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2018 MLB Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

A look at the Los Angeles Dodgers with fantasy baseball in mind.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Basic Stats:

Final Record: 104-58
Runs: 12th
Home Runs: 11th
Stolen Bases: 19th
ERA: 2nd
Saves: 3rd
Strikeouts: 5th

The Dodgers nearly went the distance in 2017 but fell short in an epic 7 game series against the Astros. Despite this, the National League Champions still had an outstanding year. They owned the best record in baseball, primarily on the shoulders of their pitching staff. They finished top 5 in strikeouts and had the best ERA in the NL. The pitching staff was led by Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, the #7 and #8 overall players in fantasy respectively. Those 2 are quite familiar with being at the top of fantasy leaderboards.

Let’s take a look towards 2018.

The Superstar: Clayton Kershaw

The Dodgers have several top 50 fantasy options but Kershaw stands out among the rest. Kershaw is the consensus #1 SP in fantasy. Max Scherzer of the Nationals has a strong case considering Kershaw’s injury history the past few seasons, (even I have Scherzer #1) but no one can touch Kershaw on a per start basis. He has 3 Cy Young awards and hasn’t finished worse than 5th in the Cy voting since 2011. The time he finished 5th he only made 21 starts! In those 7 seasons, Kershaw has a 2.10 ERA 0.93 WHIP with a 10.1 K/9 and a ridiculous 1.8 BB/9. I may have just talked myself back into Kershaw as the clear #1 SP in fantasy...

The Sleeper: ?

In looking at my rankings, I’m not very high on any Dodgers. I feel like most of them exceeded expectation in 2017. I don’t see Justin Turner as a top 60 player (current ECR is right at 60) and guys like Rich Hill, Alex Wood, and Chris Taylor had best case scenario type season last year. I do have Cody Bellinger inside my top 20 overall and Kenley Jansen is my only RP inside the top 80 but those are pretty well established names. Perhaps if Yu Darvish resigns in LA and his World Series performance causes his overall value to drop, I could see him being a value on draft day. Otherwise, I’m drawing a blank on this spot.

The Guy to Avoid: Corey Seager

Seager had a bit of an underwhelming follow up to his Rookie of the Year season in 2016. Last season, Seager hit .295 with a .854 OPS, which are fine numbers. The counting stats didn’t impress. Only 22 HR 4 SB and 77 RBI. This earned him a finish at #12 for SS. He had an ADP of 20.5 on ESPN. This was the #3 SS taken and the #19 overall player off the board. He obviously did not live up to this selection. For 2018, I think we see around the same for Seager. 24 HR 75 RBI 90 R 4 SB and a .290 average sound about right. That’s not top 30 overall worthy. Sure, the Dodgers are loaded with high risk starting pitchers like the aforementioned Hill and Wood who I could have picked for “The Guy to Avoid” but I think most fantasy owners know the skinny on Dodgers pitching behind Kershaw. Seager is a mediocre fantasy SS who is still viewed among the elite. Don’t reach for him in a panic, the position is much deeper than in years past.

The Prospect To Watch: Alex Verdugo

Walker Buehler intrigues me here but he only had 98 IP last season between the minors and a super short big league stint as a November call up. He will probably get some run in the majors this season but I can’t see more than 90 IP in the bigs which could be a mix of starts and multi inning relief appearances. It’s the Dodgers so your guessing as to what they’re going to do with their pitchers is as good as mine. As for the Verdugo, he’s an elite level hitting prospect at just 21 excelling at plate discipline. He’s a solid outfielder with a cannon for an arm (being a former high school pitcher who could hit 94 MPH helps). Last season at AAA, Verdugo slashed .314/.389/.436 with 67 R and 62 RBI. He only had 6 HR but did manage 9 SB. The best part, 52 BB and 50 SO. That’s right, more walks than strikeouts at AAA. The power is average at best and the speed isn’t amazing but the contact rate and plate discipline make him a great points league option. He has Christian Yelich upside in him if everything clicks.