Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Prior to the MLB lockout, there was a frenzy of free agent activity that saw the Los Angeles Dodgers lose star shortstop Corey Seager to the Texas Rangers and future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer to the New York Mets.
They were able to re-sign Chris Taylor and agree to deals with Andrew Heaney and Daniel Hudson, but that does not make up for losing two All-Star caliber talents.
This has led the Dodgers being ranked last on ESPN’s most improved teams list, which ordered clubs based on “how much each team’s chances to win a pennant in 2022 has changed since the offseason began.”
ESPN ran a simulation of the season 10,000 times based on rosters at the start of the offseason and 10,000 more times at the beginning of the lockout, and they were graded based on the change in the number of pennants won.
The Dodgers were given an F for their midterm grade by the rankings with a drop in 798 pennants, by far the largest in the league; the Milwaukee Brewers are next closest at -390.
Despite the large drop, the Dodgers still won the pennant 4,051 times with their current roster, with the next closest teams trailing by around 2,000. However, with the start of the offseason simulations, they won it 4,849 times.
L.A. also had a wins baseline of 104.7 that was based on “player projections from Steamer, projection-based WAR calculations from FanGraphs and the betting markets.”
While the Dodgers are still viewed as an elite team, they do have a lot of work left to do this offseason. Specifically adding to their starting rotation and ideally bringing in another bat.
Re-signing Clayton Kershaw would help solve some of that, but the Dodgers could still use another starter to replace Scherzer. Their best course of action might be through the trade market.
They also need to decide if they want to re-sign Kenley Jansen in the backend of their bullpen or replace him with Blake Treinen.
Notable ESPN team rankings
The Mets were ranked as the most improved team with a change in +1,306 pennants and a wins baseline of 94.3, but they still trail the Dodgers by 2,273 pennants.
The San Francisco Giants were ranked 13th on the list, with a +6 change to their pennants. With their current roster, they have a wins baseline of 76.4 and won the pennant 16 times.
The defending World Series Champion Atlanta Braves were ranked fifth despite not having Freeman, with a change of +109 pennants. The change is mostly due to the uptick in the betting market though.
The Rangers, who were among the busiest teams early in the offseason, were ranked ninth with a change of +20 after starting the offseason at zero.
The San Diego Padres were ranked 26th with a change of -145 pennants, bringing them down to 981.
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