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The Dodgers during one of their many celebrations on their way to their first pennant in 29 years. Photo courtesy of upi.com

 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS – 129th SEASON

61st SEASON IN LOS ANGELES

2017 BY THE NUMBERS:

Record: 104-58, first place in the National League West, 11 games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks

Manager: Dave Roberts, 3rd season

Highlights:

  • National League West Champions for the fifth straight year
  • Set an all-time franchise record for wins with 104
  • NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS and a berth in the World Series for the first time since 1988

Lowlight:

  • Lost the World Series to the Houston Astros, four games to three

Key Hitters (2017 stats):

  • Justin Turner, 3B – .322 average, 21 HR, 71 RBI (injured until May)
  • Cody Bellinger, 1B – .267 average, 39 HR (NL rookie record), 97 RBI
  • Corey Seager, SS – .295 average, 22 HR, 77 RBI
  • Yasiel Puig, RF – .263 average, 28 HR, 74 RBI

Key Pitchers (2017 stats):

  • Clayton Kershaw: 18-4, 2.31 ERA, 202 strikeouts
  • Alex Wood: 16-2, 2.72 ERA, 151 strikeouts
  • Kenta Maeda: 13-6, 4.22 ERA, 140 strikeouts
  • Kenley Jansen (closer): 5-0, 1.32 ERA, 109 strikeouts in 68.1 innings, 41 saves

Top Newcomer:

  • Matt Kemp, OF, from Atlanta Braves (Welcome Home!) – .276 average, 19 HR, 64 RBI

 

 

Some of the many highlights that the Dodgers provided in 2017, courtesy of YouTube.

 

 

Analysis and Thoughts:

Before that pitcher from the Oakland A’s broke Justin Turner’s hand last week and that water main broke beneath Dodger Stadium flooding the third base warning track and forcing the Dodgers to call off their final pre-season game with the Angels in the 5th inning last night,

Two words dominated my thinking regarding this team as it opens their defense of the National League pennant tomorrow…

Unfinished Business.

How could it be anything but that when they were just one win from their first World Series championship in 29 years?

That 5-1 loss to the Houston Astros on the day after Halloween – the one where Yu Darvish, because he was tipping his pitches according to the Astros, pitched as bad as Charlie Brown and subsequently got lit up (Roberts was equally at fault for waiting FAR to long to yank him; I would have done it after the first four or five batters in the first inning!) – was so devastating to a Dodger faithful that had waited so long for a title, they were still talking about it when Christmas and New Year’s rolled around!

I know I was, as I commiserated with the Salvation Army bell-ringer about that defeat – at Dodger Stadium, no less, the Dodgers and their fans watching those Astros celebrate, Carlos Correa proposing to his girlfriend in the stands and supermodel Kate Upton, Justin Verlander’s girlfriend (now wife) enjoying herself in the stands!

But enough about that – it’s all past and history!

I only hope Turner’s broken bone and that water main break is not an omen of things to come in the tradition of Murphy’s Law, because I don’t know how the fans would be able to take that after coming oh-so-close to the promised land.

One silver lining to Turner’s misfortune is the return of an old friend to Dodger Blue.

Matt Kemp proved Roberts and particularly Dodger GM Farhan Zaidi wrong in showing them that he wasn’t done and ready to be flipped to most likely an American League team after they traded for him, proceeding to hit the tar out of the ball this spring in hitting a team-leading five home runs.

I and many Dodger fans wanted NL MVP to the tune of 59 home runs Giancarlo Stanton, an L.A. native who had stated his desire to come home and be a Dodger, to be in the Chavez ravine outfield this season but the team brass didn’t want to pay nine figures and go over the luxury tax threshold.

The way Kemp hit the ball, however, he will do just fine as I’m so glad that he’s back.

He’ll provide some of the missing power that Turner leaves behind on the disabled list in left field.

 

A Dodger that I KNOW the fans are happy to have back. Photo courtesy of dodgerblue.com

 

One other point of concern was raised by Bill Plaschke in the Los Angeles Times:

The fact that Kershaw, who has been the best pitcher on the planet for eight years, can opt out of his contract and say goodbye to the Dodgers after this season.

My attitude about that is…

“Let’s cross that bridge when we get to it.”

And enjoy Kershaw’s and the rest of the Dodgers’ exploits as their mission is – after they had won ten postseason games last year – to win that 11th.

 

OK, HERE’S MY PREDICTION OF THE DODGERS’ FATE AS THEY BEGIN THE 2018 SEASON AGAINST THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS IN A LITTLE OVER 24 HOURS:

I see the Dodgers winning between 90-95 games; I don’t expect them to reach 100 wins again.

I also don’t see anything stopping them from winning their sixth straight division crown.

And as has been the case for the past several years, this blue-clad franchise is on everyone’s very short list for the World Series; I wouldn’t be surprised if those Dodgers are back in that Fall Classic this October.

Not that I’m going to boldly predict that, at least right now as the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals, along with will (again!) provide serious competition and road blocks to the championship glory that every Dodger and Dodger supporter is absolutely starving for.

But I do predict another great and potentially championship season for the team I’ve been a fan of for over forty years.

 

CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 19: The Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate defeating the Chicago Cubs 11-1 in game five of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 19, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Dodgers advance to the 2017 World Series. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) A scene that everyone in Dodger Blue, from co-owner Magic Johnson to president Stan Kasten to Zaidi to Roberts to the players, all the way to the bat boys and their millions of fans, expects to see seven months from now. Photo courtesy of lasportshub.com

 

 

 

 

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