Team Previews in a Fantasy Nutshell: Los Angeles Dodgers
Projected Starting Lineup
C Yasmani Grandal—Grandal performs significantly better in OBP leagues than he does in leagues that use batting average. In either format, he is still a good source of power and is a reliable catcher that should go in rounds 9-11.
1B Adrian Gonzalez—The decline has arrived for Gonzalez, so while he is still hitting around .290, he is no longer the 30 HR threat that he was earlier in his career. The Dodgers top prospect, Cody Bellinger, is about a year away, so I don’t see Gonzalez losing his job anytime soon. He is now more of a corner infielder than a first baseman in mixed leagues.
2B Logan Forsythe—Forsythe was acquired recently from the Rays in exchange for Jose DeLeon. I was a little surprised at the time that the Dodgers made this deal, but the more that I think about it, the more that it makes sense to me. Forsythe can play numerous places in the infield and can hit leadoff or further down the order if needed. His versatility is something that the Dodgers lacked, and it should help the team out in case of injury.
SS Corey Seager—If I were starting a dynasty league there is no doubt that Seager would be a top ten pick. At 22, he has only just begun to find his power stroke and could even add a few more stolen bases to his arsenal. Seager is going in the late first/early second round of most drafts, and I think that makes a lot of sense. He could hit 40 HR as early as this season.
3B Justin Turner—The Dodgers gave Turner a huge contract this off-season after watching him mash 27 HR in 2016. While I think that Turner showed what he could do if given 550+ ABs, I am not completely sold that his new found power will still be around long-term. Let’s think 20 HR as opposed to 30. That being said, Turner is still very solid and won’t hurt your team in any category.
OF Andrew Toles—Toles flashed nicely last September (he was especially good against RHP), and now the team has entered his name into consideration as a possible starter in left field. The Dodgers went out and signed Franklin Gutierrez in the off-season because of his proficiency against LHP, so my best guess is that Toles will get an opportunity to platoon early on vs. RHP and will be given till the All-Star Break to either cement his spot in the lineup or be jettisoned to another team.
OF Joc Pederson—Just a couple of years ago, Pederson was the Dodgers top prospect in Triple-A, hitting over .300 to go along with 30/30. Push forward two years and the power has shown up at the major league level, but neither the average nor speed has accompanied Pederson. This has left him very susceptible to LHP and might just enter him in a platoon with Scott Van Slyke or Trace Thompson if he does not figure it out within the first month or two of the season.
OF Yasiel Puig—Puig has all the tools to be a perennial All-Star but does he have the desire? This question not only haunts the Dodgers but Fantasy owners as well. Gone are the days that Fantasy owners take Puig early in drafts hoping for a 25/25 breakout. Puig is more of a 5th OF type with upside than anything. In fact, a trade to another organization might be the best thing to help jump start his career at this point.
U Cody Bellinger—Although the Dodgers are trying him at several different positions in spring training, I fully expect Bellinger to be sent down to Triple-A to continue being groomed as their first baseman of the future. It is possible that he will get called up to the big club if there was an injury to Gonzalez, but more than likely he will remain in the minors until September. Bellinger has exceptional power and is a terrific pick in dynasty leagues.
SP Clayton Kershaw—Without question, he is the best pitcher in the game and I am not even sure it is close. I could argue that I might take him number one overall in H2H leagues as he is supremely dominant the weeks that he pitches twice. Some people might be worried about his back issues, but let them worry—Kershaw is a winning pick, and I have zero problems with anyone taking him early in the first round.
SP Rich Hill—I am convinced that Hill has found the Fountain of Youth and if so, I need to know where it is. At 36, Hill is pitching better now than at any other point in his professional career. I have a policy of not investing in pitchers who have career years in the twilight of their lives. Therefore, I will pass on Hill and let someone else hope that he gives them anything close to last year’s numbers.
SP Kenta Maeda—I love Japanese pitchers, especially in their first one or two seasons when they come over from Japan. Their work ethic is superb, and normally their funky deliveries are hard for major leaguers to figure out. Maeda was good in his first year in MLB, but I think he can take a major step up this season. Look for him to cut down on walks and home runs significantly this year. If he does that, he will be well worth the sixth or seventh round pick that I project for him.
SP Julio Urias—Many naysayers will look at Urias and rightly point out that he is only expected to pitch about 150 innings in the majors this year. I will agree with that assessment, but I will also add “Isn’t 150 of great better than 200 of mediocre?” As long as he stays healthy, Urias should be the perfect complement to Kershaw in the Dodgers’ rotation. I think he will contend for a Cy Young award within the next three to five seasons. For that reason alone, I will draft him somewhere in rounds 12-14 as my SP4 and use him for as long as he starts this season.
SP Alex Wood—I am not sure that Wood will start out the year in the rotation, but he would make a great reserve round pick for the team who drafts Urias. If Urias should get shut down in late August due to an innings limit, I think Wood could very capably give you about 60-80 innings that can help you win a Fantasy league.
RP Sergio Romo—Keep your eye on Romo just in case Jansen should ever get hurt. He has closing experience, and I am sure he would like nothing more than to stick it to his old team (Giants). Give Romo a look in leagues that use holds as a category as well.
Closer Kenley Jansen—I am not sure that there is a better closer in the game right now than Jansen. I think that I like him number one overall at the position, but sadly I am not willing to take him in the 4th round as I think there are better values at the position (Giles, Herrera, Diaz) if I am willing to wait two to three rounds later.