Corey Seager isn’t the shiny new SS anymore

Hard to believe but Corey Seager is already twenty-five years old and while Dodger fans wait for the 22/23 Seager to show up, the team down south in San Diego has the shiny new shortstop who has already been ordained the best young Shortstop in California.

We won’t get to see Fernando Tatis Jr. this trip against the Padres due to his untimely injury but the 20-year-old has lived up to the hype and is probably the odds on favorite to be the next National League ROY.  Meanwhile, Corey Seager is laboring at SS for the Dodgers. Dave Roberts continues to bat Seager near the top of the lineup, and Corey continues to make critical out after critical out.  All those outs have been masked by the brilliance of Cody Bellinger, but there will come a time when Cody can’t do it all, and it would be a good time for Seager to get it going when that happens.  Until the bat wakes up, Corey is just an afterthought at the Shortstop position with Javier Baez, Paul DeJong, Tatis Jr., Trevor Story, and even Dansby Swanson outperforming the one time Dodger stud.

Player               WAR/pos  PA OPS+ Age Lg   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
Javier Baez              2.1 128  155  26 NL .314 .352 .653 1.004
Paul DeJong              2.1 135  159  25 NL .333 .393 .585  .978
Fernando Tatis Jr.       1.6 111  145  20 NL .300 .360 .550  .910
Dansby Swanson           1.4 120  126  25 NL .262 .333 .534  .867
Trevor Story             1.4 141  113  26 NL .272 .348 .520  .868
Nick Ahmed               0.9 125   81  29 NL .261 .304 .400  .704
Jose Iglesias            0.7  91   98  29 NL .302 .341 .419  .759
Corey Seager             0.4 130   81  25 NL .228 .323 .351  .674
Jean Segura              0.3  87  133  29 NL .338 .391 .500  .891
Miguel Rojas             0.3 100   94  30 NL .286 .340 .352  .692
Orlando Arcia            0.2 113   77  24 NL .231 .292 .385  .677
Erik Gonzalez           -0.1  59   62  27 NL .216 .298 .294  .592
Amed Rosario            -0.2 119   95  23 NL .268 .311 .393  .704
Wilmer Difo             -0.6  89   69  27 NL .238 .307 .338  .644

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/3/2019.

 

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Justin Turner is just about ready

If you have access to Spectrum or are an out of town Dodger fan you have heard Joe Davis say over and over that Justin Turner doesn’t hit in April. The stats don’t lie as Turner has only three home runs in 480 plate appearances in April.  Turner hits more in May but his bat doesn’t historically catch fire until June. I think if Turner can stay healthy this May that he’ll hit more like June this summer and erase the doubts that his bat is slowing down.

If you don’t have Spectrum, you might find the Turner splits interesting.

These are his career splits.

Split           G  PA   H 2B HR RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS  TB
April/March   148 480 124 27  3  43 .289 .353 .378 .730 162
May           166 559 139 31 11  73 .283 .360 .413 .773 203
June          155 576 152 26 25  86 .302 .381 .511 .892 257
July          138 504 130 34 14  56 .291 .363 .461 .824 206
August        177 652 161 40 24  82 .279 .354 .484 .838 279
Sept/Oct      183 635 168 46 17  75 .304 .385 .487 .873 269

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/3/2019.

 

 

Alex Verdugo is the poster child for “Let the kids play”

MLB has created an ad campaign around “Let the kids play” and no one epitomizes that more on the Dodgers than Alex Verdugo.  You might have thought that with Yasiel Puig gone the Dodgers would no longer have a child-man playing in the outfield but the brash massive gold chain wearing center fielder Alex Verdugo is a bundle of emotion that erupts in jubilation whenever he successfully does something significant with the bat.

Many Dodger fans had no idea what they had in Alex Verdugo because the Dodgers had kept him under wraps because of the depth of their outfield and 2019 looked to be more of the same. You can’t fault the Dodgers for signing A.J. Pollock because the deal was so team friendly but when they failed to trade Joc Pederson it put Verdugo squarely on the bench. I even “wrongly” argued that Verdugo would be better off in AAA until the Dodger figured out a way to playing time for him.  Instead, Verdugo took every opportunity to show that he was a major league starter and finished April with one of the best age 23 or younger months in LAD history.

With Pollock once again on the disabled list for a significant amount of time, Alex Verdugo has had one of his roadblocks to playing time removed.  If the Dodgers are lucky they might even have the rare left-handed hitter who can hit left-handed pitchers. Joc Pederson is a platoon player for a very valid reason, he can’t hit left-handed pitching. (career .570 OPS against LHP).  Andre Ethier was basically a platoon player for the same reason given his career .633 OPS against LHP. Alex Verdugo is crushing LHP, but in very limited sample size.

Cody Bellinger put up one the greatest Aprils in Dodger history, but when you look at Aprils for Dodgers, twenty-three or younger, Verdugo is right there with Joc Pederson, Adrian Beltre, Willie and Tommie Davis, and Corey Seager. That is a great leaderboard list to be part of.

Player                 Split Year  PA 2B HR   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
Cody Bellinger   April/March 2019 132  6 14 .431 .508 .890 1.397
Joc Pederson     April/March 2015  77  5  4 .298 .461 .596 1.057
Adrian Beltre    April/March 1999  93  8  1 .355 .441 .553  .993
Alex Verdugo     April/March 2019  72  4  4 .333 .361 .623  .984
Willie Davis     April/March 1962  65  1  5 .298 .369 .614  .983
Tommy Davis      April/March 1962  81  7  5 .316 .333 .646  .979
Corey Seager     April/March 2017 107  6  5 .319 .411 .549  .961
Tommy Davis      April/March 1961  75  3  5 .309 .373 .574  .947
Bill Russell     April/March 1969  70  2  1 .304 .443 .464  .907

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/3/2019.

The Rookie of the Year race has been dominated by Pete Alonso on the East Coast and Fernando Tatis on the West Coast, but Alex Verdugo is right there in the discussion.  Will be curious to see if he still in the discussion a month from now.

Name                 Age OPS+  PA Year  Tm Lg 2B 3B HR RBI SO
Pete Alonso           24  175 128 2019 NYM NL  8  1  9  26 36
Alex Verdugo          23  157  76 2019 LAD NL  4  2  4  16  9
Christian Walker      28  150 116 2019 ARI NL 10  0  7  15 34
Fernando Tatis Jr.    20  145 111 2019 SDP NL  5  1  6  13 32

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/3/2019.

Cody Bellinger Dodger home run king at age 23

Cody Bellinger passed Adrian Beltre last night to be the first Dodger aged 23 or younger to hit at least 77 home runs. It must be noted that Beltre hit his 76 home runs in roughly twice as many plate appearances as Cody.  At age 23, Beltre had been an inconsistent performer for the Dodgers but in two years at the age of 25, Beltre would break out with an MVP type season that included  48 home runs.

Bellinger would need to hit seventy home runs between now and the end of the 2021 season to beat out Beltre who ended his Dodger career with 147 home runs. Given he has 5/6 of 2019 to go, all of 2019, and all of 2020, I’d bet heavily that Bellinger does end his age 25 seasons with at least 147 home runs.  He might have a shot at between 180 and 200 career home runs by age 25.  And unlike Beltre, he won’t be a free agent after his age 25 season.

Player           HR From   To   Age   PA
Cody Bellinger   77 2017 2019 21-23 1296
Adrian Beltre    76 1998 2002 19-23 2553
Duke Snider      59 1947 1950 20-23 1560
Tommy Davis      53 1959 1962 20-23 1594
Corey Seager     52 2015 2017 21-23 1413

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/27/2019.

 

Bellinger crushes Total Base record for April

With four days still left in April Cody Bellinger now owns the historical total base record for the month of April.

Player                  Split Year HR  PA 2B 3B TB
Cody Bellinger    April/March 2019 13 116  6  1 89
Chase Utley       April/March 2008 11 128 10  1 85
Jermaine Dye      April/March 2000 11 111 12  0 83
Alex Rodriguez    April/March 2007 14 106  7  0 82
Larry Walker      April/March 1997 11 106  6  1 82
Ken Griffey Jr.   April/March 1997 13 119  5  1 81
Alfonso Soriano   April/March 2003  9 138  6  1 81

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/27/2019.

Some leaderboard records are filled with some flukes but the seven players who had at least 80 total bases in March/April were all bonafide stars at the time.

Maybe even more important. The year that Chase Utley had 85 total bases in 2008, the Phillies won the World Series.

We will hold off until the end of April before we show every leaderboard he showed up on with this monumental April but it will be a few. One home run away from the tying Pujols and Arod for most home runs in March/April. Three RBI from most RBI in March/April.

Cody has already crushed all of the Dodger leaderboards for March/April but might as well create the full month leaderboards when the month is complete.

Suffice to say this hitting month by Cody Bellinger is reminiscent of the 1981 Fernando run to start the season.  We are watching things no one has ever seen before, no matter how old you are.

 

Barnes is crashing, Martin is badly needed

Austin Barnes barreled out of the gates this year and after the first seven games seemed to affirm the faith the Dodgers had in letting him be the everyday catcher.  Barnes had an OPS of 1.328 on April 7th. The Dodgers left the sweet confines of Coors and it appears that Barnes left his bat behind. Since leaving Coors, Barnes is 3 for 33 with zero extra base hits, four walks, and has an OPS of .512.

Overall his numbers look very much like they did in 2018 which is not a good thing. Russell Martin got hurt and Barnes is playing way more than he should be and you can hope that is why he is struggling. We will find out, as Martin is due back this week, and Rocky Gale can go back to the depth cage of AAA.

I’m not sure we can count on much offense from either Barnes or Martin, but the Dodger offense in April has shown they can carry a weak bat at catcher. It is doubtful that Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson will be hitting over twenty home runs per month but as they cool down, Justin Turner, Cory Seager, Max Muncy, and AJ Pollock will step it up.

Looking at the last seven days, I was surprised to see how bad Muncy/Verdugo/Hernandez have been. I knew Turner/Taylor/Barnes were all struggling but hadn’t quite noticed that so many Dodgers were struggling to hit. It really has been just the Cody and Joc show with Pollock and Seager quietly producing.

Player                    Split Year   OPS PA HR RBI   BA  OBP  SLG TB
Cody Bellinger      Last 7 days 2019 1.177 22  2   5 .389 .455 .722 13
Joc Pederson        Last 7 days 2019 1.109 19  2   2 .313 .421 .688 11
A.J. Pollock        Last 7 days 2019  .990 16  1   3 .231 .375 .615  8
Corey Seager        Last 7 days 2019  .826 18  0   1 .313 .389 .438  7
Max Muncy           Last 7 days 2019  .597 18  1   2 .125 .222 .375  6
Enrique Hernandez   Last 7 days 2019  .548 14  1   3 .083 .214 .333  4
Alex Verdugo        Last 7 days 2019  .523 12  0   1 .182 .250 .273  3
Justin Turner       Last 7 days 2019  .387 19  0   0 .071 .316 .071  1
Austin Barnes       Last 7 days 2019  .277 15  0   0 .077 .200 .077  1
Chris Taylor        Last 7 days 2019  .222  9  0   0 .111 .111 .111  1
David Freese        Last 7 days 2019  .167  6  0   0 .000 .167 .000  0
Rocky Gale          Last 7 days 2019  .000  2  0   0 .000 .000 .000  0

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/23/2019.

Rarely does a Clipper loss look so bright

The Clippers lost on Sunday to the best team in the NBA, but they didn’t go easily and even in the loss, the Clippers could take solace in the play of their rookies. The team is in the playoffs because of Lou Williams/Montrezl Harrell/Danilo Gallinari but they all failed to play at the level Clipper fans were used to seeing from them. Yet, at one time the Clippers led the game 87 – 82 and it was because of three rookies. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landrey Shamit, and even Jerome Robinson.

Shai-Gilgeous Alexander had fourteen points in the first quarter and would go on to have the greatest playoff game of any Clipper rookie in history. Big deal, how many Clippers rookies have even played in a playoff game? That is a good point so I went to basketball reference to see just how great a game this rookie had.  SGA had a game score of 17.9 so I looked up all the rookie game scores in the postseason of at least 15. There were a ton. So I continued to cherry pick and looked for all of the game scores of at least 15 in the postseason for a player age 20 or younger.

It is no surprise that Magic Johnson sits on top of this list because his game six in the 1980 postseason was the greatest game I’ve ever seen as a fan. But he is also number one and two. Both games came in the NBA finals. There is a reason that Magic Johnson is one of the top ten possibly top five and even to some the greatest player to ever play the game.

You can see the Jayson Tatum run from last year as he had seven games make the list.

You will also see Shai-Gilgeous-Alexander on this list. Not that far down. Sandwiched between Jayson Tatum and Carmelo Anthony.

So to be clear. The list below is every NBA player with a game score of at least 15 in the postseason who was 20 years or younger.

Player                       Age Pos       Date  Tm FT FTA TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS GmSc
Magic Johnson             20-276 G-F 1980-05-16 LAL 14  14  15   7   3   1   5  42 39.6
Magic Johnson             20-271 G-F 1980-05-11 LAL  8  10   9   9   3   1   3  28 31.1
Derrick Rose              20-196   G 2009-04-18 CHI 12  12   4  11   1   0   5  36 30.4
Jayson Tatum              20-081   F 2018-05-23 BOS  7   8   7   4   4   2   2  24 23.0
Stephon Marbury           20-063   G 1997-04-24 MIN  4   6   4   4   1   0   0  28 22.1
Magic Johnson             20-264 G-F 1980-05-04 LAL  0   0   9  10   3   0   2  16 21.9
Brandon Jennings          20-206   G 2010-04-17 MIL  2   4   3   3   1   0   3  34 21.5
Harrison Barnes           20-328   F 2013-04-23 GSW  4   4   6   2   1   0   0  24 21.2
Brandon Jennings          20-215   G 2010-04-26 MIL  5   5   4   6   1   0   1  23 20.0
Tony Parker               19-345   G 2002-04-27 SAS  2   4   5   4   1   0   1  23 19.6
James Harden              20-239   G 2010-04-22 OKC  7   8   5   3   2   0   0  18 19.1
Harrison Barnes           20-335   F 2013-04-30 GSW  4   4   9   1   2   1   1  23 19.0
Jayson Tatum              20-067   F 2018-05-09 BOS  9  11   3   4   1   0   2  25 18.4
Jayson Tatum              20-058   F 2018-04-30 BOS 11  12   3   2   0   1   4  28 18.2
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander   20-283   G 2019-04-21 LAC  4   4   2   2   1   0   2  25 17.9
Carmelo Anthony           19-331   F 2004-04-24 DEN  4   4  10   4   1   0   3  24 17.8
Amare Stoudemire          20-154 F-C 2003-04-19 PHO  5   6   9   0   0   2   4  24 17.8
Tony Parker               19-338   G 2002-04-20 SAS  0   0   1   3   1   0   1  21 17.8
Amare Stoudemire          20-166 F-C 2003-05-01 PHO  2   3  10   3   3   1   2  18 17.8
Harrison Barnes           20-349   F 2013-05-14 GSW  3   4   7   1   0   1   1  25 17.3
Tony Parker               19-358   G 2002-05-10 SAS  5   6   1   5   1   0   2  24 17.3
Kawhi Leonard             20-335   F 2012-05-29 SAS  1   1  10   0   1   2   1  18 17.2
Kawhi Leonard             20-321   F 2012-05-15 SAS  3   4   6   1   3   1   2  16 17.0
Derrick Rose              20-208   G 2009-04-30 CHI  4   6   8   7   0   1   5  28 16.7
Brandon Jennings          20-217   G 2010-04-28 MIL  7   8   4   3   1   1   2  25 16.4
Derrick Rose              20-204   G 2009-04-26 CHI  3   4  11   9   0   0   7  23 16.1
Larry Hughes              20-112   G 1999-05-15 PHI  6   6   7   3   1   2   1  14 16.1
Myles Turner              20-028 C-F 2016-04-21 IND  3   4   8   1   0   3   1  17 16.0
Kawhi Leonard             20-308   F 2012-05-02 SAS  2   2   3   1   2   0   1  17 15.9
Kawhi Leonard             20-339   F 2012-06-02 SAS  0   0   9   0   1   0   2  17 15.9
Jayson Tatum              20-063   F 2018-05-05 BOS  1   4   5   4   1   0   4  24 15.8
Kawhi Leonard             20-325   F 2012-05-19 SAS  1   1   9   1   2   1   1  14 15.8
Jayson Tatum              20-056   F 2018-04-28 BOS  5   5   6   5   0   1   1  20 15.5
Tyrus Thomas              20-263   F 2007-05-07 CHI  8  11   4   1   3   1   1  18 15.5
Thaddeus Young            19-311   F 2008-04-27 PHI  4   4   9   3   0   0   0  15 15.5
Jayson Tatum              20-050   F 2018-04-22 BOS  5   6   3   3   2   0   1  21 15.4
James Harden              20-241   G 2010-04-24 OKC  7   8   5   4   2   1   1  15 15.2
Jayson Tatum              20-054   F 2018-04-26 BOS  8   9   3   3   2   0   3  22 15.0

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/23/2019.

Jovan Buha, the Clipper beat writer for The Athletic wrote this about the game.

Game 4 was the actualization of all of Gilgeous-Alexander’s scoring gifts and instincts in one package. It was everything that makes him such a tantalizing long-term prospect — and potentially an All-Star down the line. The size, the pace, the touch, the confidence.

The Clippers have big plans for the summer of 2019 centered around Kawi Leonard and Anthony Davis but if none of them work out and the kids are all still here, I look forward to watching Landry Shamet and SGA grow up together in the backcourt.   Are championships in their future? Probably not, Portland has gotten to watch Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum grow into a devasting backcourt but they don’t have any championships in their past or future. They also didn’t have Kawi who I really hope is a Clipper in a few months. 

Anyone curious how Bellingers first 100 Plate Appearances of 2019 compare to Puig’s in 2013?

Cody Bellinger has now accumulated 100 plate appearances and it is probably the greatest stretch of 100 plate appearances we will ever see from a Dodger.  I thought it would be fun to compare this stretch to the first 100 PA of Puig when Puig first showed up, because they are both age 23, they are both playing right field, and those first 100 plate appearances by Puig was probably the greatest stretch of offense and defense I’ve seen from any Dodger in my lifetime.

Now I had to stop at 98 for Puig because that is where the Baseball Ref Game log took me. That stretch is from game one on June one on June 3rd, to game 24 on June 28th.

It is cool to see that they both have the exact same batting average (.424), but Bellinger blows Puig away in OBP and Slug. During that Puig stretch, we have to remember the throws he made that put his arm on the map, but Bellinger has made a few of his own defensive highlight reels, taking a home run away from Yelich the other day.

Year                Age PA  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS 
Bellinger - 2019    23 100 26 36  4  1 11  28 13 12 .424 .500 .882 1.382
Puig      - 2019    23 98  16 39  4  0 7   16 4  19 .424 .459 .696 1.155

Thanks to Baseball Reference for this information.

Ross Stripling blooms in the spring

Just like your favorite flowers that bloom every April and May, Ross Stripling has that fragrant spring smell when he takes the mound as a starter in the spring.  Ross has made forty-two major league starts and has a game score of 69 or greater in seven of them. Of those dominant seven starts, six of them came either in April or May.

Date            Opp  Rslt AppDec  IP H ER BB SO GSc
2016-04-08      SFG L 2-3   GS-8 7.1 0  1  4  4  74
2016-05-08      TOR W 4-2   GS-6 6.0 1  1  0  6  72
2018-05-30      PHI W 8-2 GS-7 W 7.0 4  1  2  9  72
2019-04-14      MIL W 7-1 GS-8 W 8.0 4  1  1  3  72
2018-05-25      SDP W 4-1 GS-7 W 6.2 6  0  0 10  70
2018-05-19(1)   WSN W 4-1 GS-6 W 6.0 4  1  0  9  69
2018-07-07      LAA W 3-1 GS-6 W 6.0 3  1  0  7  69

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/20/2019.

With Ryu coming off the DL to pitch today, with Rich Hill on the horizon, and with Clayton Kershaw already back, it is possible that Ross Stripling just made his last start for the Dodgers until the next starter goes on the disabled list. That may not take long given the fragility of the three pitchers given their DL history over the past three years but it may not happen until at least June and we won’t be seeing any May starts for Stripling.

But what a bullpen. Dodgers will now have three weapons in Ross Stripling, Caleb Ferguson, and Julio Urias that can go multiple productive innings.

Kiké was the star, but this was a team victory from the manager to the bullpen.

The big hero last night was Kiké and his improbable three-run home against the fireball Josh Hader.  As Ken Gurnick noted last night it was the first time that Kiké had ever homered on an 0 – 2 count and it was the first home run ever given up by Hader on an 0 – 2 count. 

Here is the math for the home run. I bet you didn’t expect a paragraph like this ten years ago when explaining a home run.

According to Statcast, the 95.5-mph pitch had a spin rate of 2327 RPM and a pitch height of 3.04 feet, and Hader had an extension of 7.1 feet. It exited at 106.1 mph and traveled an estimated 399 feet with a launch angle of 20 degrees and a hang time of 4.3 second.

As big as the home run was, Friday Night was a microcosm of how to win tough games. Ross Stripling gave up two runs in the first but you can’t be upset when someone gives up a home run to Christian Yelich. It is the in thing to do right now in the NL.  Down 2 – 0 after one is never a good look, but Ross buckled down and did what he’s done in every April he’s been in a rotation.  Ross and the bullpen allowed only one more run giving the Dodger offense plenty of time to come back.

The Pitching Breakdown – Ross for 14 outs, two earned in 1st, comes out after intelligently walking Yelich. Alexander comes in and gets Mike Moustakas to ground out to end the fifth.  Alexander starts the 6th, gives up a single, then gets his specialty, the ground ball double play.  With two outs, Alexander gives up two straight singles, putting two on with two out. Dylan Floro comes in and does what Dylan Floro does, a pop up out to end the threat in the 6th.  The key moves here is that when Floro replaced Alexander, it became a double switch and Hernandez came into to play 2nd, Muncy moved to 1st, and Bellinger to RF.  This doesn’t happen in the AL. Nothing happens in the AL.   Floro gets the first batter in the 7th but then hits Cain, bringing up Yelich. Dave Roberts counters with Pedro Baez and it works out with Yelich just missing it, and hitting a long fly ball for an out. Moustakas gives Pedro all he has for eight pitches but Baez strikes him out on the 9th pitch.  Joe Kelly comes in to protect the three-run lead that Hernandez gave the Dodgers with his home run in the top of the eighth.  Joe has struggled all season but with each appearance, he seems to be finding his groove. Joe strikes out the first two Brewers and just as you think he’s coming around, Marcus Thames crushes a solo home run to cut the lead to 5 -3.  Joe finishes the innings with another strikeout and struck out the side around the solo home run. Kenley Jansen comes in for the save and needs to get three straight outs so the Yelich will not come up representing the tying run. Jansen is up to the task and sets down the Brewers in order in what I think was his best appearance to date.

Hitting Breakdown – down two runs the Dodgers answer right back on an infield single by Cody Bellinger and a big two-out full count double by Alex Verdugo.  In the 3rd the Dodgers tie the game on a long sacrifice fly to Left Field by Bellinger. They had loaded the bases on two walks and a single. The key play was the walk to Ross Stripling. You won’t see that in the NL.  With the score tied and Josh Hader pitching his second inning the Dodgers went to work. Pollock worked a full count walk. David Freese worked a 3 – 1 walk.  On his 34th pitch, Hernandez drilled the back-breaking three-run home run. Overall the Dodgers earned nine walks last night and that patient approach is what ultimately gave them the opportunities to win this game.

Managing – Dave Roberts made all the right calls in this game. He used the right relief pitchers at the right time. He made the huge double switch that put Hernandez into the game.

That is how you win a tough 5 – 3 game against one of the best teams in baseball.