Grading Each Dodger At the One-Third Mark of the Season

May 20, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) is greeted at the plate by second baseman Miguel Rojas (11), shortstop Mookie Betts (50) and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) after hitting a grand slam home run in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
May 20, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) is greeted at the plate by second baseman Miguel Rojas (11), shortstop Mookie Betts (50) and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) after hitting a grand slam home run in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers passed the one-third mark of the season when they played their 55th game of 2024 on Sunday. Their record is 33-22, the second-best mark in the National League. No other West team is above .500.

It's fashionable to grade the front office or the manager as if they are collecting as many stats as the players, but at the end of the day there are 39 men more responsible for the Dodgers' record than any others. Each player has been assigned a letter grade (based on major- and minor-league work) and ranked by their cWPA (championship win probability added — a measure of performance weighted by whether or not they helped the team win or lose in clutch situations) in MLB games.

1. Shohei Ohtani, 1.4% cWPA

Ohtani and Mookie Betts have been 1-2 in the National League in Wins Above Replacement for what feels like the entire season. Ohtani is currently on pace for 39 home runs, 105 RBIs and 39 stolen bases while hitting a career-high .336 and leading the NL in OPS (1.024). Grade: A

2. Will Smith, 0.9%

Smith's .297 batting average is on pace for a career high over a full season. His catching has been decent, and the rest of his offensive numbers have been in line with what we would expect. Grade: A

3. Evan Phillips, 0.8%

Before his hamstring injury, Phillips (eight saves, 0.66 ERA) looked like the capital-C closer (Josh Hader? Kenley Jansen?) fans hoped the front office would acquire all offseason. He's right here, folks. Grade: A

4. James Paxton, 0.7%

The good: 5-0, 3.49 ERA. The bad: 28 walks, 28 strikeouts in 49 innings. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Grade: C

5. Mookie Betts, 0.7%

His transition to shortstop at age 31 has been remarkable and well-documented. His transition into a traditional leadoff hitter (36-to-23 walk-to-strikeout ratio, .431 OBP, 9-for-10 stolen bases) has been a quiet godsend for Ohtani. Grade: A

6. Tyler Glasnow, 0.5%

Glasnow has allowed six home runs this season; five have either tied the game or given the other team the lead. Run support will change his luck for the better — a league-leading 87 strikeouts (and an average of six innings per start) practically predict better things in store. Grade: A-

7. Gavin Stone, 0.5%

Stone's stuff hasn't been impossible to hit as a rookie, but he's been exactly what the Dodgers need from a back-of-the-rotation starter. Grade: B

8. Blake Treinen, 0.4%

At 35 and three years removed from his last healthy season, Treinen and his sharp-breaking slider are still fooling hitters with aplomb. If Treinen can pick up where he left off the remainder of the season — and stay healthy — he should be pitching high-leverage situations even after Phillips, Joe Kelly and Brusdar Graterol return from their injuries. Grade: A

9. Ryan Yarbrough, 0.4%

Yarbrough might be the best example of a swingman the game can offer, as his 2.97 ERA in 36.1 innings attest. It's a role the Dodgers have struggled to fill since Ross Stripling was traded midway through the 2020 season. Grade: A-

10. Anthony Banda, 0.3%

Pitch a scoreless 10th inning with a runner on second base, and cWPA will warm up to you in a hurry. Reportedly the Dodgers had been looking to acquire Banda for some time, and we can see why. Grade: B

11. Alex Vesia, 0.3%

The term "unhittable" gets thrown around a lot, but Vesia (nine hits allowed in 23.1 innings) has shown why the Dodgers were comfortable trading left-handers Caleb Ferguson and Victor Gonzalez over the winter. He's emerging as one of the best lefty set-up men the Dodgers have had in years. Grade: A

12. Daniel Hudson, 0.2%

Hudson's recovery from an injury-plagued 2023 has been remarkable: 20 innings, 14 hits, one walk, 22 strikeouts. Like Treinen, he should be pitching high-leverage innings as long as he's healthy. Grade: A

13. Landon Knack, 0.2%

Knack has allowed only six runs in four starts — the perfect spot-starter for a team intent on giving its top five pitchers extra rest whenever possible. The rookie has been just as impressive at Triple-A. Grade: A-

14. Yoshinobu Yamamoto, 0.2%

It's been a mix of good and bad so far, but what's obvious is the elite combination of stuff and command that led the Dodgers to sign Yamamoto to a 12-year, $325 million contract in the first place. Learning how to refine his pitch mix as major league batters adjust to his arsenal is the next step. Grade: B

15. Michael Grove, 0.1%

Grove has been better than his 5.81 ERA suggests because he's been able to dial it up a notch in high-leverage situations. In a world where Phillips, Graterol, Kelly and Brasier are all healthy, Grove figures to be the odd man out. Grade: C-

16. Dinelson Lamet, 0.1%

Since his three appearances with the Dodgers in April, Lamet went back to Triple-A and allowed 17 runs in 32.1 innings. For now he's a veteran depth swingman option for a pitching staff that doesn't need it. Grade: D

17. Miguel Vargas, 0.0%

After putting up a 1.019 OPS at Triple-A, Vargas batted seven times for the Dodgers and reached base once, on a double. The jury's out on whether the 2024 Dodgers will be a better team with Vargas or Chris Taylor as the starting left fielder, but by 2025 this should be Vargas' job to lose. Grade: A-

18. Connor Brogdon, 0.0%

Made one appearance before going on the 60-day injured list with plantar fasciitis. Grade: incomplete

19. Walker Buehler, 0.0%

It will be fascinating to see how (and if) Buehler can adjust to his post-surgery repertoire to be effective. His first four starts have been a mix of good and bad; fortunately the Dodgers weren't counting on him to be their ace in 2024. Grade: C

20. Gus Varland, 0.0%

Varland is racking up more frequent-flier miles than most 27-year-olds, having been optioned to Triple-A three times already this season in between seven big-league appearances. The Dodgers can't do that forever, but he'll surely be back to pitch an inning or two here or there. Grade: C

21. Ricky Vanasco, 0.0%

Vanasco is in the same boat — er, plane — as Varland. Three options used this year, more to come, and one scoreless outing in between. Grade: B

22. Kyle Hurt, 0.0%

Hurt made three appearances before going on the 60-day injured list with shoulder inflammation. Grade: incomplete

23. Joe Kelly, 0.0%

Command is always the x-factor with Kelly, as his five walks and two hit batters in 13.1 appearances attest. When he returns from the injured list, he'll have to compete with Hudson, Treinen and Vesia to earn trust in high-leverage spots. Grade: C

24. Nick Ramirez, 0.0%

The Dodgers might have found something in the April trade with the Yankees that netted Ramirez for cash. The 34-year-old veteran has 11 strikeouts and only one earned run in 7.2 innings at Triple-A, and a 3.86 ERA in six games with the Dodgers. Grade: B

25. Elieser Hernandez, -0.1%

Four games isn't enough to anoint Hernandez as the Dodgers' next great career revival, but the 25-year-old former Marlins starter has shown flashes out of the bullpen and as a spot starter. Grade: C+

26. Bobby Miller, -0.1%

The good: 18 strikeouts in 11.2 innings, 100-mph fastballs. The bad: 5.40 ERA, shoulder trouble. Grade: incomplete

27. Yohan Ramirez, -0.1%

Ramirez might need the occasional pep talk, but what the journeyman needs more is control (four hit batters, one walk in three innings). Grade: D

28. Austin Barnes, -0.1%

When he isn't stealing strikes, Barnes is slashing .175/.298/.200 — perfectly in line with expectations, and also as poor as it looks on paper. The backup catcher merely needs to provide enough defense and offense so that the starter can get adequate rest, and it's absolutely fair for the Dodgers to demand more. Grade: D

29. Freddie Freeman, -0.1%

Freeman is on pace for his lowest bWAR (3.9) in a nonpandemic year since 2019, and his .284 batting average is down 47 points from last year. Alarming as that is, "merely" an All-Star-caliber season is enough to expect from the Dodgers' number-3 hitter. This isn't epic, but it's fine. Grade: B

30. Teoscar Hernandez, -0.1%

Where would the Dodgers' outfield be without Hernandez? He's one of only four NL outfielders with an OPS above .800 and the primary reason the defense in right field hasn't fallen off in light of Betts' absence. Grade: A-

31. Andy Pages, -0.1%

Pages turned an outstanding spring training and a scorching start at Triple-A into an early arrival, then cooled off after two hot weeks. His defense and hit tools have been plesant surprises, but four walks in 144 plate appearances won't cut it long-term. Grade: B-

32. Ryan Brasier, -0.2%

Even before Brasier's right calf strain, his fastball was down more than a tick compared to 2023. He looked more hittable as a result but still struck out 12 in 11.2 innings. Grade: C-

33. Max Muncy, -0.2%

Before an oblique injury sidelined him in May, Muncy was on track for a typical Muncy season at the plate (125 OPS+). The Dodgers have missed his bat ever since. His capable defense at third base was a pleasant surprise. Grade: B

34. Chris Taylor, -0.2%

Taylor's 1-for-35 start was excruciating to watch, and his 6-for-34 line since hasn't been much better. If this is the end of the road for Taylor's career with the Dodgers, it's been a wildly unexpected joyride. Grade: F

35. Kike Hernández, -0.4%

Hernández has a .704 OPS against left-handers and a .442 OPS against righties, and the Dodgers would prefer to platoon him around the field as needed. For now he's the everyday third baseman and will be exposed at the plate; as long as the defense is there, this is fine. Grade: C-

36. Jason Heyward, -0.4%

A back injury has limited him to 11 games. He'll need to improve his .176/.216/.265 slash line, and he'll get time. Grade: incomplete

37. Gavin Lux, -0.4%

Unlike Outman, Lux's bat eventually warmed up — just in time for him to hit the 150-plate appearance threshold the Dodgers extended him. The defense hasn't been an issue, so expect Lux's long leash to continue. Grade: C

38. James Outman, -0.4%

With a .147 average and 40 strikeouts in 36 games, the second-year center fielder was out of excuses. Now he's at Triple-A trying to work his way back, effectively competing with Andy Pages for at-bats and innings. Grade: D-

39. Miguel Rojas, -0.4%

Rojas' mentorship of Mookie Betts at shortstop has been a wise use of his time. The Dodgers will take a .250/.308/.417 slash line from the veteran in part-time duty. Grade: B-

Published |Modified
J.P. Hoornstra


J.P. Hoornstra writes and edits Major League Baseball content for Inside the Dodgers, and is the author of 'The 50 Greatest Dodger Games Of All Time.' He once recorded a keyboard solo on the same album as two of the original Doors.