Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training: Ranking The Top 5 Early Standouts
5 Dodgers Who Are Off To Solid Starts In Spring Training
The Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be primed for an outstanding season in 2014, and leading the charge will be fourth-year manager Don Mattingly. The Dodgers are a team that won an NL West title and made a trip to the NLCS in 2013, and the key players who made their incredible 2013 season possible will be returning in 2014.
The Dodgers have what could easily be considered the best 1-2 punch in all of MLB in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. They also have one of the game's most exciting young players in Yasiel Puig. If Matt Kemp can finally get healthy and once again resemble the player that he was during his MVP caliber season of 2011, there is no telling how far the Dodgers might go in 2014.
It should be noted that the Arizona Diamondbacks have also improved this offseason, as they have added substantial pieces such as slugger Mark Trumbo and closer Addison Reed. Diamondbacks' first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is also expected to have another big season, and Arizona has a stellar pitching rotation as well. Therefore, the Diamondbacks will likely be the Dodgers' biggest challenger. However, many are likely to argue that the Dodgers are still the favorites to win the NL West in 2014, and will continue to consider them to be the team to beat in that division.
At any rate, Mattingly will be managing a star-studded ball club and many of his players are already off to great starts. Without further ado, here are five Dodgers who have hit the ground running in Spring Training of 2014.
5. Clint Robinson
Despite posting some rather impressive power numbers in the minor leagues, the 29-year-old Clint Robinson has never been able to get a big league job. He has just four major league at-bats in his career which all came with the Kansas City Royals back in 2012. However, the non-roster invitee is opening some eyes at Dodgers' camp as he is currently hitting .375 with one home run. If Robinson keeps it up, perhaps he will be able to play his way into a spot on the Dodgers' bench in 2014 and carve out a niche as a pinch-hitter.
4. Andre Ethier
The Dodgers' outfield situation has been one of the hottest topics of the offseason. The Dodgers' now have four outfielders who are worthy of being everyday players in Puig, Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. Ethier has been rumored to be on the precipice of being the odd man out. However, Ethier is off to a hot start in Spring Training as he is currently hitting .333. With Kemp still unlikely for Opening Day, Ethier should have an excellent chance to start the season as the Dodgers' everyday center fielder.
3. Josh Beckett
Since putting on a Dodgers' uniform in Aug. of 2012, Josh Beckett has gone 2-8 with a 4.07 ERA. He is currently on his way back from having surgery. Beckett has not been an effective pitcher since 2011, during his final full season as a member of the Boston Red Sox, when he went 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA. However, in his first spring start of 2014, he pitched two scoreless innings, had three strikeouts and allowed just one hit. In a rotation that already features Kershaw and Greinke, a comeback from Beckett would make the Dodgers' absolutely lethal.
2. Adrian Gonzalez
Although he is still a well above average player, Adrian Gonzalez no longer hits for the power he did when he was wearing a San Diego Padres jersey. Instead, he hits for more average these days. Gonzalez has batted at least .293 in each of the past four seasons and even hit as high as .338 back in 2011 while playing for the Red Sox. Gonzalez is on fire right now, as he is currently hitting .400 with two doubles and a home run through his first six Spring Training games. Now entering his age-32 season, Gonzalez could be primed for a monster year in 2014 and he may prove to be one of the more underrated players in the Dodgers' star-studded lineup.
1. Miguel Rojas
Shortstop Miguel Rojas may be a long shot to make the Dodgers' Opening Day roster, but he has certainly impressed more than a few folks thus far in Spring Training. Known for his defensive prowess, Rojas is hitting .462 through his first nine Spring Training games. However, he is just a lifetime .234 hitter in the minor leagues. Rojas can also play second and third base and he will give the Dodgers a nice insurance policy in the event of an injury to Hanley Ramirez, Juan Uribe or Alex Guerrero.