Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

There are statistics, and then there is knowledge of statistics

From Ken Gurnick at last night.

Mattingly wavered on whether League (who saved his three previous chances but has blown four overall this year) would remain the closer.

“Tonight the numbers said to go with Brandon,” he said. “Does that mean keep the guy? I don’t know. It’s hard to make that decision 12 minutes after the game.”

But he defended his decision to use Kenley Jansen in the eighth inning against Bloomquist, Goldschmidt and Cody Ross (Jansen retired all three) and use League for the bottom of the order. He pointed to the statistical matchups and said if the batting orders had come up the other way, he would have used League in the eighth and Jansen in the ninth.

“If you want to play sabermetrics, those were the best matchups,” he said. “The guys Kenley got are the guys he gets out better than Brandon. The matchups should have been exactly the way it was. But if it doesn’t work, it’s a bad decision. We talked before the game, the eighth and ninth [innings] were up in the air depending who comes up.

“I understand people boo when it doesn’t work out. It doesn’t make the game any less painful. Look up the numbers. I know it was a solid decision. The fact a solid decision doesn’t work, it’s a bad decision. Brandon has done the job in the past. If he gets them out, nobody says anything. As soon as he doesn’t get outs, it’s my fault he doesn’t.”

No. 3 hitter Goldschmidt is 3-for-3 with a homer against League and 2-for-7 with a homer against Jansen. No. 6 hitter Martin Prado, who had the first hit in the ninth off League, is now 1-for-2 against him, but was 3-for-3 with two homers against Jansen.

A debate who should pitch the ninth inning for a team that’s in last place is somewhat ridiculous when you think about it. The Dodgers are 27-36 with 99 games to play. They’ve got a lot of issues. Their issues have issues.

One of them may be teaching Don Mattingly (who, in his defense is like just about every other manager) about relevant sample sizes. I miss Jim Tracy talking about arm angles.


And to catch up


Far be it from me to blog about TV


  1. foul tip

    So, the Dodgers’ “closer” is now in a League of his own….

    It may not be much but it beats crying.

  2. foul tip

    Another chapter of the scouts v stats debate, to use the oversimplified term. From a couple weeks back so stats aren’t up to date, but illustrative and informative.

  3. Anonymous

    “A debate who should pitch the ninth inning for a team that’s in last
    place is somewhat ridiculous when you think about it. The Dodgers are
    27-36 with 99 games to play. They’ve got a lot of issues. Their issues
    have issues.” – btimm

    Great summary.

  4. Anonymous

    This post is just what the doc ordered. Particularly the Jim Tracy reference! We will survive…

  5. Anonymous

    Maybe League would’ve done better against Goldschmidt and Ross, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  6. Anonymous

    I have to defend Mattingly here. The guy that scares me the most in the Arizona lineup is Goldschmidt, so I want my best pitcher facing him. That’s what Donnie did by bringing in Jansen in the 8th. The consensus here is that you use your best reliever in the situation when he’s most needed, whether that’s the 9th, the 8th, or the 6th inning. The flaw in that thinking is what do you do after that. Last night’s game was a perfect example. Using Kenley in the 8th was the right call from a SABR-metric standpoint. But you still need to get the last three outs to win the game. League didn’t do that.

    The question going forward is not whether to use Brandon League as the closer, but whether to use him at all. His ERA is 6. Josh Beckett has been more successful at getting 1-2-3 innings. If you want to blame Mattingly for sticking behind his player, no matter how bad, so be it. But to my mind, the problem isn’t Mattingly, it’s the terrible players he has to work with.

    I’ve heard Mattingly make some of the exact same points about bullpen use that Jon has made re: how erratic they can be from one year to the next, and how you can’t really plan to have good relief pitching. I think he actually understands statistics a whole lot better than most managers. The problem is that statistically, this team is bad. A manager can’t really overcome that.

    • Anonymous

      My problem with Mattingly is that he had the right thought process, but he didn’t realize he did not have enough data to support his decision. He went from one hunch to a different kind of hunch.

      But the bullpen problems are not really the worst problems the Dodgers have. The starting pitching outside of Kershaw, Ryu, and Greinke is pretty bad. And the Dodgers offense has gotten to the point that the patches in the patchwork lineup need patches. If the Scott Van Slykes of the world start missing time with injuries, who is next?

      • Adam Luther

        Issues have issues. Patches need patching up. The Dodgers have two aces and Ryu has been confounding hitters thus far. Second time around for divisional teams facing Ryu will be key. Fife is not spectacular but he’s a decent #4. Why not try Beckett in the pen? This year if it’s not pitching it’s hitting. Mattingly can only do so much with the MASH unit roster. Puig is off to a beyond hot start. How long will that last (to the All-Star break?) Kemp being a non-factor is the backbone of the club. The team is built around him. Ethier seems expendable (trade?) but he’s banged up too.

      • Anonymous

        He had the right thought process; that’s the key. Sure, they were small sample sizes. but in the case of not enough data, what was he supposed to go on? It’s not like Paco Rodriguez has a big sample size against Arizona either. He made a decision based on the best available data, and it didn’t work, which was the point he made.

        The reason it didn’t work is because Brandon League is terrible.

  7. Anonymous

    Patch Sellers.

  8. Anonymous

    I don’t like to see players with big salaries play poorly. If the Dodgers are going to lose, then do it with a smaller payroll. The contracts for Ethier, League, Gurrier, Uribe, and others are bothersome for a last place team. Although it is the length of Ethier’s contract more than the annual salary that bothers me most.

  9. Anonymous


  10. Anonymous

    Didn’t Cruz start Sunday because he had a good game against Minor once last year?

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