The Dodgers were the only major league team based in California to reach the postseason in 2023. With the recent offseason additions to fine tune both the rotation and the offense, the Dodgers’ championship expectations compared to the rest of the state are second to none.
The San Diego Padres traded away superstar outfielder Juan Soto in a blockbuster trade with the Yankees and have recently seen their all star closer sign with the Houston Astros. The Los Angeles Angels, after failing to reach the postseason for the ninth consecutive season, saw their two-time MVP switch divisions within Los Angeles. The San Francisco Giants have brought in former Padres manager Bob Melvin and signed Korean outfielder Jung-hoo Lee, but whiffed at the chances to sign both Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. As for the Oakland Athletics, ending the season with a .500 record would be a moral victory for the fanbase.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times discusses how the Dodgers have established themselves as not only the best team within California, but also as the most marketable team in the state:
“In 2014, four of our state’s five teams made the playoffs. In 2024, the Dodgers might be the only one. The Dodgers used to celebrate an annual event called Hollywood Stars Night, where TV and movie stars would play a few innings of softball. In 2024, every night will be Hollywood Stars Night, with the home team constellation including Yamamoto, Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Max Muncy, Teoscar Hernández, Tyler Glasnow, Walker Buehler, maybe Clayton Kershaw … and Ohtani, the star of stars... In Ohtani, the Dodgers have a walking, talking, slugging sales pitch for 2024.”
Chris Taylor appeared on SportsNet LA to discuss how he has prepared for the upcoming season, as well as providing an update on his physical health in relation to the injuries he sustained in 2023.
“I feel really good. We lost pretty early this year, so I was able to get in the weight room right away. Took care of a few nagging injuries in my knee... I feel healthy and close to 100 percent as I’ve been in a while.”
James Outman became the first Dodgers rookie to hit at least 20 home runs and steal at least 15 bases in their first full season in 2023, and he certainly has the potential to become a 20-20 threat just like his teammate Freddie Freeman.
David Adler of MLB.com listed ten players who should be more aggressive on the base paths, including Outman as a prime candidate to reach the 20-20 mark.
“Outman, Los Angeles’ 26-year-old center fielder, has very good speed (28.9 ft/sec sprint speed, seven bolts), showed good base-stealing acumen as a rookie (16 steals, only three caught stealings) and is a good enough hitter (112 OPS+) that he should be on base with opportunities to run... With a little more running, he’s in the 20-20 club.”