Dodgers own the lineup positions

We all know that Yasiel Puig has been the best number eight hitter in baseball but when Joe Davis said that Chris Taylor has been the best leadoff hitter in baseball that made me turn to Fangraphs and use the batting position split tool to find out how the rest of the lineup stacks up.

I was fully expecting Cory Seager and Justin Turner from the two and three batting order positions to be near the top but I was not expecting Cody Bellinger to be the top cleanup hitter in all of baseball.

I used Fangraphs wRC+ for this exercise with a minimum of 150 plate appearances.  It was interesting to note that many players exceeded the 150 plate appearances threshold for batting positions 1 – 5 but once we hit the number six and seven spot, not even ten hitters could reach the threshold including zero Dodgers. The Dodgers may bounce around the 5,6, and 7 spots in the order, but one – four,  and eight have been consistently the same folk game after game. Chris Taylor, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, and Puig.

This is why the Dodgers are on pace to have the greatest season in Dodger history.  Per wRC+

  • They have the best lead off hitter in baseball (Chris Taylor)
  • They have the cleanup hitter in baseball (Cody Bellinger)
  • They have the best eight hitter in baseball (Yasiel Puig)
  • They have the fifth best five hitter in baseball (Corey Seager)
  • They have the fourth best three hitter in baseball (Justin Turner)

Lead Off:

Name Team PA wRC+
Chris Taylor Dodgers 165 197
George Springer Astros 436 159
Michael Conforto Mets 317 148
Matt Carpenter Cardinals 255 146
Charlie Blackmon Rockies 523 141
Matt Joyce Athletics 224 136
Corey Dickerson Rays 251 132
Jean Segura Mariners 376 126
Shin-Soo Choo Rangers 269 120

Batting 2nd:

Name Team PA wRC+
Mike Trout Angels 155 211
Jose Altuve Astros 178 196
Giancarlo Stanton Marlins 304 178
Josh Donaldson Blue Jays 157 169
Corey Seager Dodgers 466 144
Eduardo Nunez – – – 158 144
Zack Cozart Reds 275 142
Kris Bryant Cubs 405 142
Eric Thames Brewers 385 141

Batting 3rd:

Name Team PA wRC+
Mike Trout Angels 174 198
Freddie Freeman Braves 311 168
Joey Votto Reds 514 165
Bryce Harper Nationals 447 164
Justin Turner Dodgers 379 164
Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks 399 157
Justin Upton Tigers 170 153
Jose Altuve Astros 304 141
Ryan Braun Brewers 244 136

Batting cleanup:

Name Team PA wRC+
Cody Bellinger Dodgers 271 152
Justin Smoak Blue Jays 202 149
Nelson Cruz Mariners 418 148
Adrian Beltre Rangers 260 140
Khris Davis Athletics 447 139
Ryan Zimmerman Nationals 355 138
Buster Posey Giants 415 138
Jay Bruce Mets 194 136
Carlos Correa Astros 284 133
Travis Shaw Brewers 406 132
Neil Walker – – – 155 132
Logan Morrison Rays 348 132

Batting eighth:

Name Team PA wRC+
Yasiel Puig Dodgers 224 132
Travis d’Arnaud Mets 155 120
Alex Bregman Astros 195 118
Jordy Mercer Pirates 198 98
Orlando Arcia Brewers 346 93
Omar Narvaez White Sox 168 86
Tucker Barnhart Reds 287 85
Freddy Galvis Phillies 154 82

This will be fun to look back on, at the end of the year.

 

NL Central Update

I just want to post this.
At the end of August 12th the top three teams in the NL Central have this interesting won/loss record.

Come on, how cool is that.

Team Wins Losses
Cubs 61 55
Cardinals 61 57
Brewers 61 59

AL Wild Wild card race

The Yankee’s did enough at the trade deadline that most figured they would not only handily win a wild card spot but overtake the Boston Red Sox and win the AL East outright.  They started out that way proving the few skeptics (me) wrong and the majority correct.  Several games after the big trades the Yankees were sitting in first place by 1/2 a game on July 31st.  But hold on, that was as big a lead as they got, as they have fallen from being in 1st place to 5.5 games back in a span of twelve games. Turns out you need more than just a killer bullpen to win games. Who knew?

Meanwhile, the Angels were given little chance in the hectic wild card race for the second spot (everyone assumed the Yankees or Red Sox have the first one locked up)  but with Trout back in the lineup the Angels came out blazing in August and won their first four games. They followed that with three straight losses and that looked like curtains. Somewhere they found another gear and have now won six games in a row, including a sweep of Seattle in Seattle as they try to douse the Mariner postseason hopes. The Angels did this with a rotation in August so far of Parker Bridwell, Rickey Nolasco, JC Ramirez, Tyler Skaggs, and someone named Troy Scribner. I can safely say I had never heard of three of those pitchers on March 1st, 2017.

If you look at the Wild Card standings right now you will see the Angels now have the same record as NYY. If the season ended today, the NYY and Angels would be playing the play-in game.

They both have 61 wins.

Four teams have 59 wins, Seattle, Twins, KC, and Tampa Bay.  The Orioles have 58 wins.

Going to be a wild ride from here.

Go Angels

Bellinger leading August offensive onslaught

The top of the Dodger lineup continues to prove why they are the best in baseball. Through games of August 12th,  the top of the lineup has four of the five best offensive performances so far in August. The interloper is Austin Barnes who is doing everything at an elite level in August, albeit in only 20 PA. Look at the walk percentage? Strikeout percentage?

Speaking of strikeout percentage, get a load of Mr. Bellinger. Not only is he continuing to display power, but he’s also making more contact dropping his strikeout percentage below 20%.

That is ridiculous.

Check out the Justin Turner strike out percentage.

Logan Forsythe can’t hit a lick but he gets on base thus adding value to the team.

Slumpers in August so far have been Grandal, Pederson, Hernandez, and even Chase.

The Dodgers are scoring because of the top of the lineup and PUIG.  More on that later today.

Name PA wOBA wRC+ HR BB% K%
Cody Bellinger 52 0.457 189 6 5.80% 17.30%
Austin Barnes 20 0.449 183 0 15.00% 10.00%
Chris Taylor 54 0.43 170 5 9.30% 20.40%
Justin Turner 49 0.414 161 6 4.10% 4.10%
Corey Seager 55 0.376 135 1 12.70% 16.40%
Yasiel Puig 44 0.36 125 2 22.70% 15.90%
Logan Forsythe 34 0.318 97 0 23.50% 29.40%
Kyle Farmer 9 0.292 81 0 0.00% 22.20%
Chase Utley 20 0.248 52 1 0.00% 20.00%
Kiké Hernandez 23 0.244 49 0 8.70% 34.80%
Yasmani Grandal 31 0.239 46 1 9.70% 35.50%
Joc Pederson 36 0.131 -24 0 11.10% 19.40%

FFA for Week August 7th – August 13th

Contenders:

Wilmer Font – SP – AAA/OKC – Font started two games last week, went twelve innings, gave up nine hits, two earned runs, walked two, and struck out fourteen. Over his last seven starts, he has pitched 41 innings, giving up just six earned runs, twenty-eight hits, walked eight and struck out fifty-four.

Tim Locastro – Inf – AAA/OKC – Tim was promoted to AAA to replace Willie Calhoun as the OKC second baseman and has responded well to his promotion with a .970 OPS so far. This past week Tim had ten hits in twenty-six at-bats, with one home run.

Yusniel Diaz – OF – AA/Tulsa – Yusniel has taken to AA with a flourish putting up a .925 OPS in just 37 at-bats.  Diaz is playing mostly RF for Tulsa. For the week, Diaz had eight hits in nineteen at-bats.

Mitchell White – SP – AA/Tulsa – Mitch had his most dominating game since coming back from his injury going five innings, giving up just two hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts. Over his last two games, he has gone ten innings, given up just three hits, two walks, and thirteen strikeouts.  His overall work at AA has been outstanding though in limited innings.  A WHIP of 0.82 catches your eye for a starting pitcher.

Chris Mathewson – SP – A-/Loons – With Dustin May sidelined and Jordan Sheffield getting scuffed around at Rancho, Chris is trying is his best to be the best pitcher for the Loons. Last week he threw a doozy, going seven innings, four hits, zero earned runs, four walks, and nine strikeouts. Chris has been on a nice five game run.

Edwin Uceta – SP – Rookie/Ogden – Uceta followed up his six inning perfect game with a very nice five inning outing. He gave up just two hits, zero runs, one walk, and four strikeouts.

And the winner of the Dodger Farm Factory Award for August 12th is …………

Mitchell White 

Diaz was on pace to take the FFA but he didn’t do much this past weekend after starting the week on a torrid pace.

Dodger Minor League Notes:

I may have jumped the gun on Walker Buehler. I was very confident over at the TBLA comment section that Walker Buehler would not be sniffing the Dodger postseason roster because of several hurdles he would need to clear for that to happen. The first hurdle was simply proving he could be an effective relief pitcher and after several stumbles in the role, he wowed everyone last night with five strikeouts of his six outs throwing two perfect relief innings.  A few more outings like that and he just might get to prove himself at the major league level in leveraged situations.

Rob Segedin is also on rehab duty, and unlike Adrian, he had a good offensive week, just not enough to make the contender cut. What the future plans are for Segedin as a Dodger remain murky.  There does not seem to be any need for his services at this time.

Alex Verdugo continues to flail in August. He hit a game winning home run last week but still managed only five hits for the whole week. In August he has a .622 OPS.

Dennis Santana is struggling in AA. The brilliant command he was displaying for Rancho did not follow him to Tulsa as he has walked fourteen hitters in his last three starts.  For Rancho, he had walked in 22 in 85 innings, but for Tulsa, he has walked sixteen in sixteen innings.

Keibert Ruiz has finally cooled off going 1 for 15 with zero walks. This was bound to happen, now we get to see how he deals with it.

The last two number one picks are both struggling in the MWL with the Loons. Gavin Lux had shown signs of breaking out and while he did go did go eight for twenty-five last week, it was pretty empty with one walk, and seven strikeouts including four in one game. Kendall had a four hit game but managed only one other hit for the week. Jeren now has twenty-one strikeouts in just sixty-five at-bats and is carrying a .592 OPS so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chasing Piazza/Robinson/Green/McGwire/Judge on Aug 13th

Cody Bellinger now has 34 home runs and could catch Mike Piazza today. He continues to outpace Frank Robinson and looks like a good bet to end the year with at least forty home runs and the NL Rookie Home Run record which currently stands at 38.

He has also moved within striking distance of the all time Rookie record of 49 by Mark McGwire.  He is now within one home run of Aaron Judge who sits at 35.

Shawn Green is about to hit three home runs in one game on August 15th, so while Cody is currently in front of the LAD all time home record pace of 49, it won’t be for long unless Cody continues his own torrid pace. At his current pace, the only rookies that Cody will be chasing by the end of August will be Mark McGwire and Aaron Judge. The only Dodger he’ll be chasing is Shawn Green.

His home run per plate appearance is crushing the competition except for Big Mac.

Player PA HR HR/PA Aug 12th Total Leader Year
Mike Piazza 598 34 17.59 22 35 LAD Rookie HR 1993
Frank Robinson 548 34 16.12 25 38 NL Rookie HR 1956
Mark McGwire 344 34 10.12 38 49 AL Rookie HR 1987
Shawn Green 515 34 15.15 32 49 LAD Alltime HR 2001
Cody Bellinger 380 34 11.18 34 ??? Chasing 2017
Aaron Judge 451 34 13.26 35 ??? Chasing 2017

If this confusing here is a quick legend.

PA – this is the number of plate appearances it took for each player to reach 34 home runs. We used 34 home runs because that is where Bellinger is right now. This would be within 4 PA of accuracy as I didn’t check the game log for the specific plate appearance they hit the home run.

HR – This is a marker showing you 34 home runs.

HR/PA – this is the home runs per plate appearance pace when they each hit their 34th home run.

Total HR through August August 12

Total – season home run total

Leader – this is why they are on the list. For example Mike Piazza is the LAD Rookie Home Run Leader

Year – this is the year they accomplished the home run record that Cody Bellinger is chasing

Cody Bellinger gets the Dropo on Braun

Cody Bellinger hit his 34th home run last night and tied Ryan Braun and Walt Dropo as he sets his sights on Hal Trosky and Mike Piazza.  Cody is also only one behind Aaron Judge who has hit his 35 home runs in eighty more plate appearances.

Cody now sits alone with the most home runs by rookie left handed hitter in the NL with his 34 and is just one behind the major league record of 35 by a left handed rookie set by Hal Trosky.

Trosky had an interesting career. When you look at his baseball reference page you see a player who started with a bang but stopped playing at age 28 in 1941. I thought the war interrupted his career but the baseball sabr bio says it was migraines.

his career reached its apex in 1936, when he led the American League in runs batted in with 162, yet he has largely been consigned to historical obscurity. This anonymity is not only due to the reality that his career overlapped a triumvirate of Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, and Lou Gehrig, a triumvirate of future Hall of Fame first basemen who held a virtual lock on the position on the American League All Star teams of the mid-’30s, but also because, at what should have been the peak of his career, Trosky was sidelined with two years of severe migraine headaches, pain so debilitating that he became unable to take the field for days in a row.

From age 21 – 28 Trosky hit 215 home runs. He tried to come back in 1944 and 1946 but it didn’t work out and he ended his career with only 5748 plate appearances and 228 home runs with an OPS+ of 130. He had a short but brilliant career. The man once hit 42 home runs, drove in 162 runs, had an OPS of 146, led the league in TB with 405 and finished 10th in MVP voting.

Player                        HR Year Age  Tm Lg  PA
Mark McGwire (RoY-1st)        49 1987  23 OAK AL 641
Frank Robinson (RoY-1st)      38 1956  20 CIN NL 667
Albert Pujols (RoY-1st)       37 2001  21 STL NL 676
Al Rosen                      37 1950  26 CLE AL 668
Jose Abreu (RoY-1st)          36 2014  27 CHW AL 622
Mike Piazza (RoY-1st)         35 1993  24 LAD NL 602
Ron Kittle (RoY-1st)          35 1983  25 CHW AL 570
Rudy York                     35 1937  23 DET AL 417
Hal Trosky                    35 1934  21 CLE AL 685
Aaron Judge                   35 2017  25 NYY AL 484
Cody Bellinger                34 2017  21 LAD NL 403

Ryan Braun (RoY-1st)          34 2007  23 MIL NL 492
Walt Dropo (RoY-1st)          34 1950  27 BOS AL 609
Jose Canseco (RoY-1st)        33 1986  21 OAK AL 682
Earl Williams (RoY-1st)       33 1971  22 ATL NL 550
Jimmie Hall (RoY-3rd)         33 1963  25 MIN AL 571

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/3/2017.

Julio Urias Update on Aug 12, 2017

All the good stuff that happened to Julio Urias happened in 2016.  In 2017 he didn’t make the opening day roster, he didn’t pitch that well in AAA, he came up and didn’t pitch that well for the Dodgers, was sent back to AAA, and blew out his arm resulting in surgery for a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.

Julio had surgery six weeks ago and according to Pedro Moura is starting to adjust to his rehabilitation.

Speaking for the first time since the surgery, Urias said he had trouble processing the reality that his career would be set back so significantly.

“I had a lot of emotions,” Urias said through interpreter Jesus Quinonez. “You feel sadness. You feel angry. Everything goes to your head. You think about your career, everything you’ve done to get to that point.

“I tried to get out of that stage as fast as I could. Now I feel very motivated and ready for everything.”

Manager Dave Roberts said he sensed from conversation that Urias had recently adjusted his perspective.

“He had clarity,” Roberts said. “And, in recent weeks, he hadn’t really had that.”

Urias is the reason I started blogging again, I didn’t want to miss writing about the career of the teenager. Everything fell into place in 2016 as he gave me plenty to write about. I expected the same in 2017 but on a more grander scale. I felt he would be the second best starter on the team by this time but baseball being baseball put on the brakes.

Now we have to wait another year before we can write about Julio again. He’ll be old news by then. It was quite the story when he was 16, 17,  and 18 doing what he was doing in the minor leagues.  At 19 and 20 he had the greatest year ever for a LAD pitcher who started the year as a teenager.

Next time he toes a mound in a professional game he’ll be 22.  Not so exciting anymore, but hopefully he gets his career back on track and makes us remember once again why we all gathered at the bar in Hollywood to watch his major league debut at the age of 19.

 

 

 

 

Imagine if Puig started hitting LHP again

Last year at this time Yasiel Puig was playing in AAA. Not only had the front office had enough of him,  so had the majority of fans. There was a barely a whimper of indignation when Puig was shipped off to AAA and his job was given to the recently acquired Josh Reddick.

I was against the move at the time, given that Puig was one if not the only hitter in the lineup who was doing damage to left-hand pitching. I also thought he was still an above average right fielder. Puig wasn’t crushing LHP but he did have a slug% over .450 against them.  The word was that the Dodgers put him on waivers and almost dealt him to the Brewers in what would have been a blockbuster Ryan Braun deal.  Not many felt he would get another shot in Dodger blue but on Sept 2nd, the Dodgers added him back to the active major league roster.  Puig must have done enough at AAA to convince the Dodgers they should give him another shot. Or his replacement had been so bad, they saved face by saying they were giving him another chance.  Either way, Puig was back in Dodger blue.

When the Dodgers brought back up Puig, they inserted him back into right field but only against LHP.  He hit well enough putting up a .900 OPS in Sept of 2016 but that didn’t quiet the trade talk this past winter. Luckily that trade never materialized and Puig was still on the Dodger team when camp opened this spring.

Word was that Puig worked hard this winter, came into spring in great shape in body and mind and has cemented himself as the regular right fielder even though he bats eighth in the lineup.

But a funny thing happened to Puig this summer. While he finally remembered how to hit right-hand pitching, he has completely forgotten how to hit left-hand pitching. It is humorous to me when the manager brings in a right-hand pitcher to face Puig. Come on guys, read your scouting reports. It is not like they don’t have up to date stats that are telling them that Puig against RHP is as bad as most pitchers.

He is however, crushing RHP. Crushing them.  When you look at the table below you will see that his slug% this season is the highest of any split except his golden 2013 season. And that was against LHP.  Puig has played a while now, and the only time he ever struggled against LHP until this year was in 2014.

The Dodgers have plenty of top 20 MVP candidates this year in Turner, Seager, Bellinger, and Taylor.  If Puig was hitting LHP like he normally does, they might have five because he’s also been a beast on defense this year.  Of course, Puig has never put together a complete season like that since 2013, but I think he’s getting closer. The harder part was learning how to hit RHP again, I think the other is going to come, and when it does he won’t be hitting eighth anymore. Plus, he’s running quite well with twelve stolen bases to being caught only three times. Even Davey Lopes would be proud of that.

His BABIP against LHP is a woeful .160. Historically it is .285. I can’t wait to see what it will be on Oct 1st. I’d be betting on a large rise.

I didn’t put it in the chart below but it was also interesting to see that Puig has much better plate discipline against LHP. That is something I’d expect. His walk percentage is 11%, his strike out percentage rate only 17%.. Against RHP that walk rate falls to 8% and the strikeout percentage rises to 21.

It is easy to be over shadowed on a team that already has four stars, but Puig in 2017 has been an important piece to this team. He hasn’t been hurt this year for the first time since 2014. He looks to be playing like the Wild Horse again, having fun and being productive at the first time. His teammates seem to genuinely like him now instead of putting up with him.

And dammit, he’s the best fielding RF I’ve seen. Just added this throw from last night 08/12/17.   96 MPH, 270 feet.  Plus three walks and a bullet to RCF last night against LHP Clayton Richard.  Moved his OBP up 18 points.

At 270 feet, it was Puig’s longest throw among his four outfield assists this season. Since Statcast™ was introduced for the 2015 season, Puig’s hardest throw was a 96.3-mph laserto third base, to get the Angels’ Kole Calhoun on June 26 at Dodger Stadium, but only from 159 feet away.

Year Pipe TSL
2017-LHP | .145/.262/.205
2017-RHP | .294/.359/.563
|
2016-LHP | .261/.313/.491
2016-RHP | .265/.329/.355
|
2015-LHP | .278/.380.544
2015-RHP | .248/.302/.402
|
2014-LHP | .288/.377/.359
2014-RHP | .307/.384/.516
|
2013-LHP | .340/.419/.583
2013-RHP | .312/381/516

Dodger Front Office hitting on all cylinders

I’m sure there are still some fraudman folk out there, but these have to be fans who will never be happy with a modern day analytical approach to running a baseball team. Back in his day, I’m sure they wouldn’t have been happy with Branch Rickey either.

The major league team is on pace to win the most games in LAD history, Dodger history, NL history, and major league history.  They have built and added to the team as they point to October. They are playing without their best player and they keep on winning. They have more starting pitching than they know what to do with.  They have more position players than they know what to do with.

They even have a minor league pipeline that they will have trouble finding room for.

Along with this, they have rarely made a misstep when trading from that pipeline. It does appear they didn’t grasp how good Yordan Alvarez might be, or it might be that was who Houston wanted and if they wanted Josh Fields that was going to be the price. If Josh Fields gets some highly leveraged outs in the postseason, it might still be worth the price.

I was highly skeptical of the price they paid last summer for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick, but it looks like they traded the right trio in Cotton, Montas, and Holmes.  None of them have been able to get consistently untracked. Holmes has been good enough to make the MLB Pipeline team of the week only to follow that with an eight run outing. Montas can’t throw strikes or as hard as he did.  Cotton had Pedro Martinez in his corner but it turns out that Pedro is not a good cut man. Yet

I liked the trade for Logan Forsythe but did expect Jose De Leon to prosper with the Rays, Not happening,  he simply can’t get healthy. Yet

They just kind of threw away Chase De Jong but as bad as the Mariner rotation is, he can’t help them. Yet

I still hope that Willie Calhoun can help the Rangers but he had no role for the Dodgers. AJ Alexy and Brendon Davis are simply too young. I still can’t get over the fact the Dodgers have Yu Darvish for these three. I expect the Houston Astro players feel the same way.  Of course, I’d have been fine with trading Alex Verdugo that is how much I wanted Yu on the team.

One other suspect trade might have been moving Scotty Schebler in the complicated Red/WhiteSox/Dodger trade that saw the Dodgers get Trayce Thompson/Montas moving Jose Peraza/Schebs to the Reds, with the White Sox receiving Frazier. Going to cover that in the “They learn quickly from mistakes”.

Besides trading the right guys from the pipeline, more importantly, are the players they did not trade when being beseeched to make a deal for the present back in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Corey Seager survived and is now going to be the greatest LAD shortstop in LAD Dodger history.

Cody Bellinger survived and is going to shatter the amazing rookie home run mark of 35 by Mike Piazza, and the NL rookie record of 38 by Frank Robinson.

Julio Urias survived and is going to win the 2017 CYA – oh scratch that one. Can’t have everything.

I haven’t even mentioned the major league trades that brought Alex Wood, Grandal, Barnes, Hernandez.

Nor have I mentioned that free agent signings of Chase Utley, Brandon Morrow, Andrew Toles, Kenta, Hill.  Have there been misses? Sure, Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy stick out like sore thumbs.

Not releasing Ryu and sticking with him.

Now the They learned quickly from their mistakes.

The biggest mistakes they have made was in throwing money at suspect Cuban free agents. Hector Olivera was the biggest of these mistakes but before the rest of the league had caught on to how bad an egg he was, they were able to turn him in into Alex Wood and Jose Peraza.  They then turned Jose Peraza into something that they used to get Rich Hill while keeping the plum piece, Alex Wood.  Somehow the Dodger brass turned what would have become an ugly situation into something bright and shiny. We haven’t heard much kick back on that deal, so the Braves must have been the team that wanted Olivera but beware a team who says yes when asked for the multi million dollar foreign free agent signing as soon as that player is eligible to be traded.

They are still stuck with Arry, and Alex Guerrero took the Dodger money and fled to the far east.

But they then fired that whole Cuban scouting group so I think they learned something.

Every front office is going to have missteps, but this front office is so clearly outperforming the norm that even my cynical heart, has to step back and let things play out when they make a move I find questionable.

Like signing every player who is ever released and then releasing them a few weeks later. I don’t get that strategy but it must have something behind it.