2011 Los Angeles Dodgers
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2011 Los Angeles Dodgers / Franchise: Los Angeles Dodgers / BR Team Page
Record: 82-79, Finished 3rd in NL Western Division (2011 NL)
Managed by Don Mattingly
Coaches: Trey Hillman, Dave Hansen, Rick Honeycutt, Ken Howell, Davey Lopes, Manny Mota, Jeff Pentland and Tim Wallach
History, Comments, Contributions
The season ended better than expected for the 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers. At the end of 2010, the Dodgers had been in disarray, with a lawsuit in motion as to who really owned the team. The 2010 manager, Joe Torre, had resigned, leaving reins to rookie manager Don Mattingly, who had been a coach under Torre. With money tight, it wasn't expected that the Dodgers would make any big free-agent acquisitions.
As a result, expectations were low when 2011 started. The 2010 team had gone 80-82, and many people felt that the 2011 Dodgers would do worse, given the difficult situation. The team, in fact, started off badly. They played ball at a .481 clip in April (a record of 13-14), a .429 pace in May (they were 12-16), and - worst of all - a .385 average in June (winning 10 and losing 16). By the end of June they were in fifth place with a record of 36-46.
The team may have hit a low point late in April when Major League Baseball took over financial and day-to-day operations. Litigation about that was initiated.
Amazingly, things started to improve in the second half of the season. They went 12-13 in July, 17-11 in August and an amazing 17-9 in September - to finish with a record of 82-79, better than the previous year.
The team received an MVP-level performance from 26-year-old Matt Kemp, who led the league in home runs, RBI, runs scored, total bases, games played and OPS+. He was second in the league in stolen bases. It was a huge step forward for a player who had hit just .249 and slugged .450 the previous year.
The team also enjoyed a Cy Young-level performance from pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Clayton hit the trifecta, leading the league in victories, ERA and strikeouts at age 23.
Many of the other players struggled, although several of them played much better during the second half of the season. One of the stars from 2010, the frequently-injured Rafael Furcal, never really managed to get started, and had a batting average of .197 in 37 games. Furcal, who hit .300 in 2010, was traded to the 2011 Cardinals in July, and as a result was able to play for the team which won the wild-card competition.
Catcher Rod Barajas started very slowly, but came on stronger during the second half. He ended up second on the team with 16 home runs although his OBP was low. First baseman James Loney also started slowly, hitting .210 in the first month and slugging only 4 home runs by the end of June. However, he finished well by hitting 8 home runs in August/September along with a batting average over .350 during that time.
Outfielder Andre Ethier hit exactly the same as he had hit in 2010, .292, but fell off greatly in power in 2011. Infielder Jamey Carroll continued to be a valuable multi-position player at age 37, appearing in 81 games at second base and 66 at shortstop, while hitting .290. Aaron Miles also split his time between two positions at age 34, appearing in 72 games at second base and 61 at third base, while hitting .275.
Rookie Dee Gordon was up once, went back to the minors, and came up again, much improved. He ended up hitting .304 with 24 stolen bases in 56 games. Rookie Jerry Sands had the same up-down-up pattern, doing better the second time up. He hit .253 with 15 doubles in 61 games, after hitting .200 during the first half of the season.
Tony Gwynn was in 136 games but had only 340 at-bats as his defensive and base-stealing skills were emphasized. He hit .256 with 22 stolen bases. Veteran Juan Rivera, who had spent years with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was acquired by the Dodgers in July from Toronto and made a favorable impression, hitting .274 and slugging .406.
Overall, the Dodger team batting average and OBP were close to the league averages, but their slugging percentage as a team was 16 points below the league average. Where pitching is concerned, the staff had an ERA better than the league average, but that was tempered a bit by the fact that the Dodgers played in a park which favors pitchers over hitting to a certain extent.
Hiroki Kuroda had an ERA around 3.00, while two other starters, Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley, had ERA's around 4.00. Closer Javy Guerra was a surprise, getting 21 saves with an ERA of 2.31. Mike MacDougal had an ERA of 2.05 in 69 games while Kenley Jansen, the former catcher, survived a tough early season by ending up with an ERA of 2.85 in 51 games. In addition, Jansen set a record with 16.1 strikeouts-per-nine-innings (minimum of 40 innings).
Manager Don Mattingly deserved some credit for taking an uncertain situation and persevering through the rough spots. He will have challenges in the off-season, though, as the team age, 29.8, is one of the oldest in the league, and several veterans may be nearing the ends of their careers.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw
- NL Gold Glove: Andre Ethier (OF), Matt Kemp (OF) and Clayton Kershaw (P)
- NL Silver Slugger Award: Matt Kemp (OF)
- NL Cy Young Award: Clayton Kershaw
- 2011 Topps All-Star Rookie Team: Dee Gordon (SS)
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