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Los Angeles Dodgers 2022: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers beefed up their already-potent lineup by signing first baseman Freddie Freeman in free agency with their sights on winning their second World Series title in three years

For eight seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the NL West, winning an average of 96 games in full seasons and winning the division each year from 2013 through 2020 by an average of 8.5 games. But all that winning produced just one championship — the "bubble" title won following the 60-game pandemic schedule in 2020.

The San Francisco Giants shocked baseball by winning 107 games last season and put an end to the Dodgers' run of division titles. The Dodgers beat the Giants in a historic Division Series matchup between the two rivals, but the effort left the Dodgers depleted and diminished, and they lost to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. 

The offseason was a mixed bag for the team. Top free agents Max Scherzer and Corey Seager signed elsewhere for big-money contracts that even the deeply resourced Dodgers wouldn't match. But Los Angeles made up for that by in part by bringing in 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman on a six-year, $162 million deal. 

The Dodgers enter 2022 as vulnerable as they have been in a decade. No longer are they clearly the best team in their own division, let alone the league.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers logo

"They're still the class of the NL, and they'll be the favorites to win the West. The young players they've developed will continue to get better, and I wouldn't bet against a big bounce-back from Cody Bellinger. He's young, he's a former MVP and he got his confidence back in the playoffs. Mookie Betts and Trea Turner are two of the 10 best players in the game; either one would be a safe pick for MVP. They did what they had to do in bringing back Chris Taylor; they have so much positional versatility, and he's the key to all of it. The guys on the corner — Max Muncy and Justin Turner — are indispensable; you saw how much they missed them in October. Walker Buehler and Julio Urias are about as reliable a 1-2 punch as you'll find, and Tony Gonsolin is a sleeper breakout candidate if they'll let him loose. Blake Treinen is a top-10 reliever; I'd trust him in the ninth, and they should, too. Brusdar Graterol is an enigma; he has tremendous raw stuff, but I don't know if he'll ever get the swing and miss that goes with it."

Note: Scouting report was submitted before the Dodgers signed Freddie Freeman in free agency.

Beyond the Box Score

Star watch The Dodgers were scheduled to host the 2020 All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium. The pandemic forced Major League Baseball to cancel the midsummer classic that year. Instead, the Dodgers are now scheduled to host the 2022 All-Star Game. It will be the first time Dodger Stadium has hosted the event since 1980.

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Hall call Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully added his voice to the campaign to get Gil Hodges into the Hall of Fame this past winter in an essay on MLB.com. Scully's wishes came true when the Golden Days Era Committee voted Hodges into the Hall of Fame. Hodges was the Brooklyn Dodgers' first baseman for 12 seasons, making eight All-Star teams. He still ranks second on the franchise list in home runs (361) and RBIs (1,254). Hodges' uniform number 14 was also worn by Mike Scioscia and Kiké Hernández during their days with the Dodgers, but the franchise has a tradition of retiring the jersey numbers of Hall of Fame players.

On his way out? Righthander Trevor Bauer spent most of the 2021 season on administrative leave as MLB investigates allegations of sexual assault. That investigation continued into the winter, and Bauer's status with the Dodgers was very much unsettled heading into 2022. Discipline of some kind is likely to come down at some point, and the Dodgers would not have to pay Bauer during a suspension (they did pay him during his administrative leave). The team might choose to swallow the remainder of Bauer's three-year, $102 million contract rather than have him pitch for them again.

Top lefty The only 20-game winner in MLB last season, Julio Urías was named the 2021 Warren Spahn Award winner as the best left-handed pitcher in baseball. The award is named after the Oklahoma native and given out annually since 1999 by the Oklahoma Sports Museum. Clayton Kershaw (2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017) has won the award four times and David Price once (2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays).

Swan song Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin has announced that the 2022 season will be his last and he will retire this fall. The 86-year-old Jarrin has led the Dodgers' Spanish radio broadcasts since 1959. The 2022 season will be his 64th. Jarrin was the Ford C. Frick Award winner in 1998, becoming only the second Spanish-language broadcaster to receive the honor from baseball's Hall of Fame.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

RF    Mookie Betts (R)
1B    Freddie Freeman (L)
SS    Trea Turner (R)
DH  Max Muncy (L)
C     Will Smith (R)
3B    Justin Turner (R)
CF    Cody Bellinger (L)
LF    Chris Taylor (R)
2B    Gavin Lux (L)

BENCH

C     Austin Barnes (R)
INF  Edwin Ríos (L)
INF  Hanser Alberto (R)
UT   Zach McKinstry (L)

ROTATION

RHP    Walker Buehler
LHP    Clayton Kershaw
LHP    Julio Urías
LHP    Andrew Heaney
RHP    Tony Gonsolin

BULLPEN

RHP    Craig Kimbrel (C)
RHP    Blake Treinen
RHP    Phil Bickford
LHP    Alex Vesia
RHP    Brusdar Graterol
LHP    David Price
RHP    Daniel Hudson
LHP    Víctor González

2022 Prediction: 1st in NL West