Dodger Thoughts

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

Month: August 2014 (Page 2 of 7)

Joc Pederson’s other milestone: A 1.000-OPS season

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By Jon Weisman

Joc Pederson is being celebrated for becoming the first Pacific Coast League player in 80 years and first Dodger farmhand since Chin-Feng Chen in 1999 to reach 30 homers and 30 steals in the same season. But wait, there’s more.

Pederson, who was named a PCL All-Star today, is close to wrapping up another statistical feat: the 1.000-OPS season.

It’s not as rare as 30-30, though it’s still fairly uncommon. It has happened only 20 times among Dodger Triple-A players since 1988, and only once in that period with a player who came to the plate more than 500 times.

Dodgers with 1.000+ OPS in the PCL, 1988-2014 (minimum 200 PA)

That player was Paul Konerko, who is also the only one on the list to have had a significant Major League career. It is the PCL’s cross to bear that its gaudy offensive statistics hold up like fool’s gold.

And yet, Dodger Rookie of the Year award-winners Eric Karros (.943), Mike Piazza (.969), Raul Mondesi (.758) and Todd Hollandsworth (.822) never made it to 1.000 in the PCL.

Little League team supported by Carl Crawford reached World Series title game

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Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West fell short against South Korea in the Little League World Series championship game Sunday, but that doesn’t take away from what the U.S. champions achieved. Above, Carl Crawford talks about his support of the young standouts.

Crawford will have a chance to meet the kids when the Dodgers go to Wrigley Field in mid-September.

— Jon Weisman

Busy pregames at Dodger Stadium: Julius Randle, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Greg Louganis, Rafer Johnson


By Jon Weisman

Lots of cool names were coming through Dodger Stadium over the past few days, along with another big ThinkCure! Weekend, so I wanted to lasso a sample of it all.

Videos follow. For more highlights from Sunday, visit LA Photog Blog.

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Dodgers double up on triple plays in 2014

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By Jon Weisman

The good news for Dodger fans: The last time the franchise hit into two triple plays in the same season, it was 1955.

The bad news is that it’s a rough way for this year’s team to connect with the franchise’s first World Series winner.

Today against the Mets, the Dodgers were down, 7-1, in the bottom of the sixth inning but had the makings of a rally. With none out, Dee Gordon singled, Yasiel Puig walked and Adrian Gonzalez singled to score a run and bring up Matt Kemp, who had doubled in their previous run in the first inning.

But Kemp hit a hard grounder to Mets third baseman Eric Campbell, who threw to second baseman Daniel Murphy to begin a tailor-made 5-4-3 double play … that became a 5-4-3-2 triple play when Puig kept running around third and was easily thrown out at home, Lucas Duda to Travis d’Arnaud.

Puig had previously made the final out of a triple play by the Indians on July 1.

Back in 1955, the Dodgers had actually hit into two triple plays in a two-week stretch, and they were by no slouches: May 28 by Jackie Robinson and June 12 by Roy Campanella.

Brooklyn actually hit into three triple plays in 1925, so the 2014 Dodgers might be wise to quit now.

The Dodgers were reeling earlier from a triptych of home runs allowed by starting pitcher Kevin Correia in the first three innings to put the Dodgers in their six-run hole. Then, Carlos Frias was perfect in three innings of relief before surrendering three runs in the seventh, leaving the Dodgers down, 10-2.

Update: The first time the Dodgers hit into a triple play this year, they lost that game, 10-3. They almost repeated that unlikely score today, before Duda’s second homer of the game stamped the contest with an 11-3 label. Duda had a career-high five RBI.

Gonzalez finished 3 for 3 with two doubles, making him 5 for 6 in his past two games with three extra-base hits. Andre Ethier and Gordon each had two hits, the latter adding his 12th triple of the season.

Hello, Hanley



For photo highlights from Saturday, visit LA Photog Blog.

Mets at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Justin Turner, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Kevin Correia, P

By Jon Weisman

Yep, it’s consecutive days of players getting healthier.

The Dodgers follow Zack Greinke’s return to the mound in Saturday’s 7-4 victory over the Mets with Hanley Ramirez’s departure from the disabled list to the starting lineup today. Erisbel Arruebarrena has been optioned to Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

When he has played, Ramirez has been a consistent hitter for some time now. Since going 4 for 4 with two home runs on May 31, Ramirez has had a .415 on-base percentage and .474 slugging percentage (.889 OPS) in 183 plate appearances.

Ramirez is the No. 2 offensive shortstop in baseball this season behind injured Troy Tulowitzki of Colorado, according to Fangraphs.

For his part, Greinke gave a positive report to Dodger manager Don Mattingly this morning. He told Ken Gurnick of he would tell the Dodgers if he were worried about his physical condition — but at this point he wasn’t.

“Weird circumstances gave me extra time, but I’ve been pretty good,” he said. “Between starts it hasn’t bothered me. I felt great again today. I hope that’s how it stays.

“You’re not going to believe me, but it really hasn’t bothered me when the game’s on the line. It didn’t affect any of my pitches. It really isn’t a big issue.”

He said he’d be honest with manager Don Mattingly if he didn’t feel physically able to help the team or if he thought he was putting himself at risk of serious injury.

“I have no desire to go out there and give up 10 runs or hurt myself more,” he said.

Arruebarrena figures to return to the Dodgers when rosters expand September 1. Miguel Rojas’ greater experience at third base was a main reason he was retained on the roster in the short term over Arruebarrena.

Dan Haren has a 2.70 ERA in his past four starts

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By Jon Weisman

Dan Haren’s third pitch was a microcosm of the fears of Dodger fans. His next 86 pitches summed up all their dreams.

Haren quickly bounced back after a leadoff home run by Curtis Granderson to retire 21 of his final 23 batters, allowing two hits, walking none and striking out six, in the Dodgers’ 6-2 victory over the New York Mets tonight.

With his third strong start in his past four, Haren lowered his ERA over his past 23 1/3 innings to 2.70, with 20 strikeouts and only four walks.

Haren also had a night of extremes at the plate. He bunted into a double play with two on in the third inning, ahead of Dee Gordon’s game-tying RBI, then missed a suicide squeeze in the fifth, before singling home the go-ahead run. Haren leads Dodger pitchers with five RBI in 2014.

Two innings later, the Dodgers took advantage of a key Mets error (sandwiched by Dee Gordon’s MLB-leading 11th triple of 2014 and Matt Kemp’s two-run double for three unearned runs to bust the game open. Gordon was 3 for 5 tonight. A.J. Ellis added an RBI double down the right-field line in the eighth for the Dodgers’ final run.

Van Slyke still playing against lefties, but lefties are few and far between

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Mets at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Justin Turner, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Erisbel Arruebarrena, SS
Dan Haren, P

By Jon Weisman

For a while now, Dodger manager Don Mattingly has made no secret of the fact that Scott Van Slyke is a regular starter against left-handed pitching. But the opportunities have been harder to come by in August.

Van Slyke made only four starts in the first 19 days of August, before getting the call Wednesday against San Diego and now tonight against the Mets. Combined with four appearances off the bench, that has left Van Slyke 5 for 19 in August with two walks, two doubles and a sacrifice fly, for a .716 OPS.

By comparison, Van Slyke averaged 50 plate appearances in June and July, with a .394 on-base percentage, .488 slugging percentage and .882 OPS.

Tonight marks one month since Van Slyke’s last home run, as he waits to become the fifth Dodger this year with 10 home runs. It appears unlikely that the Dodgers will end up with more than five players in double digits on the long ball, given that Juan Uribe is next on the team with six. From 2010-12, the Dodgers had four players with at least 10 homers each year, then had six such players in 2013.

Corey Seager named California League MVP

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SeagerBy Jon Weisman

Dodger prospect Corey Seager has been named the 2014 Most Valuable Player in the Class-A California League.

Seager, who was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga in mid-July, had a .411 on-base percentage and a league-leading .633 slugging percentage with 18 homers in 365 plate appearances for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga this year.

A 2014 Futures Game selection, Seager is the No. 16 prospect in baseball according to The 20-year-old infielder now has a .356 on-base percentage and .495 slugging percentage (119 plate appearances) in the more challenging Southern League.

The top Dodger bench players of the 21st century


By Jon Weisman

Justin Turner is having a terrific season off the bench for the Dodgers, punctuated by his game-winning homer Thursday to beat the Padres.

He’s had me wondering who the top players off the bench for the Dodgers have been in recent years, so I put together the following chart of the best Dodger reserves from the 2000s (choosing names mainly from this list):

Bench players

Notes: I tried to avoid considering players who were meant to be starters but held back by injuries or late-season acquisitions who immediately became full-time players. Def is a Fangraphs statistic measuring defense.

For all the above numbers, the idea of who’s the best Dodger reserve of the 21st century is arguably a matter of taste.

  • Chad Kreuter has the highest Wins Above Replacement. Backing up Todd Hundley and forced into action for significant stretches, Kreuter had a great on-base percentage while also throwing out 19 of 40 attempted baserunners with one error.
  • His defense always unassailable, Alex Cora put together his finest offensive season in 2002.
  • With 425 plate appearances in 2009, Juan Pierre stretches the definition of bench player, but he did begin the season as the fourth outfielder before Manny Ramirez’s suspension.
  • Jose Hernandez in 2004 and Dave Hansen in 2000 were probably the Dodgers’ top pure offensive players off the bench this century before this season.
  • The back-to-back seasons from Olmedo Saenz in 2004-05 certainly make him a charmer.

Against that group, both Turner and Scott Van Slyke stand tall, and there’s an argument to be made that if you could pick only one infielder and one outfielder off the Dodger bench from the 21st century, it would be those two.

So, there’s your late-inning comeback

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Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 9.42.29 PMBy Jon Weisman

I was all set to tell you why you shouldn’t jump off a cliff even if the Dodgers lost a second straight Clayton Kershaw start and a second straight game to the Padres. But Justin Turner did me the favor of explaining better and more dramatically than I ever could.

“I don’t hit a lot of home runs.”

– Turner, on MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk” this afternoon

Dodgers 2, Padres 1

A little notebook music

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Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CCIII: Kershawsablanca
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Justin Turner, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Miguel Rojas, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

Some random facts to take your mind off the Dodgers’ injury woes:

  • Clayton Kershaw is by almost any definition a clutch pitcher. Did you know he’s also a career .304 hitter in 46 at-bats from the seventh inning on, including his Opening Day 2013 home run.
  • J.P. Howell crossed the 100-inning threshold as a Dodger this month, and with that as a minimum, became the Dodgers’ all-time leader in ERA at 1.75. Kershaw is 16th, but third if you up the minimum to 1,000 innings. Here’s the top 20:
  • Since June 1, the Dodgers have more victories (41) than home runs (36). The last time the Dodgers did that over a full season was 1976.
  • Left-handed batters are hitless against Kershaw’s slider this year, notes Daniel Brim of Dodgers Digest.
  • Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has a good piece putting the Dodgers’ late-inning performance at the plate in perspective. It’s similar to what I’ve written about the Dodgers’ struggles with the bases loaded coming while they lead the National League in on-base percentage with runners in scoring position — the latter situations coming far, far more often. A smaller negative shouldn’t outweigh a larger positive.
  • Dazzy Vance was “the ultimate outlier,” writes Tony Blengino at Fangraphs.

From the magazine: The quirks that work

Wanted to share this fun feature by Cary Osborne from the August edition of Dodger Insider magazine that looks at the oddities in the pitching motions for such Dodgers as Clayton Kershaw and J.P. Howell. Click on each image below to enlarge the pages.

— Jon Weisman

Quirks 1

Quirks 2

Off days enable Dodgers to move up Kershaw, rest Greinke


Zack Greinke on the mound against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium on July 30. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Darwin Barney, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Justin Turner, 3B
Erisbel Arruebarrena, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Roberto Hernandez, P

Note: San Francisco won its protest of the decision to call Tuesday’s 4 1/2-inning game at Chicago complete. The Giants’ loss is taken off the standings, putting the Dodgers’ National League West lead at four games heading into tonight.

San Francisco and Chicago will resume their game at 2:05 p.m. Pacific on Thursday, with the regularly scheduled series finale to follow at 5:05 p.m.

By Jon Weisman

Making use of three off days between August 18-28, the Dodgers have tweaked their pitching rotation to buy Zack Greinke some extra rest for his tender elbow.

Clayton Kershaw, pitching on four days’ rest, will take Greinke’s turn Thursday against the Padres, while Greinke will be held back until Saturday against the Mets (with Dan Haren going Friday and Kevin Correia on Sunday).

An off day on Monday would then allow the Dodgers to give Kershaw & Co. the extra day of rest they thought they’d be getting this week.

Don Mattingly said that Greinke had a clean MRI on his elbow two weeks ago. Greinke didn’t want to postpone his start, but was convinced in a conversation with vice president of medical services Stan Conte to be prudent about his condition.

“If he keeps feeling like he’s feeling now, I don’t think he thinks or anyone thinks it’s a DL (situation),” Mattingly said. “With the off days … that will determine how he gets extra rest.”

Extreme Carl Crawford

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When it comes to cold and hot running Crawfords, they don’t come much colder or hotter than Carl.

The Dodger left fielder put an exclamation point on his latest hot streak with his seventh-inning home run Tuesday off San Diego reliever Alex Torres, Crawford’s first home run in 122 at-bats since May 23 and his first homer off a left-handed pitcher since April 10, 2013.

Weirdly, Crawford’s last home run off a righty was against Roberto Hernandez, and his last homer off a lefty was against Eric Stults. Those are the two starting pitchers facing each other in tonight’s Dodgers-Padres game.

But my main point today is how streaky a hitter Crawford has been this year. We’ve seen him take two major down-and-up trips in 2014, bifurcated by his 6 1/2-week stay on the disabled list.

Crawford hot and coldIt’s easy to understand why Dodger manager Don Mattingly keeps the faith in Crawford, even when he looks ragged. When Crawford is hot, he’s scorching.

Interestingly, with this recent run of success, Crawford’s season OPS is almost even with that of Andre Ethier (.678). As the second-best Dodger baserunner behind Dee Gordon, thanks in no small part to 19 steals in 22 attempts (86.4 percent), Crawford does now have an overall production edge over Ethier in 2014.

Video: Tough play, close play, great play

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For photo highlights from Tuesday’s game, visit LA Photog Blog.


By Jon Weisman

A wild game at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday had a wild ending, when Yasiel Puig picked up Jedd Gyorko’s single to center on a hop and fired directly to the cutoff man, Adrian Gonzalez, who nailed baserunner Abraham Almonte scrambling back to third base. It was bang bang … and then bang again after it was upheld under video review.

My favorite part, other than the crispness of the 8-3-5 putout itself, might be the belated outfield celebration.

It was a harsh end to the night for Almonte, who had four of the Padres’ 14 hits, the most allowed by the Dodgers since July 8. A total of 27 baserunners reached in the game for the two teams.

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