Why this could be the Dodgers’ most exciting season in recent memory

Hello and welcome back to another edition of the Dodgers Dugout. My name is houston mitchellAnd I wonder if anyone has checked to see if that spy balloon belonged to the Astros.

I wrote last week that this could be the most exciting season for the Dodgers in recent memory. This is what I meant.

This bulletin has been around since the start of the 2015 season, which seems hard to believe, but true. The Dodgers have made the postseason every year for as long as this newsletter has been around. Actually, they’ve done it every season since 2013. And when each season started, we knew the Dodgers were going to make the playoffs. At the end of May, it was a virtual lockdown. That turned the six-month regular season into a waiting game. Sure, there were exciting moments during the season, but there were no butterflies wondering if they would make the playoffs.

So we’d wait six months for a postseason that would often end in disappointment. Last season, the Dodgers were eliminated after four postseason games. “Six months of waiting just for that?”

It’s totally different this season. The Dodgers don’t seem like the giant they’ve been. Trea Turner it’s gone, without an equivalent replacement. There will be untested children playing frequently. Willpower max muncy rebounding after hitting .196 last season? Willpower Chris Taylor return to form? How much will the outfield defense suffer without cody bellinger? Is traice thompson really a .268/.364/.537 hitter, or is he more like the hitter he was in previous seasons (.208/.283/.405)? Willpower Clayton Kershaw avoid injury? Has dust of may Recovered enough to hold a permanent rotation position? Who will pitch the last innings? Can gavin lux continue to improve as a hitter and play a solid shortstop? Can jd martinez replace justin turner?

In previous seasons, there were few questions. There are a plethora of questions this season, the above representing just a few of many. The Dodgers aren’t the favorites to win the division, the Padres are. But the Dodgers could still make the postseason. Even if it’s 20 games worse than last season, that equates to a 91-win season and puts them in the playoffs. But will they be worse than that? Better?

If the young players step up, it will be a pleasure to see them. It’s a different kind of joy to see a young player succeed than it is to see an acquired free agent do what’s expected. Yeah miguel vargas, james utman and others become stars this season, the excitement will be palpable. They might also not live up to expectations, making the disappointment all the more real.

We don’t know what will happen. And that’s what’s exciting, and that’s what makes me look forward to this season more than any season in recent memory.

The change

A lot of people are expecting an increase in offense now that the turn has been banned. The new rule states (you can read about this and all the rule changes here):

—All four infielders must be within the outer boundary of the infield when the pitcher is on the plate.

—Infielders can’t change sides. In other words, a team cannot reposition its best defender on the side of the infield where the batter is most likely to hit the ball.

—If the infielders are not lined up correctly at the time of the pitch, the offense may choose an automatic ball or the outcome of the play.

—This rule does not prevent a team from placing an outfielder in the infield or on the shallow turf of the outfield in certain situations. But it does prohibit four-outfielder lineups.

But will this really lead to an increase in offense? The change was tested in the minors and the results are amazing, according to Baseball America.

The at-bat ban went into effect at Double-A, Low-A, and High-A in 2022. Here are the batting averages for balls in play in 2021 and 2022:

League 2021 2022
double A .308 .311
high A .314 .307
low A .323 .317

As you can see, batting averages are down in two of the three leagues. Because? Everything levels out. With the switch on, some hits became outs, but some balls that would have been outs became hits. We just paid more attention to the balls that became outs. With the turn prohibited, balls that could have been hits became outs and balls that could have been outs became hits.

“Nothing really changed,” Kevin Randel, manager of the Marlins’ double-A affiliate in Pensacola, told Baseball America. “I didn’t see any advantage or disadvantage to him at all. In the end, it all evened out… You steal some outs and hit some cheap shots. I think it was more or less the same thing.”


Finally, the Dodgers have done the right thing and announced Saturday at FanFest that they are retiring. Fernando Valenzuela‘s No. 34 this season. There is no retired Dodger more deserving of the honor. There may be no player who has created more Dodgers fans than Fernando, with the possible exception of jackie robinson.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Valenzuela said. “I never thought it would happen. I thank the fans and the Dodgers for making it possible.”

The Dodgers had an unofficial policy of retiring only the number of players inducted into the Hall of Fame, with the exception of the longtime player and coach. Jim Gilliamwho died just after the 1978 season.

“When we got here, we respected the history of the franchise and that included respecting their policies,” team president. stan kasten told our Bill Plaschke. “But from time to time we also sit down and review those policies…and after all the public outcry for Fernando…that is the only reason that pushed this decision over the edge…it is about what this means to a lot of fans. .”

The retirement ceremony will become a numbers retirement weekend, August 11-13 against Colorado.

So before you go ahead and start saying “Now remove this player’s number!” Let’s take a moment and let this moment sink in and enjoy it. A long time ago.

In case you missed it

Plaschke: Dodgers finally retire Fernando Valenzuela’s number

Withdrawal of the number of Fernando Valenzuela celebrated by Jaime Jarrín and Julio Urías

Miguel Rojas agrees to a two-year contract extension with Dodgers

Hernández: Julio Urías showed that he can be the ace of the Dodgers; now they must pay him as one

And finally

The Dodgers announce that they will retire Fernando’s number. Watch and listen here.