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.
Don’t get too carried away with the July numbers, since there are so few plate appearances.
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.
A valuable guy to have on the bench.
Hernandez just isn’t a good hitter against right-handers.
Would you rather have Yasmani Grandal back?
I really didn’t think Muncy would have a year like last year. Glad I was wrong. And his defense has improved too.
Pederson’s hitting really fell off a cliff the last six weeks. He still draws walks though.
That’s only 40 at-bats in June, but his injury couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Amazing turnaround for Taylor, who some fans wanted the Dodgers to release in April.
Considering he is banged up constantly, Turner’s hitting ability is even more amazing.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
One-run games: 18-10
Blowout (5+ run differential): 21-6
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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
Duke Snider competes against Henry Aaron in the original Home Run Derby. Watch it here.