Despite how they seemingly threw a lot of money around in 2012 and 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers managed to get plenty of bang for their collective dollar in making the playoffs last season. The turnaround was pretty remarkable given how they started the year to how they finished it and there are plenty of names that contributed all around for that to happen.
Entering 2014, this continues to be a team that has all the tools at their disposal for another run at the playoffs. Sure, there are a few questions, but that is what we are here to address.
1. Do I really need to spend a pick in the first three rounds to get Yasiel Puig? Short answer, no. While Puig has gone as high as 26 in drafts according to MockDraftCentral.com, his average draft position has come in right around the 50th pick. That puts him towards the end of round four or five depending on the number of teams in your league. There is no doubt he is intriguing and could pay huge dividends, but drafters are moderating risk based on reports of his weight gain and the overall sample size. At pick 50, you likely get a number two outfielder and he fits far better in that role than he would as a number one outfielder for any fantasy team given he is only entering his second year.
2. But seriously, isn’t that outfield a little crowded? What do I do with Matt Kemp? Throwing two questions in one is cheating, but totally related here. No doubt about it that this is a tough situation. When you can run out Puig, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, and Matt Kemp, you have an abundance of resources. Kemp has had two injury plagued years in a row and is still dealing with an ankle issue that likely keeps him out of the opening series in Australia. When you are already dealing with elbow and shoulder issues and have not been cleared to run, it likely means you are destined to be the odd man out and he is already complaining about a potential bench role. It should not shock people to see some type of move here because the value of any one of these guys on the bench takes a huge hit. That said, we have all seen Crawford and Ethier go down as well. They all likely get at-bats and that should frustrate fantasy owners.
3. Is “The $215 Million Dollar Man” worth a first round pick? I love Clayton Kershaw. Watching him is like watching any number of the most dominant starting pitchers in their prime. He has done nothing wrong and I am sure he is a fine human being. If you want to own him, he is definitely a first round selection. His numbers have consistently shown that should be the case. He is a pitcher putting up WAR numbers above 6.0 in two of the last three years and his BABIP against has improved every year since 2010, dropping from .275 to .251 last season. Add in over 230 strikeouts and an ERA that will be sub-2.50 and he contributes in three key categories given the low walks contributing to an above average WHIP. Yes, he is the best pitcher available and will provide substantial return, but he will also only help you once every five days.
4. Any prospects fantasy owners need to keep an eye out for? Overall, the Dodgers are far deeper than they even look on paper. Sure, they could use a little more help at second base and the idea of a full season of Juan Uribe at third base should have them looking to address needs, but the minor league system is not going to be where relief is found. Joc Pederson is their most ready prospect, but he would enter a crowded outfield situation. Corey Seager is the name to watch, but at barely 20 years old, he still needs some seasoning. Seager will likely fill the void at third given his power potential to go with the right size at the position. In dynasty leagues, store him away.
5. Is this the best rotation in fantasy baseball? If it is not the deepest pitching staff, it is very close. While I would avoid Dan Haren in most formats, there is good news out of camp on Josh Beckett. He’s feeling healthy for the first time in months and you have Paul Maholm waiting in the wings to go along with the eventual returnChad Billingsley. Both Beckett and Maholm come with red flags, but there is depth here and fantasy owners should like some of the potential matchup plays they could gain out of this in daily leagues. Factor in Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and second year player Hyun-Jin Ryu and this is a place to look to grab some of the best pitching in fantasy baseball.