An offseason of change has not altered expectations for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016. The three-time defending National League West champions are entering their second season with Andrew Friedman as president of baseball operations and first season under manager Dave Roberts. 

The Dodgers haven’t completely changed their approach. They are still spending more money than anyone else on talent in 2016 but found different ways to allocate those vast financial resources instead of going all in on one player.

There’s also new talent coming up from the minors that gives the Dodgers reasons to be optimistic about this season. Corey Seager, who is’s No. 1 prospect, is going to open the year as the starting shortstop after hitting .337/.425/.561 in 21 games last year. 

Building superstars from within is not something the Dodgers have done a lot of during this three-year spending spree, nor have they had to because they’ve controlled the NL West during the regular season, but they are still seeking that elusive World Series title. 


Biggest Storyline: Who Will Fill Zack Greinke‘s Shoes?

This is a trick question because the answer is no one can fill Greinke‘s spot in the Dodgers rotation. He was one of the NL’s three best pitchers last season, so the only way Los Angeles could have realistically replaced him would have been to sign David Price. 

When Price decided to sign with the Boston Red Sox, the Dodgers opted to go for quantity in the rotation by re-signing Brett Anderson and signing Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir. 

After a slow start this spring that had a lot of people in Hollywood concerned, Kazmir has gotten stronger with the regular season closing in, per Pitch F/X (via Daniel Brim of Dodgers Digest):

Kazmir is going to be the key for Los Angeles’ rotation. He struggled down the stretch after being acquired by Houston last year, posting a 4.17 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 13 starts, so going to a bigger ballpark will help him pitch more like the guy who had a 2.38 ERA in 18 starts with Oakland.

Hyun-Jin Ryu is a great wild card in this whole equation. The 29-year-old was a solid No. 3 starter in 2013-14, posting a 3.17 ERA with 293 strikeouts in 344 innings, but injuries kept him out all of 2015. He may not be ready to join the big leagues until June, per’s Ken Gurnick

The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw atop their rotation, making them one of the few teams that can withstand losing an ace like Greinke without being completely devastated. 


Rising Star: Corey Seager

It was tempting to try to find another player for this spot, but that would just be looking for complexity where it doesn’t exist. Occam’s razor tells us the simplest possible explanation is the right way to go, so let’s talk about Seager

Last year was one of the best rookie seasons in MLB history. Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa won National League and American League Rookie of the Year, respectively, but there was also Francisco Lindor, Miguel Sano, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Jung-ho Kang, Joc Pederson, Noah Syndergaard and Maikel Franco who made outstanding first impressions. 

Asking Seager to follow their lead, even though he already got a taste of the big leagues late last season and in the playoffs, might seem unfair. 

By all accounts, though, Seager belongs in a class with all of those players. In naming Los Angeles’ 21-year-old phenom MLB’s best prospect for 2016, ESPN’s Keith Law called him a “superlative hitter who projects to do everything at the plate and might even be able to do it at shortstop for a year or two before becoming a top-flight defender at third base.”

Even if Seager doesn’t turn into an instant sensation, like Bryant or Correa, he’s still going to be a massive upgrade over Jimmy Rollins, who hit .224/.285/.358 in 144 games last year. 

There’s MVP upside for Seager, but for now, the Dodgers would be satisfied if he plays passable defense at shortstop with 20 home runs. 



The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants grabbed all the NL West headlines by spending a lot of money on pitchers. The Diamondbacks also traded a lot of their farm system away to acquire Shelby Miller from Atlanta to give them a formidable one-two punch along with Greinke

One thing the Diamondbacks couldn’t afford was a major position-player injury because they don’t have depth in the lineup. Two days before the 2016 season started, All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock suffered a fractured right elbow that will require surgery and has left his return status up in the air.

The Dodgers, while they spent money on Kazmir, remained relatively quiet and trusted their development system to supplement their roster. 

Injuries have hit the Dodgers outfield, with Andre Ethier suffering a fractured tibia late in spring training that will likely keep him out until June. They do have depth with Pederson, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig more than capable of starting. 

Puig and Pederson are the two wild cards in that mix. Puig battled injuries last season, hitting a career-low .255/.322/.436 in 79 games, but he has All-Star potential when everything is clicking. 

Pederson flamed out in the second half of his rookie season, hitting .178/.317/.300 after the All-Star break, but he still hit 26 homers with those struggles. His ability to make consistent contact will ultimately determine his ceiling. 

Depth in the bullpen remains a problem for the Dodgers, making the performance of the starting rotation more imperative than ever. This is still a loaded roster that will only get better as Seager gains experience. 

Even though they may no longer be the fashionable choice in the division, the Dodgers are still the best team from top to bottom until someone knocks them down.

2016 Prediction: 90-72, 1st in NL West


Stats per unless otherwise noted. 

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