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The Dodgers should score more than last year, when the entire offense went on the Slim-Fast program. L.A. finished last in the league in seven offensive categories, while its pitchers wound up first in five categories. No wonder the Dodgers became the first team since the 1972 Indians to have a staff ERA under 3.00 and finish under .500.
The mound personnel is little changed from a year ago. Gott, when healthy, will take the place of setup man Alejandro Pena, who was traded to the Mets with Mike Marshall for Samuel. Look for John Wetteland (96 K's in 102⅔ innings) to blossom in a rotation that already includes Hershiser (15-15, 2.31), Tim Belcher (15-12, 2.82), Ramon Martinez and Fernando Valenzuela. Besides having a mean fastball, Wetteland, also plays a mean saxophone. That skill may come in handy for a reprise of the Dodger Blues.
6. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Forget the sweep in the World Series by Oakland. That the Giants won the division by three games last year is extraordinary, considering that seven of their pitchers went on the disabled list and that their rightfielders hit an aggregate .224. Much of San Francisco's success was due, of course, to Will Clark (.333, 23 homers, 111 RBIs) and Kevin Mitchell (.291, 47 homers, 125 RBIs). How good was Clark? He batted .431 against the pitchers with the league's 10 lowest ERAs. How good was Mitchell? The Elias 1990 Baseball Analyst points out that he is one of only eight players ever to have led his league in all five power categories: homers, RBIs, slugging percentage (.635), total bases (345) and extra-base hits (87). The book also points out that 12 men have walked on the moon.
To fill the hole in right, the Giants picked up former Astro Kevin Bass as a free agent. The top of their lineup looks pretty formidable, with Brett Butler (.283, 31 steals), Bass (.300), Clark, Mitchell and Matt Williams (18 homers, 50 RBIs in 84 games). But after that, San Francisco will bat one of two washed-up catchers. Terry Kennedy or Gary Carter, second baseman Robby Thompson (133 strikeouts) and Jose Uribe (.221).
Already this spring, the Giants have placed four players on the disabled list, and manager Roger Craig must be thinking, oh, no, not again. With Don Robinson down until June with a knee injury and Kelly Downs a regular on the DL, Craig will rely heavily on Rick Reuschel (17-8, 2.94), who turns 41 in May, and nonroster lefthander Russ Swan, who has a total of 16 games of major league and Triple A experience. The phone will be ringing in the bullpen early and often. Fortunately for the Giants, they signed Dan Quisenberry over the winter to provide relief, comic and otherwise.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]