Fast starts, uncertain finishes

For ESPNLosAngeles.com, I looked at what the Dodgers’ 20-11 start to the season has meant historically

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ 20-11 record to begin the 2012 season, tied for the best in the National League, has been shot down by the gatekeepers of the Fraternity of Legitimate Hot Starts as being asterisk-worthy — to the point that the footnote almost seems bigger than its antecedent.

Los Angeles 20-11*

* Haven’t played anybody

Nevertheless, that’s 20 wins in the bank with 131 games to go, so the Dodgers’ start - rather than dominant, let’s call it, say, affable - might make you wonder what it means for the team’s postseason chances. …

Read the full story here.

  • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

    Jon, OT but thought you’d enjoy this silly bit, Jon Hamm rapping about Taxi: http://www.5min.com/Video/Reggie-Makes-Music—Jon-Hamm-517360170 :)

    Back on topic, I think, given the state of the NL this year, that except for a few upcoming series, pundits could argue that the Dodgers “haven’t played anybody” for much of the season, and will stop caring after awhile if they continue to sport a winning record. 

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

       Yeah, I liked the Hamm thing. “Okey-doke!”

    • Anonymous

       The other teams “aren’t anybody” BECAUSE the Dodgers have beaten up on them.

      • Anonymous

        Looked it up just now, Teams the Dodgers have played have a 131-139 total record. Subtract the Dodger games from that and their record is 120-119. A winning record!

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t say that they haven’t played anybody, since they have played two of the other six winning teams in the league, sweeping the division-leading Nats and losing 2 of three to the Braves.
    .
    I agree that a hot start is no guarantee of making the playoffs.  But it is better than not having a hot start, of course.  What it means is that, the rest of the way, other teams in the division can outwin the Dodgers by up to five games and the Dodgers would still take the division.
    .
    I like the Dodgers’ chances right now.  There have been some pleasant surprises (AJ, CC, Lilly, Hairston) as well as great performances that are not so surprising (MVkemP, Ethier).  And I am optimistic about our two new options in left field.  This team could win the division, even though nobody believed in them at the start of the season.  And once you get to the playoffs, anybody can win.
    .
    As for “playing nobody”, that’s a function of how strong the other teams are in your division. Last season, the Cards were the wild card team in a really weak division, and it worked out pretty well for them!

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    I’ve actually defended the Dodgers on their scheduling, but when I took a closer look at it last night, it’s noteworthy that they haven’t played the NL East much at all (though they did play Washington and Atlanta). And they haven’t played St. Louis or Arizona, or anyone in the AL. In other words, they haven’t really played any divisional favorite entering the season.

    So saying they haven’t played anybody isn’t accurate.  But several challenges await. 

    • Anonymous

      St, Louis hasn’t played anyone either, No one in american league, Not Washington, Atlanta, Mets all with winning records, neither have they played us. So is it fair to say they haven’t played anybody either? I don’t hear anyone saying that. 

      Another thing to add which I know you have brought up before,  we have lost some late inning games that we should have won. Our record could easily be 25 and 6. But then again good teams are supposed to win those games. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/4NP3AUT7UOS75IM2XKIIT6OXBE Peter

    I would like to add that just because a team should beat another doesn’t guarantee they will; but it’s  often said that doing so is one of the signs of a good team.  And I think the Dodgers do have a good team this year — not an elite level team like the Cards or Rangers, but a better team than expected, anyway, and one that certainly can contend in the NL West.  It’s a very winnable division, and as long as the Dodgers can continue to win two out of three against their weaker opponents, and break even against the stronger ones, they will probably make the playoffs.  That they are even in a position to do that is an accomplishment, given the preseason predictions.  (I myself picked them for third place.)  The Dodgers are kind of an anomaly this year — a team that looks better on the field than they do on paper.  That’s the reverse of what usually seems to happen, and it has made them a lot of fun to watch.

    • Anonymous

      I agree Peter, They are fun to watch. Nerve racking sometime but fun. Now if we can just get some production from SS, 1B, 3B, and middle relief we may be playing in October. 

    • Anonymous

      I’m not sure the Cardinals qualify as an “elite” team yet.  I wouldn’t argue solid, but right now, elite is held solely by the Rangers.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/4NP3AUT7UOS75IM2XKIIT6OXBE Peter

        You may be right, but I felt I should include them because they are the defending champions, they are in first place, and nobody else in the National League has proven anything yet.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/4NP3AUT7UOS75IM2XKIIT6OXBE Peter

    I think that much of their success this season has been due to a combination of couple of factors:
    First, while Colletti hasn’t had much success in finding bats for those positions, pretty much everyone he has hired brought their glove.  So the infield defense, Gordon’s youthful indiscretions aside, has been excellent.  Then you add in the two big surprises — Ted Lilly is 4-0 with an ERA of 1.4 (and if you saw that coming, take a bow) and Chris Capuano is 4-0, 2.2.  The result has been close games that the Dodgers have been winning with good defense and just enough hitting.  I don’t know how far that will take you in October, but it might be enough to get them there. 

    • Anonymous

      Yes, Lilly, 
      Capuano along with Kemp and AJ have propelled the dodgers to their current record. Count Ethier in their too. I would hope 
      Loney, Urible, and Gordon start hitting and Bills and Guerra start pirtching better to weather the storms and teams with better records they still have to play,  In fact I don’t think we have seen last year’s Kershaw yet. Still some improvement can be had.

  • Anonymous

    I do think that the Dodgers schedule has been favourable to them. Obviously they haven’t played everyone they will end up playing by season’s end. Which is why the decide who’s in the playoffs, can you believe it, at the end of the year not in May or June or even September 1st.

    However, I would say that I wish that the Dodgers record was 23-8 rather than 20-11. I could say I wish they were 31-0, but I’m actually trying to be realistic. Realistically, given their schedule thus far, they could have won 3 more games. Not that 20-11 is bad, I just wonder if it will be enough wins here to weather some storms that will inevitably come up ahead.

  • Anonymous

    in their next 56 games, the only teams currently over .500 are the Cardinals (3), the A’s (3) and the Mets (4).   Yes, they have Philadelphia (4), the Brewers (4), Diamondbacks (9) and the Giants (3) more times within that span plus 15 with the AL.

    • Anonymous

      So the Dodgers aren’t going to play anybody till after the All-Star break!  :)

      • Anonymous

        If the keep beating teams, nobody will be an anybody.

  • http://twitter.com/Cadtalfryn Kyle MacGregor

    Looking around the League there isn’t really a powerhouse team that I would expect to win it all. I think people are just butt-hurt that the Dodgers are getting it done and their pre-season picks aren’t looking as hot as they expected. Who would have thought the O’s would be in first and the Angels in last? Not me, but that’s what makes this sport great.

    • Anonymous

      This may very well be the best answer to some of the pundits sour grapes over the Dodgers’ success.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t run the numbers, but I bet teams with a 20-11 record have had a better shot at making the playoffs than teams with a 15-16 record like the Dodgers had after 31 games last year.  Our starting lefties have been out of sight.  Look out Lee and Hamels!!

  • Anonymous

    Nice article on mlb.com about how Matty got drafted – http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120510&content_id=30910254

  • Anonymous

    Agree with all above, though I’d like to throw a shout out to Mark Ellis. I begrudgingly give Ned a tip of the cap for that signing. 

    Man, I’d love to see Van Slyke go crazy and win that job in LF or at 1B. 

    Finally, sorry to be rambly, I was buoyed the other night when Kemp went 0-fer and the team still put up 6 runs. Not that we’d want Kemp to do that again, but if the “other guys” start being productive then I think the confidence level on the team picks up.

    Oh, and Billz needs to stop h