Although some teams in MLB would dream for a season like the one the Dodgers had, they might consider it a bust. Even with a record of 106-56, the Dodgers played the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card Game, defeating them 3-1. They would go on to defeat the San Francisco Giants in five games in the NLDS, before falling to the World Series champion Atlanta Braves in six games in the NLCS. The Dodgers wanted to make a championship defense this season and made quite a few moves to try and get there.
At the trade deadline in July, the Dodgers made the two biggest splashes of the day to acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Washington Nationals. In exchange, the Dodgers had to give up Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray, Gerardo Carrillo, and Donovan Casey. Even with as many good stories as the Dodgers had, there was a big cloud hanging over them during the second half of the season. On June 30th, Trevor Bauer was revealed to be under investigation for an alleged sexual assault incident in May which placed him on the restricted list, and would not return for the rest of the season while the investigation continued. On that note, let’s transition into diving into the Dodgers’ 2021 season.
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Manager: Dave Roberts
Position: Second in NL West
Postseason: Lost in NLCS
Overall, the Dodgers had a good season statistically. While their hitting stats overall were down this year, they were still among the best in MLB in multiple categories. They finished first in home runs last year with 118, and this year finished fourth with 237. But remember, fewer games last year meant that there was less time for the statistics to even out. So it may not be fair to judge the team based solely on their statistics, but regardless their hitting stats were down.
On the mound, they were elite again this season. After finishing last year in first with a 3.02 combined ERA, this year they finished first again with a 3.01 ERA. They finished at the top of MLB in WHIP both years as well registering a 1.06 in 2020, and a 1.10 in 2021. The only problem is that they didn’t reach the World Series. For a team that made the big Scherzer and Turner move, that has to be a disappointment.
Most Valuable Player/Starting Pitcher of the Year: Walker Buehler
With all the talent that the Dodgers have, the MVP could go to any number of players, but Buehler makes an excellent case for himself. Buehler posted career-best numbers this season in ERA with a 2.47 and WHIP with a 0.968. He also finished with the most wins of his career with 16 and had a WAR of 6.7. Buehler has continued to be one of the best pitchers in baseball and is clearly just hitting his stride.
Relief Pitcher of the Year: Blake Treinen
The relief core for the Dodgers was good, but Treinen had one of the best years of his career in quite some time. This year he posted his best year statistically since his All-Star season in 2018. His ERA was 1.99, he had a WHIP of 0.982, and a WAR of 2.4. He also was able to convert seven saves this season. With Treinen having a good year, the Dodgers were able to give him some more opportunities to lock down games.
Best Hitter of the Year: Corey Seager
Yes, Turner could also have this award, but Seager has the whole season’s body of work in Los Angeles. It certainly helps that he posted a career-best OBP at .394 and that he posted his best WAR since 2017 at 3.7. He had a .306 average, which is only a fraction less than last season’s .307. He also had three triples, his most since 2016.
Best Fielder of the Year: Max Muncy
Muncy was named one of the Gold Glove Award finalists for first base in the National League and for good reason. He led all MLB first basemen with +7 Outs Above Average this season. He also had a career-best Fielding Runs Above Average with nine. This means that Muncy was good for stopping nine runs on average when he was in the field. A well-deserved Gold Glove finalist indeed.
Comeback Player of the Year: AJ Pollock
This season was Pollock’s best season since he joined the Dodgers back in 2019. Not to mention the first season that he played over 100 games for the team. With a slash line of .297/.355/.536, it was his best batting average and OBP since 2015. He also tied his career-high in home runs with 21 and had the most RBI he’s had since 2015 with 69. Not only that, but he had his best WAR since his remarkable 2015 season with a 1.6. It was just the year that Pollock needed, and proved why the Dodgers signed him to that five-year, $60 million contract.
For the Dodgers, they have a lot of players to re-sign this offseason. The biggest ones being Seager, Scherzer, and Kershaw. Kershaw might be the biggest question mark of that trio due to the left forearm injury that ended his season, but all three could potentially be hard to re-sign. They also have the Bauer situation to keep an eye on to see if he will be eligible at some point next year. The Dodgers will certainly be a team to keep an eye on during the offseason.
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