2021 ZiPS Projections: Los Angeles Dodgers

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for nine years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Batters

Some years, the World Series champion is clearly not the best team in baseball; instead, it’s a club that, through a combination of luck and timing, goes on an October run en route to the Commissioner’s Trophy. That was not the case in 2021. The Dodgers played in the same division as the National League’s second-best team this season, the Padres, and still bested them by six games, a 16-win pace per 162 games. Even with surprising down years (relatively speaking) from Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy, this lineup pummeled opposing pitchers from pole-to-pole, scoring nearly six runs a game and setting a franchise-high wRC+ at 122. Sure, it’s different to do that over 60 games than 154 or 162, but it’s still an impressive feat for a club with such a long history and deep roster of Hall of Famers.

With only one championship available per season, aggressively trying to win isn’t always met with a proportional reward. In this instance, the Dodgers went all-out to rent the services of Mookie Betts, with no guarantee he’d re-sign with them, and then inked him to a long-term deal with one of the richest payouts in major league history in the middle of a global pandemic and corresponding economic meltdown. Betts was as good as advertised — just one Freddie Freeman away from an MVP trophy — and the Dodgers earned a championship. Score one for positive incentives!

The team’s to-do list on the offense is relatively small this winter. Replacing Justin Turner is a priority — bringing him back for a year or two strikes me as the best mutual opportunity — but with a championship already in the bag and the team so strong elsewhere, the Dodgers may not feel compelled to be aggressive as they would have been in a similar situation a year ago. In extremely limited big league time, Gavin Lux hasn’t been great so far, but he remains a top prospect, he’s still very young, and this organization isn’t known for panicking when it comes to its best prospects.

One more item on the to-do list is probably another spare outfielder who can share some time with AJ Pollock. There’s role player depth on the squad as well, but Enrique Hernández, who was a great player to have around because he could play just about everywhere, is a free agent. Chris Taylor remains a Dodger, but the team already looks like they’ll use him plenty (and he’s a free agent after 2021).

Next up: winning a second consecutive championship, something that hasn’t been done since the 1999-2000 Yankees, and figuring out how to keep Corey Seager and Clayton Kershaw past 2021, all of which is very plausible!

Pitchers

Is Clayton Kershaw actually underrated now? He’s likely past his 2013-2017 peak for good, but he’s still putting up numbers well into ace territory and his 3.03 ERA in 2019 remains his “worst” year since his debut. 2020 cost Kershaw any chance of collecting win number 200 in 2021, but ZiPS still projects him to finish at 261 for his career, a projection that already contains information about his decline in velocity. The projections also have him finishing 13th all-time in WAR for pitchers, nestling him between Christy Mathewson and Lefty Grove, two pitchers who are rumored to have been solid.

One of the biggest boosts to Julio Urías’ projection came from his postseason performance, which ZiPS includes. Twenty-nine strikeouts against just four walks on baseball’s biggest stage was enough to knock a pretty good chunk out of his 2021-projected ERA.

Kenley Jansen’s not done or anything, but there were some definite warning signings late in the season and in the playoffs, and there’s been a distinct drop-off in his top comp, which has typically been Mariano Rivera (not to take anything away from Mike Timlin). Of the team’s core players over the last several seasons, Jansen is probably the one Los Angeles is most willing to part ways with.

I don’t expect the Dodgers to go after Trevor Bauer to fatten up the rotation, but I’d be surprised if they don’t add a veteran No. 3 or 4 starter who can eat some innings and play a similar role in next year’s playoffs. Manager Dave Roberts did a better job managing the bullpen than in the 2019 playoffs, but the team did occasionally seem stretched more than is ideal when Walker Buehler started having blister issues and Tony Gonsolin struggled in a few playoff games. It’s a team that can’t resist a good reclamation project, so seeing someone like Chris Archer on the roster wouldn’t shock me.

One pedantic note for 2021: For the WAR graphic, I’m using FanGraphs’ depth charts playing time, not the playing time ZiPS spits out, so there will be occasional differences in WAR totals.

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here.

Batters – Standard
Player B Age PO PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS
Mookie Betts R 28 RF 654 569 117 163 36 3 32 98 75 100 24 4
Cody Bellinger L 25 CF 648 561 99 153 29 5 38 123 82 137 17 3
Corey Seager L 27 SS 569 512 87 147 33 2 27 109 49 107 4 0
Will Smith R 26 C 434 374 61 90 20 1 23 83 48 109 2 0
Max Muncy L 30 1B 535 442 82 107 18 1 29 99 84 139 4 1
Gavin Lux L 23 SS 556 507 76 126 23 7 24 89 46 132 9 5
Justin Turner R 36 3B 454 395 61 110 23 1 15 59 42 72 2 0
Chris Taylor R 30 SS 528 471 71 120 28 5 18 74 48 146 10 4
Joc Pederson L 29 LF 437 385 64 93 19 2 24 73 41 98 2 2
AJ Pollock R 33 LF 424 389 58 100 20 2 22 69 26 94 8 3
Keibert Ruiz B 22 C 398 370 43 95 13 0 12 43 22 45 0 0
Austin Barnes R 31 C 325 278 40 63 12 1 6 35 37 73 5 2
Edwin Ríos L 27 3B 429 391 53 89 20 1 24 76 27 153 0 1
Enrique Hernández R 29 2B 436 393 58 93 21 3 16 67 34 93 3 1
Matt Beaty L 28 1B 365 336 44 86 20 1 10 50 21 61 3 1
Anthony Garcia R 29 LF 433 388 51 93 19 1 16 63 34 98 3 3
Miguel Vargas R 21 3B 491 450 51 109 25 3 8 49 32 101 9 4
Clayton Daniel R 26 2B 262 238 26 57 9 2 2 21 20 36 2 3
Jacob Amaya R 22 SS 561 502 59 109 24 5 9 54 51 129 5 9
Zach McKinstry L 26 2B 407 372 43 84 16 4 10 43 29 113 4 5
Connor Joe R 28 1B 448 390 52 86 19 2 12 52 48 110 1 3
Luke Raley L 26 RF 482 442 57 100 15 5 16 60 23 156 5 1
Russell Martin R 38 C 266 226 27 45 5 0 5 24 32 70 1 1
DJ Peters R 25 CF 552 491 61 92 17 3 22 73 44 237 2 2
Andrew Toles R 29 LF 283 268 33 66 14 1 6 35 12 63 5 3
Devin Mann R 24 2B 390 351 42 77 15 1 11 44 32 105 5 6
Dillon Paulson L 24 1B 433 382 46 71 20 3 13 51 45 142 2 1
Rocky Gale R 33 C 307 289 25 62 10 1 3 25 11 65 1 1
Zach Reks L 27 LF 461 415 54 95 15 2 15 59 40 147 3 3
Omar Estévez R 23 2B 495 457 48 101 28 1 11 53 30 135 1 2
Errol Robinson R 26 SS 447 411 44 89 14 2 7 37 32 122 13 7
Luke Heyer R 24 3B 375 345 35 62 12 1 11 40 23 138 4 3
Drew Avans L 25 LF 426 390 44 83 12 4 11 44 29 134 20 10
Cody Thomas L 26 RF 529 488 55 94 18 5 18 69 33 206 4 4
Nick Yarnall L 26 1B 246 222 26 41 8 1 8 28 23 97 2 2
Terrance Gore R 30 CF 214 192 22 36 4 2 0 9 16 59 21 6
Carlos Rincon R 23 RF 485 445 53 88 21 1 20 65 34 170 3 2
Matt Lipka R 29 CF 378 346 33 67 13 3 5 30 21 105 13 7
Jeren Kendall L 25 CF 469 426 44 66 11 7 15 53 37 213 18 11
Donovan Casey R 25 RF 493 460 53 93 15 4 16 60 28 188 12 3
Marcus Chiu R 24 1B 377 334 37 56 11 2 11 36 26 156 6 3
Starling Heredia R 22 LF 389 356 36 58 13 4 10 37 29 172 10 8

Batters – Advanced
Player BA OBP SLG OPS+ ISO BABIP RC/27 Def WAR No. 1 Comp
Mookie Betts .286 .370 .529 138 .243 .300 7.7 15 6.5 Frank Robinson
Cody Bellinger .273 .366 .545 141 .273 .298 7.6 2 6.0 Grady Sizemore
Corey Seager .287 .351 .518 130 .230 .317 7.0 3 5.0 Arky Vaughan
Will Smith .241 .334 .484 117 .243 .277 5.8 3 3.3 Josh Willingham
Max Muncy .242 .368 .484 127 .242 .285 6.4 0 3.1 Carlos Pena
Gavin Lux .249 .311 .464 105 .215 .291 5.2 0 2.8 Dick McAuliffe
Justin Turner .278 .363 .456 119 .177 .308 6.3 -2 2.7 Bob Elliott
Chris Taylor .255 .328 .450 107 .195 .332 5.4 -4 2.4 Jeff Blauser
Joc Pederson .242 .327 .488 116 .247 .262 5.6 1 2.0 John Milner
AJ Pollock .257 .309 .488 110 .231 .286 5.5 1 1.6 Merv Rettenmund
Keibert Ruiz .257 .304 .389 85 .132 .265 4.3 1 1.2 Yadier Molina
Austin Barnes .227 .329 .342 82 .115 .286 4.0 3 1.2 Mike Fitzgerald
Edwin Ríos .228 .284 .468 98 .240 .304 4.6 -4 0.9 Wayne Garrett
Enrique Hernández .237 .301 .427 93 .191 .271 4.6 -4 0.9 Kelly Heath
Matt Beaty .256 .312 .411 93 .155 .287 4.7 0 0.5 Pete LaCock
Anthony Garcia .240 .309 .418 94 .178 .281 4.5 -2 0.4 Keith Mitchell
Miguel Vargas .242 .296 .364 77 .122 .296 3.9 0 0.4 Sean Burroughs
Clayton Daniel .239 .300 .319 68 .080 .275 3.2 3 0.3 Greg Picart
Jacob Amaya .217 .291 .339 69 .122 .275 3.1 1 0.2 Pee Wee Reese
Zach McKinstry .226 .288 .371 76 .145 .297 3.6 -1 0.2 Rance Mulliniks
Connor Joe .221 .313 .372 84 .151 .276 3.9 1 0.2 Todd Betts
Luke Raley .226 .284 .391 80 .165 .311 4.0 2 0.1 Larry Whisenton
Russell Martin .199 .316 .288 65 .088 .265 3.0 -2 0.0 Rick Cerone
DJ Peters .187 .272 .369 70 .181 .302 3.3 -2 -0.1 Steve Moss
Andrew Toles .246 .283 .373 75 .127 .302 3.7 1 -0.1 Mike Colangelo
Devin Mann .219 .290 .362 74 .142 .281 3.4 -4 -0.3 Drew Sutton
Dillon Paulson .186 .273 .356 68 .170 .256 3.2 5 -0.3 Bo Dodson
Rocky Gale .215 .246 .287 43 .073 .267 2.4 5 -0.3 Joe Astroth
Zach Reks .229 .302 .383 83 .154 .316 4.0 -5 -0.4 John Kruk
Omar Estévez .221 .267 .359 67 .138 .289 3.3 -2 -0.4 Armando Moreno
Errol Robinson .217 .275 .311 58 .095 .291 2.9 -2 -0.6 Brian Grebeck
Luke Heyer .180 .240 .316 48 .136 .260 2.4 5 -0.6 Christian Snavely
Drew Avans .213 .269 .349 65 .136 .294 3.2 -1 -1.0 Adam Greenberg
Cody Thomas .193 .250 .361 62 .168 .288 2.9 4 -1.0 Warren Newson 뉴선
Nick Yarnall .185 .260 .338 60 .153 .282 2.8 -3 -1.1 Josh Alley
Terrance Gore .188 .257 .229 33 .042 .271 2.4 -4 -1.2 Lance Blankenship
Carlos Rincon .198 .262 .384 71 .187 .267 3.4 -6 -1.2 Jayson Werth
Matt Lipka .194 .246 .292 44 .098 .263 2.4 1 -1.2 Lance Blankenship
Jeren Kendall .155 .224 .319 44 .164 .258 2.2 4 -1.3 Adam Greenberg
Donovan Casey .202 .249 .357 61 .154 .301 3.1 -1 -1.4 Nick Capra
Marcus Chiu .168 .258 .311 53 .144 .269 2.6 -3 -1.6 Blake Bone
Starling Heredia .163 .231 .306 43 .143 .276 2.1 -12 -3.2 Sheldon Fulse

Pitchers – Standard
Player T Age W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO FIP
Walker Buehler R 26 10 4 3.11 27 27 150.3 118 52 19 39 189 3.21
Clayton Kershaw L 33 13 6 3.21 26 26 154.3 131 55 22 29 167 3.45
Dustin May R 23 10 6 3.87 39 28 151.3 143 65 21 39 144 4.03
Julio Urías L 24 7 4 3.64 45 16 118.7 101 48 17 39 134 3.90
Alex Wood L 30 7 4 3.75 24 17 98.3 92 41 13 25 95 3.88
Victor González L 25 5 3 3.79 49 13 95.0 89 40 10 35 88 3.99
David Price L 35 7 4 4.04 17 16 89.0 85 40 15 26 88 4.40
Jimmy Nelson R 32 6 4 4.17 21 14 90.7 87 42 13 37 95 4.37
Blake Treinen R 33 7 3 3.30 60 0 62.7 55 23 5 22 62 3.39
Caleb Ferguson L 24 4 2 3.52 57 4 64.0 51 25 8 28 87 3.68
Josiah Gray R 23 7 6 4.82 28 27 125.0 126 67 23 35 108 4.83
Tony Gonsolin R 27 6 5 4.72 26 22 101.0 96 53 19 41 103 4.95
Brusdar Graterol R 22 5 2 3.35 60 2 53.7 50 20 4 17 46 3.55
Mitch White R 26 5 4 4.42 20 17 79.3 76 39 12 30 80 4.42
Edwin Uceta R 23 7 6 4.94 26 25 118.3 118 65 22 52 116 5.13
Kenley Jansen R 33 4 2 3.72 60 0 58.0 48 24 9 18 72 3.80
Dennis Santana R 25 6 5 4.76 29 13 87.0 82 46 15 40 95 4.82
Adam Kolarek L 32 5 3 3.61 59 0 52.3 51 21 4 15 39 3.72
Andre Jackson R 25 4 4 4.91 20 20 80.7 75 44 9 58 78 5.04
Shea Spitzbarth R 26 4 3 3.93 50 0 68.7 60 30 10 28 81 4.07
Joe Kelly R 33 3 2 3.80 49 1 45.0 39 19 4 22 49 3.76
Dylan Floro R 30 4 2 3.92 53 0 57.3 58 25 6 16 46 3.88
Zach McAllister R 33 2 1 3.67 36 0 41.7 39 17 6 11 43 3.85
Scott Alexander L 31 4 2 3.91 51 0 48.3 46 21 4 21 39 4.01
Kyle Lobstein L 31 6 5 4.81 32 9 76.7 76 41 11 35 66 4.85
Pedro Báez R 33 4 2 4.05 58 0 53.3 45 24 8 21 59 4.21
Marshall Kasowski R 26 3 2 4.02 36 1 40.3 28 18 4 33 61 4.05
Parker Curry R 27 5 5 5.07 28 11 87.0 93 49 18 28 76 5.26
Josh Sborz R 27 3 2 4.09 47 0 50.7 45 23 7 19 56 4.01
Jake McGee L 34 3 2 4.17 51 0 45.3 42 21 8 13 51 4.22
Edubray Ramos R 28 4 3 4.35 55 1 49.7 48 24 8 18 50 4.41
Austin Hamilton L 27 5 5 5.07 22 8 65.7 71 37 11 27 49 5.28
Yadier Álvarez R 25 2 2 5.15 17 9 43.7 38 25 6 36 53 5.15
Logan Salow L 26 3 3 4.74 43 2 57.0 49 30 7 42 67 4.79
Reymin Guduan L 29 4 3 4.62 42 0 48.7 45 25 7 27 52 4.70
Luis Vasquez R 35 2 1 4.78 18 0 26.3 22 14 4 18 33 4.81
Ryan Moseley R 26 4 3 5.08 46 2 72.7 70 41 7 53 61 5.15
Jordan Sheffield R 26 4 5 6.18 39 10 62.7 62 43 13 55 69 6.50

Pitchers – Advanced
Player K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BB% K% BABIP ERA+ ERA- WAR No. 1 Comp
Walker Buehler 11.3 2.3 1.1 6.4% 31.2% .281 139 72 4.0 Bert Blyleven
Clayton Kershaw 9.7 1.7 1.3 4.7% 27.2% .276 135 74 4.0 Warren Spahn
Dustin May 8.6 2.3 1.2 6.2% 22.7% .290 112 89 2.7 Lindy McDaniel
Julio Urías 10.2 3.0 1.3 7.9% 27.2% .282 119 84 2.2 Johnny Cooney
Alex Wood 8.7 2.3 1.2 6.1% 23.2% .290 116 86 1.9 Jake Miller
Victor González 8.3 3.3 0.9 8.6% 21.6% .294 115 87 1.5 Max Lanier
David Price 8.9 2.6 1.5 6.9% 23.4% .288 107 93 1.5 Kenny Rogers
Jimmy Nelson 9.4 3.7 1.3 9.3% 24.0% .302 104 96 1.3 Marv Grissom
Blake Treinen 8.9 3.2 0.7 8.4% 23.6% .291 131 76 1.1 Jumbo Brown
Caleb Ferguson 12.2 3.9 1.1 10.3% 31.9% .299 123 81 1.1 Billy McCool
Josiah Gray 7.8 2.5 1.7 6.6% 20.3% .285 90 111 1.0 Larry Christenson
Tony Gonsolin 9.2 3.7 1.7 9.4% 23.5% .285 92 109 0.9 Zach Day
Brusdar Graterol 7.7 2.9 0.7 7.5% 20.3% .293 129 77 0.9 Frank Linzy
Mitch White 9.1 3.4 1.4 8.7% 23.3% .295 98 102 0.8 Steve Arlin
Edwin Uceta 8.8 4.0 1.7 9.9% 22.1% .294 88 114 0.8 Ed Wojna
Kenley Jansen 11.2 2.8 1.4 7.5% 30.0% .283 117 86 0.7 Mike Timlin
Dennis Santana 9.8 4.1 1.6 10.4% 24.8% .295 91 110 0.6 Mike Lumley
Adam Kolarek 6.7 2.6 0.7 6.8% 17.6% .292 120 83 0.6 Steve Mingori
Andre Jackson 8.7 6.5 1.0 15.5% 20.9% .295 88 113 0.6 Preston Hanna
Shea Spitzbarth 10.6 3.7 1.3 9.6% 27.6% .292 110 91 0.5 Turk Farrell
Joe Kelly 9.8 4.4 0.8 11.3% 25.1% .297 114 88 0.5 Dennis Higgins
Dylan Floro 7.2 2.5 0.9 6.6% 18.9% .299 111 90 0.4 Ernie Johnson
Zach McAllister 9.3 2.4 1.3 6.4% 24.9% .295 118 85 0.4 Chad Bradford
Scott Alexander 7.3 3.9 0.7 10.0% 18.7% .292 111 90 0.4 Darold Knowles
Kyle Lobstein 7.7 4.1 1.3 10.3% 19.5% .291 90 111 0.4 John Curtis
Pedro Báez 10.0 3.5 1.4 9.3% 26.2% .274 107 93 0.4 Donne Wall
Marshall Kasowski 13.6 7.4 0.9 18.1% 33.5% .293 108 93 0.3 Charlie Hough
Parker Curry 7.9 2.9 1.9 7.3% 19.9% .295 86 117 0.3 Levale Speigner
Josh Sborz 9.9 3.4 1.2 8.8% 26.0% .290 106 94 0.3 Ryan Speier
Jake McGee 10.1 2.6 1.6 6.8% 26.8% .293 104 96 0.2 Rheal Cormier
Edubray Ramos 9.1 3.3 1.4 8.5% 23.5% .294 100 100 0.2 Daryl Irvine
Austin Hamilton 6.7 3.7 1.5 9.2% 16.7% .296 86 117 0.2 Wade Blasingame
Yadier Álvarez 10.9 7.4 1.2 17.6% 26.0% .299 84 119 0.1 J.R. Richard
Logan Salow 10.6 6.6 1.1 16.1% 25.7% .296 92 109 0.1 Clay Bryant
Reymin Guduan 9.6 5.0 1.3 12.4% 24.0% .295 94 107 0.0 Tippy Martinez
Luis Vasquez 11.3 6.2 1.4 15.3% 28.0% .290 91 110 -0.1 Ryne Duren
Ryan Moseley 7.6 6.6 0.9 15.5% 17.9% .293 85 117 -0.2 Hal Reniff
Jordan Sheffield 9.9 7.9 1.9 18.0% 22.6% .299 70 142 -0.7 Tim Meeks

Players are listed with their most recent teams wherever possible. This includes players who are unsigned, players who will miss 2021 due to injury, and players who were released in 2020. So yes, if you see Joe Schmoe, who quit baseball back in August to form a Finnish industrial death metal fourth-wave ska J-pop band, he’s still listed here intentionally.

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected zWAR, which is to say, WAR values as calculated by me, Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those which appear in the full release of ZiPS. Finally, I will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on a depth chart to produce projected team WAR. ZiPS is assuming that the designated hitter will continue in force in 2021; if it does not, there will be widespread minor adjustments across the board come April.

ZiPS is agnostic about future playing time by design. For more information about ZiPS, please refer to this article, or get angry at Dan on Twitter or something.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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Cave Dameron
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Cave Dameron

Thank you Dan, very cool!