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The Dodgers Are Not Your Average First Place Team

Yasmani Grandal

This morning the birds are singing. The clouds are fluffier. The air is crisper. Your breakfast will taste better. Traffic will flow on your way to work and all of your favorite songs will come on the radio. You’ll walk around the office with a silly smile on your face. Your boss will tell you what a great job you’re doing. Why is everything in the world so much better today? Because the Dodgers are in first place, of course, of course. The Dodgers defeated the Phillies on Tuesday evening by a 9-3 score. That coupled with the Marlins and Don Mattingly finally doing their job properly and beating the Giants allowed the Dodgers to move into a flatfooted first place tie in the NL West.

When was the last time the Dodgers were in first place? May 14. That’s right. The Dodgers have made up 8 games in the standings since June 26. They are now 23-13 since Clayton Kershaw was placed on the disabled list. How they are doing it is what’s most incredible.

The Dodgers have 26 players on the disabled list. That’s an entire roster worth of players on the DL. If you were to go to and click on the injuries link under the Dodgers, it would take up an entire page. The listing of Dodgers on the DL would probably end up crashing your browser. They’re still tied for first place.

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The Dodgers are doing this while their starting rotation is averaging under 5 innings pitched per start. The bullpen has been remarkable. The defense is air tight. The bats are red hot. Justin Turner and Corey Seager are both on pace for historically great seasons. Yasmani Grandal is one of the best catchers in baseball in terms of pure offensive production. This really is what depth is. It’s incredible!

Remember though that the Dodgers were unwatchable until I……..

Started to complain.

That’s right. I don’t want to brag or take all of the credit. Sure the players have a major role in all of this, but without my three weeks of complaining do you really think the Dodgers would be in first place? I think not. Now you understand my process. It’s simple. Wait until June and then complain for a solid month. Stop when Dodgers reach first place, or in contention. There is a method to my madness.

Speaking of methods, I must admit I do understand what Andrew Friedman’s plan really is. Sure I would have done it differently, but there are many different ways to build a ball club. Whether Kershaw comes back or not, the Dodgers are a club that has amazing organizational depth at the major league level and in the farm system.

The Dodgers are kind of like a sum of the parts type of club. They may not have a starting pitcher that can pitch past the fifth inning, but they don’t need it. Honestly I don’t know how well they’ll do in the postseason like this. I have my doubts, but they’re winning with offense and relief pitching. The relief pitching has especially been carrying the club for months now.

The bullpen has the second best ERA (3.07) in the National League and third best in all of baseball. They’re first in WHIP (1.07) first in BAA (.204), third in strikeouts (404), and fourth in wins (22). The Dodger’s 65 holds ranks tied for first in MLB. When the Dodger relief corp has a lead, they hold it.

It’s not just the awesome bullpen. The offense has greatly improved since the all-star break. Over the last 30 days the Dodgers have the second best wRC+ (112) in baseball. They’ve scored 136 runs in that time span which ranks number 1. The Dodgers rank third with a .783 OPS and have hit 30 home runs, 33 if you count the three from last night off the bats of Howie Kendrick, Justin Turner, and Yasmani Grandal. Speaking of Grandal, he’s been one of the best catchers in MLB. Don’t believe me, take a look….

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Grandal may not hit high for average, but he makes up for it in other ways. His power, his on base skills, and his pitch-framing ability. He’s a good catcher and you could easily make a case for him to be in the top 5 backstops in all of baseball.


1 Wilson Ramos Nationals 95 376 18 52 62 0 7.4 % 12.8 % .215 .349 .337 .386 .552 .398 149 -4.8 17.8 6.8 3.8
2 Buster Posey Giants 101 422 12 62 54 6 10.4 % 10.9 % .170 .302 .291 .365 .461 .351 126 -0.6 12.6 7.4 3.4
3 Jonathan Lucroy – – – 102 402 16 52 55 5 8.5 % 18.9 % .198 .331 .295 .353 .493 .358 120 1.2 10.9 5.9 3.0
4 J.T. Realmuto Marlins 94 383 5 42 31 10 5.0 % 16.7 % .103 .369 .314 .350 .417 .333 106 2.3 5.2 8.5 2.7
5 Yasmani Grandal Dodgers 84 307 18 32 49 1 15.3 % 24.1 % .256 .257 .236 .355 .492 .362 130 -3.4 7.9 5.6 2.4

I said in spring training quite a few times. The Dodgers will win 90 games, and make the playoffs. Who knows if they’ll win the World Series, but they have a great chance. The Dodgers are a really good team. Maybe Friedman’s plan of acquiring these role players has worked for the most part.

Friedman and Zaidi have still made a lot of mistakes along the way. It’s been a mixed bag. I would have never sunk over 70 million dollars in injury riddled guys like Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson. However their plan has worked. They rebuilt the farm system, and the Dodgers are winning. I mean I give in! Friedman has a plan and its working. How could it not be? They’re in first place.

This doesn’t mean I won’t stop calling them out when I think they made a mistake or the club is moving in the wrong direction. Maybe they’re not totally incompetent.

Only slightly incompetent……


Ahhhhhhh got you! I’m just playing. Not incompetent. Dodgers in first place guys!



Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

25 thoughts on “The Dodgers Are Not Your Average First Place Team

  1. Correction Scott, they are tied for first, not in it. They have 9 games left with the Giants, and that is where this whole thing gets decided. They have 3 with the Pirates this weekend, then 7 on the road in Philly and Cincy, that is a huge trip because they have not played well against sub .500 teams. They come home to a huge series with the Giants, and they are followed by the Cubs. Nothing won yet, lots of work ahead, and does anyone expect the offense to stay this hot through 49 more games? At some point, the pitchers are going to have to get the job done and take the pressure off the BP.

  2. Scott. Congratulations, admitting the problem is the first step in your recovery.

    FAZ derangement syndrome, was a terrible/ugly disease to witness. Happily, to all you rehabbing posters, the visionaries here on this board are willing to help you. I believe Mark is working on a special 12 step recovery program for your benefit.

    In the meantime, singing the long version of “162 bottles of beer on the wall” might be of some help.

    1. We are all fans here. We all want the Dodgers to win. We have a difference of opinion about how to do it, apparently, and some here won’t blindly accept that everything that the Braintrust does is right.

      I am as happy as anyone that they are tied for first and would love to see the Blue end the season in first. That doesn’t mean that I think that the Braintrust has done a great job putting the team together this year.

  3. I could never quite understand why the Dodgers were having so much trouble hitting earlier in the season. I thought going out of Spring training that the lineup, though not the 27 Yankees, was pretty solid across the board. Having Ethier would have helped, and that was a bit of bad luck, but the FO can hardly be blamed for that. Actually, having Kendrick on the team is turning out to be pretty smart after all.

    And I wish critics would be a little more circumspect with the narrative that the FO signs these injury prone pitchers on the cheap or continually “dumpster dive.” You can really only point to two signings of pitchers with a history of injury, and you already mentioned them here. But remember, Anderson was only signed to a one year deal and he was never intended to be a top-of-the-rotation piece. For what the Dodgers paid he pitched well last year. He surprised the team a little by accepting the QA, but look at the big picture. If he pitches at some point, that’s great. Even if he doesn’t, the team really isn’t on the hook long term. McCarthy hurt a little more last year because that was another rotation spot that the Dodgers had to fill with Bolsingers and Bakers, but I take issue with those who argue that the FO should have somehow anticipated that he would need TJ surgery. That is speculation without evidence, and there’s really no correlation that you can identify with certainty between a shoulder injury that was healed and an elbow injury. That was just bad luck.

    And again, in the grand scheme of things, his contract isn’t really this albatross. If you were a Giants fan right now, would you be a little uneasy about the money given to Samardja for – what was it? – five years? He’s healthy. He pitches. The problem is, he’s just not that good. The Giants gave up a lot to sign expensive pitchers in the off season and get another somewhat mediocre pitcher at the trade deadline. What is the short and the long term outlook for the Giants versus the Dodgers? I’d kind of like the Dodgers position here and going forward.

    1. Oh really? Tell me about all of the great SPs the Braintrust has acquired. Kazmir? Norris? Wood? Latos? Hill? (still injured and always injury-prone)

      It’s not just that they sign/trade for the infirm; they also acquire the inept.

      1. But WHY is the question?

        The answer is simple:

        Because the others come attached with long-term deals or cost tons of prospects. It’s not that they like to sign injury prone guys – it’s just that if you don’t want to give out long-term Big Dollar deals or cough up many prospects, then that is where you play. BTW, that is just temporary!

        Many wanted to sign Greinke – but he’s on the DL just like Kershaw. Many wanted to sign Price, who has been pretty bad this year. So what if the players the Dodgers signed go injured? Let’s see who is there at the end – I like our chances right about now!

        They may be infirm and inept, but they occupy 1st place!

      2. Kazmir has been a statistically better pitcher than Samardija at half the price. In fact, he’s better than Shields and Sonny Gray. Folks here were lusting over Sonny Gray last year. Now he’s injured and ineffective. Go figure. Pitchers get injured. That’s the inherent risk in any player performance.

        Norris? Do you expect him to be great? He started using a new pitch, a la Joe Blanton, and showed improved and recent effectiveness. For the what the team gave up, he’s a low risk and inexpensive player with upside. What’s wrong with that?

        Latos? Similar scenario to Norris. He was a very good pitcher with the Pods and the Reds, injured his knee, was ineffective for some time, but when his knee healed and his velocity and other peripherals improved, he was worth taking a flyer on. We can have a debate all day long as to whether the Dodgers should have signed an expensive rental last year and what it would have really taken, but we still have Seager, Urias and DeLeon, so in terms of what the team didn’t give up, it was a smart move. It didn’t work out from a performance perspective, but not everything in life does – and certainly not when it comes to predicting player performance. It’d be nice if there were guarantees. “If we just pay Kershaw X amount, we’ll get Y performance and he’ll never ever get injured”. Sorry….the real world is a bit of a cold shower.

        Hill has statistically been one of the best pitchers in the AL this year. Did we give up every single valuable piece in our farm system to get him like we would have if we’d pursued Sale? Why do you think that is? You need to value costs versus rewards.

        Tell me. Do you think Greinke will be a good signing, especially going forward? How about Price? Of course I already mentioned Samardija? Is there a risk in signing a pitcher to an exorbitant contract, especially when they are past 30? Some you folks are critical of the FO because they didn’t sign Grienke AND Price AND Zimmerman (another expensive bust so far) AND trade for Sale AND get Andrew Miller or Chapman AND get a power right handed bat. That’s not living in reality.

        I still kind of pine for Cueto, but Mark might end up being right about him going forward.

          1. Dodger patch
            That is not a bad practice, if that is not the only way a team makes transactions.

    2. Dodger patch

      I have to give them credit, for adapting well, after these injury ridden pitchers went down.

      I give them that, as well as the new arms that they have brought to the team, to freshen the bullpen.

      But I give most of the credit to Roberts, his coaches, and to the players.

      And the article that Mark posted yesterday,
      that was not the same article, that Rosenthal wrote.

      Because most of Rosenthal’s article, was focused on how Roberts and his coaches, have brought in a new culture to the team.

      And with all the injuries that this starting pitching rotation has had, the front office are very lucky that Roberts, in his first year, was able to keep this team stable.

      But without Roberts and his coaches, getting the players, to believe in a team first approach, all of these injuries, could have brought this team down.

      But this is still no way to build a starting pitching rotation, even where the Dodgers are now.

      And Mark has assured us, that the front office, won’t be continuing to build a starting pitching rotation this way.

      I just hope he is right.

      Because even Rosenthal in his piece, mentioned sone doubt, about the front office, being able to loose there small market approach, once the payroll does come down.

      1. FAZ gets credit for hiring Roberts, don’t they? What other team was interested in making him Manager. No fair saying it was the owner and not FAZ that was the reason Roberst was hired. No evidence of that.

  4. Love the article, Scott. Your positivity is as fun to read as ur “negativity”. Giants have already started. They should be done by the time we start.

    I really think a lot of the credit has to go to Doc. Too many reasons to type, but I think most here have to agree. Whatever he’s doing seems to be working.

    I also have noticed the last couple weeks that both Agone and Joc have started to go the other way, a LOT. It really screws with that shift teams employ on both. Maybe the same hitting approach by both now?

    I also think Corey Seager is moving up the MVP boards with his play. Rookie of the Year is already his, especially now that Story is out for the year. And after a horrendous start, JT still within reach of a 30/100 year. Amazing!

    If anyone wants/needs a ticket for today’s game, let me know! I have one

  5. Just one question:

    Who is the one guy who said this was a good team from jump street and has never wavered from that claim… even amidst lots of dissenting opinions?

    All I can say is “Redemption is sweet!”

  6. So Scott said this:

    Friedman and Zaidi have still made a lot of mistakes along the way. It’s been a mixed bag. I would have never sunk over 70 million dollars in injury riddled guys like Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson. However their plan has worked. They rebuilt the farm system, and the Dodgers are winning. I mean I give in! Friedman has a plan and its working. How could it not be? They’re in first place.

    Scott, answer this question:

    What if they had spent $450 million on Price and Greinke – would they have been better off? It’s only $380 million REAL dollars more! Tell me!

  7. Dave Roberts gets a lot of Credit! Hiring Roberts allowed Gabe Kapler to focus on the farm and he has been outstanding at it. He is taking a holistic approach to that and Roberts is far from a puppet. I never had issues with Mattingly’s lineups and tactics. That’s all so subjective…. I had issues with his leadership.

    I suspect it was Doc who asked FAZ to send Puig out. There guys have really evolved as a team! If they can’t out pitch the opponents, they out hit them!

    1. Puig was taking up almost all of Roberts time.

      And Roberts went the extra mile to try to help Puig.

      And apparently, Puig doesn’t want to help himself.

      The team is better without Puig, even without Reddick not hitting right now.

    2. Supposedly one of Roberts interview questions was what he would have done with Joc last year and he said he would have sent him down, so yes, I would agree with you Mark, Roberts probablty did have lots of influence on Puig being sent down.








    THIS is WHAT PATCH TALKED ABOUT THE OTHER DAY: “Mark gets impatient with repetitive foolishness.


  9. You go first. Jeez, you haven’t won anything yet. Seems to me they wouldn’t be close without AGon, Turner and Jansen–players you don’t want.

  10. Hill
    Hasn’t pitched in twenty five days, and they don’t know when he will pitch.

    How long does it take for a blister to heal?

    And how sharp can Hill be, being out so long?

    And now McCarthy may not be making his next start in the rotation.

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