[mlbvideo id=”469320083″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
By Jon Weisman
Despite my having a little fun on Twitter this morning at the expense of those supporting the hysterical Yoenis Cespedes for MVP campaign, no, I’m not seriously launching a #ruggianomvp crusade.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy what Justin Ruggiano and three other players who also weren’t Dodgers a month ago — Scott Schebler, Corey Seager and Chase Utley — have meant for the Dodgers.
Look at these numbers for September …
The Dodgers have 124 total bases this month. Ruggiano, Schebler, Seager and Utley have 55 of those — a stunning 44 percent. As a foursome, they are slugging a Ruthian .714.
Combined, they have 1.7 wins above replacement in September. The aggregate total of the remaining Dodger position players is 0.7.
This can’t continue, but what’s happened has happened. Since September 1, the Dodgers have gone 7-2 and widened their National League West lead from 4 1/2 games to 8 1/2 games. Credit the pitching, which has a 3.19 ERA (second in the National League) and 1.051 WHIP (first in the NL). But next, credit these four hitters. Only three other Dodgers — Joc Pederson, Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke — have a September OPS above even .700.
Not since July 12-13, 1951, had the Dodgers had consecutive games with a leadoff home run. Then the Dodgers did it Tuesday and Wednesday, with none other than Ruggiano and Schebler.
The most has been written about Utley, who has not only stabilized second base following the injuries of Howie Kendrick and Kiké Hernandez, but anecdotally played at least some part in the Dodgers’ improved baserunning (more so taking extra bases on balls in play than stolen bases). Now you can find more and more about the rest. Examples:
- Mark Whicker detailed Ruggiano’s 11-year journey from Dodger draft pick to Dodger Stadium for the Daily News.
- Lyle Spencer gathered reactions to Seager’s debut at MLB.com.
- John Sickels wrote about Schebler’s enigmatic prospect status at Minor League Ball.
There’s been enough imperfection to keep us from losing perspective entirely. Seager made those two seventh-inning errors Tuesday, which cost Clayton Kershaw 10 extra pitches and a run. Schebler arguably let the Angels’ Taylor Featherston turn what should have been a double into his first triple of the year on a hard grounder down the line in left. These moments have been the exception.
It’s way too early to be talking about postseason rosters. That said, I’m going to do a bad thing and talk about postseason rosters. Just for a minute. Don’t judge me.
First, if Twitter is any indication, you can’t remind people enough that all of these players are eligible to play for the Dodgers in the playoffs. (They merely had to be in the organization by 11:59 p.m. August 31, whether on the 25-man roster or not.)
How many of the September quartet would actually be placed on a theoretical Dodger playoff squad depends on the health of … well, everyone. Players recently nursing injuries include Kendrick, Hernandez, Yasiel Puig, Yasmani Grandal, Jimmy Rollins and even Jose Peraza.
Utley would be a postseason lock, but if you asked me to do the math at this point, I’d bet on either Peraza or Seager making a playoff squad as well, even if everyone’s healthy. (Take that with many grains of salt: That’s just me talking out of my own you-know-what.) Both could be there if Hernandez weren’t ready to go. The fates of Schebler and Ruggiano would seem to depend directly on Hernandez and Puig.
Even knowing that the combined numbers of Ruggiano, Schebler, Seager and Utley will regress to the mean, even with the uncertain status of several starters, the Dodgers look nicely positioned to have a solid bench for the playoffs. But that’s speculation. More tangibly, it’s great to revel in the rewards of the September quartet in the here and now.