Dodger Thoughts

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

Category: All-Star Game (Page 1 of 3)

Who will represent the 2018 Dodgers at the All-Star Game?

A year after they sent six players to the MLB All-Star Game, it’s more likely than not that the Dodgers will rely on the “every team gets a guy” rule simply to get one player to Washington D.C.

We still have nearly two months before the game is played (so you can question why I’m even writing about this right now), but if I were to make a prediction about who the 2018 Dodger All-Star will be, I might just pick a guy who has played in only seven games so far this year: Clayton Kershaw.

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Pitching history for Dodger All-Stars

My beautiful picture

By Jon Weisman

Six years have passed since a Dodger closer pitched in the All-Star Game. Kenley Jansen gets to end that streak tonight.

Jansen, overdue for his first All-Star Game, might not get to pitch the final inning, so it’s more likely than not that Jonathan Broxton’s save in 2010 remains the most recent in the Midsummer Classic by a Dodger. Nevertheless, Jansen should get a chance to etch his name among the team’s 76 previous All-Star appearances.

Of course, Jansen could also become the first Dodger pitcher credited with an All-Star victory since Jerry Reuss in front of the 1980 hometown crowd in Los Angeles. Since then, three Dodgers have been the losing All-Star pitcher: Chan Ho Park (2001), Eric Gagne (2003) and Clayton Kershaw (2015). Dodger pitchers have a 6-6 record in 12 All-Star decisions.

Certainly, it was nowhere to go but up for the franchise after its ignominious All-Star debut via Van Lingle Mungo, who allowed four runs plus two inherited runs in a six-run fifth inning by the American League in 1934. Not that Mungo had it easy: He entered the game with Babe Ruth on second base, Lou Gehrig on first and Jimmie Foxx at the plate. Two walks, three singles and a double later, the AL had gone from trailing 4-2 to leading 8-4.

The most famous Dodger All-Star pitching performance belongs to Fernando Valenzuela, who from the fourth through sixth innings in 1986 faced 10 batters, retired nine and struck out the first five — Don Mattingly, Cal Ripken Jr., Jesse Barfield, Lou Whitaker and Teddy Higuera — all in a row. Kirby Puckett’s groundout was the first ball in play against Valenzuela, whose outing was marred only by a pop-fly Wade Boggs single in the sixth.

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Hitting history for Dodger All-Stars

Andre Ethier is introduced before the 2011 All-Star Game. ()Barry Gossage/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Andre Ethier before the 2011 All-Star Game. (Barry Gossage/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

No Dodger has had a hit in an All-Star Game in five years, and so it’s up to Corey Seager to change that tonight — unless you’re looking for Kenley Jansen to grab a bat and come through.

Yasiel Puig, Dee Gordon, Joc Pederson, Yasmani Grandal and Adrian Gonzalez have combined to go 0 for 8 since Ethier’s pinch-hit, RBI single in fifth inning of the July 12, 2011 All-Star Game. Gordon did come around to score as a pinch-runner in the 2014 contest.

The greatest single All-Star batting performances by a Dodger belong to Duke Snider (two singles, a double and a walk in 1954) and Mike Piazza (double and home run in 1996).

Here are some firsts and lasts among all Dodger All-Star batters since 1933, when Tony Cuccinello became the franchise’s first All-Star hitter — striking out to end the 1933 All-Star Game …

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Corey Seager to slug away in Home Run Derby

Baltimore Orioles vs Los Angeles DodgersBy Jon Weisman

Corey Seager has officially been named a participant in the 2016 MLB Home Run Derby, beginning at 5 p.m. Monday in San Diego.

The 22-year-old rookie All-Star shortstop is tied for 15th in the National League in home runs, though he has 15 in his past 54 games, equivalent to a 45-homer pace.

Only six rookies before this year had been in the Home Run Derby, including Dodger teammate Joc Pederson in 2015. Narrowly missing out as champion to Todd Frazier, Pederson upended the previous Home Run Derby shortcomings of Mike Piazza (1993, 1994), Raul Mondesi (1995), Hee-Seop Choi (2005), Matt Kemp (2011) and Yasiel Puig (2014).

Many have attributed Pederson’s struggles after a hot start last year to the Derby, though his statistical slide began more than a month before the Derby took place. From June 4 last year until the 2015 All-Star Break, Pederson hit .175/.322/.308 with three homers in 146 plate appearances.

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Jansen, Kershaw, Seager named to NL All-Star team

All-Stars

By Jon Weisman

The wait is over for Kenley Jansen, and it never began for Corey Seager.

The Dodgers’ veteran closer and rookie shortstop have each been named to their first National League All-Star team, where they are joined at least in spirit by Clayton Kershaw — who despite his current back injury earned his sixth consecutive All-Star spot.

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If Corey Seager doesn’t win the All-Star fan vote …

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Francisco Giants

By Jon Weisman

… we’ll storm the barricades?  I don’t know. The point is, Corey Seager deserves to start at shortstop for the National League in the July 12 All-Star Game, and no one really questions this. Just today, he was a unanimous pick among six ESPN sportswriters.

The fact remains, however, that Seager was 658,748 votes (yeah, I did the math) behind Cubs shortstop Addison Russell with under four days remaining before the fan vote ended. So fans of justice and the 22-year-old shortstop probably need to count on Seager being chosen as a reserve.

How exactly does that happen? Here’s a refresher course, courtesy of Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com …

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Reminder: All-Star voting ends Thursday

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

SS

By Jon Weisman

With the fan vote ending at 8:59 p.m. Thursday, Corey Seager remains approximately 700,000 votes removed from the starting shortstop spot for the National League All-Star team.

Seager has picked up 300,000 votes in the past six days, but needs a lot more to get himself over the Addison Russell hump.

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Corey Seager rises in All-Star vote as deadline nears

Milwaukee Brewers vs Los Angeles Dodgers
SS 6-22By Jon Weisman

Corey Seager continues to move higher in the National League All-Star team voting, but with barely a week remaining in the balloting, he still has a monster mountain to climb.

Seager passed San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford to move up from fourth place to third among NL shortstops, but the 22-year-old Dodger has less than half of Addison Russell’s vote total, even though Seager’s NL-leading WAR is more than twice as much as Russell’s.

Fan voting ends at 8:59 p.m. June 30 at dodgers.com/vote.

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Seager cracks top five in All-Star Game vote at SS

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Francisco Giants

SSBy Jon Weisman

Corey Seager’s five-homer weekend against Atlanta gave him enough of a voting boost to move into the top five at shortstop for the National League All-Star team.

Seager continues to lead NL shortstops in wins above replacement and has taken over the lead in weighted runs created. He trails Colorado’s Trevor Story by two in home runs and .003 in weighted on-base average.

As was the case a week ago and the week before that, Adrian González appears in the top five in the balloting for first base. (Pitchers aren’t part of the fan vote). The current NL voting for the remaining positions:

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Corey Seager needs All-Star voting boost

Corey Seager has been on base a ton lately, but he's still underneath Colorado's Trevor Story in the NL All-Star shortstop balloting.

Corey Seager has been all over the bases lately, but he’s still underneath Colorado’s Trevor Story in the NL All-Star shortstop balloting.

SSBy Jon Weisman

Corey Seager’s memorable week hasn’t boosted him into contention for a starting spot on the National League team at this summer’s All-Star Game, but there’s still time. Fan voting continues through the end of June at dodgers.com/vote.

Corey Seager stands tall at shortstop, but he's still looking up at the top five in the NL All-Star balloting.

Seager stands tall at shortstop, but he’s still looking up at the top five in the NL All-Star balloting.

Thanks to his latest hot streak, the 22-year-old is hitting .284/.346/.526 with 12 doubles and 14 home runs, and has extended his lead over NL shortstops in wins above replacement. He is at 2.8, which is 0.5 higher than the next-closest shortstop, San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford, and more than double that of vote leaders Addison Russell of Chicago and Trevor Story of Colorado.

Seager also ranks No. 1 among NL shortstops in weighted on-base average and weighted runs created. He is third defensively, behind Crawford and Philadelphia’s Freddy Galvis.

Put a smile on Seager's face. #VoteCorey

Put a smile on Seager’s face — #VoteCorey.

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Adrian Gonzalez leads Dodgers in NL All-Star voting

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs

All-Star 6-1 part 1By Jon Weisman

For a Dodger team that hasn’t dominated offensively in 2016, the initial National League All-Star voting update yields some unsurprising results.

Adrian Gonzalez is the lone Dodger position player to appear in the top five in any category. Gonzalez is only 18,000 votes behind Brandon Belt of the Giants, though each is more than 600,000 votes behind the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo. Fan voting continues through the end of June at dodgers.com/vote.

Still, 2016 offers a rare All-Star opportunity for the Dodgers. The only time the Dodgers have had the starting and closing pitchers in an All-Star Game was in 1974, when Andy Messersmith went the first three innings and Mike Marshall the final two in a 7-2 NL victory.

All-Star 6-1 Part 2Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen can add their names to that list.

Kershaw, whose WAR is 57 percent higher than the next closest starting pitcher, is the most likely NL pitcher to start the All-Star Game, while Jansen is arguably the top choice to finish it (with Hector Rondon of the Cubs sitting as the top competition right now).

Eleven Dodger pitchers have started an All-Star Game. Believe it or not, none of them are Kershaw.

Among position players, the noteworthy Dodger candidate dating back essentially to Opening Day has been Chase Utley. The 37-year-old started the season strong and hasn’t flagged, posting a .369 on-base percentage, .428 slugging percentage, .349 weighted on-base average and 122 weighted runs created over the first two months.

The problem for Utley is that he’s at a position that is stacked this year, with Washington’s Daniel Murphy (.447 wOBA) and Chicago’s Ben Zobrist (.418 wOBA) in the midst of monster seasons, and New York’s Neil Walker (.362 wOBA) ripping 13 home runs himself.

With a .361 OBP and .555 slugging over the past four weeks — including seven home runs in the past 20 days — Corey Seager has suddenly emerged as the Dodgers’ top position-player candidate, relative to the competition. Despite Seager’s superior stats, fans will need to make an enormous push for Seager to overcome Addison Russell’s lead at the ballot box, though a reserve spot as a consolation prize is in play.

Seager trailed fellow rookie Trevor Story of Colorado, who homered 10 times in April, in wOBA by 113 points on May 1. He has narrowed that gap to 24 points, while playing superior defense, according to the metrics. In fact, a good deal of Seager’s value is tied into his solid defense, which makes him a harder sell on a ballot that only celebrates offense.

Joc Pederson’s eight home runs have kept him on the fringe of All-Star consideration, but the outfield competition is likely to be too stiff for him to return to the All-Star Game after playing there as a rookie in 2015. Similarly, Gonzalez has some respectable numbers, but they’re unlikely enough to push through a group at first base that includes Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, Belt and Rizzo.

Official voting notes:

You may vote in the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Balloting Program a maximum of thirty-five (35) times between April 24, 2016, and June 30, 2016 (limit of five (5) times during any twenty-four (24) hour period, with that twenty-four (24) hour period to begin as of the time of the first vote; following the expiration of the initial twenty-four (24) hour period, the next twenty-four (24) hour period begins at the time of your next vote).

You can also receive the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game ballot by texting VOTE or VOTA to 89269. In Canada, fans can receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 101010.

Dodger hitters go hitless in NL All-Star loss

The 2015 Dodger All-Stars  (Ben Platt/MLB.com)

The 2015 Dodger All-Stars (Ben Platt/MLB.com)

By Jon Weisman

Yasmani Grandal saved Dodger hitters from a quadruple-whiffing at tonight’s All-Star Game.

On a 1-2 pitch from Kansas City reliever extraordinaire Wade Davis with two out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Grandal’s bid for an RBI single was flagged down deep in the hole at shortstop by Jose Iglesias, who threw Grandal out.

Davis struck out the previous batter, Adrian Gonzalez, on four pitches. Earlier in the game, Joc Pederson was fanned twice, by Dallas Keuchel in the second inning and Chris Archer in the fifth.

The three Dodgers combined for nine innings in the field: Pederson for the first five innings in left, Gonzalez the last three at first base and Grandal the ninth inning at catcher. Grandal might have had it the hardest, with Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman throwing 12 of his 14 pitches at 100 mph or more.

Clayton Kershaw took the loss for the National League, which was trailing 3-1 when the Dodger lefty left the game before losing, 6-3. And yes, that means the American League will have home-field advantage in a potential Game 7 of the World Series.

AL 100 020 210 — 6 7 2
NL 010 001 001 — 3 6 0

In fifth All-Star Game, Kershaw shutout streak ends

Clayton Kershaw reacts in the fifth inning tonight. (Getty Images)

Clayton Kershaw reacts in the fifth inning tonight. (Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

Having gradually whittled down his 2015 detractors with a 1.53 ERA over his past nine starts, Clayton Kershaw was back on the defensive at tonight’s All-Star Game.

Kershaw came within a hair of a scoreless inning before giving up two runs, allowing the American League to take a 3-1 lead at the Midsummer Classic’s halfway point.

Kershaw, who had pitched shutout innings in each of his four previous All-Star Games, retiring 12 of 15 batters, began by surrendering a leadoff single to Alcides Escobar just under the glove of a drawn-in Todd Frazier.

Mike Trout then hit what looked like a double-play grounder to second baseman DJ LeMahieu near second base, but a slow turn allowed a fast Trout to reach first on a force play. Manny Machado flied out to Kershaw teammate Joc Pederson on the warning track for the second out.

After appearing to have Albert Pujols whiffed on a 2-2 pitch that was ruled just off, Kershaw smiled as he walked back to the rubber. But that was it for the fun.

Pujols walked, and then, left-handed Prince Fielder hit an 0-2 fastball that missed its spot for a tiebreaking RBI single the opposite way, scoring Trout ahead of Pederson’s throw home. Kershaw’s next pitch was hit sharply down the left-field line by Lorenzo Cain for an RBI double that gave the AL a 3-1 lead.

Kershaw ended his inning, and his night, by striking out Brett Gardner. He threw 22 pitches (15 for strikes) to his seven batters.

“It was fun until I started giving up runs,” Kershaw told reporters afterward.

The inning left Kershaw with a 3.60 career All-Star ERA, with five hits, two walks and three strikeouts in five innings.

In All-Star start, Greinke allows Trout homer but fans ‘tastic four

ZG 4 K

By Jon Weisman

Like Eric Gagne with his streak of consecutive saves heading into the 2003 All-Star Game, Zack Greinke brought a streak of scoreless innings into the 2015 All-Star Game. And like Gagne, Greinke’s streak will continue despite an exhibition interruption.

Leadoff batter Mike Trout lined Greinke’s 1-2 fastball the opposite way into the right-field seats tonight, scoring the first run off Greinke in any setting since June 13.

Greinke walked the next batter, Josh Donaldson, on a full-count fastball. But he retired the next six batters he faced, striking out four (Albert Pujols, Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones and Salvador Perez), with Lorenzo Cain popping out to end the first inning and Jose Altuve grounding out to end the second.

According to Fox Sports, he is the first All-Star pitcher to strike out four since Pedro Martinez in 1999, and the first NL pitcher to do it since Lee Smith in 1987. The Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela, of course, famously struck out five in a row in 1986.

Getty Images

Zack Greinke, moments before the All-Star Game (Getty Images)

The right-hander finished with 39 pitches, 25 for strikes. He will likely take four days off before returning Sunday, if the Dodgers follow through on their plan to separate Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in the starting rotation. (Pending what happens tonight, Kershaw — who hasn’t made a start since his July 8 shutout — is likely to pitch Friday in the opening of the second half at Washington.)

In two previous All-Star appearances, Greinke retired all six batters he faced, so for his All-Star career, he has now retired 12 of 14 batters, striking out eight.

Funnily enough, Greinke allowed a run in his first inning of the 2015 regular season, April 7 against San Diego. He allowed no other runs in that game, and only 18 earned runs in his next 17 starts.

Trout entered the game with a single, double and triple in seven career at-bats, so the home run gave the young outfielder a theoretical career cycle against Greinke, as well as an All-Star career cycle.

Joc Pederson edged by Todd Frazier in thrilling Home Run Derby final

[mlbvideo id=”258795883″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

By Jon Weisman

Joc Pederson was an absolute smash at the first round of this year’s Home Run Derby in Cincinnati, before falling by the slimmest of margins.

Hometown hero Todd Frazier of Cincinnati went all the way to bonus time to edge Pederson in the final round tonight, 15-14, though Pederson — blasting distance-shattering homers to all fields — dazzled the nationwide audience like none other, and muted a history of Dodger disappointments at the event.

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