Hi, welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and what could be better than clinching the playoffs and eliminating the Giants on their own turf?
It's a good thing
Some Dodgers fans are unhappy because the team failed to clinch the division in Colorado, getting swept in a three-game series, meaning their magic number is two with seven games remaining. However, the next four of those games are in San Francisco, so all it will take is one win to clinch the division, the playoffs and to eliminate the Giants. I mean, really, what are the odds that they lose all four games? But please, please don't let Joe Morgan or any relatives of the late Bobby Thomson in the park.
We've talked about a lot of different stats the last few newsletters, giving you more tools with which to evaluate players on all teams beyond the usual batting average, RBIs, etc. After Friday's newsletter, a few of you said that all those stats don't matter, because the Dodgers don't hit when they get runners in scoring position, and that will kill them in the playoffs. So, let's take a look at the five playoff teams and how they rate in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) with runners in scoring position (RISP) with the stats courtesy of baseball-reference.
Team OPS with RISP
Pirates, .784 (3rd in NL)
Mets, .742 (5th)
Dodgers, .741 (6th)
Cubs, .717 (10th)
Cardinals, .684 (13th)
So the team everyone worries about, the Cardinals, are actually near the bottom, with only two teams worse than them this season in the NL. The Dodgers are just a hair behind the Mets. It doesn't look like hitting with runners on is a big problem for the Dodgers. It's just the mind's tendency to remember when things don't go right. Joc Pederson pops up with a man on third and one out is very frustrating and sticks with you, but when Justin Turner singles with a man on second, it's easy to forget.
So let's narrow it down even more. How do teams bat with two out and RISP? Especially the Dodgers?
Team OPS with two out and RISP:
Pirates, .793 (1st in NL)
Dodgers, .691 (7th)
Cubs, .667 (9th)
Mets, .662 (10th)
Cardinals, .589 (15th)
Again, this narrative that this team can't hit in the clutch falls apart when you look at the actual numbers. Don't get me wrong, there is room for improvement, but they are in the top half of the league.
In case you were wondering, here are the Dodgers leaders in batting average with two out and RISP (minimum 15 plate appearances):
Kiké Hernandez, .545
Alex Guerrero, .321
Carl Crawford, .294
Justin Turner, .268
Howie Kendrick, .256
Adrian Gonzalez, .255
Yasmani Grandal, .219
Corey Seager, .214
Scott Van Slyke, .211
Joc Pederson, .204
Yasiel Puig, .171
Andre Ethier, .171
Jimmy Rollins, .131
A.J. Ellis, .105
Adrian Gonzalez, the heart of the Dodgers offense, sat out the last two games against Colorado because of a pinched nerve in his back. The Dodgers are downplaying it, but this doesn't sound good: "My whole left side — my hamstring, my calf, my quad — everything feels weak and kind of dead, in a sense," Gonzalez said Saturday. "When I'm hitting, I feel like I have no backside. When I'm running, I feel like I can't really push off my left leg."
On the plus side, Kiké Hernandez should be back with the Dodgers today after sitting out a couple of weeks because of a hamstring injury.
Ask Ross Porter
Former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter will be answering select reader questions for the rest of the season. Email me a question for Ross, and I will pass it on to him. Here is his latest insight:
Martin Sanchez asks: Ross, what do you remember of Aug. 23, 1989? I still carry the box score in my wallet.
Ross: It was the final night of an Eastern road trip which began in Philadelphia and New York. Vin did not go with us to Montreal as none of the games were televised. Don Drysdale and I did the first two games at Olympic Stadium on radio, but when Annie Drysdale went into labor with their second child, Don hurried to the airport and flew to Los Angeles, missing the last one.
My wife, Lin, was on the trip and sat in the broadcast booth with me. To my left were the French-speaking announcers of the Expos, and to my right were the Dodgers’ Spanish-speaking broadcasters. I was the only English language play-by-play man on the air. In the seventh inning, Lin asked me if I wanted a Coke. “No, thanks,” I said. “I wouldn’t have time to go to the bathroom if I needed to.”
The game was scoreless for 15 ½ innings. The Expos thought they had won in the 16th inning on a sacrifice fly, but the Dodgers appealed, and umpire Bob Davidson ruled the runner on third had left the bag before the catch, nullifying the run. Still scoreless, Rick Dempsey of the Dodgers came to the plate in the 22nd inning to face his former batterymate in Baltimore, Dennis Martinez. Rick hit a low line drive that just cleared the left field wall. It was only his second home run of the season. A few minutes later, Dempsey threw out Rex Hudler trying to steal second base to end the game. The Dodgers won, 1-0, in a marathon that lasted 6 hours and 14 minutes.
Research confirmed that I set a major league record for the longest solo broadcast, and it still stands today. I don’t recall even having a sore throat afterward. On the long flight home after the game, I heard on my radio that Pete Rose had just been banned from baseball.
This week in Dodgers history
Sept. 28, 1988: Orel Hershiser tosses 10 shutout innings against the Padres to extend his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 59, breaking Don Drysdale's record of 58.
Sept. 29, 1951: Don Newcombe shuts out the Phillies, 5-0, to become the first African American to win 20 games in a season.
Sept. 29, 1976: Tommy Lasorda is named to succeed Walter Alston as Dodgers manager.
Sept. 29, 1979: Manny Mota breaks a tie with Smoky Burgess with his 146th career pinch hit, the most in major league history at the time.
Oct. 2, 1963: Sandy Koufax sets a record by striking out 15 Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series.
Oct. 2, 1977: Dusty Baker homers on the final day of the season to give the Dodgers four players with at least 30 homers, the first time a team has done that. The four are: Baker (30), Steve Garvey (33), Reggie Smith (32) and Ron Cey (30).
Oct. 3, 1951: Bobby Thomson. "Shot Heard 'Round the World." Nothing else needs to be said.
Oct. 4, 1955: The Brooklyn Dodgers win their first and only World Series title with a 2-0 victory over the Yankees.
Pete Rose met with baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred last week to discuss his reinstatement. Times baseball columnist Bill Shaikin tells you why it won't be happening. You can read all about it here.
Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.