By: Enrique Medina
After a very interesting offseason for the Dodgers and now with close to a month now amongst us in the baseball season, there has been a good chance to take a look at many players on the roster by now. This season in particular is interesting in the fact that some major pieces from last season’s team left in the offseason, and with that more players are expected to rise up to the occasion. The obvious goal for the Dodgers at this point is to win the World Series after coming up short 2 straight years in the fall classic, but making it back a 3rd straight year and even winning it will be tougher than ever before with so many talented teams both in the American and National League. In order for this to happen of course takes contributions from everyone on the 25 man roster as manager Dave Roberts has repeated so many times over his 3 years as Dodgers manager, but this year will be very important for certain players to help guide a winning season in Los Angeles. With that said, let's take a look at 5 important players that will be key towards the Dodgers success in 2019.
1) Cody Bellinger
After a red hot start to the 2019 season it definitely is easy to say Bellinger will be an important part to the teams success this season, but the reality is, this year as a whole may be an important one for his contributions and his confidence to build up. After his breakout rookie season, Bellinger had a underwhelming playoffs and World Series performance in 2017 which definitely seemed to carry on into 2018. In his sophomore season, Bellinger hit .260 with 25 home runs and 76 RBI’s, which seemed like a let down compared to his 39 homerun 97 RBI rookie season. Even after winning the 2018 NLCS MVP, Bellinger never seemed to get into the groove that he got in his rookie season in 2018. Nevertheless, he has started 2019 looking to prove the doubters wrong. Bellinger is a complete 5 tool player the Dodgers truly haven’t seemed to have had since Matt Kemp’s 2011 campaign. The tools and versatility to play first base and the entire outfield are so key as well in allowing the team to put Bellinger in many different spots. Bellinger is the type of player that can really put a fire into the ball club and help bring them to the top.
2) Austin Barnes
After serving as Yasmani Grandal’s backup catcher for a few seasons now, Barnes has finally gotten the opportunity to be the full time starter in 2019. In each of the past 2 seasons Barnes has served a vast majority of the time catching in the postseason which definitely has benefited the team, but if Barnes can produce enough on the offensive end as well, similar to his 2017 campaign, he can be a dangerous weapon for the Dodgers. In that 2017 season Barnes hit 8 home runs driving in 38 RBI’s all while hitting .289 in only 218 official at bats. Meanwhile in 218 in only 200 AB’s Barnes produced only 4 home runs and 14 RBI’s while hitting .205. If Barnes can produce a little more at the plate, he could definitely bring a larger presence to the team in which he already puts a grand presence in controlling the pitching staff. This year will be important for Barnes because with prospects Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith lurking in the minors waiting for a call to the big club, up to this point it will be his responsibility to set the example at catcher.
3) Joe Kelly
Kelly after signing a 3 year deal with the Dodgers this past season has come with some big expectations to be a reliable reliever and potential set up man for Kenley Jansen. So far through 2019 Kelly has gone off to a slow start. If Kelly could regain his form from the 2018 postseason he can definitely be one of the most reliable bullpen pieces in all of baseball. The key question with Kelly is whether or not he could keep his consistency because when he is firing on all cylinders, he could bring so much more to one of the more solid bullpens in the National League.
4) Dylan Floro
The Dodgers acquired Floro last season as apart of a minor deal that took place with the Cincinnati Reds. The ballclub never would have imagined how much of an impact he would have made on the team as much as he did in the 2nd half of last season. Floro, essentially ended up potentially being the most reliable bullpen option last season after Kenley Jansen and Pedro Baez. In the 2nd half of last season Floro posted a 1.63 ERA in 29 appearances with a 2.69 FIP and 10.1 Strikeout per nine innings rate. With this, Floro has made himself one of the more reliable options out of the bullpen and if he can keep up the pace of the 2nd half of 2018, there is no reason not to feel confident in Floro and what he can bring in key situations throughout the 2019 season.
5) Max Muncy
Muncy, the breakout star on the roster in 2018 was once a journeyman who barely had opportunities in his time with the Oakland Athletics. Similar to Chris Taylor and Justin Turner he arrived on the scene out of nowhere and has become a key part towards the teams success. Muncy has brought versatility in being able to play both 3rd base, 2nd base, and first base where he spends most of his time, but what makes Muncy the player who he is is the presence he brings out in the batters box. Muncy is a player who displays a lot of power and patience, a lot of what the Dodgers are about. In 2018 Muncy hit 35 home runs while driving in 79 RBI’s, while compiling a .391 OBP and .582 SLC percentage. His 2019 season was no doubt impressive, but the important question with Muncy though is was his 2018 season a fluke, or is there more to come?