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Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Over/under: Wins for Dodgers

By David Schoenfield

At times in 2011 the Los Angeles Dodgers seemed to be a two-man team: Clayton Kershaw won the Cy Young Award and Matt Kemp finished second in the MVP vote. According to Baseball-Reference.com, those two were worth 17 wins above replacement level, so take those two out of the lineup and that turns an 82-win team into a 65-win team.

So maybe that description isn't far off.

The Dodgers scored 644 runs and allowed 617, ranking 13th in the NL in runs scored and fifth in runs allowed. They lost No. 2 starter Hiroki Kuroda (13-16, 3.07 ERA) to the Yankees but have brought in solid-but-unspectacular veterans Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang to fill a rotation that includes Chad Billingsley (a disappointing 11-11, 4.21) and Ted Lilly. With a bullpen that includes fireballer Kenley Jansen (hit 16.1 strikeouts per nine innings was the best ever for at least 50 innings pitched), Javy Guerra, Matt Guerrier, Todd Coffey, Scott Elbert and Josh Lindblom, the relief corps should once again be solid.

The problem, of course, sits with the offense. Andre Ethier is the only other holdover besides Kemp to post an OBP over .340. First baseman James Loney continues to provide lackluster power and new imports Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Adam Kennedy aren't exactly Ron Cey and Davey Lopes at the plate. Dee Gordon is around for a full season to provide excitement at the top of the order, but he'll need to improve his plate discipline to become a quality leadoff guy.

In other words, if Kemp doesn't replicate his monster season, this is a team that could finish last in the league in runs.

Oddsmakers have the Dodgers at 81.5 wins.

By the way, you can vote in previous over/under polls by clicking the over/under tag at the bottom of this post.