Dodgers Dugout: Which Dodgers should make the All-Star team?
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and with Cody Bellinger going on the IL, it’s easier to list the Dodgers who haven’t been injured this season than the Dodgers who have.
It seems this season has been such a struggle. Almost every game seems to be close. The Dodgers went 5-15 at one point. The bullpen has had its problems. The offense has been erratic at times. It has been a slog to get through.
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Yet, despite all that, the Dodgers are one of only two NL teams to have at least 40 wins (of course the other team happens to be the Giants). We get so lost on focusing on the injuries, problems and setbacks the Dodgers have had this season, we forget at times that other teams also have the same injuries, problems and setbacks. We’ve become so accustomed to the Dodgers cruising through the regular season, that we forgot that this is the way a division race usually works.
Look at the Dodgers’ division winning streak, starting in 2013:
2013: Won division by 11 games
2014: Won by six games
2015: Won by eight games
2016: Won by four games
2017: Won by 11 games
2018: Won by one game
2019: Won by 21 games
2020: Won by six games (in a 60-game season. Projects to a 16-game lead in full season).
So, Dodgers fans have been spoiled. Other than 2018, it’s usually “Hey, when do the playoffs start” because the Dodgers usually dominate.
So, let’s take some time to celebrate the good of this team, which is on pace to win 98 games.
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With that in mind, let’s look forward to the All-Star game. Which Dodgers deserve a spot? (If you want to vote on the official ballot, go here.)
There are two phases of voting this year. In the first phase, pretty much every regular starter is on the ballot at their position in each league. Fans vote until 1 p.m. PT June 24, when the top three at each position (plus the top nine outfielders) advance to phase two of voting, which will determine who will start. Early voting results were released a couple of days ago, so let’s take a look at the top three at each position, and where the key Dodger is:
1. Max Muncy, 23%
2. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta, 16%
3. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago, 12%
1. Ozzie Albies, Atlanta, 17%
2. Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh, 12%
3. Gavin Lux, 10%
1. Kris Bryant, Chicago, 29%
2. Nolan Arenado, St. Louis, 14%
3. Justin Turner, 12%
1. Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego, 40%
2. Javier Báez, Chicago, 13%
3. Corey Seager, 9%
1. Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta, 16%
2. Nick Castellanos, Cincinnati, 11%
3. Jesse Winker, Cincinnati, 9%
4. Mookie Betts, 8%
5. Juan Soto, Washington, 4%
6. Chris Taylor, 4%
7. Bryce Harper, Philadelphia, 3%
8. Trent Grisham, San Diego, 3%
9. Ketel Marte, Arizona, 3%
1. Buster Posey, San Francisco, 30%
2. Yadier Molina, St. Louis, 16%
3. Willson Contreras, Chicago, 11%
4. Will Smith, Dodgers, 11%,
So, as of now, the only Dodgers who won’t be advancing to phase two of voting are Smith and AJ Pollock.
So who deserves a spot as of right now? Well, Muncy deserved a spot until he got injured. He was hitting .264/.418/.528 and was a leading MVP candidate. If he comes back quickly from the injury, he still deserves a spot. If his oblique injury lingers, and he’s out until July, we’ll have to wait and see how his numbers stack up. But, it seems likely he will be deserving of a spot if he comes back before the game.
Seager was in contention until he got hurt, but he will more than likely have missed far too much time before voting ends. Besides, Tatis is going to win the voting easily, so Seager’s only hope is to be named as a reserve.
To me, the Dodger most deserving of a spot is Taylor. He has excelled everywhere and has been one of the few offensive constants on a team hurt so much by injuries. He is hitting .267/.385/.462 while splitting his time and playing well at two difficult defensive positions: Second base and center field. He probably won’t be voted in, unless Dodger fans rally behind him at the ballot box, but it’s hard to believe he doesn’t find a spot on the team unless he goes into a horrific slump. You have to figure Dave Roberts, who will manage the NL, will lobby pretty heavily for him.
That brings us to Turner, Betts and Smith. It just doesn’t feel like their year to make it. They all have an OPS+ over 130, meaning they are well above average as hitters. But they may lose out to the numbers game. Every team has to have one representative, so the odds of the Dodgers having, say, six players on the team are small. If a spot goes to Taylor, Muncy and, say, two pitchers, that hurts their chances. But you can certainly make a case for them.
It’s somewhat amusing to watch some Dodger fans complain that Betts has been a disappointment this season. He’s a disappointment only when graded against himself. He leads the team in doubles, is walking more. Some have written me that they’d rather have Alex Verdugo back. Putting aside for a moment that the Dodgers don’t win the World Series last year without Betts, Verdugo’s OPS+ is 120, Betts’ is 130. Betts is a superstar who has been hampered by nagging injuries. Those injuries have begun to heal and in the last week he is slugging .640.
Lux and Pollock don’t deserve a spot, which doesn’t make them bad players, just not All-Stars this season.
Pitchers are chosen by the players, coaches and managers. We’ll talk about them when it is closer to time to select them.
One final thought: Now that the game no longer decides who will get home-field advantage in the World Series, there should be roster exceptions made in special cases. If this is Albert Pujols’ last season, he should be given a roster spot. The All-Star game is to celebrate the greatness of baseball. Hall of Fame level players should be given a spot in their final season (unless they refuse). Give everyone a chance to celebrate all-time greats. And who wouldn’t want to see Albert Pujols pinch-hit in the eighth inning of a tie game, with runners on and a left-hander on the mound? Great moments don’t always write themselves, sometimes you have to put the pieces in place yourself.
Speaking of Pujols
Here are his numbers since coming to the Dodgers:
vs. RHP: 4 for 30, 1 homer (.133)
vs. LHP: 14 for 37, 2 doubles, 4 homers, 10 RBIs (.378)
Overall with the Dodgers he is hitting .269/.310/.522, good for a 129 OPS+.
Fernandomania @ 40
In the newest episode of our docuseries, “Fernandomania @ 40”: When the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, owner Walter O’ Malley prided himself on team rosters that reflected the community. When he moved west in 1958, that proved a tougher task – until Fernando Valenzuela’s arrival. With the frenzy surrounding of Fernandomania in 1981, the complexion of a predominantly white fanbase transformed into something that looked a lot more like Los Angeles itself.
These names look familiar
A look at how players from the 2020 Dodgers who are no longer on the team are faring this season (through Thursday):
Pedro Báez, Houston, On the 60-day IL with shoulder soreness
Dylan Floro, Miami: 2-4, 3.86 ERA, 2 saves (28 IP, 26 hits, 12 walks, 24 strikeouts)
Kiké Hernández, Boston: .224/.279/.371 (13 doubles, 1 triple, 5 HRs, 16 RBIs, 76 OPS+)
Adam Kolarek, Oakland: 8.00 ERA (9 IP, 15 hits, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts), in minors
Jake McGee, San Francisco: 2-2, 3.49 ERA, 13 saves (28.1 IP, 20 hits, 6 walks, 35 strikeouts)
Joc Pederson, Chicago Cubs: .245/.310/.441 (6 doubles, 2 triples, 9 homers, 26 RBIs, 109 OPS+)
Josh Sborz, Texas: 3-2, 4.39 ERA, 1 save (26.2 IP, 23 hits, 9 walks, 36 strikeouts)
Ross Stripling, Toronto: 2-4, 4.64 ERA (54.1 IP, 55 hits, 16 walks, 58 strikeouts)
Alex Wood, San Francisco: 6-3, 3.71 ERA (63 IP, 52 hits, 19 walks, 61 strikeouts)
In case you missed it
Tonight, Dodgers (Trevor Bauer, 6-5, 2.64 ERA) at Arizona (TBA), 6:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570
Saturday, Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 6-0, 2.38 ERA) at Arizona (TBA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570
Sunday, Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin, 0-0, 3.38 ERA) at Arizona (TBA), 1 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570
Vin Scully discusses how he became a baseball fan. Watch it here.
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