a real weakness it is defensively. They are middle of the pack which is strange since they have some guys who are very good with the glove. Lux has impressed so far, but I think we will see the real Lux next year. He is still adjusting to what they are doing when he is at the plate. His defense has been pretty good compared to what we saw a couple of springs ago. Taylor seems to be over his broken wrist, but Kike has been in a slump for a while. Freese is a hitting machine. I would feel very comfortable with him as the DH in the AL park in a World Series. The guy is a true pro. My playoff roster, Muncy, Freese, Seager, Bellinger, Taylor, Turner, Lux, Pederson, Pollock, Martin, Smith, Hernandez, and Beaty. Pitchers, Kersh, Hill, Ryu, Buehler, Maeda, Baez, Kelly, Jansen, Kolarek, Stripling, May, Urias. Angels fired Ausmus today.

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  2. There was nothing good on TV tonight so I went back and watched the first game of the season on MLB.TV. They scorched Greinke that day slugging 4 homers off of him, then they crushed 4 more against the reliever Koch. Kike had 2, Pederson hit 2, Seager, Barnes, Bellinger and Muncy also homered in a 12-5 win. Belli his in the 6 hole that day. They beat AZ 3of 4 in that opening series. Losing only the second game when they left 17 men on base in a 5 hour game. Game 3 saw them score 18 runs and the tone for the year was set.

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  3. Rendon turned down a 200 million plus offer. So sports fans, don’t look for him in a Dodger uni soon. I actually think Gonsolin will make the post season roster and May will not. That simply because I think there is no way Kelly is not on the roster and they are only taking 12 pitchers. The only way that changes is if they decide they only need one long man for the NLDS. What ever and whom ever they decide on, it is going to be a fun series to watch. I want to beat the best, so bring on the Nats who they have handled in every series they have played.

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    1. Kelly almost HAS to be on the roster to start the postseason. If he fails in Round 1 we might see a change.

      Frankly I’d like both May and Gonsolin as they have the better stuff. But there just isn’t room for everyone and it’s a big stage for rookies.

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  4. Turner Ward let go by the Reds.
    So let’s see, last winter we got rid of Kemp’s salary, Wood’s fragility and Puig’s puigness to the Reds for Gray and Downs, now two of our very best prospects and then we exchanged Turner Ward for RVS, who seems to have made a major difference in the team’s hitting this year.
    We need to re-sign Friedman immediately so he doesn’t get any ideas about going to Boston. “Give him the money”.

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    1. Good point Jefe. I just read something about that.

      Kasten declined to comment on specifics, though he emphasized he was “pretty confident” Friedman will remain with the organization.

      “I love him, I think he’s done a great job, expect him to be here for a long time,” Kasten said in a phone interview. “That’s all I really can say about it.“

      That’s all he can really say about it. Interesting way of putting it.

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      1. I could be totally wrong but I think the odds of his leaving go up if we win the whole thing this year. That would kind of put a bow on his five years and he might think about moving on, figuring he had done what he came here to do.
        If, on the other hand, they don’t get the big prize, it would seem like quitting before he accomplished his goal.
        If he does leave, I wouldn’t be totally shocked to see him take a job outside of baseball, either in the business world or in a different sport.
        Imagine this: We sweep through the playoffs without losing a game. Friedman announces he has led the team to a more or less perfect season. Couldn’t possibly get any better. With that in mind, he’s leaving to bring analytics-based management to the Miami Dolphins. You heard it first here.

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      2. I hope the challenge of keeping it going, along with the love of living well in the best climate in the US, is enough to keep him here. If not, there are plenty of young smart baseball minds that would love to step in to this situation. The organization is wealthy and deep. It’s the best job in the Majors. You want to walk from that? If so beat it, GMs will immediately line up.

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