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Los Angeles Dodgers game against the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2015.

Fans at a Los Angeles Dodgers game against the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2015. Photo courtesy of dodgersphotog.mlblogs.com

 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

2015 Record: 92-70, National League West Champions (third straight year), eight games ahead of the San Francisco Giants

*  Lost to eventual National League Champion New York Mets in the NLDS, three games to two

Key Players

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B: .275, 28 HR, 90 RBIs

Justin Turner, 3B:  .294, 16 HR, 60 RBIs

Clayton Kershaw, P:  16-7, 2.15 ERA, 301 strikeouts (led MLB)

Kenley Jansen, closer:  2-1, 2.41 ERA, 36 saves

Manager:  Dave Roberts, 1st season

Ballpark:  Dodger Stadium, capacity 56,000 – largest stadium in MLB

First Season (in Los Angeles):  1958

09 October 2015: Los Angeles Dodgers Starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) [5481] prior to game 1 of the NLDS between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Chris Williams/icon Sportswire)

09 October 2015: Los Angeles Dodgers Starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) [5481] prior to game 1 of the NLDS between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Chris Williams/icon Sportswire) Photo courtesy of todaysknuckleball.com

Predictions:

As I look at these Dodgers…

Considering the MASH unit that ballclub turned into this spring training, what with catcher Yasmani Grandal and second baseman Howie Kendrick starting the season on the disabled list, as are several pitchers including Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy and particularly Hyun-Jin Ryu, guys who were counted on to provide depth…

I really can’t see how some pundits, including the Los Angeles Times, are picking them to win their fourth straight division crown.

Especially since they were not only unwilling to ante up to keep Zack Greinke, who had a 2015 for the ages on the mound, but lost him to a division rival – meaning those Dodgers will have to face him at least four times this year.

Not that I’m etched in stone about their chances, but plenty of things have to go right.

Yasiel Puig, a guy who everyone has predicted stardom on the level of Mike Trout and the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper ever since his debut in 2013, absolutely MUST break through and become the .320/30 home run/100 RBI (or close to that) guy this season.

Guys like Scott Kazmir and Japanese import Kenta Maeda must deliver quality innings and, while no one will make Dodger fans forget Greinke, go a long way to take up the slack that losing that now-Arizona Diamondback will inevitably leave.

Center fielder Joc Pederson’s batting average must be a heck of a lot better than last year’s .210, and his strikeouts MUST decrease.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers 2016 preview from YouTube.com

 

And as for the new rookie phenom, shortstop Corey Seager?

Three words: It’s his time.

Not that I’m putting any pressure on baseball’s number one prospect; if Seager hits around .270 or .280 with 15-20 homers, drives in 70-80 runs, and makes the plays at short, that would be fine with me as this is, after all, his first full year in “The Show”.

As such, in making my official prediction of the team that I have followed since childhood,

I’m going to disagree with the L.A. Times and everyone else that has the Dodgers winning the division and say that this iconic franchise will finish in…

Third place in the National League West, behind the Giants and the Diamondbacks.

Could these Dodgers possibly finish first and prove me wrong?

Sure, if they get healthy and the guys I mentioned come through with big years.

It will be interesting to see if they do so.

In fact, my biggest disappointment will be the inability to watch them, or the greatest sports broadcaster of all time, Vin Scully – who’s entering his 67th and final season calling Dodger games – on TV thanks to the greed of Time Warner Cable.

 

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 19:  Scott Van Slyke #33 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates a 7-0 win over the Colorado Rockies with Howie Kendrick #47 at Dodger Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 19: Scott Van Slyke #33 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates a 7-0 win over the Colorado Rockies with Howie Kendrick #47 at Dodger Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Photo courtesy of rantsports.com

 

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