Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and there are only 16 games left in the season.
So what else is new?
The Dodgers lost two of three to the dismal Cincinnati Reds, leaving them at 79-67. Here’s an interesting thing about that though. They are 12-4 against San Diego and 4-0 against Texas, meaning they are 63-63 against everyone else.
Let’s break down their record a little more.
Against teams .500 or better: 48-41 (.539)
Against teams under .500: 31-26 (.544)
Before All-Star break: 53-43 (.552)
After All-Star break: 25-24 (.510)
One-run games: 21-21 (.500)
Home: 39-36 (.520)
Road: 40-31 (.563)
March/April: 12-16 (.429)
May: 14-14 (.500)
June: 17-9 (.654)
July: 16-10 (.615)
August: 14-13 (.519)
September: 6-5 (.545)
And now let’s look at who their 12 best players have been this season, according to WAR:
1. Clayton Kershaw, 4.3
2. Max Muncy, 3.5
3. Justin Turner, 3.5
4. Chris Taylor, 3.4
5. Cody Bellinger, 3.3
6. Ross Stripling, 2.9
7. Walker Buehler, 2.5
8. Yasmani Grandal, 2.4
9. Manny Machado, 2.1
10. Yasiel Puig, 1.8
11. Kiké Hernandez, 1.7
12. Joc Pederson, 1.7
A 4.3 would have been fifth best on last year’s team behind Turner (5.8), Corey Seager (5.6), Kershaw (5.2) and Taylor (4.8).
And the 12 worst:
1. Logan Forsythe, -0.7
2. Wilmer Font, -0.7
3. Yimi Garcia, -0.6
4. Brock Stewart, -0.5
5. Ryan Madson, -0.4
6. Daniel Hudson, -0.3
7. John Axford, -0.3
8. Dennis Santana, -0.2
9. Edward Paredes, -0.2
10. Tony Cingrani, -0.1
11. Andrew Toles, -0.1
12. Brian Dozier, -0.1
There are a lot of relievers on that list.
So, what does all this mean? Well, one of the problems with stats is that I can find a stat for pretty much everyone that makes them look like one of the best players in the league, or one of the worst. That’s why I always encourage you to seek out as many stats as you can find about a player and team and make judgments based on all of them. For example, the Dodgers have outscored their opponents by 133 runs this season, easily the best in the NL. If we just looked at that, they look great. But we can’t look at just that.
The Dodgers are what they are: A team that hits poorly with runners in scoring position and which usually gets solid starting pitching but has a very erratic bullpen. Just when you think someone is going to step up and be this year’s Brandon Morrow, they fall apart.
It’s what we have talked about all season. I get so many emails from readers filled with anger and rage after losses. They call the team a bunch of losers and choke artists. But here’s the thing. The Dodgers aren’t out of it yet. They are making it difficult for themselves, but they still can make the playoffs. I don’t know if they will. You don’t either. If they do make it, I don’t know if they will win the World Series. You don’t either. There have been teams that have won 84 games and won the World Series. There have been teams that have won 116 games and got knocked out before the World Series. Anything can happen, you just need some guys to get hot.
What I would recommend to some of you is that you don’t let each game linger in your mind. If you are still seething over a Dodgers loss more than 10 minutes after the game ends, then you are doing it wrong. Calm down. Relax. If being in a playoff race isn’t an overall enjoyable experience for you, then you may want to find something else to do with your time. It’s not worth the stress. There are fans of other teams that haven’t made the playoffs in years. They’d love if their team had won one division title recently, let alone five in a row. So, if you are angry, spend some time with your friends. Hug your significant other. Play with your kids. Pet your dog. But you can still ignore your cat, because cats are evil and were sent here from an alien planet as spies.
The NL West standings
Dodgers, 79-67, 1 ½ GB
Arizona, 77-69, 3 ½ GB
The wild-card standings
St. Louis, 81-65
Dodgers, 79-67, 2 GB
Arizona, 77-69, 4 GB
Philadelphia, 74-71, 6 ½ GB
Next up for the Dodgers is a four-game series at St. Louis.
Ask Ross Porter
Hi, fans! It’s good to be back with you to answer your questions during this baseball season. Please send your questions to Houston, and he will pass them on to me. List the city in which you live.
Barry Moon and Tony Piscitelli of Hayden, Idaho, ask: Umpires are important in baseball. Ross, can you give some insight into the profession today?
Ross: There are 76 umpires paid by Major League Baseball who had to achieve high grades in umpire school. Their salaries range from $120,000 to $350,000 a year. In addition, they receive benefits like first-class airfare, travel expenses, $375 daily per diem for meals, hotels and incidentals, and four weeks of paid vacation during the season. Bill Russell, who played in a Los Angeles Dodger record 2,181 games, has been an MLB umpire supervisor since 2002 and sees all Angels and Dodgers home games. Bill tells me the umpiring is as good today as when he played. But the attitudes and patterns are different with fewer bunts and stolen bases. He thinks these umps are more lenient and less likely to make ejections because of instant replay and many calls overturned.
Lance Davis asks: How are umpires graded, Ross?
Ross: Russell files a report nightly with MLB in New York. He may see an umpire out of position for example and mentions that to his superiors, who contact the umpire. Bill praises the current umpires for their hustle and ability to be in the right position and says he does not cost anyone his job. “Yes, they miss calls, but are right most of the time.” All umpires are graded each game, and the ones with the highest scores get the postseason assignments. Joe West is in his record 41st season, has leg problems, and that kept him from working last year's World Series.
Geoff Crosson of Trinidad, Colo., asks: Why is the third and final game of a series called the “rubber game”?
Ross: Geoff, it is the deciding match in an odd-numbered series and originated in 1590 with lawn bowling in England.
Lyle Palaski of West Hollywood asks: Can a switch hitter change sides of the plate during an at-bat?
Ross: Yes, Lyle, after each pitch if he likes, but before the pitcher steps on the rubber. Also, the batter must wear a “double flap” helmet.
By the way everyone, we are now registering entries for the 13th annual Ross Porter celebrity golf classic on Nov. 5 at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana. This raises money for Stillpoint Family Resources, which plans to buy homes for special needs adults without family. In 12 years, 88 different celebrities have participated in our tournament, either playing golf or attending the dinner. For more information, go to www.stillpointfamilyresources.org/celebrity-golf-classic. Please join us. You will enjoy the day.
Thursday, 4:15 p.m.: Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 7-5, 2.42 ERA) at St. Louis (Austin Gomber, 5-0, 2.93 ERA)
Friday, 5:15 p.m.: Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 6-5, 3.09 ERA) at St. Louis (Jack Flaherty, 8-6, 2.92 ERA)
Saturday, 10 a.m.: Dodgers (Rich Hill, 8-5, 3.88 ERA) at St. Louis (John Gant, 7-5, 3.16 ERA)
Sunday, 5 p.m.: Dodgers (TBD) at St. Louis (Adam Wainwright, 1-3, 4.70 ERA)
Kenley Jansen expects to have offseason heart surgery. Read all about it here.