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Dodgers Dugout: Random thoughts and comparisons

Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and in this grim, brutal season, the Dodgers are on pace to win 98 games.

There is no big main topic for today’s newsletter, just a few things worth looking at. First up, is a nice thing the Dodgers did.

Before the first game with the Cubs on Thursday, the Dodgers presented Joc Pederson with his World Series ring. They played a video with all of Pederson’s big moments and several of his former teammates presented him with the ring. You can watch it here. Pederson received a huge ovation from the crowd.

But that wasn’t the nice thing the Dodgers did that I’m talking about.

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If you remember, Joc has an older brother who has Down Syndrome, Champ Pederson, who the Dodgers made sort of an honorary 26th member of the team. He hung out in the locker room before games, and is loved by all of Pederson’s teammates.

The Dodgers surprised Champ (and Joc) by presenting Champ his own World Series ring. A wonderful gesture.

“Everything that entails with the Dodgers, they’re a great organization and a great team,” Champ said. “I’m very happy to be Joc’s older brother.”

You can watch Champ talk about his ring in an interview here.

Speaking of Joc Pederson, I’ve been trying to figure out why the Dodgers seem so emotionless this year. Even when they are playing well and blowing out a team, everything seems perfunctory. And after watching Pederson accept his ring, I realized the two biggest cheerleaders on last year’s team (and year’s before that), Pederson and Kiké Hernandez, are gone. If you were a fan watching the game at home, you could always count on both of them to be cheering and acting borderline goofy no matter what was going on. When Pederson got his ring, Dave Roberts said “Joc has meant a lot to the organization. The relationships he’s had, playing well on the biggest of stages and helping us win a championship. … I know he made our club better, and the fans really related to Joc, what he did on the field, the energy he brought and the things he did off the field.”

So, while both of them left of their own accord after the Dodgers couldn’t guarantee they would start everyday, and while I’m not convinced they miss them on the playing field, there’s no doubt there was a spark they at least gave the fans that is missing this season.

Comparison

After winning three of four from the Cubs, the Dodgers are 47-31 and in second place in the NL West, 3.5 games behind San Francisco. Here’s where they stood in the standing after the same number of games since they started their division-title streak in 2013:

2013: 36-42, fifth place, six games behind Arizona
2014: 42-36, second place, 4.5 games behind San Francisco
2015: 43-35, first place, one-half game ahead of San Francisco
2016: 42-36, second place, seven games behind San Francisco
2017: 51-27, first place, 1.5 games ahead of Arizona
2018: 42-36, second place, 2.5 games behind Arizona
2019: 53-25, first place, 12 games ahead of Colorado
2020: Only played 60 games.
2021: 47-31, second place, 3.5 games behind San Francisco

Another thing that seems troubling is the Dodgers are struggling against teams that are at .500 or better. How do they compare to other seasons.

2021: 18-22, .450
2013: 34-31, .523
2014: 26-33, .441
2015: 28-37, .431
2016: 30-26, .536
2017: 36-33, .522
2018: 51-39, .573
2019: 45-32, .584
2020: 8-5, .615
2021: 18-22, .450

So, if they continue on this path, this would be only the third time during their nine NL West title streak that they would be below .500 against winning teams. The other two times, they lost in the NLDS (in 2014 to St. Louis, 3-1, and in 2015 to New York, 3-2).

All-Star voting

The finalists for phase two of All-Star voting were announced Sunday. Vote totals have been reset for all players heading into the second phase. The Houston Asterisks have the most finalists with seven, followed by the Dodgers, Blue Jays and Cubs with five each.

Phase two voting will start at 9 a.m. PDT today and conclude at 11 a.m. PDT Thursday. The starters will be announced at 6 p.m. PDT on ESPN. The rest of the All-Star rosters will be named on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. PDT. The All-Star Game will be Tuesday, July 13 at Coors Field and will be televised on Fox. You can vote by clicking here.

Fan voting determines the starters at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, catcher and the three outfield spots in each league, plus the designated hitter spot in the AL. Pitchers and reserves for both teams will be determined through a combination of Player Ballot choices and selections made by the Commissioner’s Office

We’ll include the AL finalists too. Players are listed in order of votes received. Ten teams failed to have a player reach phase two: Cleveland, Detroit, Oakland, Seattle and Tampa Bay in the AL and Arizona, Colorado, Miami, Milwaukee and New York in the NL.

DESIGNATED HITTER

1. Shohei Ohtani, Angels

2. J.D. Martinez, Boston

3. Yordan Alvarez, Houston

CATCHERS

AL

1. Salvador Perez, Kansas City

2. Martín Maldonado, Houston

3. Yasmani Grandal, Chicago

NL

1. Buster Posey, San Francisco

2. Yadier Molina, St. Louis

3. Willson Contreras, Chicago

FIRST BASEMEN

AL

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto

2. Yuli Gurriel, Houston

3. José Abreu, Chicago

NL

1. Max Muncy, Dodgers

2. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta

3. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago

SECOND BASEMEN

AL

1. Marcus Semien, Toronto

2. Jose Altuve, Houston

3. DJ LeMahieu, New York

Semien, who moved from shortstop to second base after signing a one-year, $18 million contract with the Blue Jays in the offseason, is looking for his first career All-Star nod at age 30. Altuve and LeMahieu have been there before, combining for nine All-Star selections and six starts.

NL

1. Ozzie Albies, Atlanta

2. Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh

3. Gavin Lux, Dodgers

SHORTSTOPS

AL

1. Xander Bogaerts, Boston

2. Bo Bichette, Toronto

3. Carlos Correa, Houston

NL

1. Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego

2. Javier Báez, Chicago

3. Brandon Crawford, San Francisco

Crawford passed Corey Seager in the final week of phase one voting.

THIRD BASEMEN

AL

1. Rafael Devers, Boston

2. Alex Bregman, Houston

3. Yoán Moncada, Chicago

NL

1. Kris Bryant, Chicago

2. Nolan Arenado, St. Louis

3. Justin Turner, Dodgers

OUTFIELDERS

AL

1. Mike Trout, Angels

2. Aaron Judge, New York

3. Byron Buxton, Minnesota

4. Michael Brantley, Houston

5. Adolis García, Texas

6. Teoscar Hernández, Toronto

7. Cedric Mullins, Baltimore

8. Alex Verdugo, Boston

9. Randal Grichuk, Toronto

NL

1. Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta

2. Nick Castellanos, Cincinnati

3. Jesse Winker, Cincinnati

4. Mookie Betts, Dodgers

5. Chris Taylor, Dodgers

6. Juan Soto, Washington

7. Bryce Harper, Philadelphia

8. Joc Pederson, Chicago

9. Mike Yastrzemski, San Francisco

Failing to make phase two were Will Smith, Seager, and AJ Pollock. You can vote by clicking here.

And now, the Giants

The Giants are coming to town. They have the best record in baseball. There’s a three-way race for the title. The games remaining against the Giants and Padres will decide who wins the division, and who has to play in a one-game wild-card playoff. This is supposed to be exciting, folks. Don’t live game-to-game, just enjoy the ride.

I still don’t understand

That tire commercial Clayton Kershaw is in. The message seems to be that “Opponents hit balls so hard and far off of Clayton Kershaw that you need a car to catch them.”

Your first Dodger memory

Since I still have a lot of these, “Your first Dodgers memory” returns this season. If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it might run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name and where you live. And don’t send only a sentence. Tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Thanks.

Jack Whealen of Fremont: The first game I remember was a game in July 1962, Giants vs. Dodgers. We sat in the dugout box seats behind home plate. When we came out from beneath the stadium to that great expanse of green grass my eyes must have bugged out and my jaw dropped. That was 58 years ago cementing me as life long Dodger fan. I sat there jumping up and down as the Dodgers pounded the hated Giants 11-1. Frank Howard homered. We listened to Vinny on KFI. A wonderful memory.

Jerry Steckloff: I was 8-years-old in 1957 and my dad brought me to Ebbets Field to watch the Dodgers play the Cardinals. I’ll never forget walking through the runway to our seats and laying my eyes on the field for the very first time. The incredibly green grass and immaculate diamond made an indelible impression on me that I’ve never forgotten.

Brian Thomas: Not sure of the year but it was in the late sixties. Living in New Jersey, I had never been to a pro baseball game, but I was hooked on baseball for sure. Then my father’s company, Western Electric, put together a group trip to Shea Stadium in New York, when the Mets were playing the Dodgers. We sat behind home plate but way up, probably third-deck seats. My memories include how scary it was looking down, how impossible it was to judge where a fly ball or pop was going to land since they all looked like home runs from that seat, and watching Wes Parker hit the first home run I ever saw in person over the right-field fence. The Dodgers won and I have been a fan since!

In case you missed it

MLB has had its share of big scandals. Doctored baseballs aren’t one of them

Dodgers-Lakers media bundle? Why Dodgers co-owners buying into Lakers is a big deal

Up next

Tonight: San Francisco (Anthony DeSclafani, 8-2, 2.77 ERA) at Dodgers (Trevor Bauer, 7-5, 2.57 ERA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Tuesday: San Francisco (Kevin Gausman, 8-1, 1.49 ERA) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 7-1, 2.51 ERA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, ESPN, AM 570

And finally

Vin Scully sorts out a fight between the Padres and Dodgers. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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