Looking Back on the Dodgers 2021 Season with Bright Hope for 2022

Another year has come to a close, and with it memories of what has been tend to creep in. Even though it didn’t end the way Dodger fans wanted it to, it still was a very memorable year.

Aside from the 2020 season, which ended in a championship, this 2021 season will probably be the most memorable for awhile, with all its ups, down, and everything in between.

THE NEW FACES

The 2021 had more additions, and more high profile additions than any one other season that I can ever remember.

The season started with the most controversial addition of them all, the three year signing of starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. Fresh off a Cy Young season with the Cincinnati Reds, Bauer was one of the most high profiled free agents, even through teams knew he would come some baggage. Bauer just happened to being more baggage than anyone thought, although many fans were not surprised.

Accused of sexual abuse by multiple women, Bauer did not make a start from July on after being placed on administrative leave. It is still unclear whether he will ever pitch for the Dodgers or in MLB ever again.

Some players were acquired but never made it to the field to play for the Dodgers. Cole Hamels and Danny Duffy both tried to make a comeback as pitchers, but neither could get healthy enough to actually take the mound.

But a few really made the season better.

First, Albert Pujols was signed after he was designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels. Tío Albert, as he became affectionately known as in the clubhouse, seemingly regained his childlike joy for the game. Batters could not wait to get to the dugout after hitting a home run, so they could be enveloped into a massive hug by Pujols. Many batters fittingly hit those homers using one of his bats. And the last, heartbreaking photo of him for the season was him practically carrying Justin Turner down the dugout steps after he pulled his hamstring.

The biggest addition of the season was that of both Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman pulled the trigger on a blockbuster trade, sending the Dodgers’ top two prospects of Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz to the Washington Nationals for the All-Star pitcher and shortstop, respectively. Scherzer bolstered the pitching staff, and Turner handled second base, if somewhat bumpily at first, for the rest of the season. Scherzer has now moved on to New York to play for the Mets, but Turner looks to continue his NL batting champ ways as he will now slide over to his more natural position of shortstop.

THE CHASE FOR THE DIVISION

The reign of the Dodgers winning the NL West came to an end in 2021, but it was a race right down to the last weekend of the regular season, and carried into the NLDS with a rivalry show down for the ages. The San Francisco Giants were not projected to be as good as they were, but they won 107 games, beating the Dodgers by one game, who finished with a 106-56 record.

After the Dodgers took the Wild Card game from the St Louis Cardinals, they took on the Giants in the NLDS. The Dodgers lost the first game in SF, unable to score any runs. They made up for it the next day, plating nine runs in a 9-2 win. The series then shifted back to L.A.,with the Dodgers again unable to score any runs, losing 1-0. But with their backs to the wall, again, the Dodgers were able to win the next two games, with the final game being a nail biting, tension filled game. The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth on a single by Cody Bellinger, who had struggled all season at the plate after having off-season shoulder surgery. It was then closed out by Max Scherzer, on a called strike three of a questionable did-he-go-or-did-he-not swing by Wilmer Flores. It seemed fitting as there was the same questionable call against the Dodgers with the Boys in Blue on the losing end that could have changed the standings in their favor.

THE MOMENTS

There were so many great moments to the season, as there always are. There were some personal favorites of mine. Watching Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw together on the same team was a dream come true. I have always admired the fire and intensity of Scherzer, and watching him abs Kershaw, both some of the greatest pitcher of their generation, was a gift. Also not to be discounted, was Scherzer’s hilarious reaction to Kershaw getting a base hit in his first at bat after coming off the Injured List when Scherzer did not collect a single hit the entire season.

Mookie Betts had a quieter season than his first season with the Dodgers, but still provided amazing plays and thrills. His three home run game stands out to me as the most special of the season.

Watching Trea Turner slide is definitely a delight, and something to look forward to next season. The smoothest pop-up slide I’ve ever seen, and Trea makes it look effortless.

Both Phil Bickford and Justin Bruhil, players I had never heard of before this season, stepped up and made an indelible mark on the bullpen. Kenley Jansen also seemed to find some of his former glory.

The 1+4 game, where the Dodgers hit four home runs in the bottom of the eighth to begin a 11-9 comeback against the San Diego Padres with four games to play. The crowd was just electric.

But most special were two postseason performances turned in by Chris Taylor. First, CT3 hit the walk-off home run to advance the Dodgers from the Wild Card round to the NLDS. Second, in the NLCS, Taylor hit three home runs in what could have been an elimination game against the Atlanta Braves. With Taylor choosing to stay in Los Angeles for the next four years, hopefully we will be more postseason heroics from the mild mannered, super utility guy.

But maybe the best thing of all is that the Dodgers are still poised to win the NL West, and perhaps get another championship. Yes, the starting pitching staff is in flux, not knowing if Kershaw will decide to return and if Bauer will be allowed to return. Still, most of the core is still there, and the future still looks as good as the past.

Happy New Year, Dodger fans! Let’s hope 2022 sees a quick resolution to the MLB lockout and baseball is back again soon.

16 thoughts on “Looking Back on the Dodgers 2021 Season with Bright Hope for 2022

  1. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, Andy. It was great to think about all the good stuff that happened last year, and there was a lot of it. Yes, the ending wasn’t what we wanted but the journey was far more good than bad.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing Trea at shortstop next year. I’d love to see AF try to extend him because I don’t see anyone in the system or any upcoming free agent who would be a better alternative going forward. That said, I seriously doubt Turner would sign an extension without going to free agency. We’ll see how that plays out once the Dodgers and TT know the parameters of the new CBA.

    I don’t agree that the pitching staff is mostly in good shape. The bullpen is fine even without Kenley (although I hope he returns), but the starting staff is just littered with question marks. Buehler and Urias are great at the top. Heany is a huge question mark. If Bauer comes back, is he a major distraction and/or will he suffer from all that time off? If CK comes back, is he healthy enough to contribute? Gonsolin, at best is a strong starter, but he has been really inconsistent. Let’s hope he’s fully recovered and can fulfill the promise he’s shown. May probably won’t contribute much as a starter until 2023 but at least he’ll give us some innings in the bullpen by Aug/Sept. Considering the fact that the starting staff was far stronger going into 2021 and look how that turned out, it’s my major concern today. The good news is that the season doesn’t start today and Andrew has time to fill in some holes in the rotation by trade or free agency. I can’t see any scenario where he goes to spring training with the just the guys we now have, and that even includes Bauer and CK. There will be additions even if both those guys return.

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    1. I agree jeff. Starting pitching is a Hugh question mark. 2 starters, few options on the market and a payroll of almost 200 mil. Already doesnt leave any wiggle room. Fortunately 90 wins should walk away with the division but our prob,em has always been pitching in the post season which Andrew always addresses at the deadline without much success I might add. Trying to fill 2/3 holes will be a challenge.

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  2. Andy, Mookie did not have a 3 HR game this season, that was 2020 against the Padres. Taylor was the only Dodger with 3 in a game and those came in the playoffs. Some are saying LA should bring back Greinke. I do not agree with that. I do know the free agent starting pitching pool has thinned out a lot. I think LA has a lot of untested pitchers, and 3 who have been battle tested. Heaney is a huge question mark. If Muncy is healthy at the start of the season, the infield will be pretty decent, if not, then they have a problem. The bench is weak after Beaty unless someone steps up ASAP. Bullpens can be built in season. AF did that last year. Right now the closer is Treinen, I have no problem with that. But Jansen is still a possibility. I looked on EBAY yesterday, and Carson Taylor Bowman cards are going for as much as 30 bucks. Ridiculous. Kid has not even smelled a major league diamond.

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  3. I see no huge question marks. I see a number of options, all of which involve $$ and/or prospects.

    Way too early prediction on over/under…..

    99 wins.

    Anybody want to wade in on that?

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    1. As of today, I’d take the under but who knows what AF might pull off before the season starts. As you said, it’s really too early for that kind of stuff, but we need something to keep ourselves occupied.

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    2. I’m afraid I’m way under. Low nineties. Hope I’m wrong. Just can’t see many positives. No idea where pitching will come from. Not on the farm. And the bullpen has almost as many questions as the rotation. I think the dynasty is over.

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      1. Boulder had wind gusts of 100 mph.

        Double mask and gargle chloroquine twice daily on that train Bear. And take the southern route, through El Paso up to the panhandle, then come in from the East through La Junta.

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    1. I believe you probably usta was mean. I don’t think you got much mean left in there Bear. Stubborn maybe. Cantankerous, sure. Mean? No.

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