Here’s the facts:
The Dodgers enter today’s game with a 31-38 record, 5.5 games back of the Diamondbacks, and 10 back of the Cardinals for the wild card. If the Diamondbacks just play .500 ball the rest of the way, they’ll finish 83-79. If they play at their projected winning percentage of .537, they’ll go 86-76. If the Dodgers want to win 83 games this year, they’ll have to go 52-41, or play .560 ball the rest of the way. For the Dodgers to win 86 games, that jumps to 55-38, a .591 winning percentage. If the Dodgers are going to make the playoffs this year, they’re going to have to play like they are one of the best teams in baseball starting tonight.
At this point, I don’t know if that’s possible. Coming into this year, I said that I wouldn’t be surprised if we won 80 games or 100 this season. Almost all of our guys have great upsides with some pretty devastating downsides. So far, almost everything that could have possibly gone wrong with this team has. We’ve seen the veterans Jeff Kent and Andruw Jones totally collapse. Brad Penny, who I expected to take a big hit on last years numbers, is performing even worse than expected. Rafael Furcal seemed to be bouncing back from his terrible season last year, but hasn’t played in almost a month and a half. Juan Pierre isn’t even giving us his reliable .285/.330/.350 numbers.
Of course, this isn’t just a veteran problem. All of our young players who have great upsides aren’t performing either. James Loney and Matt Kemp have failed to hit for any power, giving us isolated power numbers of .146 and .144 respectively. Even with the horrendous slump he’s in, Blake DeWitt has exceeded my initial expectations, but his .263 EQA is only slightly better than Andy LaRoche’s worst case scenario according to PECOTA. Heck, LaRoche might not even be the savior that I want him to be. I was worried that his thumb injury might sap him of his power when he returned, and so far that looks to be the case. LaRoche put up a Kempian .143 isolated power at hitter friendly
Outside of the bullpen where we’ve won the middle reliever lottery so far, the only players that are living up to or exceeding expectations are Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley, Derek Lowe, and Hiroki Kuroda. Lowe and Billingsley rank 10th and 13th in the NL in FIP, and while Kuroda is further down the list, I thought there was a very good chance he would get torched by big league hitters, and he’s held is own so far. Russell Martin has the 7th highest on base percentage in the NL , and every other player around him plays a corner position.
I predicted 87 wins for the Dodgers this year thinking we’d have one or two guys break out, one or two veterans collapsed, and everyone else held the fort. With almost everyone living up to their worst case scenario so far, I don’t know if I can hold to that prediction. Our guys still have the upside to go banana once the weather warms up, but the playoff prediction I made at the start of this season seems like a nice surprise at this point, instead of a near inevitability.