Saturday, April 2, 2016

2016 Dodgers vs Giants: Who Has The Edge?

Who will come out on top in 2016?
Dodgers versus Giants. Long-standing, time-honored rivalry of blood. Which team holds the edge on the field in 2016? Who is the better player at each position? Time is running short before the season kicks off, so let's break it down.

The Ace:
MadBum or Kershaw? Of course, Madison Bumgarner has three World Series rings and that is impressive. However, despite those three rings, MadBum has zero Cy Young awards to Clayton Kershaw's three. More importantly, last year Kershaw's numbers were better, proving the theory that his arm is far fresher; MadBum has pitched 352 more innings over their respective careers, and history has shown time and again that there is a finite number of pitches in a major league arm. 
Kershaw gunning for
another Cy Young.
(photo courtesy USA Today)
Advantage: Dodgers (1 point).

Which Johnny will show up?
(photo courtesy Fox Sports)
Rest of Starting Rotation:
Numbers 2 - 5 are actually close for the two teams. Johnny Cueto and Scott Kasmir have had their ups and downs; if Cueto is back to the dominating pitcher of old (not his 2015 second-half self), he tops Kasmir. Dodger Japanese import Kenta Maeda looks to be making an excellent transition and figures to be better than Jeff Samardzija, who is coming off a terrible season (why did the Giants pay this guy so much money?). Jake Peavy and Alex Wood seem to cancel each other out with the 34-year-old Peavy on his way out and primed to get hurt again, and the young Wood still trying to find himself. The Number 5 slot for both teams is a crap-shoot: the Giants are once again hoping to find any kind of life in Matt Cain's broken-down arm, while the Dodgers must again resort to the who's-our-Number 5-this-week until either Hyun-Jin Ryu or Brandon McCarthy makes it back in June.
Advantage: Even

Jansen will continue to dominate the 9th.
The Closer:
At 29 years old, the Dodgers' Kenley Jansen is in his prime and considered one of the best closers in the game, while the 35-year-old Santiago Casilla, though serviceable, is on the decline. The past two seasons, Jansen has been lights-out: 80 saves in 87 chances, 181 strike-outs against only 27 walks (only 8 last year), 88 hits in 117 innings; the guy just dominates when he enters the game. Casilla's numbers in the past two years don't match up: 57 saves in 67 chances, 107 strike-outs with 38 walks, 86 hits in 116 innings. The six additional years of mileage on Casilla's arm is the biggest difference.
Advantage: Dodgers (1 point).

The Set-up Man:
This one is close. Sergio Romo shared the Giants' closer role with Casilla in 2014, and then officially lost the job last season. He had a solid year as the set-up guy, but his 33-year-old arm is beginning to show some weariness as well. Meanwhile, Dodgers' set-up man, Chris Hatcher, is a bit of a wild card. The first-half of last season, Hatcher was a complete mess on the mound, but after spending a couple of months on the D.L., he was also able to find his confidence and put his head back together. The difference was startling, and he turned into the solid guy the Dodgers needed down the stretch to get the ball to Jansen. If he can be this Hatcher, he is the pick over Romo due to his electric stuff (he can hit 97 mph on the radar gun), and again, his younger arm (though Romo is only two years older than Hatcher, Romo has pitched 430 innings to Hatcher's 129). Because we don't know which Hatcher will come to the mound, I am going to say:
Romo = another old Giants arm.
(photo courtesy USA Today)
Advantage: Even (0 points).

Rest of Bullpen:
Lefty specialists are pretty much a wash with the Dodgers' J.P. Howell and the Giants' Javier Lopez both capable of getting the job done. Lopez is a baseball dinosaur (will celebrate is 39th birthday in July) and is six years older than Howell, but Donnie Baseball ran J.P. ragged for three seasons, sending him to the hill for a staggering 155 innings. Both teams round out their bullpens with young, dynamic arms (the Dodgers' 35-year-old long-man Joe Blanton being the exception) that will alternately shine and falter as they earn their reliever stripes.
Howell owes his extra mileage to Donnie.
(photo courtesy LA Times)
Advantage: Even (0 points).

Posey looking for another
solid season.
(photo courtesy SF Gate)
This one is a no-brainer--Buster Posey over Yasmani Grandal in every way. I would give the back-up to the Dodgers, as A.J. Ellis is Kershaw's personal catcher and a clutch hitter. Who is Trevor Brown?
Advantage: Giants (1 point)

First Base:
Brandon Belt needs to prove he can stay healthy and put up consistent numbers. Adrian Gonzalez bats clean-up and remains one of the most consistent, professional hitters in MLB. Belt has the better glove, but Gonzalez is not too shabby around the bag even at 34.
Advantage: Dodgers (1 point)

Is Panik healthy & ready this season?
Second Base:
Howie Kendrick is still solid at the plate, but has lost a step in the field. If Joe Panik can bounce back from his injury-riddled 2015 and put up the numbers he did in 2014, he will provide more value than Kendrick.
Advantage: Giants (1 point)

MLB #1 Propsect Corey Seager is set to have a breakout rookie year; however, Brandon Crawford proved last year that he is just as lethal at the plate as he is in the field, which is stellar.
#1 prospect Seager ready to rake,
but Crawford still #1 shortstop.
Advantage: Giants (1 point)

Third Base:
Justin Turner continues to rake and make jaws drop. Dodger manager Dave Roberts has vowed to play him with caution to keep his surgically-repaired knee in tact. Matt Duffy had a nice rookie campaign, but Turner's batting average, power, and clutch-ness give him the edge.
Advantage: Dodgers (1 point)

Left Field:
Angel Pagan is super creaky, but so is Carl Crawford; it's hard to imagine either of them staying on the field for long. So the better comparison might be sub Gregor Blanco and Scott Van Slyke (Crawford's platoon mate). In their fill-in roles last season, Blanco and Van Slyke were pretty even.
Advantage: Even

Will Span stay off the D.L.?
(photo courtesy CBS Sports)
IF Denard Span stays healthy, his speed and hitting beat Joc Pederson. They are both outstanding at their positions, so it all comes down to Span's health.
Advantage: Giants

Right Field:
Yasiel Puig is due for a bounce-back season and Hunter Pence is looking to rebound from a season derailed by injury. Pence was on fire this spring and a monster year could very well be in the cards. Puig will be all about potential until he can prove otherwise. The team and fans are getting tired of waiting.
Advantage: Giants (1 point)

The Bench:
This one is easy to call. From veteran Chase Utley to young utility stud Enrique (Kiké) Hernandez to power-hitter Scott Van Slyke to slick-fielding prospect Trayce Thompson, the Dodgers bench is completely stacked. The Giants, on the other hand, look to be very thin for the late innings or if a regular gets hurt. Young infielders Kelby Tomlinson and Ehire Adrianza have a lot yet to prove, and Blanco has the pressure of backing up three outfielders who all have a history of injury.
Vets like Utley, Van Slyke & Ellis
solidify L.A.'s bench.
(photo courtesy MLB)
Advantage: Dodgers (1 point)

The Farm:
What a difference a few years can make. The Giants were killing the Dodgers down on the farm until L.A. ran the McCourts out of town. In the four years since Guggenheim Partners purchased the Dodgers, team president Stan Kasten has worked with his crew to re-build their minor league system from top to bottom. The depth they have achieved is astonishing and is making rival teams like the Giants worry. Pretty much every promising prospect is already on the field for the Giants, and they have yet to refill the coffers. This means they are just an injury or two away from a big problem.
MLB #4 prospect Urias is just one
of many young guns on the farm.
(photo courtesy Baseball America)
Advantage: Dodgers (1 point)

You have to love the energy and enthusiasm of Dodger rookie manager Dave Roberts, but Bruce Bochy is probably the best manager in MLB right now. No question.
Advantage: Giants (1 point)

Dodgers: 6 points
Giants:  6 points

Yep, gonna be fun watching
these guys go at it.
Yep, we're even. It's going to be a fun year watching these two rivals compete for the N.L. West. Apologies (sort of) to the Diamondbacks; you may have stolen Zack Greinke, but you will not be taking the N.L. West. 

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