Can the team with baseball’s highest payroll actually turn themselves into an underdog? That was the case with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who somehow overcame a record number of injuries to push themselves into the postseason.
At multiple times during the regular season, you could have easily written the Dodgers off. The team lost starter Brett Anderson to injury before the season even started, demoted former standout Yasiel Puig to the minors and were without ace Clayton Kershaw for two months due to a back injury.
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All of those issues could have held the Dodgers back. Instead, the team has won 90 games and captured its fourth-straight National League West title.
With the playoffs quickly approaching, the Dodgers will now focus on bringing home the franchise’s first World Series title since 1988. Here are five reasons Los Angeles can go all the way in 2016.
THEY’RE DEEP AND RESILIENT
When you lose 28 different players to the disabled list and still find a way into the postseason, you’re either the deepest organization around or the most resilient. In the Dodgers case, it’s a little of both. It’s even more impressive when you consider they overcome a seven-game deficit at the All-Star break to win the division going away. Now that they’ve made it in, that depth and resilience should benefit them greatly as they’re a little healthier and seemingly a lot more confident that they can withstand anything.
His postseason numbers are what they are, and what they are is sub par compared to his usual regular season dominance. That’s the reality, and there’s always a possibility that trend will continue. Does anyone feel comfortable betting on that trend continuing though? He’s still Clayton Kershaw. He’s still as good as any pitcher as we’ve seen over the 20 years. Balky back aside, he’s plenty capable of dominating this postseason.
THE KIDS CAN PLAY
It’s possible the Dodgers have the Rookie of the Year and MVP all wrapped in one outstanding player. That being shortstop Corey Seager, who has undoubtedly been its one steady force all season long. While Seager anchors the outfield, second year man Joc Pederson has done the same in a chaotic outfield that has seen so many players come and go. Without them, we probably wouldn’t be touting the Dodgers right now. With them, the Dodgers can beat anybody.
SO CAN THE OLD(ER) GUYS
The Dodgers are lucky to have a pretty solid veteran core too, which no doubt helped ease the burden on their young stars. Guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner, Yasmani Grandal and Chase Utley have been terrific. Overall, this lineup will not be fun to face because it’s fearless, it’s productive and it’s going to making opposing pitchers work for outs.
WIN FOR VIN
We’re not here to argue that outside motivation has any impact on the postseason. The postseason is almost entirely about the moment, with little that’s happened leading up having much meaning at all. But baseball logic doesn’t apply when Scully is involved. There’s always something poetic or magical happening, which could be sign the Dodgers are in for a happy ending. No, Scully won’t be in the booth during the postseason, but winning a World Series in his final season would be the ultimate sendoff.
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