The Los Angeles Dodgers’ latest move has been to keep their third baseman and team leader, Justin Turner. They signed the free agent to a two-year, $34 million deal. Though Turner is 36, he appears to still have plenty of oomph in his bat, and the fact that he was such a late bloomer at the big league level implies that he will age gracefully.
With this deal, the Dodgers further widen the gap between them and the rest of MLB. They are far and away the most talented team in the league from top to bottom, with stars at nearly every position. LA still has plenty of talent in the minors as well; this organization is built to become a 90’s-Yankees-like juggernaut.
There’s a catch, though. This is baseball.
If the Dodgers played basketball
There would be no question as to the outcome of the 2021 season if the Dodgers were an NBA team and had a similar gap between them and the rest of the league. In basketball, far more often than in other sports, the most talented team will win. If you have the horses, all they have to do is gel moderately well for you to win an NBA title. Such is the nature of basketball. It’s the most predictable of the four major sports in America.
If the Dodgers were an NBA team, they’d have Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Steph Curry, and an elite bench. The “minor leagues” are far less important in the NBA, so to make a point, I’ll say the Dodgers would also own a top ten pick in the draft over the next handful of seasons. How many championships would that team win? Several.
Luckily for us fans that like parity, however, baseball is on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to predictability.
They still play baseball
Indeed, the Los Angeles Dodgers are still a baseball team. You can have all the talent in the world on the baseball diamond and still come up short. It’s why these Dodgers, who have been stacked for a while now, fell short in the playoffs for seven straight years, often to inferior teams, before finally winning it all in 2020. It’s why a team like the Angels can try to help out the best player on the planet in Mike Trout by splurging on two MVP-level free agents in Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, who were seemingly still at or near their peaks, and watch them both immediately become shells of themselves, thus setting the organization back a decade.
Some teams get hot at the right time. Some teams get cold at the wrong time. Players lose their edge suddenly and completely. Imagine if huge acquisitions like Kevin Durant and James Harden averaged 13 PPG on 40% shooting for the Nets. That’s effectively what happened to the Angels after they went for it all by signing Pujols and Hamilton, and that’s the kind of thing that adds a dollop of randomness to every MLB season.
Make no mistake, the Dodgers are the best team in baseball right now. But if you had to choose between them and the field, take the field.
Hitting a round ball with a round bat produces funny results sometimes.