The Los Angeles Dodgers have been a top-4 offense by runs created in each season since 2017. They have a ton of guys who can play a ton of positions and not look terrible doing it, and almost all of those guys can mash. In 2019 alone, they had eight players hit at least 15 home runs, with two of them doing it in 84 or fewer games. The team has become a consistent juggernaut, turning out stars and helping develop players to play at levels well beyond those at which they were expected to occupy. From a fantasy perspective, they’re much the same and are worth investing in all over the draft.
(Last Updated: 2/5/2020)
Will Smith (C | Batting 7th)
2019: 30 R, 15 HR, 42 RBI, 2 SB, .253/.337/.571 | C #20
2020 ADP: 219.3 (C #7)
Will Smith played only 54 games in 2019 and still managed to be the 20th-best catcher in fantasy baseball. His wRC+ was 132; the six catchers closest to him in games started at the position combined to register a 55. Smith was simply electric and performed to his utmost ceiling.
His HR/FB rate of 23.1% was about 8 percentage points higher than league average but in line with what he’s done in the minors the last two years. It’s easy to see how that might correlate with the number of fly balls he hits, which, at 53.7%, was 18 points higher than the average hitter. Something might have to give there once exposed to a full season of major league pitching, as those fly balls could more easily become outs against the stiffer competition. It’s hard to argue against grabbing an upside guy after pick 200 who demonstrated great skills last year and will hit in a loaded lineup, but don’t forget: catcher is sneaky deep. You might be able to wait even longer and still grab value at the position.
Strengths: HR, RBI
Weaknesses: SB, AVG
Smith picks up where he left off. His bat is so good that the Dodgers play him elsewhere enough that he gains additional positional eligibility. He’s a great payoff after pick 200.
The league’s pitchers exploit his fly ball tendencies. He becomes a batting average black hole while being average elsewhere, and you’re playing the wire for more valuable matchups.
2020 Projection: 49 R, 20 HR, 54 RBI, 3 SB, .225/.304/.440
Max Muncy (1B/2B/3B | Batting 2nd)
2019: 101 R, 35 HR, 79 RBI, 4 SB, .251/.374/.515 | 2B #14
2020 ADP: 82.3 (2B #11)
Max Muncy was a Dodgers player development revelation in 2018. He was a 27-year-old breakout who was suddenly hitting for three times as many home runs in the major leagues than he had at any professional level. Fantasy players who added him were likely wondering when the production would dry up; fantasy players who passed probably figured him to be a flash in the pan.
The production didn’t stop in 2018 and it didn’t crater in 2019 either. Projections still don’t really believe in Muncy and have his run and RBI production dropping by about 20%. They see him putting up a wRC+ in the neighborhood of Ryan Braun and José Abreu. If he stays as cheap as he is right now, he could be way more valuable than the 11th 2nd baseman off the board. Grabbing him at the tail end of the 6th round or in the early 7th could be a boon.
Strengths: R, HR, RBI, OBP, SLG
Muncy keeps hitting at the top of the Dodgers lineup and defying projections. You get a top-3 or top-5 2B for a bargain.
The projections ring true, his production is good if not awe-inspiring, and he loses a few ABs to the Dodgers’ tremendous depth. He’s a perfectly cromulent cog in your lineup.
2020 Projection: 80 R, 29 HR, 79 RBI, 4 SB, .240/.355/.466
Gavin Lux (2B | Batting 8th)
2019: 12 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 2 SB, .240/.305/.400 | 2B #21
2020 ADP: 137.7 (SS #16)
As part of the Mookie Betts trade, the Dodgers appear to be letting the reins off of top prospect Gavin Lux. The 22-year-old Lux made his way into 23 games at the end of last season, flashing promise but ultimately showed how the big leagues can eat up even the best prospects in their first go-round. Now primed to man the keystone in the wake of the team’s roster shakeup, he’s projected by Steamer as a league-average bat who will boast a strong batting average and push 10 steals over the course of 2020. We know there’s room for more, though, given how he tore apart the minor leagues last year. Lux went off the board as the 16th-eligible shortstop in the PL mocks back before the holidays, and now that he’s got a grip on a starting job in the middle infield, he’ll likely jump up boards.
Strengths: AVG, SB
Weaknesses: R, RBI
Lux lives up to his status as a top prospect and becomes a great value and another monster in a star-studded lineup on the back of excellent plate discipline and ability to make contact.
He fails to adjust from his struggles last year, performs the same way, and the team is forced to find another option at second base.
2020 Projection: 61 R, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 9 SB, .261/.329/.437
Justin Turner (3B | Batting 3rd)
2019: 80 R, 27 HR, 67 RBI, 2 SB, .290/.372/.509 | 3B #18
2020 ADP: 134.8 (3B #17)
Justin Turner had an up-and-down season that ebbed and flowed with injuries. He ultimately produced a very Turner-like line that helped owners most at the end of the year when he posted 20 homers and 39 R+RBI in August. Projections have him playing in the most games he’s played since 2016 which might be optimistic given that 2020 will be his age-35 season and the Dodgers have phenomenal depth. At least three other players on the roster could step in for him to give him a breather.
Turner’s currently going off the board as a back-end 3B option. That makes sense with how deep the position is and his past couple of seasons. If you wait on the position, Turner could be a great add if you’re also keen to have a replacement-level player ready to go when he isn’t.
Strengths: R, AVG, OBP, SLG
Turner really does play in over 140 games, accumulates stats in accordance with his skill and playing time, and still lurks as a threat in LA’s lineup.
He loses a step because of age or injury and he’s a piece you wait on to or hope will produce more later in the season. You poke around the waiver wire hoping to catch a more productive breakout.
2020 Projection: 86 R, 26 HR, 85 RBI, 3 SB, .281/.364/.487
Corey Seager (SS | Batting 6th)
2019: 82 R, 19 HR, 87 RBI, 1 SB, .272/.335/.483 | SS #26
2020 ADP: 136.3 (SS #18)
We’re in the golden age of shortstops and Corey Seager hardly registers as a blip on the radar. Injuries have had a large say in that and have brought him down a far cry from his first full season in 2016 where he created the most single-season offense in his career. If he manages to stay healthy—a big if—he’ll be an asset in runs and batting average with a chance to be more elsewhere if his skills click again. He’s currently going off the board as the 18th shortstop. You will likely find more value at another position in that spot, and probably have more reason to go with another option at the position earlier anyway. He makes the most sense as someone else’s gamble.
Strengths: R, RBI, AVG, SLG
The clock turns back a bit and we see a full, healthy season from Seager where his skills can be properly showcased. He finishes way more valuable than his 11th round price tag.
The injuries keep adding up, and Seager sits on your IL for extended stretches and doesn’t make an impact when in the lineup. You’re forced to find another option at shortstop.
2020 Projection: 95 R, 25 HR, 81 RBI, 2 SB, .278/.349/.478
Mookie Betts (RF | Batting 1st)
2019: 135 R, 29 HR, 80 RBI, 16 SB, .295/.391/.524 | OF #6
2020 ADP: 4.7 (OF #4)
The 2018 AL MVP regressed across the board en route to a superb 2019, speaking to how dominant he was for Boston’s 2018 title-winning squad. The overall regression was in large part due to an early-season struggle in which Betts hit a higher percentage of his batted balls to the opposite field—29.9% in May and 28.2% in June, his two worst months. The importance of this is that Betts’ career xwOBAcon when hitting to right field is .249, while to the pull and straightaway combined it’s .431. Since Betts was able to fix this going into the second half of the season, he righted the ship and thus ended with a pristine stat line. Betts will always find a way to produce, but look at his opposite-field percentage to understand how well he’s truly doing—it should be roughly near 20% and possibly below for optimal Mookie.
Mookie replicates his 2018 AL MVP numbers.
Betts is a phenomenal player, so the only worry is missing games due to health.
2020 Projection: 116 R, 31 HR, 93 RBI, 18 SB, .297/.390/.543
Cody Bellinger (OF/1B | Batting 4th)
2019: 121 R, 47 HR, 115 RBI, 15 SB, .305/.406/.629 | 1B #1
2020 ADP: 4.8 (1B #1)
Cody Bellinger is at the heart of the debate for early 2020 drafts. After Ronald Acuña, Mike Trout, and Christian Yelich, do you go with Bellinger or Mookie Betts? There might not be a “right” answer to the question. I went with and made the case for Bellinger in the PL staff mock draft. Yes, his hot start had a lot to do with his MVP award. Yes, he cooled off and was much more human in the second half. However, I believe in his overall approach and game. He patched the hole in his swing that gave him so much trouble between high fastballs and low breaking balls last year. He’s still projected for more than 200 runs and RBI combined, double-digit steals, and to be an asset in average, OBP, and slugging. By nature, projections are conservative. And he’s still going to be eligible at multiple positions. Grab him and revel.
Bellinger puts together a full season that mirrors his torrid first half from 2019 where he slashed .336/.442/.692 and he’s comfortably the best player in the game.
Bellinger puts together a full season that mirrors his mortal second half from 2019 where he slashed .261/.370/.544. Fine enough, but not what you wanted out of your first-round pick. You see Mookie Betts hit his ceiling and exhale through your nose as you look at your lineup.
2020 Projection: 99 R, 41 HR, 112 RBI, 12 SB, .286/.385/.583
A.J. Pollock (LF | Batting 5th)
2019: 49 R, 15 HR, 47 RBI, 5 SB, .266/.327/.468 | OF #95
2020 ADP: 226.2 (OF #58)
The Dodgers outfield is a fascinating study in ADP so far this offseason. Take, for example, how A.J. Pollock contrasts with teammate Joc Pederson here. Pollock hasn’t played in more than 113 games since 2015 and has been taken a few picks ahead of Pederson, all while also having skills that indicate production in the range of Pederson-lite. If I’m looking for an outfielder in the back half of the draft, I’m probably looking for someone I can at least rely on more than Pollock, if not one of his teammates.
Strengths: SB, SLG
Pollock avoids any weird and/or brutal injury and puts together a full campaign. He goes 20-20 or so and is a great 3rd/4th outfielder.
He gets hurt again and isn’t especially useful when in the lineup. He rides the waiver wire and is only picked up when a fantasy player is grasping for something likely gone.
2020 Projection: 72 R, 22 HR, 73 RBI, 9 SB, .254/.315/.449
Playing Time Battles
Trying to figure out how the Dodgers will disseminate playing time and which players will take advantage of the chances they’re given could be the ultimate fool’s errand. Luis Rengifo enters the fray in the aftermath of the Betts trade and he can play all over. He brings an above-average set of tools with power that could develop based on his ability to make contact. Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernández are bench players who have taken on more significant playing time in recent years and still have skill sets and positional diversity that could see them do it again in 2020. Matt Beaty was recently singled out by our own Max Freeze as a player who could be a sneaky sleeper if he’s able to adjust his launch angle, which is something the Dodgers have helped players do in recent years by better leveraging their lower halves. All three of those guys can play the infield and outfield. Even if you’re not quite sure how many games each non-star will get into, their prices are still worth monitoring through drafts because almost no one is currently being taken in a spot that could backfire and hurt your team.
The Dodgers are designed to be a matchup nightmare for opposing pitchers. It’s easy to see why they’ve dominated the NL West in recent years and hard not to be envious of their overall talent. They offer multiple superstars and multiple high-level players, plus intriguing platoon and bench options. Pretty much everyone can play multiple positions. They have a ton of lefties relative to most teams. They’re a lineup to eye as one that could be critical to helping you build your roster because the talent runs so deep and the production will be there. Dodger Stadium has also been hotter than almost any park in the league in the last couple of years, which helps turn fly balls into homers. If you want a successful 2020 campaign out of your fantasy team, look to LA.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)