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Max Muncy epitomizes the state of the Dodgers: ugly, bad at most things, but still succeeding

With Justin Turner gone, it’s okay to concentrate all firepower on the James Corden lookalike disgracing the third base position with his ““““defense””””.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Dodgers are not THE DODGERS, but they’re still The Dodgers, and slipping from the top tier of organizational strength to the one beneath it will still give the San Francisco Giants plenty of trouble this weekend in their three game series at Dodger Stadium.

Okay, I’m imagining the following tiered system:

Bottom Tier (Tier 5) — The A’s or the Royals

Tier 4 — Signs of life, but future is unclear. Veterans may or may not be a disaster. [Reds]

Tier 3 — All the talent in the organization is on the major league roster and it’s unclear which direction either the farm system and the veterans are going, performance-wise. [White Sox, Twins, Mets]

Tier 2 — Folding in prospects as veterans age. Some vets might still be superstars, some might be aging into solid contributor roles; prospects have ceilings at least as high as if not better than the players they’re replacing or playing alongside. [Giants, Dodgers]

Tier 1 — The roster is a dazzle of 0-3, arbitration, and veteran/free agent talent and the player development pipeline below it keeps churning out similarly-skilled players. [Rays

I’d written off the Giants’ pursuit of the Dodgers after the 2021 NLDS because that series felt like a last gasp of a championship core while the Dodgers, again and again, feel like they’re just getting started.

Then this offseason happened, and nothing they did really went according to plan. Part of that is because they signed Trevor Bauer to a free agent contract at one point, and after his assault charges, the Dodgers thought they might be able to get out of it. They did not, and so even the umbrella plan for the season to step back from the competitive balance tax threshold and reset to stop paying max penalties did not work out.

But, as usual, since the regular season isn’t the postseason, basically everything has gone the Dodgers’ way. They were ready to hand shortstop to Gavin Lux after Trea Turner departed, but then he got hurt, necessitating a Plan B of trading for Miguel Rojas, who hasn’t been good except on defense where he’s been fine. Chris Taylor stepped up to fill the void created by Enrique Hernandez’s departure, they signed J.D. Martinez to DH in place of Justin Turner, and then they got... Jason Heyward? No, seriously? He’s a +1.1-win player with a 12% walk rate and 19% strikeout rate? WHAT?

They’ve managed to fold in some prospects with these acquisitions: James Outman has capably replaced Cody Bellinger, Miguel Vargas has been... adequate at second base, and then they still have Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts, two of the 10-best players in the game, as usual. They have three starters on the IL (Syndergaard, Julio Urias, and Dustin May) and they’ve had to employ plans B & C for their pitching overall (they’ve used 9 starters so far), and it hasn’t been pretty most of the time — as I wrote about yesterday, not even close to what the Giants have been doing with their arms — but it’s been just sufficient enough to keep the team on a 90-win pace.

No, it’s not the 100-win season we usually expect from the Dodgers, but they’re doing fine — better than fine, they’re good. Which means the Giants, by virtue of being on the same tier in the tier system I just created, are good, too. Are they better than the Dodgers? Well, it’s going to be tough, there’s no denying that.

The Dodgers are 22-11 at home this season with a +68 run differential, and even though the Giants are 18-15 on the road (+30 run differential), they were 1-8 in Dodger Stadium last season. The Dodgers’ lineup has demolished most teams (they posted an .810 OPS against the Giants in three games earlier this season). If J.D. Davis avoids the IL, that could certainly help the Giants’ lineup counter the Dodgers’ not-as-good-as-the-Giants pitching, but it’s going to require everyone to pitch in.

I like these series because it gives a chance for new players to become a part of the rivalry. Maybe Patrick Bailey throws out Mookie Betts in a crucial moment. Maybe Casey Schmitt taps one past Max Muncy at first for a key RBI. That’s going to be the drama of the series.

The other part of this, too, is that all the Giants need to do is win one game to prove/disprove my prediction that this season’s team, despite the new talent on the roster, won’t be able to avoid .500 any better than last year’s team. Here’s the tweet I told people to bookmark. If the Giants come out of this series 37-34 OR BETTER, folks, I will be contractually obligated to flip the switch and call this Giants team interesting, good, and in the playoff race.


Where they stand


Record: 39-30, 2nd in NL West
Run differential: +62 2nd in the NL
Postseason standing: 2.5 games up in Wild Card, 2.0 games out of the division
Momentum: 1-game losing streak; 4-6 in their last 10 games


Record: 36-32, 3rd in NL West
Run differential: +27 4th in the NL
Postseason standing: 3rd Wild Card ending June 15th, 4.5 games out of the division
Momentum: 4-game winning streak; 7-3 in their last 10 games


Series details

Who: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers
Where: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
When: Friday (7:10pm PT), Saturday (6:10pm PT), Sunday (1:10pm PT)
National broadcasts: MLB Network simulcast (Sunday)

Projected starters:

Friday: John Brebbia (opener) vs. TBD
Saturday: TBD vs. Bobby Miller
Sunday: Logan Webb vs. Tony Gonsolin


Dodgers to watch

Max Muncy: He has just 131 hits over the last two seasons and 23 of them (17.6%) have come against the Giants. This season so far, 5 of his 40 hits have come against the Giants, and 4 of them were home runs. Worry not, though, he’s hit 5 home runs against the Cubs in 2023. Dude is batting .191/.323/.474 and I would really hate to see him go get that batting average out of the abyss against the Giants, but I fear that’s the most likely outcome. He’s a bad defender, too (25th percentile outs above average). I just can’t believe he’s ahead of J.D. Davis in the All-Star Voting. FIX THIS.


Bobby Miller: Now here’s what I call **depth**. He’s been the emergency backup option for the Dodgers after their run of injuries and in 4 starts (23 IP), he has a 0.78 ERA (2.19 FIP) with 23 strikeouts against 7 walks. Just 12 hits allowed, and 5 extra base hits (all doubles). He features a 98.6 mph average on his sinker and a slider with a spin rate approaching 2500 rpm. He’s going to be very tough to hit.

Clayton Kershaw and/or Dave Roberts: Whether it’s Clayton Kershaw stomping out a Pride Month celebration or a weird double switch in the 6th inning, watch out, everyone... one of them is gonna say or do something stupid. And Kershaw’s not even pitching in the series!


Giants to watch

Patrick Bailey: I’ve decided that he’s going to throw out at least one baserunner.

Blake Sabol: I’ve decided that he’s going to hit a home run in this series.

Logan Webb: The Giants might need him to be the stopper on Sunday. Or maybe even the guy to steal the rubber match for them. He’s just 2-5 with a 4.13 ERA against them in 11 starts. He’s allowed 6 home runs against them, his most against any single opponent. Max Muncy has three of them.




Giants at Dodgers - how will it go?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Giants sweep
    (51 votes)
  • 55%
    Giants win series, 2-1
    (131 votes)
  • 19%
    Dodgers win series, 2-1
    (47 votes)
  • 3%
    Dodgers sweep
    (9 votes)
238 votes total Vote Now