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Los Angeles Dodgers 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Los Angeles Dodgers 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Los Angeles Dodgers 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Finally. The Dodgers' 32-year wait for a championship had begun to define the franchise in recent years even as they dominated their division (eight consecutive division titles through 2020) and stamped themselves as perennial title contenders with the best record in baseball over the past five seasons and three NL pennants in the past four. All of that was finally validated with the most unique championship in baseball history, won in the quarantine "bubble" on the field at neutral-site Globe Life Field. The bold trade for Mookie Betts on the eve of spring training paid off in the only way it could. The Dodgers were the best team in baseball during its shortest season (43–17) and then won more postseason games than any World Series winner had ever been asked to win (13).

Offseason winds will blow through the roster and create some changes. But the core is still intact (and will include Betts for the next 12 years), the roster is still baseball's deepest, and the player development system continues to pump out prospects. Ten players on the Dodgers' World Series roster were 26 years old or younger, and four rookies played prominent roles on the 2020 postseason pitching staff.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Dodgers

"Whatever you need, they have it — so when you go to trade with them, there's nothing they need. That's why they don't make bad deals, because they're never desperate and, at worst, can just collect more prospects to keep their pipeline going. All of their young starters are potential top-of-the-rotation guys — Walker Buehler already is — and you've got Clayton Kershaw, whose velocity ticked back up last year, still going out and dominating for five to seven innings. Mookie Betts brought so much to that team, as you knew he would. He does it all and sets a great example as a leader who accepts no excuses. AJ Pollock is a little brittle, but he's got good power, and you can always stick Chris Taylor out there. Corey Seager's just a low-key, steady superstar; I can't see them letting him get away. Cody Bellinger's a Gold Glove first baseman playing center field, and he's gotten rid of most of the holes in his swing, although good pitchers still seem to figure him out in October."

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Beyond the Box Score

Bash brothers When Cody Bellinger homered during the Dodgers' NLCS Game 7 victory, he celebrated so aggressively with Enrique Hernandez that their forearm bash dislocated Bellinger's right shoulder. Bellinger popped the shoulder back in place and played on. It was not the first time the shoulder had popped out of place. But this time, Bellinger underwent surgery following the World Series to stabilize the joint. He is expected to recover in time for spring training.

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2021 Athlon Sports Baseball Preview

Wait a little longer 

The Dodgers were scheduled to host the 2020 All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium, fresh off a $100 million stadium renovation project tied to the event. But the pandemic forced Major League Baseball to cancel the midsummer classic. Instead, the Dodgers are now scheduled to host the 2022 All-Star Game (with Atlanta previously designated as the 2021 host). The Dodgers have not hosted the event since 1980.

COVID costs Like virtually every MLB team, the Dodgers have claimed large financial losses in 2020 due to the lack of fans in attendance for the 2020 games. Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten has pegged the franchise's losses at "well north of $100 million." As a result, the team laid off a number of employees in November. The team released a statement at the time saying, "While the Dodgers had a championship season, the organization has not been immune from the widespread economic devastation caused by the coronavirus."

Multi-use stadium Fans were not able to attend games at Dodger Stadium in 2020. But the franchise offered up its facility as the largest coronavirus testing site in Los Angeles County. And the Dodgers were the first MLB team to announce it would host a vote center for the November election. According to local election officials, Dodger Stadium was the highest attended five-day vote center in Los Angeles County.

He's in the game Typical of his generation, the 25-year-old Bellinger is a frequent video-game participant. But this offseason, he went inside the game — literally. The 2019 National League MVP could be found smashing rocks with a spike-covered club as the character Otta Sluggasson, a Viking warrior in the new video game "Assassin's Creed: Valhalla." Bellinger flew to Canada to record his dialogue and wear a motion-capture suit for the game. Bellinger described the experience as... "dope."

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

RF     Mookie Betts (R)

SS      Corey Seager (L)

3B     Justin Turner (R)

CF     Cody Bellinger (L)

1B     Max Muncy (L)

C       Will Smith (R)

LF     A.J. Pollock (R)

2B     Chris Taylor (R)

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BENCH

C      Austin Barnes (R)

UT    Zach McKinstry (L)

UT    Gavin Lux (L)

IF     Edwin Rios (L)

OF    Matt Beaty (L)

ROTATION

RHP     Walker Buehler

LHP     Clayton Kershaw

RHP     Trevor Bauer

LHP     David Price

LHP     Julio Urias

BULLPEN

RHP     Kenley Jansen (C)

LHP     Corey Knebel

RHP     Blake Treinen

RHP     Joe Kelly

RHP     Brandon Morrow

RHP     Brusdar Graterol

LHP     Victor Gonzalez

RHP     Dustin May

2021 Prediction: 1st in NL West

(Mookie Betts photo courtesy of @Dodgers)