Dodger Thoughts

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

Mattingly says analytics have yielded new insights

Angels at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
(Brett Anderson, P)

By Jon Weisman

At the very end of a long exhibition season and before the beginning of an even longer regular season, Don Mattingly and the Dodgers have more information than you can imagine on their 2015 roster.

But in addition to what he has observed on the ballfields since pitchers and catchers reported to Camelback Ranch six weeks ago — and everything he already knew going in — Mattingly said that some of the new analytics he has seen have been revelatory.

“As we’re learning more about it, seeing a different set of numbers and ways to evaluate, it’s interesting to see how certain guys kind of fit in, where they’ve been really good and where their deficiencies are,” Mattingly said. “That’s been the most interesting part for me, going over player plans and things like that and seeing how different guys are really good at one thing — that you kind of noticed, but you didn’t really know to paint that picture — it’s been nice doing that.”

That data is another piece of the complex puzzle of player evaluation, ahead of Sunday’s deadline to finalize the Opening Day roster.

“It’s hard to totally look at Spring Training and just disregard (it), because you see it right in front of  you,” Mattingly said. “A lot of guys, their body of work, providing that they’re healthy, gives you a better indication of who they’re gonna be. So I think you kind of try to balance it.”

In the bullpen, for example, the distinctions might be quite fine.

“That’s been the hardest part for us,” Mattingly said. “We’ve had a number of guys who have thrown the ball well, a number of guys who we feel are in the same type of position in the bullpen — so those decisions are tough for us.”

In the time-honored tradition, Mattingly delivers the roster news, good or bad, to every player. But he’s not alone.

“I’m always a part of it,” Mattingly said, “and usually Andrew (Friedman) or Farhan (Zaidi) is in that meeting, just to make sure they’re hearing from everyone, if they have any questions about what we’re thinking. I think (because of) the conversations that we were able to have all through Spring Training … communication has been pretty good with guys knowing how we feel about ’em. You still never get away from knowing how hard it is to send a guy out, because everybody’s idea is to make the roster.”

Even after a set of relievers makes the team, their roles could be considered up for debate — especially given the effect not having Kenley Jansen for the first month. Mattingly and the front office have said since virtually the day of Jansen’s surgery that they’ll exploit matchups in deploying their relievers. Mattingly understands that the most crucial situation in a game might not be in the ninth inning, but he conceded that some pitchers don’t see it that way.

“It depends how you look at it,” Mattingly said. “The analytics look at high-leverage situations, and that may be in the seventh, may be in the eighth, where you’d want that guy pitching. But as far as (pitchers) are concerned, they look at it differently.”

Aside from the bullpen, one of the most closely watched decisions for Mattingly heading into the regular season is who the Dodgers’ starting center fielder will be. Joc Pederson has been the starter for all three games of the Freeway Series, but Mattingly stopped short of making it official.

“If you read between the lines, you see what we’re doing, but there are other conversations to have,” Mattingly said. “The way we want to frame it is maybe different than the way you want to.”


In case you missed it: Two days to go


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1 Comment

  1. Educating Donnie.

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