Originally written on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 5/9/12

We are now into May there have been several surprises this baseball season. To the surprise of most people, the Dodgers are in first place in the NL West. This is almost as crazy as Albert Pujols not hitting a homerun in the month of April, but oh wait… that happened…

So how are the Dodgers having all of this success? Well, a large part of that is due to Matt Kemp. Most people expected the young centerfielder to have another amazing year, but he is posting numbers that are absolutely unheard of. At this point in the season it would almost be an upset if he didn’t win the triple crown.

Andre Ethier is back and better than ever, providing protection for Kemp and leading the National League in RBIs. Not only do Kemp and Ethier bring the bat, but their fielding ability and arm strength are way above average, saving numerous runs for Dodger pitchers.

As far as pitching goes, Clayton Kershaw is still dominating opposing teams, pretty much guaranteeing a win every time he takes the hill. However, it is the ”mediocre” pitchers on the Dodgers that are making the true difference. Chad Billingsley is pitching like he did in his all-star season, and Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly are pitching like they are five years younger. These pitchers aren’t posting crazy strikeout numbers or making batters look silly at the plate, but by simply getting the job done.

The Dodgers’ one main weakness thus far is the bullpen, which has blown numerous games. In a young season, closer Javy Guerra already has three blown saves. It is only a matter of time until manager Don Mattingly makes the switch to current set up man Kenley Jansen, who has been far more effective than Guerra.

Yes, a large part of the Dodgers’ success is due to their strength of schedule or lack there of. The Dodgers opened up the season 9-1, with all of those games coming against the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates, lackluster teams to say the least. Although the team has struggled since, the Dodgers did sweep the NL East leading Washington Nationals. In a weak NL West, it is very realistic to believe that the Dodgers could win the division crown.

The new owners have already proved they are committed to winning, adding veteran Bobby Abreu to add more power to the lineup. If the Dodgers are able to add a few relievers and find a replacement for Juan Uribe at third base, they would be a very difficult team to face. Realistically, Kershaw is the second best pitcher in the league behind Justin Verlander and Matt Kemp is the best hitter in the league; so if role players continue to step up, watch out for the boys in blue.

-Langer

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