Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and it’s hard to believe the Travis d’Arnaud era has come to an end.
How is everyone?
We are a little more than a quarter through the season, so let’s check in and see how everyone is doing. We’ll start with the hitters and compare them to the league average using the OPS+ stat. Remember, OPS+ compares everyone to the league average (with an adjustment for the player’s home stadium). A league average players will have an OPS+ of 100. A player with an OPS+ of 110 is 10% better than the league average, 120 is 20% better and so one. An OPS+ of 90 means that player is 10% worse than league average, and so on.
Above league average
Cody Bellinger, 233 (Bellinger leads all of baseball in this category)
Alex Verdugo, 147
Joc Pederson, 140
David Freese, 139
Justin Turner, 128
Max Muncy, 121
Russell Martin, 109
Below league average
Kiké Hernandez, 97
Austin Barnes, 88
Corey Seager, 86
Chris Taylor, 78
A.J. Pollock, 67
Rocky Gale, -27
As you can see, a lot of Dodgers are well above average this year, and those who are below average are not too far below. Cut Rocky Gale some slack because he has had only 15 plate appearances. The biggest question is, how long can Cody Bellinger keep this up? As great as he is playing, it still seems unlikely he will hit .400 this season. Right now he is on pace to hit .407 with 53 homers and 143 RBIs. His OPS+ of 233, if maintained, would be the seventh highest in major-league history since 1901 (minimum 500 plate appearances), trailing three seasons by Barry Bonds, three seasons by Babe Ruth and one season by Ted Williams. Pretty lofty company. It would shatter the Dodger record of 185 by Mike Piazza in 1997. It will be fun to watch this play out for the rest of the season.
I also want to talk a bit about Alex Verdugo. This guy has been a revelation. He does not look like a rookie at all. He is patient, hits to all fields, tries to hit behind runners with men on base. He looks like a veteran. Most rookies go through an inevitable slump, but with his approach at the plate, I think any slump he goes through will be a short one. Plus, he gives the Dodgers a bit of swagger. He’s fired up when things go well and has a lot of confidence, but it doesn’t border on arrogance. It comes across as “Think you can beat us? Take your best shot” type of attitude. Every team needs a player (or more) like that.
As far as Corey Seager goes, he is still shaking off the rust and it is far too early to panic. He is coming off elbow and hip surgery. Other guys have more than picked up the slack for him, and I have a feeling he is due to break out soon.
Now let’s look at the ERA+ for the pitchers. Same rules apply to ERA+ and OPS+. A 100 OPS+ is league average, yada, yada, yada.
Above league average
Hyun-Jin Ryu, 237
Scott Alexander, 147
Julio Urias, 129
Ross Stripling, 127
Pedro Baez, 127
Clayton Kershaw, 124
Caleb Ferguson, 120
Yimi Garcia, 105
Kenta Maeda, 101
Below league average
Rich Hill, 99
Walker Buehler, 98
Kenley Jansen, 94
Joe Kelly, 47
Dylan Floro has an OPS+ of infinity because he has not allowed an earned run this season. ERA+ isn’t entirely accurate for relievers because a reliever’s ERA gives only a small glimpse at how well they have pitched. As I’ve said before, reliever can come in with a man on base, give up a two singles to score that runner, then get the last out. He has an ERA of 0.00, but did he really pitch well? No.
For relievers, a good stat to look at is IRS%, which is short for inherited runners who score percentage. It’s also shortened as IS% on some websites. This tells us how effective the reliever was when he came in with runners on base. Come in with the bases loaded and hold them scoreless, then your IRS% is 0%. Allow all three to score, and it is 100%. Two of three? 66.7%. You get the idea. The lower number the better.
The league average in IRS% this season is 30%. Let’s see how the Dodgers relievers compare to that.
Better than league average
Pedro Baez, 23.1%
Worse than league average
Yimi Garcia, 40%
Dylan Floro, 41.2%
Scott Alexander, 41.7%
Joe Kelly, 60%
Caleb Ferguson, 66.7%
Kenley Jansen, 66.7%
It should come as no surprise that the Dodgers bullpen has been pretty bad this season at coming into games with runners on base and escaping the inning. Floro, who has an ERA of 0.00, has had 17 runners on base this season when he came into games, and seven of them have scored. It has been the Achilles heel for the team and is the one area of its game in which the Dodgers need improvement.
OK, let’s look at one more area and then we will end the stat analysis. Let’s look at Wins Above Average at each position. This basically takes the WAA earned by every player who played that position for the team, combines them, then compares that number to every other team. Where do the Dodgers rank at each position in the NL?
Catcher (Barnes, Martin, Gale): -0.1 (7th in the NL)
First base (Muncy, Freese, Bellinger): 1.4 (1st)
Second base (Hernandez, Muncy, Taylor): 0.6 (2nd)
Third base (Turner, Muncy, Freese): 0.5 (6th)
Shortstop (Seager, Taylor, Hernandez): 0.0 (10th)
Left field (Pederson, Taylor, Verdugo, Hernandez): 0.6 (2nd)
Center field (Pollock, Verdugo, Hernandez, Taylor): -0.5 (11th)
Right field (Bellinger, Verdugo, Hernandez): 3.1 (1st)
Starting pitcher: 0.3 (8th).
Relief pitcher: -2.7 (15th)
Again, the big weak spot sticks out like a sore thumb. Relief pitching. And Craig Kimbrel sits out there unsigned.
I end this with my usual caveat: There is no one stat that gives you a complete picture of a player. But every stat is useful in its own way, some more than others. I encourage you to visit sites such as baseball-reference.com and take a look at all the numbers yourself.
It had to end sometime, but no one saw it happening so soon. After all of those minutes and seconds that Travis d’Arnaud spent in a Dodgers uniform, the team unceremoniously traded him to Tampa Bay for cash considerations. Let the debate over whether to retire his number begin.
Where are they now?
I’m starting a new, much-requested feature soon: Where are they now? Here’s how it will work: You send me players that you are curious about, I’ll find out where they are now and write about it. Hopefully I’ll even be able to talk to the player and do a short interview. If it’s an easy answer, I’ll just email you back directly. For example, I have had several people over the years ask me the whereabouts of John Roseboro, not realizing he passed away in 2002. If you ask me something like that, I’ll just email you directly. If not, I’ll write about it here.
So, email me the players you’d like an update on. Click here to email me. Feel free to list more than one. The feature will debut when I get enough responses and have enough answers ready to make sure I can do this weekly. I hope it is something most of you will enjoy.
NL West standings
A look at the NL West standings after Monday’s games:
Dodgers, 27-16, ---
Arizona, 23-19, 3.5 GB
San Diego, 22-19, 4 GB
Colorado, 19-21, 6.5 GB
San Francisco, 17-23, 8.5 GB
If the playoffs started today, either Arizona would play at Milwaukee in the wild-card game, with the winner taking on Chicago in one NLDS. The other NLDS would feature Philadelphia at the Dodgers.
In the AL, Boston would play at New York in the wild-card game, with the winner taking on Houston in one ALDS. The other ALDS would feature Tampa Bay at Minnesota.
These names seem familiar
What recently departed Dodgers are doing around the league (through Saturday):
Brian Dozier, Nationals, .197/.301/.331, 67 OPS+
Kyle Farmer, Reds, .235/.286/.549, 112 OPS+
Logan Forsythe, Rangers, .286/.389/.462, 121 OPS+
Yasmani Grandal, Brewers, .260/.354/.423, 105 OPS+
Daniel Hudson, Blue Jays, 2-1, 3.72 ERA
Tim Locastro, Diamondbacks, .235/.435/.235, 85 OPS+
Matt Kemp, Reds, .200/.210/.283, 28 OPS+. Released by the Reds.
Manny Machado, Padres, .252/.325/.437, 108 OPS+
Yasiel Puig, Reds, .217/.269/.392, 71 OPS+
Zac Rosscup, Mariners, 2-0, 2.77 ERA
Alex Wood, Reds, on IL with sore back
KTLA will televise four more Dodger games during the season. They are:
Monday, May 27, vs. New York Mets, 5 p.m.
Thursday, May 30, vs. New York Mets, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 1, vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 15, vs. Chicago Cubs, 6 p.m.
Today: San Diego (Chris Paddack) at Dodgers (*Clayton Kershaw), 7 p.m.
Wednesday: San Diego (*Matt Strahm) at Dodgers (Kenta Maeda), 7 p.m.
In case you missed it
Some of our best Dodgers stories online since the last newsletter
Jaime Jarrin’s return to Dodgers’ broadcasts eases pain of wife’s passing.
Dave Roberts to reconsider how he uses left-handed reliever Scott Alexander.
Joc Pederson has a home run stat that boggles the mind.
Bullpen plan for Julio Urias could backfire.
Major league bullpens faltering under heavy load created by short starts
Watch right fielder Cody Bellinger throw out Stephen Strasburg at first. Watch it here.