Dodgers Dugout: That magic number keeps decreasing

Corey Seager

Corey Seager will receive plenty of attention this month.

(Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press)

Hi, welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, thinking that this Corey Seager guy might just have a future in this game. 

Still in control

After scaring fans by losing the first game, the Dodgers won the next three against the San Diego Padres and now have a 7 ½-game lead over the San Francisco Giants. In fact, right now I would list them as the second-best team in the NL, behind the Cardinals. Ahead of the Pirates and Cubs even? Yep, winning 11 of 13 games will do that for you. The bullpen will continue to make me nervous all through the playoffs, but you have to feel better about the team than you did two weeks ago. Check in again next week to see how everything feels then.

Seager steps up

Of course, the big news for Dodgers fans was the fact they called up top prospect Corey Seager from the minors and immediately put him in the starting lineup. All he has done in his three starts is hit .357 with two doubles, three RBIs and a stolen base. He also look solid defensively at short and third. Too early to get overly excited? Sure. But it's better than starting your career 0 for 14.

Poor Mat

Mat Latos had another horrible start on Thursday and was yanked after four innings, bringing his Dodgers ERA to 6.56. He then had the audacity to complain after the game about Manager Don Mattingly not letting him pitch long enough: “It's hard to get into a rhythm,” he said. “I kind of settled in, put up two zeros up on the board, found my release point. By the time I do that, I'm already out of the game.”

The next day, a hopefully more humble Latos met with Mattingly before the game. Let's pray that Mattingly doesn't start Latos again and gives that rotation spot to Mike Bolsinger.

Who's the best player on the Dodgers?

There are a lot of stats you can look at to measure a baseball player, and most of them are useful to an extent. One of my favorites is WAR (Wins Above Replacement). WAR is a stat that tells you the number of additional wins a team has achieved above the number of expected wins for the team if that player was substituted by a replacement-level player. It takes into account a player's contribution on offense and defense. You can read a detailed explanation here. It's not a perfect stat, but it's fun to play around with and use it to see who has been most valuable to the team. With that in mind, here are the top 20 Dodgers in WAR this season:

  1. Zack Greinke, 7.8 (this means that the Dodgers would have won about 8 fewer games this season with a sub-par pitcher in the rotation instead of Greinke).
  2. Clayton Kershaw, 6.2
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 3.8
  4. Justin Turner, 2.8
  5. Andre Ethier, 2.6
  6. Joc Pederson, 2.4
  7. Mike Bolsinger, 2.1
  8. Brett Anderson, 1.7
  9. Kenley Jansen, 1.34
  10. J.P. Howell, 1.33
  11. A.J. Ellis, 1.32
  12. Yasmani Grandal, 1.3
  13. Scott Van Slyke, 1.2
  14. Yasiel Puig, 1.1
  15. Howie Kendrick, 0.9
  16. Kike Hernandez, 0.9
  17. Alex Wood, 0.7
  18. Chase Utley, 0.68
  19. Juan Nicasio, 0.63
  20. Pedro Baez, 0.3

In case you were wondering, the least valuable Dodgers using this stat are Jimmy Rollins (-0.4) and Jim Johnson (-1.5).

And for the NL?

So, can we use WAR to predict the NL MVP and Cy Young winner? Well, let's rank them and see what happens. The top 10 batters in WAR this season:

  1. Bryce Harper, Washington, 8.6
  2. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona, 7.5
  3. Joey Votto, Cincinnati, 6.7
  4. A.J. Pollock, Arizona, 6.1
  5. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago, 5.8
  6. Nolan Arenado, Colorado, 5.6
  7. Brandon Crawford, San Francisco, 5.5
  8. Buster Posey, San Francisco, 5.49
  9. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh, 4.7
  10. Jason Heyward, St. Louis, 4.3

Adrian Gonzalez ranks 16th among NL batters

The top 10 pitchers in WAR:

  1. Zack Greinke, Dodgers, 7.8
  2. Jake Arrieta, Chicago, 6.9
  3. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, 6.2
  4. Max Scherzer, Washington, 5.1
  5. Jacob DeGrom, New York, 4.5
  6. Matt Harvey, New York, 4.2
  7. Shelby Miller, Atlanta, 4.02
  8. John Lackey, St. Louis, 4.01
  9. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco, 3.9
  10. Michael Wacha, St. Louis, 3.8

You can find these types of lists at the best baseball stat site around,

The TV situation

In last Monday's Dodgers Dugout, I asked you to vote in a poll to decide who is responsible for the Dodgers not being on TV for most of us. The results:

Dodgers, 46.6%

Time Warner Cable, 39.8%

The cable/satellite providers, 13.6%

Ask Ross Porter

Former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter will be answering select reader questions for the rest of the season. Email me a question for Ross, and I will pass it on to him. Here’s his latest response:

Jerry Bedoya asks: Jerry Doggett was a beloved Dodger broadcaster for 32 years and then POOF, he was gone. Rumors ran amok that he was released via telephone with little to no warning or that he had heard of his release from a third party. Ross, can you shed some light on this?

Ross: One afternoon late in the 1987 season, Jerry, Vin and I were together in the broadcast booth at Dodger Stadium before a game. Jerry told us Peter O'Malley had asked him to come to his office at 5 p.m. Jerry said, "I think Peter wants me to retire." Vin commented, "Tell him you want to keep working." What none of us knew at the time was that Don Drysdale's contract as a broadcaster for the White Sox was expiring and Don wanted to come home to the Dodgers. Peter and Don were close, so Jerry, then 70, retired with grace. He was honored with his night at the stadium, was presented a new golf cart by the Dodgers, and with his wife Jodi alongside, rode around the track while fans applauded. Ten years later, Jerry told Jodi late one morning he was tired and took a nap. He never awakened. Jerry Doggett was a wonderful man, and I will always be grateful for his kindness and help to me in the 11 years we worked together.

The week in Dodgers history

Sept. 7, 2001: Shawn Green hits his 44th home run of the season, setting a new franchise record.

Sept. 9, 1965: Sandy Koufax pitches a perfect game against the Cubs, his only perfect game, and his fourth no-hitter.

Sept. 12, 2000: Dave Hansen sets the major league record with his seventh pinch-hit home run of the season.

And finally

Have the Dodgers suddenly become a faster and better baserunning team? Times Dodgers reporter Dylan Hernandez takes a look at that here.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston

Get our weekly Dodgers Dugout newsletter