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Through 6 games, Dodgers hitters are showing exactly what they're capable of: '1 through 9, it's gonna be a tough out'

LOS ANGELES — It’s difficult to be surprised while watching the Dodgers thump offensively, given that it’s exactly what they were built to do. Pair three MVPs with multiple All-Star position players, and you have the makings of a juggernaut.

Sure enough, through six games this season, the Dodgers have given baseball a preview of what can be expected from their high-octane offense — and a warning shot about what’s to come when they’re firing on all cylinders.

Because while there’s plenty of slug to go around on this offense, the Dodgers showed this weekend in their four-game series against the Cardinals that they can beat teams many different ways, including by scoring without the long ball, like they did in South Korea against the Padres, and by rallying late, like they did multiple times against St. Louis.

“It’s the epitome of our ballclub: the depth, the unselfishness,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Of course, the Dodgers’ offense starts with the superstar trio of Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman. They get the most love and attention — and rightfully so. It’s unprecedented to have three MVPs in their prime atop a lineup, and these three have already begun to show how special they can be.

In particular, Betts has impressed the most through the team's first six games, slashing .500/.621/1.136 with four homers and an eye-popping 1.757 OPS. The Dodgers' new shortstop is currently leading MLB in hits, homers, runs scored, RBI, walks and on-base percentage. After finishing second in NL MVP voting last season, Betts doesn't look like someone who's trying to come in second again this year.

But what will end up giving opposing teams fits this season is the daunting nature of the Dodgers' lineup after those three MVPs.

“One through nine, it's gonna be a tough out,” utilityman Kiké Hernandez said. “We've got a lot of firepower at the top of the lineup, and then we got a lot of depth through the middle and then toward the bottom.”

Catcher Will Smith flies under the radar because of the star power on the rest of the roster, but the fact that he hits fourth daily in this lineup shows exactly what the Dodgers think of him. So does the 10-year, $140 million extension the team gave him last week.

Third baseman Max Muncy and outfielder Teoscar Hernández would be hitting third or fourth in several lineups around MLB, but because of Los Angeles’ depth, depending on the matchup, they often hit fifth or even sixth. And sometimes — as was the case before Muncy’s game-winning homer on Sunday — they come off the bench.

“Unless you’re Shohei, Freddie or Mookie, if you’re off that night, you’re not really off. You gotta be ready to go when the starting pitcher is out of the game,” Muncy said. “That’s when it’s fun to see the [opponent’s] bullpen get hot, and you start to see the dugout scrambling a little bit, and guys get ready, knowing that any situation might come up for them.”

During the Dodgers’ four-game set against St. Louis, five players hit at least one home run, and 12 players recorded at least one hit.

“Every guy here is good,” said Teoscar Hernández, who hit three homers in the series. “Our lineup is so deep against right-handers or left-handers. We got guys here that have good at-bats, and we can put up a lot of runs in games.”

Through their first six games, the Dodgers have scored 39 runs, and while 6.5 runs per game would be considered unsustainable for most teams, L.A. is built to do this for the long haul. What’s more, they’ve done most of their early-season damage without production from Ohtani, who went 4-for-16 with six strikeouts in the team’s first stateside series.

The $700 million man admitted Saturday that while he feels good at the plate, he’s still figuring out his timing. "I feel like I’m seeing the ball well, but I feel like there’s something off with my timing and being able to feel the distance between the ball and myself," he said.

If the Dodgers can do all of this without Ohtani even close to his best, it’s almost mind-boggling to imagine what they’ll look like once he gets there.

The baseball world watched all offseason as Andrew Friedman put this team together, and it wasn’t just fans who took note. Players, coaches and executives around baseball are aware of what they’ll see across the field when they face the Dodgers. As the season ramps up, it will be interesting to see what kind of psychological advantage L.A. has on opponents. The awareness of the challenge that it will be to beat the Dodgers on a nightly basis is something teams will have to contend with.

And in the league’s first real chance to see the 2024 Dodgers on full display, this team did not disappoint. Sure, the competition will get better and the road tougher from here, but the expectations and the potential for the Dodgers' season remain sky-high.