On Tuesday evening the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off one of the largest trades in MLB history. Los Angeles got the prized possession of the offseason, in Mookie Betts. Here’s an outline of the trade:
MIN- Receive Kenta Maeda | LAD- Receive Mookie Betts & David Price | BOS- Receive Alex Verdugo & Brusdar Graterol (MLB #83 Prospect)
LAD then proceeded to trade Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling to the Angels, in exchange for Luis Rengifo. That trade was more of a necessity, as Joc was out of place in the LU with the arrival of Betts. Now, the Dodgers have since catapulted to a lot of people’s pick to win the World Series, but the comparison between LA and the New York Yankees is one of the most even sets in the entire league. Essentially, its as if there are now two superpowers — one being the Dodgers for the NL, and the other being the Yankees for the AL.
In this article I am going to compare both respective teams side-by-side, and take a deeper look at what makes one better than the other.
First, let’s take a look at the starting LU’s (as projected by MLB) for 2020, along with their 2019 stats (* = 2018, info via Fangraphs):
|Mookie Betts||.915||135||DJ LeMahieu||.893||136|
|Max Muncy||.889||134||Aaron Judge||.921||141|
|Justin Turner||.881||132||Gleyber Torres||.871||125|
|Cody Bellinger||1.035||162||Giancarlo Stanton*||.852||129|
|AJ Pollock||.795||108||Miguel Andujar*||.855||130|
|Corey Seager||.817||113||Gary Sanchez||.841||116|
|Will Smith||.907||132||Luke Voit||.842||126|
|Gavin Lux||N/A||N/A||Gio Urshela||.889||132|
|N/A (Pitcher)||N/A||N/A||Brett Gardner||.829||115|
Now, when looking at the lineups side-by-side, there are very few things dividing the two. For the Yankees, the top-to-bottom WRC+ and OPS does edge out that of the Dodgers, but that’s also inputting 2018 stats for Stanton and Andujar — as they missed essentially all of 2019. Whereas, for Pollock, he appeared in 86 Games and saw 308 PA’s, which is enough to use his stats for 2019.
The Dodgers’ Offense
The Dodgers’ top of their order is arguably the best in baseball, as a 1-4 of Betts, Muncy, Turner and Bellinger, is about as good as they come. Talking on Bellinger for a moment, the reigning NL MVP blew away everyone last season. In 2019, Bellinger tallied 47 HR’s to go with an OPS of 1.035 and a wRC+ of 162. The Dodgers LU as a whole last season combined for the second-highest WAR (34.8), fourth highest team WRC+ (111), and scored the fifth most runs in baseball (886). They did all that without Pollock for a majority of the year, without a consistent TRUE corner outfielder (Verdugo saw a lot of his time in CF, and Pederson saw majority of the time in LF — but is now gone), and also without their prized prospect — Gavin Lux — even on the roster.
Muncy just signed a three year deal, worth $26,000,000.
With that, adding Betts to that lineup now gives them the best LU in the National League, without failure. Betts, as mentioned in-depth in a previous article, is one of the few definite game-changers in the sport today. Many people have their gripes over his contract demands, as he’s asking upwards of $400,000,000+, but honestly its worth it for a player of his caliber and potential. He and Bellinger alone can very easily combine for 15 WAR, assuming everything goes as planned, and even at the low, they’re a 10 win combination. To have two players that are essentially more valuable than almost a dozen teams in the league shows that the Dodgers mean business this year, and are tired of playing second fiddle.
Now, the backend of that LU is the one question mark for 2020, when it comes to the offense. Well, that and the overall health of their players as well, as is the case with every team. The Dodgers’ back half of the LU features Corey Seager, and two ‘wildcards’ in Will Smith and Gavin Lux. I’m not going to sit here and say Lux is going to be bad, as he’s one of the top prospects in baseball and everyone knows what he’s capable of doing. The only reason there’s a question mark around him is that he’s not had an extended run in the majors. Aside from a 23 game stint in ’19, Lux is essentially going to be brand-new to the league. Being 22, and possessing all the talent in the world naturally comes with all the eyes watching. With that, Lux absolutely OBLITERATED pitchers in AAA, as he posted an OPS of 1.197 with a BB/K Ratio of 0.79. There’s no denying his talent and abilities, as he’s been regarded as highly as Gleyber Torres was.
As for Smith, he’s always been a competent hitter at the minor league level, and showed that more this last year. Across just 54 games and 196 PA’s he was able to hit 15 HR’s and pair that with a WRC+ of 132. Another youngster flourishing in the Dodgers system, Smith looks to put together an incredible season across the full year. With Corey Seager, the once viewed “top shortstop” in all of baseball is starting to find himself again after an injury plagued 2018. In both ’16 and ’17, Seager eclipsed the 6.0 fWAR mark, and combined it with WRC+’s of 136 and 127. In 2019, however, Seager only reached 3.3 fWAR and saw his WRC+ sit at 113. Keeping him healthy and bringing back that sweet-swing and defensive prowess he showed is vital to the Dodgers’ season success. The encouraging thing about Corey, though, is that he is still only 25 years old and has 4 years of MLB experience under his belt.
The Yankees’ Offense
As for the Yankees, the biggest thing everyone is looking forward to seeing this upcoming season is everyone on the field together. Last year, the Yankees set the record for most players that visited the IL, with 30. Of those thirty players to the IL, numerous stars in the eyes’ of the league saw their seasons cut drastically short. Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar specifically, look to bring the ferocious heat to this LU that was lacking across the entire 2019 season. Having two guys that can combine for 70+ HR’s and 200+ Runs re-join the lineup, is something that a lot of analysts are seemingly not taking into account. For the Dodgers to get this shiny new acquisition in Betts, the Yankees should be treated as if they’re getting two new acquisitions for 2020 — in Stanton and Andujar.
Getting Stanton back is a huge piece, and one that should be talked about more. Stanton was the 2017 NL MVP after smashing 59 HR’s, and in ’18 posted a very solid year with NYY. Andujar was ROY runner-up back in ’18, and is one of the most talented hitters in the American League. There have been murmurs about the Yanks pursuing either Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant in attempt to continue to shift the balance of power in their favor and respond to the Dodgers signing of Betts. I’m not personally a big fan of trading away Dujar and a top prospect like say, Deivi Garcia, for Bryant. From an offensive perspective, Dujar is very similar to Bryant — 132 WRC+ in ’18, to Bryant’s 127 in ’18 and 135 in ’19. Plus, I believe that Garcia has all the makings to be someone special in the future. As for Nolan, while he’s one of baseball’s premier players, I see no reason to go get him, especially with his contract.
With that, Bryant would make this team objectively better on both sides of the ball. While his defensive numbers have been down these past two seasons, there’s no question that he would fit right in at third base, and maybe even alternate days with Gio Urshela. However, seeing as to how that’s an entire hypothetical, the Yankees are still set at third. Urshela posted a fantastic year in ’19, leading to him being the frontrunner for the starting job at the hot corner. The bottom of the Yankees’ LU, that includes Urshela, is a very solid group of guys to have. In that group it’d feature Luke Voit, Gary Sanchez, and one of Brett Gardner or Mike Tauchman.
Out of those guys, there’s definite reason to believe all of them keep on their torrid paces. For Voit, his injury to his core completely derailed his 2019 season after the London Series. With that, he’s a consistent mid-800 OPS type of first baseman with great power and discipline as well. Gary is the biggest question mark in this lineup, as I believe he still has more to offer than he’s shown. I am a big believer in Gary “figuring it out” and him at his best would be another .900 OPS 35 HR player to start off the bottom half of the LU. Gardner and Tauchman will likely see split time for a majority of the start of this season, until the return of Aaron Hicks. Both guys can easily combine for 5 WAR across the entire year, and both play plus defense and see a lot of pitches as well.
As for the top of the LU, the Yankees counter the Dodgers’ Two-Headed Snake of Bellinger and Betts with the Three-Headed Hydra of Judge, Stanton and Gleyber. That’s not even including DJ LeMahieu — the ALL MLB Second baseman from 2019. LeMahieu OPS’d a career high of .893 after signing a two year deal with NYY. Now, at the end of this season, there’s going to be a massive decision to make as to just how valuable DJ is. Judge, when healthy and on the field, is on the same level as Mookie Betts. The only problem is that Judge hasn’t been able to stay on the field because of numerous freak injuries that are derailing his progress.
Judge, back in ’17 when he was robbed of the MVP award by the now-revealed-cheater Jose Altuve, posted an absolutely incredible season. In 2017, in his first full season with the Yankees, Judge OPS’d 1.049, to go with 52 HR’s and a WRC+ of a staggering 174. Since that season, in which he appeared in 155 games, he’s not reached the 130 games played mark. For Judge the issue has never been his work ethic or his attitude, as is the case with numerous other stars, but instead its simply staying fit and healthy. For Judge, I can only imagine how annoying it must be to be asked “So how are you going to stay healthy” because ultimately for him, nothing changes in his individual preparation and grind. Judge’s injuries aren’t entirely “on him” as I feel like they are just pure misfortunate and bad luck. Having a wrist fracture from checking his swing, various hip and leg injuries, and of course the fragmentation in his shoulder. None of those scream “injury prone”, as much as I think its part of being a 6’8 power-hitter who gives it his all every day.
Now, both offenses are absolutely riveting when it comes to potential and ability. Even the likes of talented lineups like Cincinnati, Washington, Atlanta and others, fall off from the tier that holds the Yankees and Dodgers at the top. It seems as if both offenses have no glaring holes and that the bench options for both teams, while up in the air, are also going to be competent and competitive whenever they’re placed in the field as well. As for the pitching, that’s a different story and where the fine line dividing these two powerhouses, starts to get a bit thicker.
Onto the starting rotations, and as shown by the table below, there is definitely more uncertainty around LAD’s upcoming rotation. (* = 2018, info via Fangraphs):
|NAME||ERA / FIP||IP||NAME||ERA / FIP||IP|
|Walker Buehler||3.26 / 3.01||182.1||Gerrit Cole||2.50 / 2.64||212.1|
|Clayton Kershaw||3.03 / 3.86||178.1||Luis Severino*||3.39 / 2.95||191.1|
|David Price||4.28 / 3.62||107.1||James Paxton||3.82 / 3.86||150.2|
|Dustin May||3.63 / 2.90||34.2||Masahiro Tanaka||4.45 / 4.27||182.0|
|Alex Wood||5.80 / 6.38||35.2||JA Happ||4.91 / 5.22||161.0|
|Jimmy Nelson (2017)||3.49 / 3.05||175.1||Domingo German||4.03 / 4.72||143.0|
|Julio Urias||2.49 / 3.43||79.2||Jordan Montgomery (2017)||3.88 / 4.07||155.1|
For the 2020 rotation, both teams have their knowns and unknowns. The Dodgers have their front three essentially set with the acquisition of David Price — who slots in the rotation based more on his name than his abilities. Adding him to the combo of Walker Buehler and future unanimous HoFer, Clayton Kershaw, gives the Dodgers a longtime starter with years of experience and know-how. As for the Yankees, the one-two punch of newbie Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino, give them a lethal front two.
The Yankees’ Rotation
For starters, being without BOTH James Paxton and Domingo German for the first half of the season is going to be hard on the Yankees. Both were very solid in 2019 and both brought stability and consistency to the rotation as well. I view Paxton as one of the best left-handed starters in the league and expected a better year for him come 2020, but seeing that he is set to miss 3-4 months to surgically remove a cyst. As for German, he is missing 63 games as part of serving a suspension for violating the MLB’s domestic abuse policy.
With that, the rotation still looks strong, and there’s numerous young guys that can challenge for that now open fifth spot. I expect the starting rotation to be: Cole, Severino, Tanka, Happ & Montgomery. Those 5 guys are all definitely above average starters, and the upside is tremendous. For Cole and Severino, that is arguably the best front two across the entire league, aside from the Nationals. To have two guys that have arguably the highest ceiling in baseball, leading the rotation, is going to be crucial for NYY. Cole and Severino both don’t need to be justified, as I feel as if both are top of the line starters and amongst the best in baseball.
Tanaka is the one wildcard in the rotation, as his issues with consistency and putting the “best version of himself” out there. Tanaka can go out and toss an eight inning shutout victory and then go out the next time around and would go 4 innings, surrendering a handful of runs. If he is able to remain consistent and on his A-game, then he’s a 180.0 inning workhorse with a sub 4 ERA and sub 4 FIP as well. Not to mention he is absolutely incredible in the postseason, which is where the lights get the brightest. Across
Losing Paxton hurts, especially at such a late stage in the offseason. However, there’s no massive need for panic as there are great internal options to replace him. The Yankees pitching prospects in the farm system include the likes of Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, Albert Abreu & even Luis Gil, as potential guys fighting for a spot. Add to that Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga, who will both be likely used out of the pen, but could see time as openers or spot starters as well. The rotation has depth and it also has consistency. Even if Tanaka is unable to rekindle that electrifying splitter that helped play into him being so lethal the first three years in the league, he is still a solid pitcher that brings stability. Same goes for JA Happ, who had the worst year of his career this last season. The best way to view the Happ situation is that it can’t possibly get worse, no?
The Dodgers’ Rotation
The Dodgers’ front two is, as mentioned, on par with the Yankees — if not higher. It is as debatable as it can get, as both Buehler and Kershaw are fantastic pitchers in their own right. While Kershaw is on the decline, after an absolutely historic stretch of a decade’s worth of stellar showings, the opposite can be said for Buehler. At only 25, the Dodgers have another ace on their hands and they’re going to do whatever they can to keep him fresh for October. What that means is there will likely be an inning cap on him, as he tossed 182.1 innings this last season. LA are notoriously stingy over their pitchers’ innings total, unless their name is Clayton Kershaw — who from 2010-2015 threw a minimum of 198.1 innings.
With that, once you move on to the rest of the rotation, there’s some uncertainty as it goes along. Similar in a sense to the Yankees, where their fourth and even fifth spot are a toss-up right now, LA do have some solid players that can fill in. I expect the Dodgers back-end of their rotation to honestly be a “by committee” system, where there are numerous guys who can be plugged in. Having Price in the middle of the rotation would’ve been absolutely lethal 3 years ago, but with age and injury, Price is no longer what he used to be. With LAD paying such close attention to their starters, and the amount they are allowed to throw, Price honestly may not even see 140 innings this year, even if he is healthy and able. David Price is honestly on par with Ross Stripling over the last two years, in terms of value and production. Stripling of course, has been traded to the Angels.
The Dodgers have already expressed their desire to have Urias back in the rotation full-time, despite his dominant stint in the bullpen at the end of last year. With that, Dustin May will also likely see one of the spots in the rotation set aside for him, but if he or Urias is to start the year in the pen, Alex Wood is the most likely to slot in. Wood is the classic “spot starter-but long reliever” pitcher, and I feel as if he will bounce between both this next year. That role has since opened up due to the departure of Stripling, who, over the last two seasons in that role, thrived.
Wood is an interesting player, and one that the Dodgers are hoping they can get the best out of. When they brought Wood back, and also brought in Jimmy Nelson, both guys are going to be battling for a rotation spot, or even a place in the pen. Wood and Nelson are very similar in that they both have a one-or-two “knockout” pitch repertoire and could be very good in the pen. Nelson has the stuff and making to be a good starter, and his breakout season in ’17 was no fluke. However, after being out all 2018 with Tommy John, he struggled to get back on his feet in Milwaukee this last year. There’s a chance he could be given the final spot based on merit and experience, but I imagine he’d start off either in the pen or in AAA, even.
The next comparison for both teams’ are their respective bullpens. This is where there’s the main difference between the two clubs, as the Yankees pen is arguably the best in baseball — even with the loss of Betances. Below is a comparison of the respective possible 7 arms in each team’s pen (info via Fangraphs):
|NAME||ERA / FIP||IP||NAME||ERA / FIP||IP|
|Kenley Jansen||3.71 / 3.48||63.0||Aroldis Chapman||2.21 / 2.28||57.0|
|Blake Treinen||4.91 / 5.14||58.2||Tommy Kahnle||3.67 / 3.33||61.1|
|Pedro Baez||3.10 / 3.52||69.2||Zack Britton||1.91 / 3.74||61.1|
|Joe Kelly||4.56 / 3.78||51.1||Adam Ottavino||1.90 / 3.44||66.1|
|Caleb Ferguson||4.91 / 4.78||44.2||Chad Green||4.35 / 3.03||49.2|
|Dylan Floro||4.24 / 3.56||46.2||Jonathan Loaisiga||3.20 / 4.38||19.2|
|Urias / Wood / May / Nelson||N/A||N/A||Luis Cessa||4.11 / 4.87||81.0|
When it comes to the bullpen, the Yankees have objectively the better all around pen. However, what the Dodgers have are a handful of bounce back candidates, and the combination of Treinen, Baez and Jansen could form a deadly trio. With that, those three aren’t as good as the trio of Ottavino, Britton and Chapman — who would be the Yankees’ big three.
The Dodgers’ Bullpen
LAD went after Blake Treinen shortly after the A’s decided not to bring him back. Treinen is the most important piece in this Dodgers bullpen, as if he is able to replicate his 2018 season, that is an incredibly valuable arm for cheap (1 yr/10 mil). Treinen in ’18 posted one of the best seasons ever by a closing pitcher, as across 80.1 innings he was able to post an ERA & FIP of 0.78 & 1.82. Add to that a K/9 of 11.20 to go with a HR/9 of 0.22. However, with that his 2019 was the complete opposite. His ERA/FIP ballooned to 4.91 and 5.14, and thus he saw his chances and closer role disappear. Across only 58.2 innings, compared to the season prior of 80.1, he amassed a K/9 of 9.05 and saw his HR/9 rise from .22 to 1.38 — plus his BB/9 went from 2.35 in ’18, up to 5.68 in ’19. Treinen is an obvious candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, but he alone doesn’t save this pen.
Even if Treinen is out of this world good once again, the questions around Kelly, Floro, Ferguson, and who they’re going to decide to toss in there as the last guy, are still evident. While for both Kelly and Floro, they were better than the stats showed, for Kelly specifically, LAD expected far more from him last year — on the heels of a great postseason, and decent year for Boston. Floro and Ferguson are hoping to build on their first full seasons with the team, but even so both project to just be decent.
The biggest name in the pen, Kenley Jansen, is also coming off the worst year in his career, aside from maybe the year before. Jansen’s last two seasons have been a general decline from his once borderline-untouchable days. Jansen saw his peripherals improve from the disappointment of a ’18 season, but even then his 5.00 K/BB ratio was a far cry compared to his stretch in ’15-’17 — in which his lowest K/BB ratio was 9.45. If Jansen is able to showcase some of that elite ability from a few years ago, the backend of the pen will be in better hands.
Baez was their most reliable and consistent arm out of the pen a year ago, and has now put together back-to-back seasons of quality relief pitching. In ’18, across 56.1 IP, he posted a 9.97 K/9 and saw his LOB% at 79.2%. While in ’19 he accumulated more value, and was used far more often, his advanced stats say he took a dip. His ERA/FIP and HR/9 all went up, and his K/9 and LOB% both dropped. Baez should be solid again this year, and if I were to be honest, is the safest arm in their pen.
The Yankees’ Bullpen
The Pinstripe Pen of Doom is second to none, when it comes to the best group of guys assembled. With guys like Chad Green and Luis Cessa being the “worst” of the bunch, it shows how deep and talented this potential 8 man set is. Green, specifically, is the Yankees’ Blake Treinen. From ’17-’18, Green, across a total of 144.2 innings pitched, through to the tune of an ERA around 2.2, and combined it with a K/9 of roughly 12.2. In 2019, however, he struggled mightily at the beginning of the year and ended up being sent down to AAA. When he was recalled, he found himself and the life on his fastball, and was once again a dominant force out of the pen.
The backend of the Yankees’ pen, consisting of Chapman, Ottavino, and Britton, is second to none. Having three guys that are all experts in limiting the runs — ERA 2.50 for all of them — is the most important thing out of a bullpen arm. While Britton doesn’t possess as nasty of stuff compared to his two counterparts, what he does do very well is limit the runs and baserunners. His LOB% 86.8% this last year goes to show that he excels at limiting the damage, and he paired it with a HR/9 of 0.44.
Ottavino and Chapman combine to form the best ‘holder and closer’ punch in all of baseball. Ottavino’s slicing slider and efficient fastball, and Chapman’s filthy fastball that seems almost unhittable at times join to form a practical wall versus hitters. Chapman gets a lot of hate due to his misfortune in the postseason, but as a whole there are few relief pitchers with his skillset and value. There was a time when it was Miller, Chapman and Kenley as the top three arms out of the pen in the entire league. Now, Aroldis stands alone there as the last remaining ELITE arm. Kenley can get back to that tier, but his trajectory indicates the opposite.
As for Ottavino, New York’s first #0, he has lived up to the expectations. Ottavino limited the longball and struck out batters at a high rate. His 11.94 K/9, 0.68 HR/9, and 87.8% LOB% contributed to him only allowing 17 runs across 66.1 innings. He excelled versus righties especially, as RHH OPS’d .558 versus him, only hitting 2 HR across 45.0 innings. The fact is that Ottavino is one of the best in baseball, and I expect a huge year out of him and rest of the Yankee pen.
The one key guy that I’m interested in seeing the Dodgers’ version of, is Luis Cessa. Cessa is a fantastic long-reliever, as he was consistent and predictable as well. He tossed 81.0 innings and was about as bang average as a guy could be. However, not every guy needs to be flashy and exciting or elite, but Cessa provided stability and was the go-to guy when the big guns needed a day off. I think a combo of he and possibly Loaisiga will be more than solid. I think Loaisiga may be in the running for the fifth spot in the rotation, assuming Cashman and co want to ease Montgomery back into it — thus swapping the two’s roles.
The Defensive Numbers for LAD & NYY
The final thing I figured I’d compare is the defensive units sent out by both teams. Now, defense as a whole isn’t entirely that valued in today’s MLB, but I always find it good to have competent players spread across the field, or at least scattered.
With that, the Dodgers’ defensive LU for 2020 appears to be; C- Will Smith / 1B- Max Muncy / 2B- Gavin Lux / SS- Corey Seager / 3B- Justin Turner / LF- Cody Bellinger / CF- AJ Pollock / RF- Mookie Betts.
The Yankees look to be, barring any trades or potential injuries: C- Gary Sanchez / 1B- Luke Voit / 2B- DJ LeMahieu / SS- Gleyber Torres / 3B- Gio Urshela / LF- Giancarlo Stanton / CF- Brett Gardner / RF- Aaron Judge
Here is a table comparing both teams’ defensive numbers from 2019 (* = 2018, info via Fangraphs):
|NAME (POS)||DRS||UZR/150||NAME (POS)||DRS||UZR/150|
|Will Smith (C)||3.0||N/A||Gary Sanchez (C)||-2.0||N/A|
|Max Muncy (1B)||3.0||9.1||Luke Voit (1B)||-6.0||-11.9|
|Gavin Lux (2B)||N/A||N/A||DJ LeMahieu (2B)||5.0||13.2|
|Corey Seager (SS)||9.0||-2.8||Gleyber Torres (SS)||1.0||-4.7|
|Justin Turner (3B)||-7.0||-12.9||Gio Urshela (3B)||-4.0||-3.4|
|Cody Bellinger (LF)||22.0||13.7||Giancarlo Stanton (LF)*||5.0||17.7|
|AJ Pollock (CF)||-9.0||-20.2||Brett Gardner (CF)||5.0||3.9|
|Mookie Betts (RF)||15.0||15.6||Aaron Judge (RF)||19.0||24.2|
For defense, I decided to take everyone’s natural position’s stats — aside from the OF. For the OF, I took their cumulative OF stats across all three positions, as for guys like Bellinger, he only had 2.0 innings at LF last season. Now, the defensive numbers for both teams ae pretty sporadically mixed. In that sense, I mean that each team has a handful of exceptional defenders, but then each team also has a handful of well below average defenders.
For LAD, the players that were actively hurting them defensively in 2019 were; Pollock, Turner, and Corey Seager — by UZR/150 (UZR/150 is one of the best stats when it comes to numbers truly reflecting everything that goes into a defender’s range and runs saved). Whereas, for the Yankees, the players that were in the red defensively were; Urshela, Voit, Gleyber, and Sanchez. For Gary, the most important thing is for him to get back to throwing runners out & having that quick pop-up so he can use that cannon of an arm. Gary’s been trending downward defensively for a few years now, so hopefully his arm can find its way back to elite levels.
I will say, I was quite surprised to see how solid Max Muncy is defensively. When watching Muncy play defense, the handful of times I’ve done so, it doesn’t seem as if he’s smooth with his fielding. I wouldn’t have guessed that he would’ve had both a positive DRS and UZR/150. With that, in ’18, Stanton also was one of the best defensive left fielders in all of baseball. He has always had that defensive pedigree to his name, especially during his RF days. Hearing that he’s going to be spending a fair amount of time as DH is interesting to me, but I’m sure it is to keep him healthy and fresh, and to avoid possible injuries — a la 2019.
Having a good defensive unit is important to the success of the team, but it is not critical. I will say that the Dodgers do indeed have a very solid defensive unit. In 2019, they led the league in DRS with a team total of 136.0. For reference, the second best team were the D-Backs at 117.0. The Yankees ranked 22nd with -13 DRS. While LA has the CLEAR advantage in that specific category, when looking at others as well, they’re on a more level playing field. In terms of the MLB rankings for Team UZR/150, the Dodgers ranked 13th at 0.8, and the Yankees were right behind at 0.5.
If you made it to this point, when looking at the teams side-by-side, it is truly a juggernaut of a showdown. The Dodgers have done their due diligence and have assembled a super-team of many sorts. On the offensive side of things, bringing in Mookie Betts to join the reigning NL MVP will likely propel them above the rest of the NL competition. With that, the NL should have a handful of competitive teams barking at the Dodgers’ heels, with one of which being the reigning Champions.
As for the Yankees, they should be able to handedly win their division, and will likely face some opposition in the likes of Houston, the Angels, and Tampa amongst others. Their roster is as good as its ever been, and to be able to throw a competent 1-5 out there, whilst knowing the bullpen is capable of closing out games, means that they’ve got everything they could really need. The loss of Paxton definitely hurts, but the Yankees are in a much better spot this year to absorb the hit. Having Cressey and a revamped strength and conditioning staff should help for the entirety of the team, but unfortunately for Paxton he starts the year off on the IL.
Look for 2020 to be one of the most exciting years of baseball that can come to mind. With so many teams bringing in fresh faces and building their teams to compete, nothing about next year is certain. While as a Yankees fan I may have some bias in saying they’re the best top-to-bottom team in the league, I truly believe it. The stats say that the team is ever improving, and having big weapons like Stanton and Andujar offensively, and Cole and Severino join the rotation for 2020, bodes very well for New York.
As for both team’s bench and likely backup players, I think I would have to give the slight advantage to NYY. If I had to guess what both benches would look like, I think the Dodgers will have something of the following; Kike Hernandez, Austin Barnes, Chris Taylor, and Matt Beaty. For New York, their bench will likely feature; Tyler Wade, Mike Tauchman, Kyle Higashioka, and Mike Ford. While the Dodgers have the experience, and I think Chris Taylor is an excellent utility guy, I view the upside for Wade and Ford as very high, and I think Tauchman is a quality outfielder as well. I expect Tauchman to take a fair amount of AB’s away from both Stanton and Gardner, and Miggy, if Andujar is in that mix as well.
I do believe that the World Series will be LAD vs NYY, and that all year the two will be going toe-to-toe. With that, anything can happen in baseball, which is why it’s the greatest sport in the world. Each team has an incredibly solid and well-put together roster, and with young guys like Gavin Lux and Will Smith for the Dodgers, and Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar for the Yankees — the future if very bright as well.