During this most surprising of April's; with first places around the league occupied by darkhorses, out of nowhere surprises, and unstoppable baseball juggernauts, only one established, big name team is playing the kind of baseball expected of them. The Los Angeles Dodgers are playing excellent baseball, and we'd be foolish to expect that to change any time soon.
In addition to one of history's best right handed bats, the Dodgers have been swatting the ball from every slot in the line up card. They rank in the top five in team OPS and team wOBA, second in team WPA/LI (that's a good thing!), and fifth in plain old runs. Four of their regulars currently feature an OPS over 1. Starting catcher Russell Martin finds himself mired in a deep slump, but is generally regarded as one of the best in the game.
Meanwhile their pitching, already thought to be the strong point of the team, has somehow performed better than expected. Top five in team FIP, ERA, and K/BB while leading the league in WHIP and maintaining a strong but sustainably league-average strand rate of 75%. The giant at the end of their bullpen currently sports a healthy K/BB of 15:1 to accompany his opponent's batting average of .077! Yikes. They also happen to convert balls in play into outs as well as anybody in baseball.
Off all the hot starters, two things work in the Dodgers favor:
- Their true talent level is very close to their current high level of play
- Their division is terrible.
When asked on the spot to name the worst lineup in baseball, two out of three WoW editors selected NL West teams. Free (of cost and thought) analysis of this caliber should make you feel like you just stole a dead guy's wallet.
The Dodgers will not continue to win 70% of their games, They should win their division quite handily. Hell, managers from within the division seem resigned to the Dodgers taking the title. Worse yet, they're a likable team! Manny, Andre the foodie, Vin fucking Scully, and lithe Clayton Kershaw make this a team worth watching throughout their long, inevitable march to the post season. Hopefully McCourt doesn't realize what he's got and up ticket prices halfway through the year.
Thanks as always to Fangraphs for the statistical backup.