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July 22, 2013

Overthinking It

The Not-So-Disappointing Dodgers

by Ben Lindbergh


Almost six weeks ago, Sam Miller and I spent some time talking about the four most disappointing teams of 2013: the Blue Jays, the Angels, the Dodgers, and the Nationals. Were we to have that discussion again today, at least three of those teams would still be in the discussion. The Jays got hot, then went cold again; they’re in last place, seven games under .500 and 13.5 out, and their playoff hopes are in hospice care. “Maybe we were overrated,” Mark Buehrle admitted this weekend. “Maybe we’re not as good as we thought we were.”

The Angels have been a winning team since the start of June, but were bad enough in April that they’re still four games under, with a double-digit deficit in the AL West. And the Nationals were swept at home over the weekend, running their record to 48-50 and putting them half a game behind the Phillies. Publicly, at least, their self-esteem is still stronger than Toronto’s—“We’re a good team,” Jayson Werth said after the sweep—but they haven’t played much like overwhelming first-place favorites. The Nats’ Playoff Odds are down to 12.5 percent, which makes them look like a lock compared to both the Angels and the Blue Jays, whose chances have sunk to the low single digits.

And then there are the Dodgers, the team responsible for that Washington sweep. After beating the Nats by a combined total of 10 runs in games started by Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann, Los Angeles is now 50-47, just half a game behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West (and in the loss column, even). Over the past calendar month, the Dodgers have gone 20-5, tied with the red-hot Rays for the best record in baseball. Here’s where they rank over the same span in the various vital signs:

Stat

Past-month Performance

MLB Rank

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