Hi, welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, reminding you that you can use the All-Star break to rest, recharge and pray the Dodgers improve their bullpen before the playoffs.
Grading the hitters
What better time than the All-Star break to grade the hitters for their play this season? Here's how I have them. How about you?
Justin Turner: The little engine that could. Just like last season, he started on the bench but proved himself such a good hitter that they had to find room for him in the lineup. He is now the starting third baseman and leads the team in slugging (.538). He should be on the All-Star team.
Adrian Gonzalez: After an amazing start, Gonzalez cooled off in recent weeks before going on another surge just before the All-Star break. He continues to be an RBI machine and is on pace for more than 100 RBIs again this season.
Yasmani Grandal: A well-deserved All-Star, Grandal has been excellent with a bat in his hands, hitting .282 and leading the team with a .401 on-base percentage. He is second in slugging (.526) and has made people forget about Matt Kemp, who was traded for the catcher. Behind the plate, Grandal stumbles a bit: He has a league-leading eight passed balls and has thrown out only 29% of base stealers.
Andre Ethier: You have to give Ethier credit. He didn't whine when sent to the bench, then stepped in and played better than Carl Crawford would have if Crawford wasn't injured.
Howie Kendrick: Most fans seem to want Dee Gordon back, but that is a disservice to Kendrick, who has been solid at the plate and with the glove.
Joc Pederson: I still think he will win Rookie of the Year, but he has slumped badly recently, hitting .132 in July. He hasn't homered since June 29. He does provide Gold Glove defense in center, and the Dodgers now finally have a center fielder instead of a guy who plays center.
Alex Guerrero: He started off like Eddie Mathews, now is hitting and fielding like Edward Scissorhands. Since June 18, he is hitting .088 with no extra-base hits.
Kike Hernandez: He has filled in admirably at several positions and is hitting OK, but seems to have no idea what "base on balls" means, walking only five times in 110 plate appearances.
Yasiel Puig: He missed a lot of the season because of injury and isn't playing with that same unbridled enthusiasm right now. Plus, we don't even get to see him show off his cannon of an arm -- because runners don't try to run on him anymore.
Scott Van Slyke: He could rate higher if he played more. Van Slyke gives the Dodgers a good bat off the bench and could be a starter for a lot of teams.
Alberto Callaspo: He has hit better than most expected, but I'd still rather have Juan Uribe.
A.J. Ellis: He was going to get a D- until a late hot streak lifted his average over .200. Behind the plate, he has thrown out 59% of base stealers.
Jimmy Rollins: He homered on opening day but hasn't done much since then. He still plays solid defense, but you have to wonder why the Dodgers don't give the job to Corey Seager.
Austin Barnes, Darwin Barney, Carl Crawford, Chris Heisey, Scott Schebler: They didn't play enough to get grades. They are like those guys who audit a class in college.
I will grade the pitchers in the next newsletter.
Times baseball columnist Bill Shaikin takes a look at No. 1 prospect Corey Seager, who remains a mystery despite the fact most consider him the best player in the minors.
Speaking of prospects
Shaikin also takes a look at three other top Dodgers prospects: Julio Urias, Hector Olivera and Jose DeLeon.
Kershaw makes the team
Joc Pederson finished second in the Home Run Derby and found the whole thing "pretty surreal."
This date in Dodgers history
July 14, 1995: Ramon Martinez pitches a no-hitter against the Florida Marlins.
July 15, 2004: Eric Gagne gets his 130th save, passing Jeff Shaw for the all-time franchise lead.
July 17, 1954: The Dodgers become the first MLB team to field a lineup that has a majority of black players when Jim Gilliam, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Amoros, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe are in the starting lineup in a 2-1 win over the Braves in Milwaukee.
July 17, 1976: Walter Alston becomes the sixth manager to win 2,000 games when the Dodgers defeat the Chicago Cubs, 5-4, at Dodger Stadium.