Will Smith entered the 2019 season stuck between the present in Austin Barnes and the future in Keibert Ruiz. The Dodgers had signed Russell Martin to back up Austin Barnes which left Will Smith in AAA. The good news for Will Smith is that the Dodgers didn’t trade for Realmuto or trade for any other catcher that would block Smith for the future position of Dodger catcher. The bad news for Smith was that Keibert Ruiz was right behind him, and many considered him the Dodger heir apparent at catcher, not Will Smith. At best it was thought that Smith might be able to grab a year before Ruiz showed up.
Given what Will Smith is doing, he might not only be the Dodger catcher of the future, he might be the Dodger catcher of the present. It wouldn’t take much of a case to show that Will Smith might be the Dodgers best option for catcher right now. Part of that is because of how awesome Will Smith has been, part of that is because Austin Barnes continues to look like 2018 Austin Barnes and not the hoped-for 2017 version.
How awesome has Will Smith been? He has a 1.006 OPS in AAA with fourteen home runs in only 147 plate appearances. He has hit another three home runs as a Dodger in only nineteen plate appearances which have fueled his 1.148 major league OPS. Home runs aren’t his only game, he has also walked thirty-three times in about 200 combined major / minor league plate appearances. Among his three major league home runs are already two walk-off home runs with the latest coming yesterday. Most major league players will go a complete career without a walk-off home run. He has two in his first twenty-two major league at-bats. If you want to forget the hitting because the most important job for a catcher is to run the pitching staff, he’s considered a top defensive catcher with good framing skills. In short, Will Smith is probably a good guy to entrust as your starting catcher.
@clylealt has been telling me for several years that Will Smith is so good that he will be the Dodgers future catcher. She just might be right.
@DustinNosler opined several weeks ago that the Dodgers should carry Will Smith on the roster because of the flexibility of all three Dodger catchers. I didn’t see how they could configure the roster to make this happen, but they should probably do exactly that.
At the beginning of the year, I thought Walker Buehler would be in the Cy Young conversation but as April turned to May that thought was long gone from my memory. On June 21st, Walker reminded me why I had such lofty thought for him when he pitched a complete game with sixteen strikeouts.
I thought the Walker Buehler game on Friday night was going to be the best game score of 2019 but I must not have paid enough attention to the game that German Marquez threw on April 14th when he threw a one-hit shutout. Still, the game on Friday night by Buehler was the best game by a Dodger this year and it did include the most strikeouts in one game by any pitcher this year.
Player Date Rslt IP H ER BB SO GSc German Marquez 2019-04-14 W 4-0 9.0 1 0 0 9 94 Sandy Alcantara 2019-05-19 W 3-0 9.0 2 0 1 8 90 Walker Buehler 2019-06-21 W 4-2 9.0 3 2 0 16 89 Freddy Peralta 2019-04-03 W 1-0 8.0 2 0 0 11 89 Noah Syndergaard 2019-05-02 W 1-0 9.0 4 0 1 10 88 Hyun-Jin Ryu 2019-05-12 W 6-0 8.0 1 0 1 9 88
Player Date Rslt IP H ER BB SO GSc Walker Buehler 2019-06-21 W 4-2 9.0 3 2 0 16 89 Max Scherzer 2019-06-02 W 4-1 8.0 3 1 1 15 86 Jacob deGrom 2019-04-03 W 6-4 7.0 3 0 1 14 84
This game has to be one of the most dominant games by a right-handed LAD pitcher using strikeout as the cherry-picked criteria? Let’s find out.
Yeah it was:
Player Date Tm Rslt IP H ER BB SO GSc Ramon Martinez 1990-06-04 LAD W 6-0 9.0 3 0 1 18 98 Hideo Nomo 1996-04-13 LAD W 3-1 9.0 3 1 3 17 91 Walker Buehler 2019-06-21 LAD W 4-2 9.0 3 2 0 16 89 Hideo Nomo 1995-06-14 LAD W 8-5 8.0 6 2 2 16 74
Only four right-handed LAD pitchers have struck out at least 16 hitters and Walker Buehler is now one of them. Granted strike-outs in 2019 are as prevalent as lies by POTUS compared to the historical past but still, you have to count them.
This was also the best game score by Walker in his brief career, with two his best game scores coming in the month of June.
Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H ER BB SO GSc 2019-06-21 LAD COL W 4-2 9.0 3 2 0 16 89 2019-06-03 LAD ARI W 3-1 8.0 2 1 0 11 85 2018-09-14 LAD STL W 3-0 8.0 2 0 2 9 85
With his dominant June, Walker is once again making a case for the 2019 CYA. Max Scherzer has a sizable WAR lead but Max is 6 -5 and Walker is 8 – 1 and while wins don’t have the caveat they once had, they might still have enough to sway just enough voters. The chart below was created via export download from www.fangraphs.com.
The well-known screenwriter texted his agent and said he’d just written a script from a dream he’d had. In the script, the home town baseball team (let’s call them the Dodgers) was playing the team in 2nd place trying to catch them. The agent asked for the highlights and the screenwriter provided the bullet points.
- The two games prior to the series the Dodgers had to use their bullpen because of an injury to their starter. To make this happen they had dropped a rookie on the team and picked up another rookie. That rookie got hurt and the originally dropped rookie was re-instated for the first game of the series. Are you with me so far? That rookie hits a walk-off home run to win the first game after the Dodger pitcher pitches the best game of the year.
- In the second game of the series, the Dodgers are playing a rookie center-fielder who is only playing because the original center-fielder is hurt. That rookie center-fielder hits a walk-off home run to win the second game.
- In the third game of the series, the Dodgers bring up another rookie to help out with roster depth. That guy is a catcher. He doesn’t start, in fact, he doesn’t even come in when the original catcher leaves. The second catcher blows a play at the plate and the came is tied headed into the bottom of the ninth. With a runner on second, the opposing manager walks the second catcher to face the rookie. On the first pitch, the rookie hits a three-run walk-off home run.
The screenwriter stops texting for a second and takes a call from his agent. All he can hear is laughter from his phone. Loud cackling laughter. The laughter finally stops and the agent gasps out “let me get this straight, you want to pitch a screenplay where a baseball team wins three games in a row with walk-off home runs, and the kicker is that each walk-off home run was hit b a rookie?”
This is a cliche, but not even Hollywood would believe what happened this weekend at Chavez Ravine.
Matt Beatty was sent down Wednesday Night because Rich Hill only pitched one inning and they needed arms. Josh Sborz was one of those arms. Josh pitched on Thursday Night and either was legitimately hurt, or the Dodgers told him he was hurt. Either way, Josh Sborz was put on the injured list Thursday Night, and the Dodgers brought back up Matt Beatty who was plugged into left field. With the score 2 – 2, Max Muncy worked a walk and Matt Beatty slugged a two-run walk-off home run. This might end up being the greatest moment of Matt Beatty’s career.
Alex Verdugo was already having another great game on Saturday Night with three hits including a double and home run when he came up in the bottom of the eleventh with the Dodgers tied at 4. At this point in the season, the Dodgers had yet to score one single run in an extra-inning game in 2019. One pitch later the Dodgers had won 5 – 4 when Verdugo deposited the Jesus Tinoco deep into right field. That gave the Dodgers two straight walk-off home runs, and both by rookies. That was the first time in history that two rookies had hit back to back walk-off home runs.
The best was yet to come.
Will Smith was brought up before the game on Sunday. He had been on a tear with the AAA Oklahoma Dodgers having hit six home runs in his previous twenty-seven AAA at-bats. Will Smith didn’t start the game Austin Barnes did. Will Smith didn’t come into the game when Austin Barnes was lifted for a pinch hitter, Russell Martin was. As I was watching this game, I said to myself that this was set up perfectly for a Will Smith walk off. I laughed to myself at the thought but when Martin misplayed a play at the plate and the game was tied a 3- 3, I tweeted out my ridiculous thought.
It is crazy how this is setting up for Will Smith to walk this off
4:02 PM – 23 Jun 2019
— Phil Gurnee (@meercatjohn) June 23, 2019
The bottom of the ninth found the Dodgers facing the Rockies best relief pitcher Scott Oberg. Matt Beatty (remember him) started the ninth with a single. Enrique Hernandez fouled out. With Chris Taylor batting a wild pitch sent Beatty to second. It was a great read by Beatty because the ball didn’t get far from Wolters but he took second anyway. Chris Taylor had tied the game with a stirring three-run pinch-hit home run in the 7th which removed Austin Barnes from the game. Russell Martin was up with Will Smith in the batting circle ready to hit for Kenley Jansen. Bud Black intentionally walked Russell Martin who had appeared to be in a fog ever since he entered the game for Austin Barnes. Will Smith hit the first pitch over the RCF wall for the third straight walk-off home run by a rookie.
It took longer than usual but with one big swoop the Lakers finally ended up with someone else’s marquee big man once again. The story of the Lakers championships have all had their genesis in trading for coveted “generational” big man from Wilt Chamberlain to Pau Gasol.
Way back in 1968, the Los Angeles Lakers had zero banners because they kept losing to the Celtics and Knicks in the finals. Wilt Chamberlain had one championship on his belt and was by far the best big man if not the best player in the league when he was traded to the Lakers for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff. Elgin Baylor was no longer one of the best players in the league but Jerry West still was. Even so, it still took the Lakers a few years before they won their only Championship with Wilt. The 1972 team is the team that I can still recount from heart. West/Goodrich/Hairston/McMillian/Wilt with huge contributions off the bench from Keith Erickson/Flynn Robinson/Leroy Ellis and of course Pat Riley.
By 1975 both Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain had retired and the team was starting a youth movement behind Elmore Smith and Brian Winters. The best big man in the NBA was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and when he became available the Lakers trashed their youth movement and traded their youth movement for the best player in the league. Players headed to the Bucks were Junior Bridgeman, Dave Meyers, Elmore Smith and Brian Winters. Laker fans need to remember that even with Kareem they only won 40 games the first year. It would take time to build a team around him after they gave up their four best players to the Bucks. It wasn’t until Magic Johnson joined the team in 1979/1980 that the Kareem Lakers would win a championship. Together, Kareem and Magic would win five championships.
The Kareem era ended in 1989 and so did the Lakers Championships. The Lakers would not win another championship until they got their next superstar big man. Once again they went after the best player in basketball and signed Shaq in the summer of 1997. They also traded for a skinny young kid named Kobe that same summer. Shaq was never able to win a championship for the Lakers until Kobe came of age, and “together’ they won three straight championships from 1999/2000 – 2001/2002. By 2004, Shaq was gone and so was any attempts at championships.
To get back to a championship level team, the Lakers needed a big man star to team with Kobe and they find their next big superstar big in Pau Gasol. On Feb. 1, 2008, the Memphis Grizzlies traded Pau to the Lakers for his younger brother Marc Gasol, Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie and two first-round picks. Pau was just what the Lakers needed to team up with Kobe and those two won back to back titles in 2008/2009 and 2009/2010.
Now the Lakers have traded for arguably the best big man in the league today in Anthony Davis. They will team him up with Lebron James. A player in his prime with a player starting his decline years. This isn’t Shaq and Kobe in their prime or Kobe/Pau in their prime, or even a prime Kareem with a budding childman in Magic. It is a dynamic duo but unlike Kareem or Shaq, Anthony Davis has zero titles to his name and hasn’t even played in a conference final yet even though his talents are far above most players in the league. On the other side of him will be Lebron James. On the surface this appears a perfect fit, and it probably will be if they can both stay healthy when the toll of the postseason hits. This summer we saw what happens when you start playing the grueling postseason from start to finish. Lebron may get the team to the playoffs but can the oft-injured Anthony Davis and the old Lebron James survive the postseason marathon to bring another title to the storied Laker franchise? The upcoming season is the perfect season for it to happen with the wounded Warriors having little chance to return to the conference finals with two of their big four out for the upcoming season.
I like this trade for both teams, the Lakers needed Anthony Davis and rolling the dice on him will get the Lakers to a championship level at the speed they need with an aging Lebron James on the clock. The Pelicans might be drafting the best future big man in basketball, and if he is, combining him with the young talent the Lakers are sending their way could make them formidable in very quick order.
Wouldn’t it be great if by 2020/2021 the Western Conference finals was a grudge match between the Pelicans and the Lakers?
Max Muncy hit a home run off of Madison Bumgarner and watched it soar toward the Bay and Madison Bumgarner reacted predictably and started yelling at Max. Max yelled back and we had one of the great retorts in Pitcher / Hitter history.
Muncy: “Bumgarner said ‘don’t watch the ball, run’, and I just told him if he doesn’t want me to watch the ball, go get it out of the ocean.”
— Joe Davis (@Joe_Davis) June 9, 2019
Shawn Green who was doing the Dodger analyst after the game said the quote was great because most of the time, the player can’t think of a great comeback line while in the moment but Muncy did and most of us at home could only nod as we’ve all been in a situation where we needed a snappy comeback line but could only think of it after the moment had passed.
Anyway, this article isn’t about Max Muncy though it could be because Max has followed up his “fluky” 2018 with a season that might even be better considering his remarkable improvement on the defensive side of the diamond.
This is about Madison Bumgarner. He infuriates Dodger fans when he gets in the face of the hitters who have big moments off of him. Mad commented on it last night and Jon Weisman tweeted about the comment:
Madison Bumgarner: “They want to let everyone be themselves, then let me by myself. That’s me. You do your thing, I’ll do mine. Everybody is different. That’s how I want to play, that’s how I’m going to.”
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) June 9, 2019
And predictably Dodger fans jumped all over Bumgarner including Jon. But I disagree with most of you for several reasons, but mainly for this one. I just had a hunch based on watching Bumgarner pitch against the Dodgers for almost ten years. What stays with most of us is the Bumgarner who confronted Puig and created the memorable “Don’t look at me” meme. What I remember however is that Bum never threw at Puig to make a point. He yelled at him, he vented, it was done. I couldn’t remember Bumgarner throwing at a Dodger to “get even” for pimping. To find out if that was true I went to the trusted Baseball Reference and looked up all the Dodgers that Bumgarner has hit since 2010. It isn’t very many. Bumgarner has hit only eight Dodgers and hasn’t hit any since 2016. If you take the time to look at this link
You will find that only once when he hit Hanley Ramirez in 2014 could it have been on purpose without putting the game in jeopardy since all the other games were within one or two runs. Whatever you think of Madison, I would hope that most of us would agree that he cares too much about winning to put a game in jeopardy to make a point. Mad did hit Puig, but it was back in 2014 and the Giants were down 1 – 0 and the count was 1 -2.
So my point here is simple. I would much rather have a pitcher scream and pout at a hitter and get that out of his system instead of being a silent assassin and waiting for a cheap shot to get back at the hitter. No harm is done by vetting, but real damage is done by the hit by pitch. The Dodgers may have lost a chance for a World Series ring in 2014 when Hanley Ramirez was hit “on purpose” by Joe Kelly. Some people like to compare Mad to Don Drysdale, but Don Drysdale hit over 150 hitters and did it to make a point. Though I do agree that if anyone had pimped a home run off of Big D there wouldn’t have been any yelling, there would have been a major brouhaha
Does Madison Bumgarner look silly when he confronts the hitter? Sure, is it any more silly than all the various things hitters do now when they are successful? I don’t think so. His confrontations have added excitement to the game. Where would we be without the “Don’t look at me meme”? Shirtless, and some people would have to find a new twitter name.
Nobody is telling him he can’t act like little bitch. If he wants us not to laugh at him for it that’s too damn bad 😆
— DontLookAtAngie (@4Ev3rblue) June 10, 2019
I’m sure Madison is a jerk, but does he have the right to yell at players who pimp home runs? In my opinion, he does, just as those players have the right to pimp.
I not so secretly think that Dodger fans like to jump on Madison because he did what Clayton Kershaw could never do. He put his team on his back and carried them to a World Series title even though he was never the pitcher in his prime that Clayton was in his and that was unforgivable.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.