Justin Kroll and Sawyer Kroll
Editor in Chief and Staff Writer
On Friday night, October 18, amidst a roaring red crowd of cheering Cardinals fans, the Dodgers were brutally eliminated from the National League Championship Series (NLCS), losing 9-0. Though their sudden and embarrassing end cast a dim shadow over their playoff run, we cannot ignore the season’s unbelievable successes.
The Dodgers faced the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series (NLDS), the first round of the playoffs. After decisively winning the series 3-1, the Dodgers faced the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals are a well-rounded team with incredible pitching in Adam Wainwright and the hot bat of “Señor Octubre”, Carlos Beltran. Though most games were close, the Cardinals won the series 4-2.
The Dodgers started their season very poorly. After the first 70 games of the season, the Dodgers were 9.5 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks, making them one of the worst teams in baseball. And then the team started on a historic streak, going 42-8 in the next 50 games and ending up 8.5 games ahead of the Diamondbacks. By the end of the season, the Dodgers boasted a dominant 90-71 record, the third best record in the National League.
Many credit the dramatic turnaround to 22-year old Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig, nicknamed the “Wild Horse” for his aggressive and sometimes reckless playing style. In Yasiel Puig’s first month of Major League Baseball, he had 44 hits, a record for rookies second only to Joe DiMaggio, who hit 48 back in 1936. Hanley Ramirez also helped spark the Dodgers, batting .345 with 20 home-runs in the 81 games he played. However, the rock of the Dodgers offense has been Adrian Gonzalez—who only missed 5 games all year—leading the team in home-runs, RBIs, and batting average. Carl Crawford, Andre Eithier, Juan Uribe and both A.J. and Mark Ellis had superb seasons as well. The Dodgers pitching has also been amazing. Clayton Kershaw, favored to win the NL Cy Young award again, was incredible with a 1.83 ERA, by far the best ERA in the majors. Zack Greinke also posted some great numbers, though he was hurt for a large portion of the season. The Dodger bullpen developed into a strong force, with rookie Paco Rodriguez and the additions of J.P. Howell and the commanding Brian Wilson. Closer Kenley Jansen emerged as a star, posting an impressive 1.88 ERA.
Unfortunately, the Dodgers have been plagued by injuries the entire year. Matt Kemp, arguably the best player on the Dodgers, missed practically the entire season because of his ankle and shoulder. Hanley Ramirez has had problems with his thumb and ribs, and continues to be hurt to this day. Zack Greinke was injured for a portion of the year as well when a batter he beaned charged the mound. Carl Crawford, Mark Ellis, and A.J. Ellis also suffered injuries. The number of games missed by star players has brought up many what-ifs. What if Matt Kemp played the entire year? What if Hanley Ramirez was fully healthy? Could the Dodgers be playing the Boston Red Sox in the World Series today?
There are many things to take away from the Dodger’s exceptional season. First, the Dodgers can be good. Like, really good. Even with their devastating injuries, they made it to the NLCS. Second, we can look to next season with high hopes. If all the Dodgers are healthy next year, who knows, maybe they can bring home a championship. You know what they say: 26th time’s the charm.