The Los Angeles Dodgers have high expectations for the 2023 season. The San Diego Padres are expected to challenge LA for the NL West division title, but the Dodgers have reason to remain confident. They still feature an impressive core of players, led by superstars such as Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Clayton Kershaw, and Julio Urias.
The 2023 campaign will be an intriguing and important year for the Dodgers. They don't want to lose their grip on the division. Without further ado, let's take a look at four bold predictions for the Dodgers in 2023.
*Stats via Baseball Reference.
Dustin May is Dodgers' best pitcher in 2023
Dustin May is a bounce back candidate for the Dodgers. Los Angeles would benefit even if May pitched to the tune of a respectable 3.50 ERA. May, however, features some of the best upside in all of baseball. If he can stay healthy this year, 2023 could be Dustin May's true breakout campaign.
May being the best pitcher on the team in 2023 wouldn't mean that stars like Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw had bad seasons. All it means is that May finally reached his extremely high-ceiling.
In his return from Tommy John surgery last year, May posted a 4.50 ERA. But he's now had an entire offseason and spring training to recover and find his footing once again. He's always featured an impressive fastball, but if he can reel in the control on his off-speed pitches, it's going to be a long year for opposing hitters.
Max Muncy returns to All-Star caliber form
The Dodgers need Max Muncy to be Max Muncy in 2023. Because the fact of the matter is that Muncy wasn't his usual All-Star caliber self last season.
Muncy, an All-Star in 2021 and 2019, slashed a forgettable .196./.329/.384 with a .713 OPS and 21 home runs over 136 games played in 2022. It wasn't as if Muncy missed 40-50 games due to injury either. He simply just had a down year. And that tells us he's certainly capable of turning things around.
Muncy has hit 35 home runs or more in three separate years. He's also hit .249 or better in each of those seasons. The Dodgers' slugger is a talented hitter who gets on-base at an impressive rate when things are going well.
The departures of Trea Turner and Justin Turner left question marks in the lineup. The signing of JD Martinez helped matters, and Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman will lead the charge once again. Muncy, however, can add a crucial extra layer of depth if he rebounds.
Look for Max Muncy to find his form once again.
Dodgers trade for one of Tim Anderson/Bryan Reynolds in July
The Chicago White Sox are going to need to make changes if they struggle yet again in 2023. They came into the 2022 season with World Series aspirations, but ultimately missed the playoffs altogether.
If Chicago struggles yet again, the Dodgers may be in the market to acquire SS Tim Anderson. Dodgers fans have already pleaded for the ball club to trade for the star shortstop this past offseason. With Gavin Lux out for the year, Los Angeles likely wouldn't mind bringing in a star shortstop.
The Dodgers are expected to pursue Shohei Ohtani next offseason, but they have a number of contracts coming off the books after the conclusion of the 2023 campaign. Acquiring Anderson wouldn't make an Ohtani pursuit impossible.
If the White Sox do contend, the Dodgers may be forced to shift their focus elsewhere. Los Angeles has questions in their outfield and Pittsburgh Pirates star Bryan Reynolds could be available at the trade deadline.
Whether it's Anderson or Reynolds, the Dodgers are going to make a big splash ahead of the deadline.
Mookie Betts wins the NL MVP
Will Mookie Betts win the second MVP of his career and first with the Dodgers?
Betts had a down year of sorts for his lofty standards in 2022. For most players, however, it was an incredible campaign. Betts slashed .269/.340/.533 with an .873 OPS and 35 home runs. He ended up finishing fifth in NL MVP voting.
Betts, who won the AL MVP in 2018 with the Boston Red Sox, will have an opportunity to win his first NL MVP in 2023.
The Dodgers will need Betts to play at an elite level following the aforementioned departures of key players. Freddie Freeman is the only other truly elite offensive force in the lineup. Yes, Will Smith is an excellent offensive catcher. Meanwhile, JD Martinez and Max Muncy can help the lineup with strong campaigns.
But the pressure is going to be on for Mookie Betts to lead the charge. And Betts performs well under pressure. If Betts can lead the Dodgers to another NL West title despite the Padres' plethora of offseason additions, voters will take notice and give him the nod for NL MVP.