Blog Archives

The Dodgers “Are Who We Thought They Were”

Many are complaining of low run-scoring totals in the 2013 MLB playoffs. Not surprisingly one of the major culprits is the Los Angeles Dodgers. For the full year the Dodgers were a league average offensive team. Against the tremendous pitching of the St. Louis Cardinals they became sub-par.

Over six NLCS games LA scored an average of just two runs. Adrian Gonzalez was their only hitter who posted an on-base percentage over .350 in the series.  Gonzalez, A.J. Ellis and Carl Crawford were the only three Dodgers to slugg over .360.

Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe came up empty against St. Louis.  The two combined to hit just .140 without an extra-base hit in 43 at-bats during the NLCS.

Michael Wacha was awesome in his two starts against the Dodgers.  Credit is due to him for sure.  Nobody should be shocked that an average offense didn’t hit over six games in October against a very tough pitching staff.

Advertisements

Dodgers v. Cardinals, Not That Close on Paper

The upcoming best of 7-game series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals will decide who goes to the World Series.  Since the stakes are so high It is worth looking at basic fundamental production levels of each team from the 2013 regular season:

Runs Scored: Cardinals – 783, Dodgers – 649

Runs Allowed: Cardinals – 596, Dodgers – 582

Both teams play in slightly pitcher friendly ballparks so we don’t need to adjust the numbers much.  We can say the run prevention skills during the season were nearly identical for each team.

The difference between the clubs is in the lineups.  Mike Matheny‘s Cardinals led the NL with 4.8 runs scored/game.  Don Mattingly‘s squad is a league average offense.

You say “what about since Yasiel Puig joined the Dodgers?”.  It’s true that the Dodgers offense improved significantly since Puig and Hanley Ramirez were inserted into the lineup in early June. LA managed just three and one-half runs per game in the first two months of the season as opposed to four and one-quarter in the final 109 games.

Finally, the Dodgers best offensive month was July.  They scored an even five runs/game in twenty-five contests.  This average is just barely better than the Cardinals’s full season performance.

Simply put the Dodgers pitching is going to have to be superb in order to slow the juggernaut that is the Cardinals lineup.  Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke may have to pull a Randy Johnson/Curt Schilling circa 2001 performance against St. Louis in order for Donnie Baseball to get his ticket punched to the World Series.

Kenley Jansen, First Reliever to 100 K’s

With two more strikeouts last night Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen became the first relief pitcher to 100 strikeouts this year.  Jansen has had a terrific season posting 13.3 K/9 innings.  In addition he cut his walk rate in half from 3.0 last year to just 1.6 this year.

Here are the top strikeout totals by relievers in 2013:

  1. Kenley Jansen – 100 SO, 13.3 SO/9

  2. Aroldis Chapman – 90, 15.2

  3. Trevor Rosenthal – 90, 12.8

The Claw and His Crazy ERA

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw turned 25 years old this past March. This season the young lefty surpassed the 1,000 career strikeout mark.  He is just the 16th pitcher in MLB history to total 1,000 strikeouts by age 25.

Here are the top five of this select class ranked by Adjusted ERA+:

Rk

Player

ERA+

SO

From

To

Age

G

Tm

1

Walter Johnson

176

1461

1907

1913

19-25

273

WSH

2

Clayton Kershaw

144

1135

2008

2013

20-25

174

LAD

3

Hal Newhouser

141

1120

1939

1946

18-25

261

DET

4

Christy Mathewson

138

1198

1901

1906

20-25

249

NYG

5

Bob Feller

136

1233

1936

1941

17-22

205

CLE

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/1/2013.

Was Orel Hershiser the Dodgers Ace in 1988?

Every baseball fanatic knows about Orel Hershiser‘s dynamic end to the 1988 regular season. In his last 9 starts the Los Angeles Dodgers won 7 while Orel tossed 8 straight complete games. In his final start of the season LA lost to San Diego 2-1 in 16 innings, Hershiser pitched 10 shutout innings before being pulled for Jesse Orosco.  The Padres Andy Hawkins essentially prevented Orel from tossing 9 straight complete games as Hawkins held the Dodgers scoreless in 10 innings of his own.

Here is an average start that Hershiser produced during 9 outings from Aug 19-Sep 28, 1988:

9.11 Innings Pitched

6.3 K

1.7 BB

0 HR Allowed

0.44 Runs Allowed

0.47 Win Probability Added (Orel accounted for half of the Dodgers win/start)

2.3 Dodgers Runs Scored

What people don’t know is that the eventual World Series champion Dodgers had another sterling starting pitcher in 1988.  Compare the full season numbers of their top two pitchers.

Rk

Age

GS

SHO

IP

H

R

HR

BB

SO

1

29

34

8

267.0

208

73

18

73

178

2

29

34

6

228.2

201

87

13

56

180

The Rk #2 line above belongs to a former 2nd overall pick of the New York Mets.  He had a 20-31 career record coming into 1988 before this former UCLA standout broke-out at age 29 with LA.  He had a tremendous 9 start run of his own during which time the Dodgers won 7 games and cemented their NL West title before Orel went bonkers.  LA was 4.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros by the time Hershiser kicked into his Hall-of-Fame worthy stint.

Here is an average start of their “other Ace” during his 9 start run in the middle of the summer:

8.1 Innings Pitched

6.4 K

1.4 BB

0.22 HR Allowed

1.67 Runs Allowed

0.28 Win Probability Added

3.44 Dodgers Runs Scored

Obviously both of these streaks are super and the full season value of each starter was nearly identical.  So why do you know about Orel’s streak and not the awesome performance of the World Series champs “other ace”?

I believe there are three reasons:

  1. The Dodgers played in lower scoring, tighter games during Hershiser’s streak thus giving him more of a chance to shine and appear clutch.
  2. The timing of games.  Orel’s ended the season and literally put the Dodgers in the playoffs.  The other streak was during the dog days of summer.
  3. The performance of each pitcher after 1988.  Orel won 121 more games after ’88 compared to just 41 for the other ace.

Astute Dodgers fans probably know who the other ace is but one last hint for the rest of you, he shares a name with 1960’s counter-culture icon and LSD advocate.

Tommy Lasorda had a 1 and 1A in 1988.  You can decide which slot Orel fits in and which slot is for Tim Leary.

The late great Willie Davis

Imagine a day when the center fielder, batting 3rd for a twice world series winning club in a huge coastal city is not elected to an All-Star team until he is 31. Imagine this player has more career value than Bernie Williams, Lou Brock, Dale Murphy and Kirby Puckett. Imagine this player with 5 above average major league tools including a 70 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) glove and wheels. Imagine him being rated a better CF than Jim Edmonds, Gary Maddox, Mike Cameron and Curt Flood. Imagine this man having more hits, extra-base hits, triples, runs scored, at-bats and total bases than any Los Angeles Dodger. Imagine you are him and you are left off the Hall-of-Fame ballot entirely the same year that Lou Brock is elected on his first try.

“The thing about Willie Davis that left the greatest impression on you was the sight of him running,” said Dodger coach and former teammate Manny Mota. “Once in spring training, I saw him score from second base on a fly ball to center field. He was the only person I ever saw do that.”

Willie Davis reinforces the value that speed and defense can add to a  championship team.

More than semantics

When the Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1 on Sept 20 sports talkers and bloggers alike handed the NL Cy Young award to Clayton Kershaw.  He pitched 7 1/3 innings surrendering 1 run on his way to win #20.  Kershaw received bonus points from observers for going 4-0 “against Tim Lincecum” this season.  It is true the Dodgers beat the Giants all 4 times these two aces faced off but the battle is not between the two starting pitchers.  The game of ball and base pits 9-on-9.  The pitcher only has influence on the performance of the opposing 9 hitters.

It should be stated that Kershaw and his fielders held the Giants lineup to 6 runs in 42 innings over 6 games in 2011 (1.3 RA/G)*.  When evaluating Kershaw the identity of the opposing team’s pitcher and the number of runs the Dodgers score are both irrelevant.

I’m just saying.

*SF ranked 16th out of 16 NL teams in runs scored this year (3.5/G)