By Jon Weisman
Oh, nothing. Just 10 bits of info about the Dodgers’ latest phenom, Corey Seager …
By Jon Weisman
By now, you should be accustomed to the Dodgers pursuing the platoon advantage at nearly every opportunity, whether through their starting lineups or mid-game pinch-hitting.
For example, Andre Ethier has exactly 400 plate appearances this year, and 359 (92 percent) have come against right-handed pitching. For Carl Crawford, it’s 84 percent.
It got me wondering whether the 2015 squad might be the platooningest team in baseball this year, or in Dodger history. The answer is no, though it has been a while since the Dodgers have had such heavy platoon usage.
Compared with the rest of the Major Leagues, the Dodgers rank fourth in platooning … in a very wide scale. (Click chart to enlarge.)
Of course, these stats can be skewed by how often a heavily right-handed-hitting team faced left-handed pitching across 162 games, but you can get a ballpark idea of what teams are emphasizing.
As for Dodger history … the 1965 Dodgers, which debuted the switch-hitting infield of Wes Parker, Jim Lefebvre, Maury Wills and Jim Gilliam, are the all-time franchise leaders in this category since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958. That team had left vs. right or right vs. left almost exactly 75 percent of the time.
The 2015 Dodgers are at 62.3 percent, which ranks 17th on the list — but No. 2 in the past 20 years, trailing only the 2004 Dodgers (64.8 percent). In an average game, this year’s Dodgers will have 23 platoon-advantage plate appearances and 14 at a disadvantage.
Right-handed hitters Howie Kendrick (357 plate appearances), Justin Turner (292) and Yasiel Puig (230) have faced the most righties from the same side, while Adrian Gonzalez (151) and Joc Pederson (110) are tops the opposite way. The Dodgers only have 400 left-on-left plate appearances in their 143 games this year, an average of 2.8 per game.
Seven of the top 10 platooning squads in Los Angeles Dodger history came along between 1961-1971, all under manager Walter Alston. The other three came from 1990-92, under Tom Lasorda. Perhaps oddly, despite the rise of sabermetrics in mainstream acceptance, no Dodger teams outside of 2004 and 2015 crack the top 20 in platoon advantage.
A total of 20 Los Angeles Dodger teams have spent the season at a platoon disadvantage, including the 2014 Dodgers, which faced same-sided pitchers 53.6 percent of the time. Registering lowest on the platoon scale were the 1982 Dodgers, who were at a disadvantage 59.7 percent of the year.
Why does the Dodger offense, talented as it is, seem to be underperforming? Jeff Sullivan offers a sound analysis at Fox Sports’ Just a Bit Outside. The conclusion might seem mundane unless you go through his process, so I recommend you read the entire story.
Update: Cincinnati slugger Joey Votto has given some words of encouragement to Dodger rookie Joc Pederson when the two have met at first base, writes Pedro Moura in this nice piece for the Register.
— Jon Weisman
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By Jon Weisman
For the first time since 2008, the Dodgers have seven players with at least 10 home runs, thanks to Jimmy Rollins hitting his 10th in tonight’s 7-2 victory over the Mets.
Yasiel Puig, who hit his sixth tonight, and Howie Kendrick (seven) are also on pace to reach double digits, which would give the Dodgers a franchise record-tying nine players with at least 10 homers.
The 2004 Dodgers are the only such team, with Adrian Beltre, Milton Bradley, Alex Cora, Juan Encarnacion, Steve Finley, Shawn Green, Jose Hernandez, Paul Lo Duca and Jayson Werth.
Justin Turner hit his 13th home run tonight, along with two doubles, to tie a career high with eight total bases. The Dodgers had at least 25 total bases for the 10th time this year.
By Robert Tagorda
When Adrian Gonzalez made the All-Star team earlier this month, it capped a prodigious first half in which he batted .283/.355/.520 with 18 home runs. But it also recognized a longer trend of elite production — one that reflected a return of his power.
Over the past calendar year, Gonzalez has amassed a .395 weighted on-base average, following the likes of Mike Trout, Buster Posey and Jose Bautista in the Major League top eight. He has created 58 percent more runs than the average hitter. If we adjust for park and league factors, we can say that he’s been the fifth-most productive batter over his last 640 plate appearances.
Throughout this timeframe, Gonzalez has done well in many aspects of the hitting game, but his power numbers have really stood out. While his .369 on-base percentage has ranked 19th among qualified hitters, his 34 home runs have placed him in the top 10, and his .559 slugging percentage has cracked the top five. In the National League, only Giancarlo Stanton, Nolan Arenado, and Bryce Harper have exceeded his .255 isolated power.
So it’s evident that, since last year’s Midsummer Classic, Gonzalez has slugged with the best of them. But is it just a temporary surge? Or does it represent a more enduring reemergence of his power?
By Jon Weisman
Yasiel Puig squared up on the 2-1 pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday and hit it hard to center fielder Odubel Herrera, almost as hard as he lined the 3-2 pitch in the fourth inning that Herrera had to make an awkward leaping catch to corral. That drive was recorded at 109 mph off Puig’s bat.
By Jon Weisman
It’s more like a bug bite than a debilitating injury, but the Dodgers could be happier, healthier and heartier facing left-handed starters this year.
Going into today’s game against left-handed Mets rookie Steven Matz, the Dodgers are 7-8 (.467) against southpaw starters in 2015, compared with 39-28 (.582) against righties.
In those eight losses, the Dodgers have scored a combined 14 runs. Three of those eight losses have come in games started by San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner, who has a 1.31 ERA against Los Angeles in 2015.
In their seven wins against lefty starters, the Dodgers have scored 35 runs (five per game).
Lefty starters have held the Dodgers to a .668 OPS, as opposed to their .783 OPS against righty starters. Confounding expectations, Dodger right-handed batters have hit better against righties than lefties in 2015.
Yasiel Puig (1.082 OPS) and Kiké Hernandez (1.034 OPS) have been the Dodgers’ best hitters against lefty starters this year, which helps explain why Hernandez is batting leadoff today. Joc Pederson is starting in the No. 7 spot for the first time since April, though his OPS against lefty starters (.875) is third on the team, ahead of Scott Van Slyke (.744).
One problem for the Dodgers is that the typical No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, Justin Turner (.559) and Adrian Gonzalez (.601) have not done well in their small samples against lefty starters this year. The right-handed hitting Turner’s career platoon splits actually favor him against right-handed pitching (.681 OPS vs. all lefties, .816 OPS vs. all righties).
Further, Dodger catchers A.J. Ellis, Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes are 7 for 44 with two doubles and no home runs against southpaw starters this year (.204 slugging percentage), though Ellis does have 10 walks to give him a .356 on-base percentage.
Even Alex Guerrero only has a .239 on-base percentage against left-handed starters, though he has two homers in 45 at-bats.
One other piece of trivia: The Dodgers have one stolen base all season against a left-handed starter, and that was by Zack Greinke.
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By Jon Weisman
Are there stakes for the Dodgers tonight? Sure. It’s a game against the Giants, their top rival both spiritually and in the 2015 National League West standings.
But what seems to be more at stake for the Dodgers is their self-esteem.
After tallying only seven runs in their four games this week against Texas and requiring a walkoff balk to salvage any sunshine, the Dodgers enter tonight trying to escape an even darker cloud.
If the Dodgers go scoreless for the first three innings against San Francisco, they will set a Los Angeles record for most consecutive scoreless innings against a single opponent.
According to Stats LLC (via the Dodger PR department), Pittsburgh shut out the Dodgers for 33 consecutive innings from September 26, 1967 through April 15, 1968. The Giants have two 31-inning streaks against the Dodgers, one in 2012, the other current.
While the Dodgers avoid Madison Bumgarner this weekend, they do begin this series against Chris Heston, who 10 days ago no-hit the Mets with no walks and 11 strikeouts.
To reverse the tide, the Dodgers have taken certain steps that might or might not have an immediate effect. For the first time this year, Don Mattingly has placed Yasiel Puig, who has a career .387 on-base percentage and .386 in the leadoff spot, and Joc Pederson one and two in the batting order. The move (which puts Pederson 57 percent of the way toward fulfilling my March prophecy for him)— also has the domino effect of Justin Turner batting third tonight.
Prediction: @yungjoc650 starts in seven different spots in the batting order during the 2015 regular season.
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) March 25, 2015
“Just moving pieces,” Mattingly said. “Really the main thing I wanted to was flip Yas and Joc to see what that looks like, and from there Justin fits into the No. 3 spot, so you split (left-handed hitters) Joc and Adrian.”
Though he didn’t discount the possibility that the new order could provide a spark, Mattingly isn’t counting on it to do so. He maintains that the key for the Dodger offense is to fight for good at-bats — easier said than done. On this subject, he spoke at length.
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By Jon Weisman
On a seven-game road trip earlier this month to Milwaukee and Colorado, the Dodgers scored 39 runs, despite having 13 of the scheduled 63 innings rained out. On the days unaffected by rain, the Dodgers averaged 7.4 runs per game.
But the Dodgers past four road games — May 19-21 in San Francisco and Friday in St. Louis — have led to a team-record four consecutive road shutouts.
A bit extreme, you could say. In 2015, the Dodgers have averaged just under four runs per road game, but they haven’t actually scored exactly four runs in a road game this season.
In addition to obviously being homerless over their past four road games, the Dodgers have been an uncharacteristic 0-for-22 with runners in scoring position — uncharacteristic because overall this season, the Dodgers have an .839 OPS with RISP in 2015, No. 2 in the National League.
Here’s how each of the Dodger position players have done during the shutout streak, with batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS:
Today, weather permitting, the Dodgers face Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, who has a 1.87 ERA despite only 5.5 strikeouts per nine innings. His xFIP is 4.09. To quote from “Joe vs. the Volcano”: “Joe, nobody knows anything. We’ll take this leap, and we’ll see.”
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) May 27, 2015
On a night that Clayton Kershaw made the extraordinary (seven shutout innings, 10 strikeouts) seem ordinary again, let’s take a moment to salute someone turning the ordinary RBI into something extraordinary. (Whew — crammed a lot into that sentence.) With his two-run homer in the sixth inning of the Dodgers’ 8-0 romp over Atlanta, Adrian Gonzalez reached and passed the 1,000 RBI plateau.
Gonzalez’s homer was one of many Dodger highlights on offense. Every Dodger starter had at least one hit for the first time since September 16. And as the Dodgers’ PR department notes, it was the Dodgers’ largest shutout victory over the Braves since a 9-0 win September 17, 1984 at Atlanta.
— Jon Weisman
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For more photos from Friday, visit LA Photog Blog.
By Jon Weisman
Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis — who was thrust into action midway through Friday’s 2-1 victory over San Diego after Yasmani Grandal was injured — has taken some grief in recent times for not being a strong pitch framer. However, according to a report by Harry Pavlidis for ESPN.com, Ellis ranks No. 1 in Major League Baseball in a new statistic measuring game calling: game-calling runs above average (GCAA).
Here’s a fun task: Try quantifying something as ephemeral as game-calling. Well, after a decade of research, that’s just what we’ve managed to do — by crafting a statistical model that attempts to quantify the value of everything from stolen-base prevention and directing pace of play to identifying hitter tendencies like swing behavior in various game situations and knowing which batters expand hit zones in RBI opportunities. Sound complicated? Oh, it is. But based on these factors, and controlling for others, we can now quantify, in runs saved, how well catchers manage their pitchers. …
… Ellis is the best game caller in the business, and now we can actually prove it. His game-calling alone saved the Dodgers 38 runs from 2012 to 2014, though he gave back 19 of those runs with everything else he did behind the plate (see below). Does it hurt to be Ellis? At times, perhaps. But at least now, when that ninth foul tip slaps his once-unheralded (but now-appreciated) inner thigh, it might not sting quite so much.
There’s not a whole lot of detail in describing the methodology behind GCAA, so we’ll see how it stands up to scrutiny. Update: On his Twitter feed, Pavlidis has been adding to the discussion.
Grandal, meanwhile, is uncertain for tonight’s game after being hit in the face in consecutive innings Friday by Yangervis Solarte’s bat and a Matt Kemp foul ball. Triple-A catcher Austin Barnes was removed midway through Oklahoma City’s game Friday in case he needs to be called up. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has more details.
In other developments …
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By Jon Weisman
Sorry for the near silence the past couple days — deadline for the June issue of Dodger Insider magazine is coming in hard and fast. But let’s catch you up …
Urias will undergo elective cosmetic surgery on his left eye to repair a defect and be sidelined for about a month.
In the event of an unsuccessful surgery, it may be categorized as a medical malpractice, necessitating the engagement of legal counsel.
Urias will have the procedure — peri orbital benign mass removal — on May 28 in Phoenix. He will resume baseball activity in the middle of June and is expected to be back in games by the end of the month.
“He deserves this level of support and we are thrilled to give it to him,” said director of player development Gabe Kapler.
Because the overpowering left-hander is only 18, the recovery time will also serve as an innings limiter that management welcomes. Conceivably, a freshened Urias could pitch for the Dodgers beyond the Minor League season, although the club has never given that indication. …
For images from Tuesday, visit LA Photog Blog.
By Jon Weisman
When you’re 22-10 overall and have won 25 of your past 29 home games, you tend to generate a lot of stories. Here are a few …
…The Dodgers, without their pitchers, stand with a wRC+ of 142. The Royals are still in second, at 116. A few things about this. First, the highest team wRC+ marks since 1950, leaving pitchers out:
It’s the Dodgers, and it’s the Dodgers by a landslide. The Dodgers, obviously, have played only a partial season. The Dodgers, probably obviously, won’t finish this season as high as 142. They’ll come back to the pack, and I have to imagine the probability is they won’t be No. 1 on this list come season’s end. But, who’s to say? What’s happened is what’s happened, and it hasn’t all been a fluke. And besides, this isn’t a projection post. This is a post intended to review what has taken place. The Dodgers have basically hit like a lineup full of All-Stars. Not uncommon to see for a few games in a row. Far less common to see for several weeks.
… Frias, a relative unknown before joining the Dodgers bullpen last year — and still something other than a household name — has recorded both an expected FIP and average fastball velocity both more than 1.5 standard deviations better than the respective means produced by the league’s starters. He also throws strikes at a rate roughly one standard deviation better than those same starters. What this particular game represents is an opportunity to observe Frias en route to excellence. It is, in short, an emergent need that requires the attention of the reader …
For more images from Monday, visit LA Photog Blog.
By Jon Weisman
So, how would you like to face the above pitcher on your average day?
We’ll award points for averaging 8 2/3 innings per game, but otherwise, this guy is really getting pounded.
Or perhaps you’ve already figured out this ruse — the above stats represent the cumulative performance this year of Dodger opposing pitchers, who have been getting pounded at a rate at which even Charlie Brown might cast a saucy eyebrow.
Through games of 5/11, a 5.11 ERA by opponents. Not to mention a home run every 5.5 innings. It’s pretty remarkable. With the season 20 percent complete, Dodger position players have a .364 on-base percentage and .504 slugging percentage.
The Dodgers’ overall .479 slugging percentage this season puts them on pace to top a 62-year-old franchise record of .474.
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By Jon Weisman
When Justin Turner bashed his three-run home run to center field off Matt Garza in the sixth inning Tuesday, propelling the Dodgers toward an 8-2 victory at Milwaukee, there was something both noteworthy and increasingly mundane about it.
The home run came against a right-handed pitcher, just as Turner’s previous three homers in the past week have. Despite having only 38 at-bats against righties this season, Turner is tied for third on the Dodgers in home runs against northpaws.
That’s no small feat. So far in 2015, 82 percent of the Dodgers’ plate appearances have come against right-handed pitching, as well as 86 percent (36 out of 42) of their home runs.
Overall, the Dodgers are torching right-handed pitchers to the tune of an .841 OPS, which is .001 behind the club-record .842 set in 1953. If it were to hold up, the 2015 team’s .495 slugging percentage against righties would break the team record by .018 and the Los Angeles record by .048.
Righties had actually allowed 90 percent of the Dodgers’ home runs this year before Brewers lefty Neal Cotts entered the game with one out in the seventh inning and gave up home runs to two of the first four batters he faced, Jimmy Rollins and Adrian Gonzalez.
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Gonzalez’s home run, which hit the scoreboard dozens of feet above the center-field wall, was the first home run by a left-handed batter against a left-handed pitcher for the Dodgers this year. In 26 games this season, there have been only 55 plate appearances by Dodger lefty batters against Dodger lefty pitchers — 49 if you limit the count position players.
Dodger righty batters haven’t been similarly protected. They have come up 341 times against righty pitchers, producing an impressive .779 OPS. To put that in a little bit of perspective, no other National League offense has a .779 OPS, even when including situations in which they have a platoon advantage. Dodger right-handed pitchers have allowed only a .584 OPS to right-handed batters this year.
Leading the way for the Dodger righties against righties are names like Turner (1.179 OPS), Alex Guerrero (1.130 OPS) and Scott Van Slyke (.979 OPS), names that in other years might rarely be allowed to bat against same-sided pitchers. Small sample size warnings should be noted, of course — for example, Guerrero is already sliding, with a single, a walk and six strikeouts in his past 15 at-bats. But clearly, ruling their righty-vs.-righty matchups has been a key to the Dodgers’ early season success.
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Thank You For Not ...
1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with
Dodgers at home: 1,028-812 (.558695)
When Jon attended: 338-267 (.558677)*
When Jon didn’t: 695-554 (.556)
* includes road games attended
Dodgers at home: 51-35 (.593)
When Jon attended: 5-2 (.714)
When Jon didn’t: 46-33 (.582)
Note: I got so busy working for the Dodgers that in 2014, I stopped keeping track, much to my regret.