The Los Angeles Dodgers have started faster than anyone could have predicted. Boasting a National League best 11-3 record, they are riding the hot bats of Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. But can they continue?
2011 NL MVP runner-up Matt Kemp is no fluke. He certainly looks to be an All-Star for years to come and a bright spot for a team that filed bankruptcy less than a year ago. Barring injuries, he will likely make another push for NL MVP. And if Kemp is the Dodgers version of “Batman,” then Ethier is his “Robin.” The two are tied for the league lead in RBIs (18), and provide legitimate threats in the heart of the Dodgers lineup.
However, the Dodgers will not continue this incredible start. They have two possible All Stars in their lineup as well as maybe another one in their rotation (2011 NL Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw), but are otherwise mediocre at best. Their home run totals show a staggering example of this disparity. Kemp and Ethier combine to have 12 home runs thus far. The rest of the entire team has one.
As good as Kemp and Ethier are, they cannot hold up the organization’s offense in its entirety. Not to mention the chance of the injury bug hitting these players at any point, which would be a devastating blow. Just ask the Giants how a season ending injury to offensive catalyst and star catcher Buster Posey made their chance at defending their 2010 World Series title turn out…
Also, the Dodgers have seven of their 11 wins against the Padres, a team tied for the worst record in the majors. Although the NL West was known as one of the worst divisions in baseball not too long ago, the Giants and Diamondbacks will be playoff contenders in 2012. The Padres do not provide nearly the competition of those two teams. The Dodgers split the season opening series with the D-backs and lost two games in a three game set during the first week of April to the much improved Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. These games will be much more indicative of the Dodgers success.
Looking through the Dodgers schedule, they may be able to continue their run for a bit longer, but the notorious “dog days” of June will hit them hard. Four games against the Phillies, six against the Angels, and three against the Giants will bring the Dodgers back down to Earth – and maybe then some. Look for them to hover around .500 for the month of June and go 14-14.
Although this is looking into the distant future, the final reason the Dodgers are not real World Series contenders is that they have a weak schedule. According to ESPN, the Dodgers have the 7th easiest schedule in the majors, something that does not bode well come the playoffs. To highlight this incredibly weak schedule, even though the Dodgers currently have the second best record in baseball, their Relative Power Index (RPI) is south of the top 10 – and below the 5-8 Cincinnati Reds.
Statistics courtesy of ESPN.com and mlb.com