2014 Record: 19-12-1
Carl Yastrzemski Division 4th place
2014 was a banner year for the Dodgers. With both the Savin Hill Hornets and the Boston Dodgers of 2013 suffering through diminished player bases, team franchise holders Dave Bonnell and Matthew Grimes got together and hammered out a merger that would keep these 2 long-time franchises in the YBL fold well into the future as one. The ‘new’ Savin Hill Dodgers couldn’t have realistically hoped for a much better outcome in their inaugural campaign.
A slow start to the season saw the Dodgers open at 1-4, but they rattled off 11 wins in their next 12 games to jump to the top of the Yaz Division. Unsurprisingly, the proven big bats led the offense. Nick Tapper led the offense with a .368 avg and an OPS of .948, and Jay Shatto supplied a .352 avg of his own, raking early in the lineup despite setting a career-low with 2 HBP. With Dave Clarke also getting on base early (18 runs to lead team), Nate Hodor did everything he could, leading the team with 21 RBI. Unfortunately, that was the bulk of the offense which saw Savin Hill festering near the bottom with a paltry .244 team batting average.
Thankfully, hitting isn’t the only way to win games, as the Dodgers were in the upper-tier of the league defensively thanks to having a butter-smooth middle infield of Colin Campbell and rookie Brett O’Keefe. On the bump, Brendan Huber, Eddie Samp and Kyle Breidenstine combined for a 2.20 ERA while throwing over ¾ of all Dodger regular-season innings. El Sampo and Moose were strong and steady all year, but it was Huber who seethed his way to a Cy Young-worthy campaign. The Sasquatch from Saskatchewan (don’t look that up, just assume it’s true) led the YBL with 67 innings pitched and became the league’s second 10-game winner since the dawn of .400hitter statistics.
Despite offensive struggles, the Dodgers got the timely hitting needed to go along with their defense and pitching which propelled them into the playoffs. Of course, every team wants to win the whole thing, but the Dodgers can look back at 2014 as a big step in the right direction.
2015 Roster Moves:
The core of the 2014 Savin Hill Dodgers should remain relatively intact moving into the coming year. A few long-time players are feeling that familiar tug from their everyday lives to hang up the spikes and move on. Sadly, the Dodgers may have lost one of their more promising young guns. Team brass is contemplating honorary “Rathapoom Asdornvuttikrai” patches on their jerseys in support of the ClarkU undergrad, who had recently dealt with off-season knee surgery, only followed by another leg injury which will likely cost him the 2015 season. The Funky Buddha will be missed.
Additionally, the Savin Hill squad will be moving on without long-time Hornet (and short-time Dodger) manager Dave Bonnell. For personal reasons Dave has decided to pack away his managerial cap, but the team hopes to see him at some games this year.
Inside the chalk, the Dodgers should have an influx of a few new young faces and hope to find a couple players that can contribute right away in the hopes pushing the team deeper into the playoffs.
Taking the eventual YBL Championship runners-up Athletics to a full five-game frenzy in the first round of the 2014 playoffs was the taste the Dodgers needed to immediately start thinking forward to 2015. They smell the proverbial blood in the water and have set a goal of adding to their win total and battling deeper into the tournament. In a perfect world, a Dodgers rebound from a down year offensively coupled with already strong pitching and team defense would mean that anything is possible for this squad.
2015, however, is going to be the swan song for a Dodger legend. Year after year of Beast Mode has taken its toll (along with some nagging injuries), and Jay Shatto has decided to go out on his own terms before his body decides for him. This will be the farewell tour for Shatto, his 15th season in the YBL. He started his career with 2 seasons on the Astros, and then took his bench-warming talents over to what has become the black and blue. Since then, centerfield on the Dodgers has been locked down every year by one of the better hitters in the league, and arguably the best player in the history of the Dodger franchise. JShatts has posted a career .340 average, won 2 Silver Sluggers and 5 Gold Gloves, represented the YBL on all-star teams in 11 seasons, and he is closing in on the career 300-hit mark (predating .400hitter). His stat-keeping skills, however, will not be missed.
The rest of the league has likely noted the fact that these are no longer the Dodgers or Hornets of yesteryear, from way back, or even the olden days. Savin Hill knows they won’t be sneaking past anyone unnoticed anymore, and 2015 promises to at least be another fun season………but this year’s Dodgers wants more.