Dodgers History: Los Angeles’ 2021 Key Impact Players
Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

Despite a few hiccups including a span where they lost 15 of 20 games, the Los Angeles Dodgers remain the betting favorites three months into the 2021 season.

Currently, the Dodgers are +350 favorites to win the 2021 World Series. They have appeared in three of the last World Series, losing to the Houston Astros in 2017, the Boston Red Sox in 2018, and defeating the Tampa Rays in 2020 in one of the oddest baseball seasons ever. Should they repeat this season, they would be the first team to go back to back since the New York Yankees won three straight championships from 1998 to 2000.

The Dodgers currently have the second-best record in the National League and are just a game behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West. Once again, the Dodgers are fielding a team that not just betting on the batting or pitching of a single player. Despite injuries that have sidelined Corey Seager, Cody Bellenger, Tony Gonsolin, and Max Muncy, and ended the season of standout pitcher Dustin May, the team’s depth has picked up the slack.

Walker Buehler

Coming off a franchise record-tying streak of 23 consecutive regular-season starts without a defeat that ended in the Chicago Cubs’ combined no-hitter last Thursday, Walker Buehler (8-1) returned to the mound and didn’t allow an earned run, as the Dodgers completed a two-game sweep of the Giants to close out the month of June on a winning note.

Buehler has arguably been the Dodger’s best pitcher this season, with a 2.35 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 103.1 innings. On Thursday he tossed a career-high 113 pitches while remaining unbeaten in 10 career appearances against the Giants while lowering his career ERA to 2.17 against the Bay Area rivals.

Chris Taylor

Chris Taylor has arguably been the Dodgers MVP of the season. Through Thursday, the versatile utilityman is slashing .262/.377/.448 with 11 doubles, 3 triples, 10 home runs, 39 RBI, and 7 stolen bases in 300 plate appearances. He’s played in 75 of the Dodgers  80 games, fielding in six different positions; all three outfield spots, second base, shortstop, and third base.

Dodger’s manager Dave Roberts campaigned hard for the 30-year-old Taylor’s inclusion as a first-time All-Star this season, making points about his versatility and offensive contributions, and was rewarded when the fans voted him.

Julio Urias

Despite mixed results over his last five outings, during which he’s only logged one quality start while getting beat soundly in two others, Julio Urias has been a big part of the Dodger’s success this season. The 24-year-old lefthander out of Culican Mexico won a spot in the rotation out of spring training and went 7-1 in his first 10 starts for the Dodgers while maintaining a 3.03 ERA through May 23rd. Without the stellar play of Urias, the Dodgers wouldn’t be where they are right now in the standings.

Kenley Jansen

Closing pitchers definitely don’t get the same amount of love as their starting pitcher teammates and Kenley Jansen is no exception. Once one of the most dominant closers in the game, between 2018 and the shortened 2020, Jansen didn’t appear to have his previously dominant form, leading many to believe his better days might be behind him.

Today’s Jansen?

Jansen is back and when the Dodgers need him most.

Max Muncy

An oblique strain suffered while running the bases shelved Max Muncy for the start of the regular season, but upon his return, Max Muncy sped to become the league’s most productive first baseman through the first half of the season, pulling the Dodgers in his wake.

Currently, Muncy has been worth twice as many wins above replacement (3.2 fWAR) as any qualified National League first baseman this year. Amongst his first base peers in the league, he ranks first in slugging percentage, OPS, home runs, walks, strikeout-to-walk ratio, on-base percentage, and wRC+. He’s been a monster at the plate for Los Angeles, shuttling between first and second base assignments, and despite missing time has been the Dodgers biggest impact player of the season.