The Los Angeles Dodgers did not have the start to the season that they anticipated. The reigning National League Champions expected the success of the 2017 season would carry over, but that was not the case. The Dodgers struggled constantly to start the season, even spending some time in last place in their division. They are just now starting to get back on track, so this seems like a good time to look back at the biggest surprises from the beginning of the season.
One of the biggest surprises for the Dodgers has been the reemergence of Matt Kemp. Kemp was a 2x all star in his first stint with the Dodgers, but struggled after being traded to the San Diego Padres and then the Atlanta Braves. When the Dodgers reacquired Kemp during the offseason it seemed unlikely that he would make the team.
Kemp shocked the Dodgers when he showed up to camp 40lbs lighter and dedicated to rejoining the Dodgers. Just halfway into Spring Training it became clear that Matt Kemp would once again be a Dodger. Kemp has continued to excel in the regular season, and has been one of the few bright spots in the Dodgers otherwise struggling lineup. Kemp’s .338 batting average leads the team, and is fourth in the majors.
Another thing that has shocked the Dodgers early in the season is the number of injuries they have already had to deal with. For a while, it seemed like there was a Dodger getting injured every other game. Just two of the Dodgers original five starting pitchers have avoided spending time on the DL, and half of the infield has spent time on the list as well.
The most devastating injury so far has been Corey Seager’s elbow injury. The former rookie of the year needed Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the season. Aside from Seager, the rest of the Dodgers are making good strides to return from their injuries, and they have already gotten a few key players back.
The Dodgers many injuries are also what cleared the way for surprise number three: the emergence of Max Muncy. Muncy is one of the many different players the Dodgers have had to call up this year. Muncy was originally called up to play third base while Justin Turner was injured, but he has been so good for the Dodgers he’s stayed with them even after Turner has come back.
Muncy has impressed Dave Roberts so much, he’s been making a conscious effort to make space for him in the lineup. Roberts has been moving the Dodgers regular first baseman Cody Bellinger to the outfield so Muncy can have a spot in the infield. So far, the approach has been working for both of them.
The Dodgers early season was not what they hoped for, but there have been good signs. Kemp and Muncy have been excellent this season, and they’re finally getting some backup as the team begins to heal. As the Dodgers continue to recover, their mid-season surprises should be even more exciting.