LA Baseball, the bright lights, the celebrities, Disneyland, the Hollywood Sign, and Lob City-this is Los Angeles. In a city of champions, two talented baseball teams do not seem to be able to play well when the postseason comes around. Let’s start with the team in the Chavez Ravine: The Dodgers.
Why the Dodgers and the Postseason Are a No
Let’s face it, 2014 was amazing for the Dodgers…until the Postseason started. The boys in blue finished the season at a remarkable 94-68 and won the NL West, the same division with the world champions, the San Francisco Giants.
It was a great season statistically, pitcher Clayton Kershaw finished 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA and won the NL Cy Young as well as MVP. Secondary starter Zack Greinke finished 17-8 with a 2.71 ERA. The hitters had an equally great season. Yasiel Puig’s “down” season wasn’t actually so down, batting .296 with 16 HRs and 69 RBIs. Puig also dropped his strikeout percentage from about 23% to 19%. Carl Crawford batted .300, and Adrian Gonzalez hit 27 HRs and 116 RBIs, but fortunes changed when the calendar turned to October.
The Dodgers got rocked in October. In the four games against St. Louis, they gave up an average of 5 runs per game while their bats were quieted to an average of 3. The Dodgers had been 6th in the league during the regular season, averaging 4.43 runs per game. LA was also 10th in the league in runs allowed per game, averaging 3.81 allowed. That was largely thanks to a spectacular pitching staff. Puig only batted .250 and had 1 RBI and struck out in 7 straight at bats. Crawford batted .294 and also only had 1 RBI, while Gonzalez batted .188 with a home run and 3 RBIs.
The pitching was no help either. In Game 4 against the Cards, Kershaw was rolling to a 2-0 shutout victory and a Game 5 back in LA was eminent. Suddenly in the 7th inning, he gave up 3 runs that would lead to a stunning defeat. In 2 starts in the 2014 Postseason, Kershaw was 0-2 with a 7.82 ERA. One might say “It was only 2 starts, you can’t judge him off of that,”. I would understand if it was the first two starts in April, not in October when the real players shine. Not to discredit Kershaw’s amazing season, but he’s going to be remembered for that 7th inning in St. Louis, not his 21 wins and sub 2 ERA.
Kershaw has historically struggled in the postseason, as he now owns a 1-5 record with a 5.67 ERA. The Dodgers will continue to build around their young stars, Kershaw and Puig, who are 26 and 24 respectively. When it comes down to it, these two will need to perform on a bigger stage in order for the Dodgers to be successful.
Why the Angles Don’t Mix with Postseason
Much like their counterparts, the Halos finished with an MLB best record of 98-64, and an AL West title. However, they too couldn’t get the job done in the postseason. The regular season was stellar for superstar Mike Trout, hitting 36 HRs and driving in 111 runs, while Albert Pujols hit 28 bombs and drove in 105 runs.
Pitcher CJ Wilson and Josh Hamilton have not lived up to the hype of their big money contracts that the Angles gave them a mere 2 seasons ago. Hamilton has only hit 31 home runs and drove in 123 runs and has a .263 batting average since he started rocking red and white 2 seasons ago. Those totals don’t even surpass his totals from his last season as a Ranger, where he hit 43 home runs and had 128 RBI. Wilson has posted a respectable 3.87 ERA over the course of 3 seasons, but hasn’t blossomed into the ace the Halos were hoping for when they inked him to a 5 year, $77 million deal.
Now back to the team as a whole. Since Pujols, Hamilton, and Wilson were signed 3 seasons ago, they have only made one playoff appearance. Last year’s showing was short lived as the eventual AL champion Kansas City Royals swept the Angles in the Division Series. There Hamilton didn’t even have a single HIT. Trout and Pujols combined for 1 HR and 3 RBIs, and Wilson lost his only appearance with a 40.50 ERA.
In a city with one of the largest markets in the world, every athlete will be heavily scrutinized, especially when they perform during primetime. Both teams need to take a page from their neighbor, Mr. Kobe Bryant, and try to figure out what it takes to win in September. Both of these teams lean heavily on young superstars, so their windows are still open, but it would be a shame for these organizations to miss out on a golden opportunity. Luckily for them and their fans, there is always next season. Surely both teams will be very competitive come the end of the regular season, but none of that will matter if they can’t get it done in the fall.