The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Is This the Year the Dodgers Finally Win all the Marbles?

The Los Angeles Dodgers are having one of the best major-league stretches in history.  They are the first team in over 100 years to go 43-7 in a stretch.  They currently hold an 18-game lead over the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West Division.  But they’ve won the division title for the last four seasons, yet haven’t been able to win a National League pennant and advance to a World Series.

In fact the Dodgers are going through their second-longest World Series drought (19 years) in their history.  Their longest previous spell occurred from 1921 to 1940.  However, it’s not because they haven’t been trying.  The Dodgers have made the playoffs in nine of the last fourteen seasons, but can’t seem to win the big games to advance to the Fall Classic.

Is this year the Dodgers finally break through and win it all?

The team has been outstanding all season long.  Perhaps the biggest statement made by the Dodgers that they are putting all the marbles on the table this year was the acquisition of Yu Darvish before the July 31 trade deadline.  In Darvish they are getting another top-of-the-rotation ace to complement their own ace for the past eight seasons, Clayton Kershaw.  With Darvish and some additional bullpen help they acquired, the Dodgers are looking beyond the regular season and preparing to enhance their post-season chances as well.

All parts of the Dodgers’ game are hitting on all cylinders this year.  The team has a Run Differential (runs scored minus runs allowed) of over 200, which outpaces everyone in the league.  Four players (Corey Seager, Clay Bellinger, Justin Turner, and Chris Tayler have On Base Plus Slugging Percentage (OPS) over .900.  Dodger pitching leads the league in Earned Run Average (ERA), Walks and Hits Per Innings Pitched (WHIP) and Strikeouts Per Nine Innings (SO/9).  From a defensive perspective, the Dodgers lead the league in Defensive Runs Saved Above Average (DRA).

Third baseman Justin Turner is having an MVP-type season with a .347 Batting Average and OPS of 1.001.  The Dodgers have a reputation of coming up with top-flight rookies each year, and this season it’s Cody Bellinger.  He didn’t initially figure into the Dodgers plan for 2017, but took an advantage of an opportunity to get into the starting lineup when first baseman Adrian Gonzalez went on the DL.  He’s responded by being the Dodgers’ best slugger this year with 33 HR and 78 RBI.  Right-fielder Yasiel Puig, who was terribly inconsistent during the past two seasons, seems to have finally settled into his game and has been in the starting lineup practically every day.  There was a point during this past off-season when it was thought the Dodgers’ front office had given up on him.  Corey Seager is proving his Rookie of the Year season last year was no fluke.

On the pitching end, Clayton Kershaw has been logging another great season we’ve come to expect every year, although he’s recently been on the Disabled List.  Alex Wood, who was acquired during the off-season, has been the surprise of the season in the rotation, having won 14 of his 15 decisions and posting a 2.37 ERA.  The rest of the rotation is solid, too.  Darvish adds even further credence to the rotation and perhaps will take some of the pressure off Kershaw at the top.  Kenly Jansen has been the top closer in the league this year, but the Dodgers also added depth in the bullpen with the acquisitions of middle relievers Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson at the trade deadline.

45-year-old Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is certainly enjoying the history-making season the Dodgers are having.  In one recent game, he sprinted onto the field to join the team’s dog-pile celebration after a walk-off hit by one of his players.  With such a talented team, it may appear as though his job is really easy this year, but he’ll likely take Manager of the Year honors for making it all come together.

Not to be under-rated is 38-year-old Chase Utley’s veteran leadership on the team.  He’s primarily been a backup at second base for Logan Forsythe, but his real value to the team has been in the clubhouse where he has set the tone for the club.  The younger players look to him for how to approach the game.  They appreciate that he’s been through the wars of long seasons and come out on the winning end with pennant-winning teams.

The Dodgers could lose every game for the remainder of the season (45 as of Sunday) and still finish two games over .500.  But they’re not just looking for another winning season.  They’re not just looking to wind up with the best record in National League history.  They’re looking to take home all the marbles (World Series trophy) this year.

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