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Know Your Enemy: Los Angeles Dodgers

No team has even won the NL West four years in a row. Can anyone stop the Dodgers? Please?

The Dodgers mascot. Still less irritating than Dinger.
The Dodgers mascot. Still less irritating than Dinger.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

2015 record: 92-70 (1st)
Major arrivals (with 2015 bWAR):
Joe Blanton (1.2), Scott Kazmir (3.3), Kenta Maeda (N/A)
Major departures (with 2015 bWAR): Zack Greinke (9.3), Jimmy Rollins (-0.1)
Probable lineup and rotation

  1. Yasiel Puig RF
  2. Howie Kendrick 2B
  3. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
  4. Andre Ethier LF
  5. Corey Seager SS
  6. Justin Turner 3B
  7. Yasmani Grandal C
  8. Joc Pederson CF
  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Scott Kazmir
  3. Kenta Maeda
  4. Alex Wood
  5. Mike Bolsinger

Certainly the most stable of the West teams this winter, but when you're the reigning champs, you likely need to do less retooling. Still, the main departure was certainly a big one, especially with Greinke going to a divisional rival. As replacements, LA brought in Kazmir and Maeda, though how the latter will adapt to the major leagues is an unknown quantity. The Dodgers have also suffered an early injury set-back with the news Brett Anderson will likely miss at least the first half of the season. However, they do have both Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu due to come back at some point, bolstering a back end of an Opening Day rotation which looks decidedly shaky

Virtually all their position players from last season will return, with the minor exception of Rollins, who was hardly an irreplaceable cog with an OPS+ of just 78. Justin Turner continued his unexpected mid-career renaissance for the Dodgers: after being worth 0.8 bWAR through age 28, he has racked up 8,1 bWAR over the last two seasons. Los Angeles will be hoping for more out of Puig, who struggled with injury and ineffectiveness for much of 2015, and also Pederson who had a really hot start (1.015 OPS at May 13) implode utterly (he batted below the Uecker Line the rest of the way, hitting .198).

The Dodgers made a play for Aroldis Chapman, but that fell apart as the closer was charged with domestic violence, and so they will be sticking with Kenley Jansen - who was apparently "not happy" about the team's efforts to get Chapman. Might that affect him in his last year before free agency? We can but hope. The rest of the bullpen was no great shakes - a 3.91 ERA was only ranked 11th in the league - and the arrival of Blanton, who resurrected his career last year as a reliever, should help.

It's true Zack is unlikely to repeat his 2015 success - but the crux for LA is, it's that production they must replace. They were 23-9 when he started, and only 69-61 for everyone else - and that included Kershaw. Last year, K + G were worth 16.8 bWAR, more than the entire pitching staff for two-thirds of all teams, including both pennant winners (Mets: 16.7, Royals: 16.5). A staff of Kershaw, Kazmir, an effective Maeda and healthy Ryu and McCarthy might be able to match that. However, I get the feeling - and certainly hope! - the Dodgers' reign stops this year.