Chase Utley was signed on December 9th, 2015 and appeared destined to be the full-time second baseman against RHP with Kiké Hernandez likely to get the at-bats against LHP.
Howie Kendrick had been offered the qualifying offer and had refused so it was expected he would sign a multi-year deal elsewhere giving the Dodgers a nice draft pick. Those offers never materialized for Howie and come spring of 2016 he was jobless. The Dodgers took advantage of the lack of a market and signed Howie to a team friendly two-year deal on February 4th, 2016.
This changed the 2nd base situation as it was kind of expected that Howie would be the full-time 2nd baseman with Chase providing relief at 2nd/3rd. When Kendrick got hurt in the spring, Chase took those at-bats and started the season as the starting second baseman and leadoff hitter. By the time Howie was healthy, Chase had become the full-time 2nd baseman against RHP and Howie had to find his at-bats in left field.
Since Howie only played 23 games at 2nd, most of this will be about Chase Utley.
Chase had a bizarre year. He proved to his critics he wasn’t done, and he proved that even at 37 years old he could escape the disabled list for a full year. Chase played the game hard on every play and that alone made it seem like he was better than he was. As good as Chase looked playing the game of baseball he didn’t really have a good year.
He had four monster games mixed in with a bunch of meh. He couldn’t hit at home, and he couldn’t hit left-handers.
- Six hits in seven at-bats on July 6th against the Orioles in a 14 inning game the Dodgers lost. The oldest player to have six hits was Cal Ripkin. The 2nd oldest was Ty Cobb. The 3rd oldest was Chase Utley.
- On May 27th his double sparked a rally that saw the Dodgers score four runs in the top of the 9th and tie the Mets at 5, only to see the Dodgers lose in the bottom of the 9th.
- On May 28th, Chase hit two home runs against the Mets, including a grand slam. All this came after Thor knocked him down for what happened in the 2015 NLDS. This would have been the sweetest game if not for…….
- On Aug 16th, Chase hit two home runs including a grand slam in his first appearance against the Phillies since he left. Standing ovation after standing ovation was heaped upon their favorite son.
- On June 14th against the Diamondbacks, he drove in four runs.
- As the leadoff hitter, he drove in three runs or more five times.
- He made a play I’d never seen before and one I’ll never forget.
- Chase couldn’t hit at Dodger Stadium, posting a .602 OPS at home compared to an OPS of .809 on the road. All his big games came on the road. All of them.
- Chase couldn’t hit LHP a lick. In 97 plate appearances, he had an OPS of .470.
- After his magic night in Philly on Aug 16th, he had a triple stat line of .244 / .288 / .397 in 139 plate appearances. As a leadoff hitter.
- His postseason performance was very poor. He couldn’t hit, and he didn’t field very well either. He only managed three singles in 28 at-bats, and all those singles came in the NLDS. He was hitless in 12 at-bats in the NLCS.
Given how many highlights Chase Utley gave Dodger fans in 2016 it is strange to look at his full season stats and realize that he simply wasn’t that good. He put up an fWAR of 2.0 which ranked 11th among NL 2nd baseman with at least 400 PA.
Howie Kendrick did play some 2nd base starting in 23 games. Howie was so uncomfortable at 2nd by the end of the year that when given a choice of LF or 2nd base by Dave Roberts in the NLCS, Howie preferred leftfield.
I know Dave Roberts is everybody’s favorite but to me he did some strange things. Chase was a leadoff hitter for far too long and he didn’t figure that out until the end of the postseason. If Howie wasn’t going to start in LF in the postseason it seems it would have made more sense to get Howie at-bats at 2nd in Sept to get him reacquainted with the position.
The immediate future is shaky.
I don’t think they resign Chase Utley or if they do it won’t be as the starting 2nd baseman. Howie Kendrick is signed for two more years, are they comfortable with him as the starting second baseman next year? His defense looked shaky at 2nd this year but it can’t be easy going from LF to 2nd back to LF.
Other players in the mix are Kiké Hernandez but given his complete freefall in 2016, he may have a hard time even making the 2017 roster.
I have zero ideas what the Dodgers think of Austin Barnes. Backup catcher, a utility player who can catch, possible 2nd base option, none of these? I just don’t know.
The best 2nd baseman in the Dodger farm system is Willie Calhoun who was drafted in the 4th round in 2015 and was already tearing up AA in 2016. Willie can hit, but the question for the 21-year-old is if he can field well enough to be a major-league 2nd baseman. Willie Calhoun hit 27 home runs, which was the most home runs hit by any 21-year-old in AA ball in 2016. I went back to at least 2010, and Willie has the most home runs by a 21-year-old in AA since at least 2010. Marc Hulet of Fangraphs had this to say:
Standing 5-8, he’s got sneaky Jose Altuve power because of strong arms/wrists and a quick bat. He likely won’t stick at second base but the bat should play just about anywhere.
It will be interesting to see if the Dodger Front Office consider Willie a future 2nd baseman, an outfielder, or a trade chip. He’s still playing 2nd in the Arizona Instructional League. His bat should be ready sometime in 2017 but where will they put the glove?
Adrian Gonzalez has been the Dodger full-time 1st baseman since he was acquired on August 24th, 2012. Adrian made about as big a splash as anyone could, slugging a memorable three-run home run in his first Dodger at-bat. At the time of the trade, the Dodgers were three full games back of the Giants, they would finish eight games back going only 18 – 18 over their final 36 games. The Dodgers did not make the postseason in 2012, but they have won the NL West every year since that time with Adrian playing just about every game.
The Dodgers have played 522 games since acquiring Adrian, and he has played in 502 of them. He is a workhorse but I’m not sure if the Dodgers really wanted to play him this much in 2016. The early injury to Scott Van Slyke, and then the reluctance of Dave Roberts to use Scotty when he came back left me unsure if they ever intended for Adrian to get more days off or not.
Over those 3 1/2 years, Adrian has almost always been the Dodgers clean up hitter. The butter and egg man.
This year, Adrian’s clients must have been on a diet, because the butter and egg man wasn’t delivering as many eggs and the butter tasted more like margarine. The bad streaks are getting longer, the good streaks are getting shorter, and the home run power was dropping precipitously. His ISO dropped to 150 a 25% drop from his 2015 ISO of 2015. The slug% from .480 to .435. His career slug% is .492.
For the first time since becoming a Dodger, Adrian Gonzalez was more of a drag on the offense than an anchor. Using FanGraphs we can compare Adrian to his peers at 1st base in the NL. Using 400 plate appearances as the cutoff this is how he measured up.
Like many hitters, Adrian is a streaky hitter but the streaks in 2016 didn’t last long enough for him. If you look month by month for Adrian related to home runs you see someone who had two monster months in 2015 and 2014, but only one in 2016. Below is a simple chart of the number of months since 2013 that Adrian hit at least five home runs in a month.
|2015||Twice||8 and 8|
|2014||Twice||8 and 8|
|2013||Twice||5 and 5|
With the present not very productive, how does the future look?
It is not surprising that at age 34 Adrian Gonzalez had his least productive season. The Dodgers are on the hook for two more years at $21,500,000 for each year. It would appear for now that the Dodgers will be stuck with Adrian for two more years. Unlike Carl Crawford, he is still useful but it would behoove the front office to find a more viable backup 1st base option in 2017 to help take the load off of Adrian. He may simply need more games off as he gets older, and given his struggles against LHP, it would probably be a great idea to make sure that secondary 1st base option is right handed. Will they go with Scott Van Slyke again or possibly make a play for a Danny Valencia/Steve Pearce/David Freese type who don’t have the health history of Van Slyke while having a better history against left-handed pitchers.
Mark Teixeira gave 35-year-old 1st baseman hope in 2015 when he bounced back from his 2014 season to post his best season since he was 29. His 36-year-old season in 2016 was not so kind and he decided to retire.
Only 28 seasons of a 1st baseman since 2005 have played 1st base at the age of 35 or older, with at least 400 plate appearances. Most of the dismal seasons happened age 36 or older, the odds look good that Adrian can still be productive in 2017 at age 35. Can he be better than he was in 2016?
If the Dodgers don’t trade Cody Bellinger the future would appear to be Cody Bellinger, who many consider the Dodgers top positional prospect. Cody is athletic enough to play the outfield as well as first base. He’s considered a top notch defensive 1st baseman. You could tell the Dodgers thought highly enough of him this spring that they gave him a long look in the spring which was quite unusual for a player who had never even played AA ball. This summer after a slow start, Bellinger proved to the doubters that the power he displayed in the Cal League was not a mirage.
As a 20-year-old in AA, Bellinger hit 23 home runs and posted a .221 ISO. Those 23 home runs were the most of any 20 year-old in the league. They would have been the most of any 21-year-old in the league if not for his 21-year-old teammate Willie Calhoun. Bellinger posted a .979 OPS in AA in August and was promoted to AAA to help them in the playoffs.
Replacing the good Adrian Gonzalez circa 2014/2015 might have been a tough task, but the 2016 version of Adrian sets a lower bar. That said the Dodgers probably want to get better at 1st base not tread water and expecting Bellinger to be better than Adrian would probably be asking too much in 2017. Still, Bellinger let the Dodgers know they might have a replacement, the question might be when, and it might be sooner than people think.
It would not shock me if the Dodgers did trade Adrian Gonzalez this winter. He’s already been involved in four big trades, it might be five soon enough. The contract isn’t horrible. This front office is creative and I’m not sure they really want Adrian Gonzalez to be the cleanup hitter in 2017. At least I doubt they want the 2016 version of Adrian Gonzalez to be the cleanup hitter in 2017.
With the season now over and possibly his Dodger career let’s take a look at the amazing accomplishments of Justin Red Dream Turner.
At 28 years old Turner was a career utility player who was inexplicably released by the Mets in the winter of 2014. Ned Colletti jumped on the chance to get the valuable utility player in the spring of 2014 and he would end up being the Dodger starting 3rd baseman for almost three years. His story is amazing and Dodger fans were lucky it was a Dodger story.
“I got a chance to re-create my whole identity when I came over here,” Turner said, and each step of his route to the plate reveals the keys to his evolution: The breathing techniques he learned on the field and in the classroom at Cal State Fullerton. The swing he rebuilt after the New York Mets released him in 2013. The physique he reshaped after his first season in Los Angeles. The knee he rehabilitated from microfracture surgery last winter, emerging from the process a sleeker defender with more power than ever before.
It left me asking these questions.
Is Justin Turner the greatest Dodger free agent signing ever?
Depending on how you want to define a free agent he’s probably the greatest free agent signing by the Dodgers ever. You could argue for Kirk Gibson if you want, and he certainly had more impact in one season, but he can’t touch what JT did during his three-year reign. You could argue for Brett Butler who put up a wonderful 15. 1 bWAR during his first free agent run with the Dodgers, but Butler had a four-year run not three. Manny was all world in 2009 before his PED suspension. JD Drew had a nice two-year run but not three. Rafy Furcal has the highest bWAR of any Dodger free agent, accumulated over his five-year run. Very comparable to what Brett Butler did in the about the same number of at-bats. Of course, Justin Turner put up a bWAR of 13.1 in almost half the plate appearances of Butler and Furcal.
I’m going to stick with this. Kirk Gibson had the most impact of any Dodger free agent, while Justin Turner was by far and away the best value along with being the best.
Course you could argue that all the players below except Justin Turner were free agents of the truest sense over their run. Justin Turner was simply signed as a non-roster invitee and the Dodgers owned him for the next three years.
Is Turner the best Dodger 3rd baseman over a three year period?
This is so close between Ron Cey and Justin Turner. Cey was so good for so long that he had two excellent three-year runs that were comparable to Justin Turner. As much as I would like to crown Justin Turner I can’t deny the Penguin his due. Ron Cey is still the greatest Dodger of all time no matter how you try to cherry pick the numbers. Adrian Beltre easily owns the greatest season for a LAD 3rd baseman, and when you figure in his 2004 into a three-year run from 2002 – 2004 you still have a player in consideration.
Was Justin Turner the best position player over his three year Dodger career?
You betcha. He’s been the best position Dodger by bWAR over the past three years, and it is not close.
|Scott Van Slyke||HomeGrown||114||3.8||612||2014-16|
Instead of changing Dodger history, the Dodgers decided to replicate the 2013 game six failure. In that elimination game six with Kershaw on the mound on the road the Dodgers lost 9 0 to the Cardinals.
Last night they only lost 5 -0 because Dave Roberts used Kenley Jansen to finish up the game and season.
Much like that game the Dodgers brought nothing to the table.
No Defense – Toles dropping a simple fly ball continued the trend of bad defense over the final three games and set the stage for Dodger game six failure.
No Baserunning – Josh Reddick was one of the few Dodgers to reach base and was not only picked off, he was as out as you will ever see on a pickoff.
No Starting pitching – Kershaw was extremely hittable, as line drive after line drove the stake into the Dodger heart.
No Offense – Toles started the game with sharp single to right but before you could say Cory S……… he had hit into a double play and that would be the extent of the Dodger offense.
In this Series it seems that the roll of the dice were not in play. This was not a crap shoot, the better team won, and will be advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945, and will be trying to win their first World Series since 1908.
I wish them well. I can’t imagine the World Series being competitive since I have no idea how the Indians are in the World Series given the rotation they currently possess. This will be the second team to try to win a World Championship back to back by shutting down a team from the 6th inning on. Andrew Miller got lots of rest between the ALCS and the World Series and he may need it.
Since 1941 the Dodgers are 0 – 6 in a seven-game postseason series where they have trailed 3 games to 2. They are 0 – 2 in the NLCS when trailing 3 games to 2.
1985 – Cardinals closed it out in the sixth game in Los Angeles. The infamous Jack Clark game who slugged three-run home run off of Tom Niedenfuer in the top of the 9th to give the Cardinals the 7 – 5 victory and a trip to the World Series. The Cardinals lost to the Royals in a seven-game epic World Series. If you watch the MLB video link below, take a look at Pedro Guerrero’s reaction.
2013 – Much like 2016 the Dodgers came into game six with Clayton Kershaw pitching on the road to try to tie the series at three games apiece. It ended with the Cardinals hammering Kershaw and winning 9 – 0.
Of course, the Cubs have their own history they are battling, as every Cub fan over the age of 21 has to remember the 2003 collapse at home against the Marlins in the NLCS. The Cubs had Mark Prior and Kerry Wood lined up for games 6 and 7. The Cubs were outscored 17 – 9 in those two games.
If you are like me and you get a gag reflex when Mr. Buck opens his mouth you have two options. You can mute him, or you can find an alternative station. I decided to find an alternative station because muting eliminates the sound of the crowd, and much like Vin Scully I love to hear the crowd.
Luckily for most of us, there is an alternative station, and it is Fox Deportes. 945 on your dial for those in the West Valley on Spectrum. You don’t have to understand Spanish to enjoy the telecast, if fact I think it best that you don’t. Evidently, their twitter feed is a big deal for them because they must repeat how to contact them via twitter every inning. They have ex-ball players calling the game, and ex-Dodger Karim Garcia is a sideline reporter. If you don’t remember Karim Garcia he was the 2nd Mexican to play with the Dodgers as a teenager. We had high hopes, but they never materialized.
I went to Fox Deportes to enjoy the game without having to listen to Joe Buck but I ended up getting so much more than I expected.
I’m not sure why, even though they are baseball players announcing the games, if you close your eyes, it sounds like they are announcing a soccer match. They get excited very easily and I half expect someone to yell GOAL on a home run.
The biggest bonus, hold your hat, are the commercials. Yup, the commercials.
There is not one single Pharma advertisement. Evidently, in the Hispanic community, they don’t suffer from the ailments that 40 – 60-year-old white males suffer from. No sweaty palms, no jumpy legs, no erectile dysfunction, no memory loss, no depression. Life must be good for them. I couldn’t remember the last time I watched any TV without Pharma dominating the advertisements.
No Carls Junior either. They did have a cute Wendy spokesperson, much better than the English spokesperson, but unlike Carls Junior who only sells sex, she had all of her clothes on.
The wireless advertisements have a fun Hispanic flair to them
Plenty of Cervesa commercials but none of them seemed like they were taken from Science Fiction scripts.
The same bazillion car commercials but seemed more about the cars than the models you’ll never sleep with even if you buy that car.
Even the State farm commercials are better.
It is almost like Fox Deportes decided to have a family hour during the broadcasts. At no time was I embarrassed or disgusted. I enjoy a scantily clad lady as much or more than anyone, but I don’t need to feel a nine-year-old kid has to watch a three-way Carls Junior commercial with their parents.
Baseball is supposed to be the focus, not masturbation.
where the Dodgers will pin their hopes that Kershaw and Hill can deliver two wins to the shell shocked team.
Nothing has gone right over the last two nights, starting pitching, relief pitching, defense, and offense all failed resulting in two blowouts by the Cubs.
No need for a recap, it was all ugly.
Roberts picked a bizarre strategy against Jon Lester, so the only highlight for the Dodgers was Kiké Hernandez dancing off first base like a loose gorilla.
will start for the Dodgers in Game 5. A fairly controversial decision given how poorly Kenta Maeda has pitched in his last four starts. He has yet to have a decent postseason game, and Kershaw just won his last game 1 – 0.
You can see the reasons for either choice:
Kenta – Pros
He’s much better at home. Wait, is he? The splits don’t show he’s much better. Kenta home cooking looks overrated to me.
Even though Kershaw had pitched on regular rest in his last start it was with a two-out save on his bullpen day, and that came after pitching on three days rest. This will get Kershaw plenty of rest for game six.
Kenta – Cons
He hasn’t been good, and while I think he showed some improvement in his last start not many agree with me.
Starting Kenta in this game means that if the Dodgers win the NLCS Kershaw can’t pitch game one of the World Series
Kershaw – Pros
He’s Clayton Kershaw
Wouldn’t you rather be up 3 – 2 headed back to Chicago than down 2 – 3?
If Kershaw pitched today, you could probably use Kershaw in some capacity in a game seven if you needed too.
If the Dodgers can win the NLCS, Kershaw would be lined up to pitch game 1
Kershaw – Cons
You run the risk of burning out your ace if you keep using him on short rest.
At some point you need to win a game from Kenta, might as well try it tonight.
My own choice would be Clayton Kershaw simply because if you have a Clayton Kershaw you use him as much as possible. The Cub offense showed some life last night, using Kershaw could squash all the confidence they gained, while Kenta, might simply add wood to the fire.
This isn’t a must win, not with Kershaw and Hill going in games six and seven but it behooves the Dodgers to win two of three at home if they expect to play the Indians in October.
was all we got last night when it came to highlights. Thanks to Dave Young I was able to join the sold-out crowd that came to Dodger Stadium to see the youngest starting postseason pitcher in history and for three innings he gave them what they came for.
The fourth spot in the Dodger postseason rotation was always going to be problematic . The best choices for the role such as Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, or Scott Kazmir simply weren’t ready by the time the season ended. That left the Dodgers going with Julio Urias who they had not stretched out in Sept because of inning limits. Given they had no other viable choices you can’t complain, they would just have to work with what they had. If Urias could give the team four or five innings that would have been exactly what the Doctor ordered. The plan seemed to be falling nicely into place. Urias wasn’t blazing through the Cub lineup but once you looked up at the scoreboard after three innings you saw zero runs and zero hits.
Unfortunately, a baseball game is more than three innings, and by the time Julio Urias had exited the game in the fourth he was trailing 4 -0. The defense offered no help to Julio and it would only get worse as the game progressed.
This game only had lowlights after the 3rd inning:
Chase Utley decided to try for two outs instead of one on a diving stop by Seager who managed an underhand throw to Chase. Chase tried to barehand so he could throw to second but dropped the ball. You’d think a veteran like Chase would have understood the old baseball maxim get the sure out. Urias was able to work out of the jam because Jason Heyward is in the lineup. Chase should have known that Jason was due up and getting one out is all they needed since Jason would be the 3rd out. Instead, Urias had to work a little harder to get both Heyward and Addison Russell. He did it, but he shouldn’t have had too.
Andrew Toles who up to this point had been impeccable in left field uncorked a throw to home that was so bad, that the left field ghosts of Juan Pierre and Carl Crawford were laughing at those who made fun of their arms. Toles had a chance to nail Ben Zobrist at the plate but instead his throw sailed into the sunset. In a best case scenario, Zobrist is out at home, in this scenario Zobrist was safe, and runners ended up at 2nd/3rd with no outs.
At this point, no one had hit the ball hard off of Urias. Zobrist got on via bunt single, Baez blooped a single over short, and Contreras looped a single into left field. Heyward continued that trend with a ground out to 2nd scoring Baez. Runner on 3rd, two outs, the eight hitter coming up. Do you walk him to get to Lackey? Do you pull Urias and bring in a right-hander to face Russell? Russell hadn’t had a hit in 17 straight at-bats. Doc left in Urias and Russell slammed a home run to RCF that opened the floodgates for the Cub offense.
The Dodger defense was not done throwing around the baseball, in one of their worst defensive games they would commit four errors. Hernandez tried to make a play at first that didn’t exist and threw the ball away. Even when they would make a good play they would look silly after the play. Joc made an outstanding catch with the bases loaded but instead of simply doubling up anyone of two runners, his throw home bounced away and then the Dodgers just started throwing the ball around. Eventually, two runs had scored on a sacrifice fly.
Even Dave Roberts didn’t have his A-Game. When the score was still relatively close, he didn’t plan ahead for having a left-hander ready to face Rizzo in the 6th when the game really got away. Dave Young expressed the frustration of many:
How is there not a lefty already ready for Rizzo here?????? NO ONE WAS THROWING IN THE OEN?
— D Young Frankenstein (@DavidYoungTBLA) October 20, 2016
Not having one of Avilan/Wood ready for Rizzo there is pretty egregious managing. Ugh.
— D Young Frankenstein (@DavidYoungTBLA) October 20, 2016
For a game that started so promising for Dodger fans, it ended with the many Cub fans giving their team a standing ovation at the end.
Game four of the NLCS has a tasty pitching matchup coming up tonight. The 37-year-old John Lackey has now thrown 131 postseason innings but once upon a time he was what Julio Urias is now, but just a little older.
Lackey was a rookie in 2002 and only threw 108 innings during the regular season for the Angels. He didn’t come up to the Angels until June 24th, but from that point on he was a regular in the rotation. Much like Urias, Lackey rarely went beyond five innings in Sept.
Even more eerily, Lackey’s first postseason appearance was as a relief pitcher in the ALDS just as Urias pitched in relief in the NLDS. Urias threw two shutout innings in relief, John Lackey pitched three shutout innings in relief.
Urias is going to start game four of the NLCS for his first postseason start. John Lackey started game four of the ALCS for his first postseason start. Lackey threw seven shutout innings in that game. For perspective on that, Lackey only did that one time in 18 starts in the regular season.
That is all we can compare for now because John Lackey went onto to become the Angels pitching hero in the 2002 World Series. He pitched in three games, started two, and was the winning pitcher in the World Championship game seven. At the time Lackey was only the second rookie to pitch and win a World Series game seven. The last to do it was Babe Adams in 1909.
Six other rookie pitchers over the past 93 years — including one Game 8 starter — had tried and failed to double the size of Adams’ exclusive club. But then along came Lackey, a tall Texan with a cowboy’s drawl, a Gomer Pyle smile and a bull rider’s heart.
Fast forward fourteen years, and John Lackey is still going strong. He has been a workhorse most of his career, compiling over 198 innings, eight times in his career. Over his career, he has thrown 2669 innings. How does that compare to his peers?
Most innings pitched from 2000 – 20016 per baseball reference:
We have the pitcher with the 6th most innings in the 21st century going against the kid making the youngest start in postseason history and quite possibly John Lackey is the person who knows the most about what it going through young Julio Urias’s mind.