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Dodgers Dugout: Comparing the Dodgers and Giants

Max Muncy
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and here come the Giants.

San Francisco comes to town with a one-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West (the Padres are five games back) and the Giants are one of the big surprises in baseball, as almost no one except Giants fans expected them to even contend.

So how are they doing it?

Let’s compare the Giants to the Dodgers at each position with the WAA stat (WAA stands for Wins Above Average). Basically, what it does is take all that a player does (batting, pitching, fielding, running) and quantify it into a number that tells us how many wins he was worth to the team compared to an average player. If you have a WAA of 1.0, it means you were worth one more win to the team compared to if an average player replaced you.

WAA is complex to calculate, and it isn’t a perfect stat. There are no perfect stats. However, it levels the playing field and is useful when making comparisons like this.

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We will count everyone who played at that position as part of the WAR total (listed in order of plate appearances or games pitched). Only what they did while playing that position counts, and this is through Saturday.

Catcher

Giants (Posey, Casali, Tromp, Bart): 1.4 (First in NL)

Dodgers (Smith, Barnes, Ruiz): 0.5 (Sixth in NL)

First base

Dodgers (Muncy, Pujols, Beaty, Rios, Burns): 1.9 (first)

Giants (Belt, Ruf, Wade, Flores, Vosler): 0.8 (third)

Second base

Dodgers (Taylor, Lux, Muncy, McKinstry, Neuse, Burns, Barnes, Betts): 1.5 (third)

Giants (Solano, Flores, La Stella, Dubon, Estrada, Vosler): -0.3 (11th)

Third base

Giants (Longoria, Flores, Vosler, Dubon, La Stella, Estrada): 0.9 (third)

Dodgers (Turner, McKinstry, Rios, Neuse, Taylor, Burns): 0.8 (fourth)

Shortstop

Giants (Crawford, Dubon, Estrada): 2.8 (second)

Dodgers (Lux, Seager, Taylor): 0.5 (10th)

Left field

Dodgers (Pollock, Beaty, Tsutsugo, Taylor, Raley, McKinstry, Neuse, Souza, Reks): 0.1 (fifth)

Giants (Dickerson, Tachman, Slater, Wade, Ruf, Estrada, Vosler, Davis, Duggar): -0.7 (11th)

Center field

Giants (Duggar, Slater, Dubon, Tauchman, Wade): 0.9 (fourth)

Dodgers (Taylor, Bellinger, Betts, Peters, Pollock): 0.7 (fifth)

Right field

Giants (Yastrzemski, Tauchman, Slater, Wade, Ruf, Davis, Vosler, Duggar): 1.1 (fourth)

Dodgers (Betts, McKinstry, Raley, Beaty, Souza, Peters, Taylor, Rios, Neuse, Bellinger): 0.9 (fifth)

Rotation

Giants (Gausman, DeSclafani, Wood, Cueto, Webb, Sanchez, Long, Littell, Kazmir, Menez): 5.7 (second)

Dodgers (Urías, Kershaw, Buehler, Bauer, Gonsolin, May, Price, Uceta, Reed, Nelson, Gonzalez, Cleavinger): 5.4 (fourth)

Bullpen

Giants (Rogers, McGee, Alvarez, Littell, Garcia, Baragar, Wisler, Leone, Doval, Sherfy, Peralta, Brebbia, Selman, Menez, Tropeano, Moronta, Santos, Long, Webb, Ruf, Kazmir, Beede): -0.3 (sixth)

Dodgers (Treinen, Jansen, Gonzalez, Nelson, Kelly, Bickford, Price, Cleavinger, Alexander, Santana, White, Vesia, Uceta, Knebel, Jones, Graterol, Reed, Nunez, Kickham, Gonsolin, Burns): -0.9 (seventh)

As you can see, the Giants have big leads at catcher, thanks to Buster Posey, and at shortstop, thanks to Brandon Crawford. Austin Barnes drags down the Dodgers’ WAA at catcher because of his below-average offense and overall it is hurt defensively because teams steal so many bases on the Dodgers. Of course, stolen bases are usually the fault of the pitcher, not the catcher, but that’s a limitation of using one stat to view a player’s worth.

Crawford has been outstanding on offense and defense this season, and has a WAA of 2.9, compared to 0.4 for Gavin Lux and 0.1 for Corey Seager.

The Dodgers have big leads at first base and second base. Both teams are below average in left and in the bullpen, which isn’t a shock. The bullpen has really been the Achilles heel of the Dodgers this season, as we have discussed many times.

Don’t blame Pollock for the bad WAA in left. He has a 0.8 WAA, meaning everyone else is dragging him down.

Cody Bellinger

You may be wondering “Is he ever going to talk about Cody Bellinger and his woeful hitting or is he just going to ignore it?” I am well aware, trust me. You can pencil him for a strikeout and two pop outs every game right now. We will discuss in more detail next newsletter, hopefully after he comes out of his slump and goes 12 for 15 against the Giants.

Mookie Betts

Talk about bad timing. Mookie Betts left Saturday’s game with a right hip injury after hitting a double. He was four for four with three runs scored in that game and in his last 10 games, he was hitting .425/.478/.825. He didn’t play Sunday, but should be back tonight. Lots of nagging injuries for the Dodgers this season, but there have been lots of nagging injuries across baseball because of the short season last year and the abbreviated spring training this year.

Gavin Lux

Lux strained his left hamstring Sunday and had to come out of the game in the ninth inning. He will miss at least a couple of games, and maybe more depending on how tests go today. Which brings us to...

Injury Report

Speaking of injuries, a quick update.

Clayton Kershaw (10-day IL, elbow inflammation): Dave Roberts said Kershaw could start playing catch in a few days and the Dodgers hope to have him back in August.

Jimmy Nelson (10-day IL, strained lower back): He will have a bullpen session and could be activated for the upcoming series against the Giants.

Victor Gonzalez (10-day IL, plantar fasciitis): Gonzalez had a rehab outing and pitched well. He could be activated today.

Corey Knebel (60-day IL, right lat strain): Knebel is scheduled to throw a simulated game (with Corey Seager as the batter) today. If all goes well, he will have another simulated game and probably a rehab assignment and could return mid-August.

Corey Seager (60-day IL, broken hand): Seager took seven at-bats in a simulated game Saturday and is scheduled to go through another simulated game today. His return depends on how he responds to that, and whether he will need a rehab assignment. He could be back against the Giants.

Edwin Uceta (10-day IL, strained lower back): He pitched for the Arizona Complex League Dodgers on Saturday, tossing a scoreless inning. His return, either to the Dodgers or the minors, seems imminent.

Caleb Ferguson, Tommy Kahnle and Dustin May are all recovering from Tommy John surgery and are out the rest of this season. Edwin Rios had shoulder surgery and is also out for the rest of the season.

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.

Guadalupe Grijalva: My grandfather was the biggest and best Dodger fan that ever was. He was Dodger blue through and through. He is the reason I’ve been a fan my whole life and he’s the reason I attended my first Dodger game. Getting to hang out with my Grandpa Johnny was always a treat. My first memory: I was unbelievably excited to be driving in my Grandpa’s truck toward Chavez Ravine for my first game. The crowds, the excitement, the energy while walking among so many fans was amazing. Once we made it inside we headed to the concessions to load up on treats and snacks. Then with arms full of Dodger Dogs and a soda we headed to our seats. Looking out to the field was amazing. Players were warming up and the crowd was like this mass of ants with everyone moving around, people finding their seats, food vendors moving up and down aisles. I couldn’t believe I was here. I can’t remember if the game was lost or won but I remember learning and doing the wave. I remember my Grandpa keeping score and writing down every ball and strike. I remember the crowd cheering together and jeering together too. I remember how full my heart was, how happy my Grandpa was on that day. Every time I return to Dodger Stadium for a game, I take his Dodger jacket with me. It makes me feel like now I’m taking him out to a Dodger game.

Greg Feldmeth of Pasadena: I was 10-years-old and went to a game at the Coliseum in 1961 with my Little League team. Wally Moon hit a homer over the left field screen. After the game, we waited at the tunnel to get autographs. Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, and Charlie Neal came out and graciously chatted with us for about 15 minutes.

Kent Partoll: My grandfather was a big Dodger fan so I liked them too. He took me to Chavez Ravine when I was 10. This was the Davey Lopes, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Dusty Baker teams. I’m 56 now but I can remember how beautiful it was. Sunny afternoon, green grass, those beautiful Dodger white uniforms. Grandpa bought two Dodger Dogs. One for me and one for the ballboy on the first base line. The kid gave me a foul ball. No one in the world was happier than me right then.

Up next

Tonight: San Francisco (Kevin Gausman, 9-3, 1.73 ERA) at Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin, 1-0, 2.13 ERA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Tuesday: San Francisco (*Alex Wood, 8-3, 3.67 ERA) at Dodgers (TBA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Wednesday: San Francisco (Logan Webb, 4-3, 3.54 ERA) at Dodgers (Julio Urías, 12-3, 3.78 ERA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Thursday: San Francisco (Anthony DeSclafani, 10-4, 2.78 ERA) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 10-1, 2.37 ERA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

*-left-handed

And finally

Vin Scully on The Beatles playing at Dodger Stadium. 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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