In late February 2020, Dodgers fans geared up to watch as the LA baseball team began the annual MLB trade. Manager Dave Roberts secured a deal with the Boston Red Sox, trading cash considerations along with Jeter Downs, Connor Wong, and Alex Verdugo for Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts and esteemed pitcher David Price. Neither Betts nor Price, both Tennessee natives, are new names in the MLB, and both players have garnered considerable attention from the Dodgers expansive fan base.
Mookie Betts, in particular, is a name to watch this season. Hot off his MVP campaign in 2018 (which included a simultaneous win of the Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, a batting title, and World Series), Betts is no longer a threat to the Dodgers, but an asset likely to skyrocket the team’s World Series winner betting odds in the 2020 season. For Dodgers devotees, there’s, even more, to love about the soft-spoken and often-smiling athlete. Betts, known simply as Mookie, was a fan favorite in Boston, apt to engage with spectators though he’s timid in the spotlight.
On the other hand, pitcher David Price is (loosely speaking) returning to the LA Dodgers. In 2004, straight out of high school, Price was drafted to the LA MLB team. In the 19th round, 568th overall, Price was sent an open invite into the world of pro ball—but he didn’t take it. Instead, the rookie went on to play at Vanderbilt, where he was selected in his junior year – the first draft for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The notion of Price returning to the Dodgers is augmented by the then-vice president of baseball operations of the Tampa Bay Rays, Andrew Friedman. While Dodger fans are apt to know the ins and outs of their beloved team, they may not realize that Friedman now serves as the Dodgers president of baseball operations.
However, Price’s welcome to the West Coast has little to do with a longstanding relationship with Friedman. Price is twelve seasons into a successful MLB career: he won the Cy Young award in 2012 and pitched a World Series winner with the Red Sox in 2018. While he may not be the superstar in the pitching rotation with the Dodgers, he certainly won’t be out of place among other star athletes. And, while Price may have a notorious ‘cloud’ following him, Mookie Betts’ pleasant demeanor more than makes up for it.
In mid-February, the Dodgers packed up and headed to their Spring Training home in Glendale, Arizona, with Betts and Price in tow. This season of Spring Training marks the opening of Ballpark Boulevard, designed to enhance the fan experience for those traveling far distances to watch their team take to the diamond for the first time in 2020. There’s 8-million square feet worth of entertainment and dining, including the fields.
Luckily, the Dodgers haven’t been distracted, despite abnormal rain in the Valley of the Sun. They began their Spring Training off with a strong win against the San Francisco Giants, sweeping the game 10-4. But this isn’t much of a surprise—many touted the 2019 Dodgers offense as one of the most impressive to date. But, since obtaining the star forces of Betts and Price, many pundits and Dodgers fans are already putting in their bets for the World Series despite the fact that Spring Training hasn’t ended.
A great question lies in the pitching rotation and what manager Dave Roberts decides to do. As of now, pundits have projected Pedro Baez, Walker Buehler, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Ross Stripling, Blake Treinen, Julio Urías, and Alex Wood as locked-in pitchers for the Dodgers. Keep in mind, that list doesn’t include the other thirteen pitchers that the team will keep as relievers. That’s right, Dave Roberts has options—twenty-three, to be exact. Luckily, other positions on the team won’t be nearly as competitive as the fight for the mound
For many, this year’s lineup has people reminiscing on the days of the Boys of Summer, a notorious medley of star players who took to the Dodgers diamond before being inducted into the Hall of Fame: Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Pee Wee Reese.
Hopes for 2020
The wild appraisal of the Dodgers 2019 lineup came as no fluke. The team scored a record number of runs in Los Angeles, totaling 886. Only the 1953 Dodgers team beat that with 955. And this year’s team, creating a tidepool of speculation as their performance in Glendale continues, has many other baseball pros and coaches comparing the 2020 Dodgers lineup to other infamous powerhouse groups throughout baseball history.
Some bring up the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 1970s; or the 1988 New York Mets lineup in 1988 when they went to the World Series; or the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers team, who remain a famous crew of athletes renowned in the baseball world.
But what does this year’s team have going for it? Many fans point to the Dodgers consistent ability to hit home runs and send players across home plate. The team’s heavy hitters are difficult for opposing pitchers to peg, and Mookie Betts is nothing short of a powerhouse hitter. In short, there isn’t one formula that an opposing team can follow to strike out a Dodger. Instead, each player has been coached and prepped to have patience, hit with power, and only swing on the right throw. Easier said than done, but the Dodgers track record speaks for itself.
However, it should be noted that the team’s season hasn’t officially started. In fact, the Dodgers will be playing in Arizona for Spring Training until the annual Freeway Series, which will conclude on March 24. The regular season will begin on Thursday, March 26 in a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants, who will no doubt be looking to resolve their defeat at the first game of Spring Training.
While some Dodgers fans have mourned the loss of Kenta Maeda or spent the early spring scratching their heads in anticipation of that pitching lineup, there is ample hope and proof that this year may just be the Dodgers year to take the World Series. In fact, many have already speculated that if the addition of Mookie Betts (so infamous that he’s touted not by a stronghanded moniker but by his full name alone) and David Price, the Dodgers will never take the series title.