You don’t expect much, just greatness. Just a team for the ages. A team to inspire lofty books, a couple of songs and maybe one good movie.
Bring together what is supposed to be a loaded lineup with a record $240-million payroll, and expectations tend to rise a tad.
And by those standards, the Dodgers have been an underachieving and disappointing lot. They open their three-game series in San Francisco on Friday with the fourth-best record (56-47) in the National League.
Yet they’re only 1½ games behind the Giants in the N.L. West and at least still hovering in position to live up to haughty expectations.
But here’s the question: Can the Dodgers actually win it all without a single position player having a career year?
Or, perhaps of more concern, without a single one having even an average year?
That’s what these Dodgers currently offer. A lineup filled with guys all struggling to have what for them would be even an average season. Nobody is exactly tanking, just having subpar seasons.
Whether because of injury, playing time or the march of time, not only are none of the team’s stars failing to put together a career year, they’re also not even approaching an average one.
Not how championships are typically won.
The team’s veteran stars -- Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Juan Uribe and A.J. Ellis -- are all slogging along. These are the players who are supposed to be running the show.
The closest player to at least meeting his normal expectations is Gonzalez, who leads the team with 15 home runs and 65 RBI. Yet he’s hitting .257 vs. the .294 career average he started the season at -- primarily because he batting an atypical .171 vs. left-handers.
Everyone else is way off. Uribe is batting what would be a career-high .303, but largely due to injury has appeared in only 63 games and has just five homers and 27 RBI.
Even with three great starting pitchers and a solid closer, it doesn’t appear a formula for ultimate success. The Dodgers are down to 59 games to get it turned around, starting Friday night.