Young Dodgers Growing Up Fast

April 20, 2009

The Los Angeles Dodgers destroyed the Colorado Rockies 14-2 on Sunday afternoon for their eighth straight victory. The latest victory put LA in first place in the National League West and gives them the second best record in baseball (Florida is 11-1).

Los Angeles is now 10-3 including a perfect 6-0 record at Dodger Stadium. They also have the largest run differential in baseball at +42 (82 runs scored, 40 runs allowed).

The hot start for the Dodgers is especially noteworthy because of who is producing. It hasn't merely been veterans, but young, often previously unproven, talent.

Manny Ramirez went the first 10 games of the season without a home run, before hitting two solo shots on Saturday. He is still hitting a solid .326, with 2 HR and 7 RBI while drawing an impressive 14 walks. Yet there is a definite feeling that he is far from playing his best baseball.

Unlike last season when at times, most notably the postseason, Ramirez seemed to carry the offensive load, thus far this year it has been the Dodger's young talent that is the story.


The Dodgers currently lead the National League in team batting with a .302 average. 24-year old Matt Kemp (CF) is hitting .383 with 3 HR and 14 RBI. 27-year old Andre Ethier (RF) is hitting .298 with 4 HR and 16 RBI. 24-year old James Loney (1B) is hitting .292 with 9 RBI.

Much has been made in recent years around the Dodger clubhouse about the huge potential of these three young players. Yet last year all three were plagued by inconsistency and did not play well in the final playoff series. Repeatedly the Dodgers have rejected trade offers that involved any of them. The early signs this year suggest that the Dodgers firm belief in all of them may have been justified.

If the young hitters continue to produce, Los Angeles will be tough to beat in the National League.

Another critical element to the Dodger's early success has been the play of free agent acquisition Orlando Hudson (2B). Hudson has replaced the retired Jeff Kent, whom many believed was a clubhouse cancer last season. The loss of Kent, never known as a great teammate, was addition by subtraction in itself. Yet Hudson's play has been nothing short of remarkable.

Hudson is hitting .385 with 2HR and 8RBI. He immediately endeared himself in LA's home opener when he became the first Dodger in nearly 40 years to hit for the cycle. His stellar play and attitude may be the largest reason for the Dodger's early success.


While everyone worried the young Dodger pitching staff would struggle mightily this year, this has not been the case thus far. The team ERA is 3.16 and Dodger pitchers are holding opponents to a batting average of .200. Los Angeles leads the National League in both categories.

21-year old lefty Clayton Kershaw has caught everyone's attention early in his 2 starts. Although denied a decision in both starts, he has a 1.50 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 12 innings.

24-year old righthander Chad Billingsley is now 3-0 in his 3 starts with an ERA of 2.84 and 21 strikeouts in 19 innings. Many believed he is much more mature pitcher than he was in the playoffs last year when he folded against the Phillies.

24-year old closer Jonathon Broxton has been solid as well, with a 1.35 ERA. He is 1-0 and has been dominant in all 4 of his save opportunities. 26-year old Ronald Belisario is also proving to be a solid arm out of the bullpen, with a 1.04 ERA thus far. Torre has suggested that if anything happened to Broxton, Belisario would be the closer.

Even 24-year old James McDonald, who struggled in his first two appearances, did well when allowed to start, pitching 4.3 scoreless innings on Sunday. Many believe he has the talent to be a consistently effective starter.

All of this has happened without the Dodger's perceived #1 starter Hiroki Kuroda, who has been injured since his opening day victory.

Clearly, 2009 has started well for the Dodgers, arguably the best team in baseball at this early stage. Certainly things cannot continue to go this well, but then again, Ramirez has yet to really hit for power. The Dodgers, when healthy, have the tools necessary to make a serious World Series run and their fans should not expect less.

By Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

1 comment:

  1. Manny is the greatest right handed bat in history! Think blue!


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