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Dodgers

Dodgers Dugout: A closer look at the first half of the season

2019 MLB All-Star Game, presented by Mastercard
Hyun-Jin Ryu
(Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and I was sad to learn of the death of former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, author of one of the best books of all time, “Ball Four.”

The first half

The second half of the season begins today (yes, I know we are more than halfway through the season. Work with me here). Let’s look back at the first half. The Dodgers have the best record in baseball (60-32) and a 13 ½ game lead over Arizona in the NL West. It would have been nice if they hadn’t lost three games in a row heading into the break, but it’s not anything to lose sleep over. I saw some people comment that this proves they can’t beat a good team, and I have one question for those people: What color is the sky in your world?

One thing that can get lost in a long baseball season is which players are hitting or pitching particularly well and which aren’t. Once you pile up 200 or so plate appearances, a bit of a slump may not have a major impact on your batting average. So, let’s look at each of the main players and their Batting average/OB%/SLG%/OPS+ by month.

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Don’t get too carried away with the July numbers, since there are so few plate appearances.

Austin Barnes

March/April: .205/.322/.370/88

May: .273/.385/.432/120

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June: .136/.191/.227/11

July: .231/.231/.308/39

It’s quite an accomplishment to have an OPS+ of 11 in a month, that means you were 89% worse than a league average hitter.

Cody Bellinger

March/April: .431/.508/.890/270

May: .319/.413/.585/164

June: .272/.381/.576/152

July: .217/.308/.652/139

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MVP numbers.

David Freese

March/April: .233/.377/.465/128

May: .333/.467/.556/174

June: .366/.381/.756/189

July: injured

A valuable guy to have on the bench.

Kiké Hernandez

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March/April: .258/.342/.505/127

May: .183/.253/.305/49

June: .198/.255/.384/66

July: .263/.263/.474/86

Hernandez just isn’t a good hitter against right-handers.

Russell Martin

March/April: .300/.444/.500/157

May: .222/.321/.311/72

June: .240/.333/.260/62

July: .167/.500/.167/92

Would you rather have Yasmani Grandal back?

Max Muncy

March/April: .247/.345/.462/117

May: .302/.391/.583/157

June: .277/.395/.574/152

July: .136/.208/.409/54

I really didn’t think Muncy would have a year like last year. Glad I was wrong. And his defense has improved too.

Joc Pederson

March/April: .239/.355/.620/158

May: .323/.405/.723/194

June: .186/.255/.314/50

July: .188/.316/.250/53

Pederson’s hitting really fell off a cliff the last six weeks. He still draws walks though.

Corey Seager

March/April: .236/.333/.364/90

May: .264/.347/.506/125

June: .425/.465/.675/197

July: injured

That’s only 40 at-bats in June, but his injury couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Chris Taylor

March/April: .171/.263/.257/43

May: .300/.347/.557/137

June: .312/.371/.570/144

July: .300/.375/.400/104

Amazing turnaround for Taylor, who some fans wanted the Dodgers to release in April.

Justin Turner

March/April: .279/.379/.337/98

May: .341/.409/.585/163

June: .291/.374/.465/121

July: .176/.176/.353/32

Considering he is banged up constantly, Turner’s hitting ability is even more amazing.

Alex Verdugo

March/April: .333/.361/.623/160

May: .296/.371/.407/110

June: .307/.349/.505/123

July: .217/.240/.304/41

Verdugo has been a huge, often overlooked part of the Dodgers’ success in the first half.

Now let’s look at the pitchers, with W-L/ERA/WHIP per month. WHIP is Walks plus Hits divided by Inning Pitched.

Pedro Baez

March / April: 2-1 / 3.94 / 0.813

May: 0-1 / 1.93 / 1.071

June: 1-0 / 1.50 / 0.833

July: 0-0 / 3.38 / 0.750

Baez has been a reliable arm in the bullpen this season.

Walker Buehler

March / April: 3-0 / 5.22 / 1.193

May: 2-1 / 2.90 / 1.000

June: 3-0 / 2.45 / 0.764

July: 0-0 / 3.86 / 1.286

After a shaky start, Buehler is pitching like he did last season.

Dylan Floro

March / April: 1-0 / 0.00 / 0.750

May: 0-1 / 7.56 / 1.560

June: 2-1 / 9.39 / 1.696

July: 0-0 / 0.00 / 0.667

They stuck with him through two months of dreadfulness. Will he reward them?

Yimi Garcia

March / April: 0-1 / 4.91 / 0.955

May: 0-1 / 4.50 / 1.125

June: 0-0 / 2.89 / 0.321

July: 1-1 / 3.00 / 0.333

He’s either really good, or really bad.

Kenley Jansen

March / April: 2-0 / 3.07 / 0.886 / 10 saves

May: 0-1 / 3.60 / 0.900 / 7 saves

June: 1-1 / 2.70 / 1.100 / 6 saves

July: 0-0 / 4.50 / 0.500 / 0 saves

Jansen is a good, but no longer a great, closer.

Joe Kelly

March / April: 1-2 / 8.31 / 1.692

May: 0-0 / 8.44 / 2.438

June: 1-1 / 1.00 / 1.333

July: 1-0 / 0.00 / 0.300

His turnaround has been amazing and enjoyable to watch.

Clayton Kershaw

March / April: 1-0 / 2.25 / 0.750

May: 4-0 / 4.22 / 1.281

June: 2-2 / 2.93 / 1.050

July: 0-0 / 1.29 / 0.857

Reports of Clayton Kershaw’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

Kenta Maeda

March / April: 3-2 / 4.41 / 1.500

May: 4-0 / 2.73 / 0.674

June: 0-2 / 4.21 / 1.091

July: 0-1 / 3.52 / 0.652

Maeda is what he has always been, a steady back of the rotation guy with flashes of brilliance.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

March / April: 3-1 / 2.96 / 1.024

May: 5-0 / 0.59 / 0.679

June: 1-1 / 2.70 / 1.133

July: 1-0 / 0.00 / 1.000

In his last 32 regular-season starts, Hyun-Jin Ryu is 17-5 with a 1.83 ERA, 0.951 WHIP, 25 walks and 188 strikeouts in 191.1 innings.

Ross Stripling

March / April: 1-2 / 3.41 / 1.165

May: 1-0 / 3.12 / 1.269

June: 1-0 / 1.86 / 1.241

July: 0-1 / 8.00 / 1.667

I had totally forgotten that he was an All-Star last year.

Julio Urias

March / April: 2-1 / 3.42 / 1.099

May: 0-1 / 3.52 / 1.304

June: 2-0 / 0.95 / 0.684

July: 0-0 / 0.00 / 0.000

Just make him the main left-hander in the bullpen and leave him alone the rest of the season.

Now, let’s look at how the Dodgers’ 60-32 record breaks down:

Overall: 60-32

Home: 37-12

Road: 23-20

March: 3-1

April: 17-11

May: 19-7

June: 18-10

July: 3-3

One-run games: 18-10

Blowout (5+ run differential): 21-6

Interleague: 1-3

vs. .500 or better teams: 30-21

vs. below .500 teams: 30-11

vs. NL West: 29-15

vs. NL Central: 19-11

vs. NL East: 11-3

Where are they?

You may be wondering where Matt Beaty, Kyle Garlick and Edwin Rios are. They were sent to the minors during the All-Star break to make room for Freese, Pollock and Seager. I would have rather kept Beaty and sent Zac Rosscup down.

What was on Joc Pederson’s neck?

A lot of you emailed to ask me what was on the back of Joc Pederson’s neck during the Home Run Derby. Those were acupuncture marks. If you were a fan of the TV show “Falling Skies”, it looked like he had been taken over by a Skitter.

Ask Fred Claire

Just like last year, former Dodgers GM Fred Claire will answer select questions from readers. Just send your question to me by clicking here and I will pass the question on to Fred. Answers will appear in a future newsletter.

Ask Ross Porter

Ross Porter will once again answer reader questions this season. All you have to do is email me your question at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. I will forward the email to Ross, and he will answer some each week. Take it away, Ross.

Greg Hardison of Winnetka asks: On July 5, this Dodger team was 14 1/2 games ahead in the division. What has been the largest lead any team in franchise history had at the end of a season?

Ross: Greg, the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers won the pennant by 13 ½ games and captured the only World Series title for that city. The 1953 team finished 13 in front, the 2013 and 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers were up 11, and the 1977 club was 10 ahead at the end. There have been 34 first-place achievements since the initial one in 1889, and 21 were decided by five games or fewer.

Tony Fajardo asks: Who is the greatest reliever you have seen with the Dodgers?

Ross: Eric Gagne. He converted a major league record 84 consecutive save chances between Aug. 2002 and July 2004.

Kevin of South Pasadena asks: Hi, Ross. I don’t think I’ve seen a pitchout in three to four years. Has there been a drastic drop-off?

Ross: Pitchouts are down 80% in the last decade. In 1985, pitchouts were called in eight of every 10 games. By 2015, it was one out of every 10. A decline in stolen base attempts is one reason. The caught-stealing rate is 30% on non-pitchouts to 50% on pitchouts.

Charles Walling, Gary Wagner and Gary Askenaizer all ask: What is with the hollowed end of the bat?

Ross: A cupped bat has an indentation at the end of the bat up to 1 1/4 inches in depth and may be no wider than two inches, and no less than one inch in diameter. The indentation must be curved with no foreign substance added. Johnny Bench was one of the first to use a cupped bat in the 1970’s, wanting his wood bat to feel a little more balanced and reduce the bat’s end weight. It is made from higher-density wood so it should be stronger and more durable, thus making it last longer.

Allen Reger of Visalia asks: Ross, are the 2017 and 2018 Dodgers the only teams to lose the World Series two years in a row by dropping the last two games on their home field?

Ross: No, Allen. The 1907 and 1908 Tigers, 1952 Dodgers, and 2010 Rangers all lost their final two games of a World Series at home. And while the 2018 Dodgers were eliminated in Games 4 and 5 at home, the 2017 Dodgers won Game 6 before losing Game 7 at Chavez Ravine.

You can follow Ross on Twitter: @therossporter

In case you missed it

Dodgers gain three veterans to begin the second half against Red Sox

Those Dodgers stars you cheer? Marty Lamb saw them first

Cody Bellinger’s transformation driven by desire to be an everyday player

Up next

All times Pacific

Tonight: Dodgers (Kenta Maeda) at Boston (*Eduardo Rodriguez), 4 p.m.

Saturday: Dodgers (Ross Stripling) at Boston (*Chris Sale), 4:15 p.m., Fox

Sunday: Dodgers (*Hyun-Jin Ryu) at Boston (*David Price), 4 p.m., ESPN

*-left-handed

And finally

Duke Snider competes against Henry Aaron in the original Home Run Derby. Watch 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.


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