Dodger Thoughts

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

Category: Hitting (Page 1 of 2)

Unhappy anniversary:
One month since the Dodgers’ last three-run homer

I’ve been tracking the Dodgers’ bizarre inability to hit a three-run home run for the past week, and in that time the problem has only grown worse.

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Several sizzled in September for Dodgers

Dodgers at Giants, 1:05 p.m.
Kershaw CCLXIII: Kershawcadia
Howie Kendrick, LF
Justin Turner, 3B
Corey Seager, SS
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrián González, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Chase Utley, 2B
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

Though the 2016 regular season isn’t officially over, the month of September is, a month in which several Dodger bats delivered.

Joc Pederson led the National League in slugging percentage (.702) last month and finished second in OPS (1.154) and fourth in on-base percentage (.452). Pederson led the Dodgers with seven homers and 15 walks.

Over to Pederson’s left — in right field — were two strong hitters. Josh Reddick rallied from a dismal August to tie for the NL lead in batting average (.400), alongside a .435 OBP and .569 slugging percentage. Reddick was due, to say the least — his batting average on balls in play went from .194 in August to .429 in September.

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Dodger hitting update: Guys are hitting

28 days

By Jon Weisman

You can almost hear those kids in the back of the Dodger van: “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

From a batting standpoint, they might be.

Over the past four weeks, the Dodgers have starters at 6 1/2 positions OPSing above .800. Los Angeles is 16-7 (.696) in that time, which is tied with the Giants for the best record in the National League.

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Roberts will study Puig’s mechanics in his return

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Nationals at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian González, 1B
Howie Kendrick, LF
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Yasmani Grandal,  C
Scott Kazmir, P

By Jon Weisman

Dave Roberts’ patience with Justin Turner has been rewarded. Now comes Yasiel Puig.

Turner, who had three homers and a .642 OPS through June 3 — amid calls for him to be lowered in the lineup — has seven homers and a 1.159 OPS since.

“Mechanically, I thought (Turner) was fine,” Roberts said. “The at-bats were quality. The contact point needed to be different for me, (but) with the adjustments that he made, he’s seeing some results.

Activated from the disabled list today, Puig makes his first start since June 2, and he has something to prove.

“Yasiel,” Roberts said, “mechanically wasn’t right.

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How did Turner turn his season around?

[mlbvideo id=”828797183″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

Brewers at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian González, 1B
Trayce Thompson, RF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Kiké Hernández, RF
Mike Bolsinger, P

By Jon Weisman

It’s been two weeks since Dave Roberts offered his diagnosis of what was holding back Justin Turner’s offense.

“When I know Justin is at his best, (it’s) when he’s elevating to the pull side,” Roberts said. “For me, right now there’s too many balls in the air the other way. The contact point’s a little deep, (and) he might be getting underneath the baseball a little bit.

“When you’re not getting hits, it’s kind of a natural move to try to see the ball longer. It’s just a natural move to back the baseball up a little bit … but sometimes it can be a little bit counter-productive.”

In 12 games (11 starts) since that moment, Turner is 15 for 45 with three walks, three doubles and five homers, including the pair he hit Friday before he won the game with a walkoff single in the 10th inning. The 31-year-old is third in the National League in wins above replacement in that time and tied for second in home runs.

As for whether Turner is elevating to the pull side? You be the judge. Here’s his spray chart since June 4 …

Justin Turner 2

 

Dodgers play righty vs. righty card against Chatwood

Atlanta Braves vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Rockies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Justin Turner, 3B
Corey Seager, SS
Trayce Thompson, RF
Adrian González, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Kiké Hernandez, LF
Scott Van Slyke, RF
A.J. Ellis, C
Mike Bolsinger, P

By Jon Weisman

If you’re wondering why Dave Roberts chose to rest left-handed hitters Chase Utley and Joc Pederson against right-handed Rockies pitcher Tyler Chatwood, it’s mainly because right-handed batters have had more success against him.

This year, righties have an .788 OPS against Chatwood, while lefties are at .579. The split was even more pronounced in 2014, before Chatwood had the Tommy John surgery that forced him out of action in 2016. Chatwood has returned this year to lead Colorado starters with a 2.99 ERA.

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Hot-hitting Corey Seager puts his best foot backward

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Photos: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Braves at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CCLIV: The Kershawsy Chaperone
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian González, 1B
Trayce Thompson, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

Going through virtually all of the photos Jon SooHoo & Co. take of the Dodgers the way I do, you notice certain things about certain players.

With Corey Seager it’s no different.

Something that’s long struck me about Seager is the way he turns his front foot nearly backward in his batting stance. It looks uncomfortable if not torturous, but clearly, it works for the 22-year-old, who now has 16 home runs and an .892 OPS in 82 career games.

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How soon will Dodgers find right path on offense?

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers at Rays, 4:10 p.m.
Kiké Hernandez, DH
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Justin Turner, 3B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Trayce Thompson, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Charlie Culberson, SS
(Scott Kazmir, P)

By Jon Weisman

Beginning tonight, the Dodgers face two left-handers in their short sojourn to Tampa Bay.

So of course, I’m going to start things off by talking about their hitting against right-handers.

Why? Because lack of offense is on every Dodger fan’s mind these days, and a big part of the struggle is that the Dodgers’ righty-on-righty hitting has gone off a cliff.

Los Angeles ranks last among the 30 MLB teams with a .544 OPS by their right-handed batters against right-handed pitchers. That’s the baseball equivalent of shooting free throws like Shaquille O’Neal.

While the Dodgers platoon quite a bit, righty-on-righty still accounts for 33 percent of their plate appearances this season. So while their lefty hitters have been strong against right-handed pitching (.802 OPS), the righty batters have been dragging them down.

The good news is that this is so far out of the norm that it isn’t likely to continue. (Click below to enlarge …)

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Dodgers hold team meeting before batting practice

Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Carl Crawford, LF
Joc Pederson, CF
Alex Wood, P

By Jon Weisman

In the wake of their four-game losing streak, the Dodgers held a closed-door meeting at 3:30 p.m. in the clubhouse that Dave Roberts said essentially addressed the same issues he brought up after Thursday’s game.

“You just got to get back to the fundamentals and trying to play clean, crisp baseball and play every pitch,” Roberts said. “I think that there are signs of that. … Whether we’re winning games or not winning games, I still think there’s a process that needs to be in place, and you just don’t want things to get away from you. So right now, it’s kind of hit the reset button a little bit.”

Among other issues, Roberts has the sense that Dodger batters are pressing at the plate.

“You know, it’s funny — I think it’s just guys are trying too hard,” he said. “And you hear it all the time when guys aren’t swinging well, that guys want to do it so bad, it’s a little bit, ‘Try a little less hard.’ Because guys just start swinging the bat, and you start coming out of the strike zone.”

One thing not addressed in today’s meeting was the 80-game suspension of former Dodger infielder Dee Gordon that was announced late Thursday. Reaction to that news is amply covered at a number of sites, but Roberts echoed the feeling of many.

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For Dave Roberts, lefty-righty not quite almighty

Left-handed hitters Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Carl Crawford

Left-handed hitters Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Carl Crawford

By Jon Weisman

When is a platoon not a platoon? According to Dave Roberts, when it isn’t quite a platoon.

Though the Dodgers have leaned heavily on lefty-righty matchups in constructing their offense this season, Roberts explained today some of the distinctions that he sees.

“Certain guys, their out pitch is a changeup,” Roberts said. “Certain lefties, it’s a breaking ball. So when typically, it’s a breaking ball is their best secondary, then it’s harder for the left-on-left — the visual. Guys that have a changeup as an out pitch, typically the left-handers can handle them more. There are other components to it as well.”

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Dodgers’ outrageous Opening Day offensive onslaught

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Linescore
Box score

By Jon Weisman

A historic day for the Dodgers began with something between a hunch and an observation by new manager Dave Roberts.

Chase Utley isn’t the Dodgers’ permanent leadoff hitter. He was simply the kind of hitter, based on his long history in the game, whom Roberts thought might do well batting first against Tyson Ross on Opening Day.

Coming up to start the 2016 season, Utley fell behind 1-2, worked the count to 3-2, and then stroked a simple, solid, sinking drive to left-center at which Jon Jay dove fruitlessly, good for a double.

No. 2 hitter Corey Seager, with almost none of Utley’s past but potentially all of his future and more, then boomed a double off the left-field wall on the fly, and it was on.

How on, we had no idea.

Their 15-0 victory (recapped by MLB.com) was the largest Opening Day shutout by any team in Major League history, according to Elias, breaking a 105-year-old record set by the Pirates at Cincinnati on April 12, 1911, 14-0.

“That first inning really set the tone for us,” Roberts said after the game. “After that, guys kept having good at-bats.”

The dominant performance created this cavalcade of conquest …

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Seager’s strongest shots

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Arizona Diamondbacks

By Jon Weisman

Something I was simply curious about (and I’m not suggesting there’s any deep meaning to it) was the quality of pitcher that Corey Seager hit the hardest during his September trial.

Below are the 21 pitches Seager hit at least 100 mph, according to Baseball Savant, and the 2015 fielding-independent ERAs of the pitchers who threw them. Click to enlarge …

Seager 20 fastest

The 4.60 FIP isn’t impressive, though I suspect that if you did this chart for most players, they’re not as likely to rocket their hardest-hit balls off of opposing aces.

Just for fun, here are the hardest hit balls off Clayton Kershaw in 2015 — featuring two pitchers (Madison Bumgarner, OK, but Francisco Liriano?) and a trifecta from none other than Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario. As a group, these batters were also not quite average  …

Kershaw fastest

Riddle me this, Yasiel Puig

Washington Nationals vs Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

If you think you’ve got a firm idea of how Yasiel Puig will perform in 2016, you’re kidding yourself.

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Dodger exit velocities, 2015

Contact and speed

With the caveat that I might be punching out of my weight class, here’s a comparison of exit velocities off the bats of Dodger hitters in 2015 (with swing-and-miss rates also noted), using data from Brooks Baseball. Players with at least 100 plate appearances as a Dodger this year are listed. Click the image above to enlarge.

— Jon Weisman

Dodgers set Los Angeles record in BABIP … what happens next year?

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasiel Puig had a .356 BABIP despite declining from 2013. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Were they feeling lucky?

The Dodgers had a team batting average on balls in play of .318, which was third in the Majors but the franchise’s highest in 84 seasons, since the Brooklyn Robins had a .321 BABIP in 1930.

In general, the Dodgers’ BABIP has trended upward in recent years, thanks in part no doubt to strikeouts becoming a larger percentage of outs. It was a different story, for example, in the 1960s, when the Dodgers’ BABIP bottomed out at .266 in 1967 and .268 in 1968.

The oddity is that several prominent Dodgers underperformed their recent or career BABIP marks in 2014 …

BABIP chart

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