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Dodgers Dugout: Have we traveled back to the 1950s? Will we finally have a Freeway World Series?

Los Angele mayor Eric Garcetti, right, speaks as members of the Los Angeles Dodgers look on during an event
Members of the Dodgers look on during an event to officially launch the countdown to MLB All-Star Week.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
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Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and the Dodgers have the best record in the NL. The Yankees have the best record in the AL. Have we traveled back to the 1950s?

Time for some random thoughts....

—The Angels lead the AL West. Is this finally the season we get a Freeway World Series? I mean, there are only 139 games to go in the season, so we shouldn’t wait too much longer to prepare.

—I’m not sure where this Freddie Freeman guy came from (he must have been some unheralded rookie), but he fits in quite nicely on the Dodgers.

Justin Turner is hitting .183/.225/.256. So why does Dave Roberts keep putting him in the lineup? “I do know he’s preparing like he always has,” Roberts said. “I think there’s been some hard contact in there, there hasn’t been the walk, which is not what he normally does as far as the on-base. … He’s a pro, man. I’m going to keep running him out there.”

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—Roberts has dropped Turner in the lineup though, with Turner batting sixth the last couple of days and Will Smith elevated to the cleanup spot.

—A few have written that Turner and Max Muncy (.151/.319/.315) should be benched. No way. These guys have a history of success at the plate. The Dodgers have played only 23 games. You don’t give up on players like that so quickly. Maybe you give them a day off, but bench them? And Muncy had a big game Wednesday.

—This Dodgers team reminds me a great deal of the late 1970s Dodgers teams, which seemed to run the same eight (now nine) guys out there game after game. The main eight Dodgers in 1977 (Steve Yeager, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Dusty Baker, Rick Monday and Reggie Smith) each had at least 438 plate appearances and played in at least 118 games. The guy on the bench with the most plate appearances was Lee Lacy with 180. They had two guys on the team, Manny Mota and Vic Davalillo, who basically were only pinch-hitters.

—This year, each of the main nine players have at least 67 plate appearances and have played in at least 18 of the 23 games. The guy on the bench with the most plate appearances is Edwin Ríos with 23.

—The big difference is the 1977 team usually had eight guys on the bench. The 2012 team only has three.

—That ball that Cody Bellinger crushed during Tuesday’s game would have been out of the park the last few seasons. Definitely something crazy going on with the baseballs this season, as offense is down dramatically across the majors. MLB tinkered with the baseballs in order to create fewer homers and more balls in play. We’ll look more closely at how offense is down this season statistically when we get a few more games into the season. Whether it’s the fact the balls are stored in humidors in every stadium now, or it’s something else ... impossible to know for sure at the moment. Jack Harris has more on the story if you click here.

—Even John Brebbia, the Giants pitcher who gave up the long fly out, thought Bellinger’s ball was long gone. “I thought it was going to kill someone trying to catch it in the 10th row. That’s not something I needed to see. I asked the ump ‘Please give me another ball. We just lost that one.’ And he said, ‘You’re allowed to look.’... And that’s when I turned back around.”

—Not Dodgers related, but a great moment Tuesday night at the Toronto-New York Yankees game in Toronto. Aaron Judge of the Yankees hit a mammoth homer into the second deck, and it was caught by a Blue Jays fan. Sitting in the section of seats next to him was a kid wearing an Aaron Judge Yankees jersey. The man immediately gave the ball to the kid, who burst into tears and hugged him. To make it even better, the next day, Judge met with both of them and signed the ball for the kid. You can watch the moment here.

—Throughout the season, I hope to put a spotlight on nice moments in the world, since the world has been so crazy the last couple of years. We forget that there are far more good people than bad, it’s just the bad get most of the notice. Let’s change that. If you see a moment that should be highlighted, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com.

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—The Dodgers have a new celebration after hits this season, replacing last season’s patting the top of the helmet. It’s a shaka hand sign, also known as “hang loose,” most associated with Hawaiian and surf culture. And it comes from Hanser Alberto. “Switch it up. In 2020 in Winter Ball, we were winning the final three games to one, and we lost it. They came from behind, and won all three games in a row. So then last year, I went to the team and said, ‘Every time we get a hit, we switch it up.’ So I brought it here and now everybody does switch it up.”

—Why did Roberts remove Julio Urías after he pitched six shutout innings against the Giants on Tuesday, needing only 65 pitches? “I thought the stuff was good, but I thought they were taking some good swings off him. There was some hard contact the innings before. I felt that part of the lineup again, just to give them a different look.”

—Also, keep in mind that starting today, the Dodgers play 31 games in 31 days. They have one off day (May 19) but also have a doubleheader against Arizona (May 17). So conserving arms is a priority. The Dodgers always treat the season as a marathon, and keep an eye on the whole season and not on just one individual game.

—Speaking of doubleheaders, while I know this is a business and teams want to make as much money as possible, it would have been a nice gift to fans around the majors if all teams had made the doubleheaders like the old days, when one ticket got you into both games.

—You’ll notice there has been no gloating over the two-game sweep of the Giants. They still have 17 games to play against San Francisco, so there’s no need to poke that bear.

OPS+ check

Let’s check the OPS+ of the 12 Dodgers who have at least 20 plate appearances this season. Remember, OPS+ compares you against league averages. If you have an OPS+ of 100, that means you are a league average hitter. An OPS+ of 125 means you are 25% better than average. An OPS+ of 75 means you are 25% worse than average.

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Above average
Freddie Freeman, 153
Chris Taylor, 134
Austin Barnes, 132
Will Smith, 122
Mookie Betts, 122
Gavin Lux, 116
Cody Bellinger, 104

Below average
Trea Turner, 99
Max Muncy, 86
Edwin Rïos, 81
Hanser Alberto, 81
Justin Turner, 40

Obscure stat of the week

Since 1961, Dodgers pitchers who went at least nine innings and gave up only one run, but lost the game:

3 times
Don Drysdale (0.64 ERA 28.1 IP, 16 hits, 6 walks, 26 K’s, 0-3)
Fernando Valenzuela (1.00 ERA, 27 IP, 13 hits, 8 walks, 27 K’s, 0-3)

2 times
Orel Hershiser (1.00 ERA, 18 IP, 17 hits, 4 walks, 8 K’s, 0-2)
Andy Messersmith (0.00 ERA, 18 IP, 10 hits, 1 walk, 12 K’s, 0-2)
Claude Osteen (0.96 ERA, 18.2 IP, 11 hits, 5 walks, 12 HK’s, 0-2)
Bill Singer (1.00 ERA, 18 IP, 9 hits, 5 walks, 18 K’s, 0-2)
Don Sutton (0.95 ERA, 19 IP, 10 hits, 6 walks, 17 K’s, 0-2)

1 time
Rich Hill (1.00 ERA, 9 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 10 K’s, 0-1)
Burt Hooton (1.00 ERA, 9 IP, 4 hits, 2 walks, 5 K’s, 0-1)
Derek Lowe (1.00 ERA, 9 IP, 4 hits, 0 walks, 3 K’s, 0-1)
Johnny Podres (1.00 ERA, 9 IP, 5 hits, 0 walks, 7 K’s, 0-1)

Before running the numbers on baseball-reference.com, I would have guessed Sandy Koufax would have led here, but it never happened to him.

All-Star week festivities

MLB and the Dodgers announced the schedule of events surrounding this year’s All-Star game at Dodger Stadium. These include:

Friday, July 15-Sunday, July 17
A beach event at the Santa Monica Pier where fans can play interactive games in a baseball-themed carnival-like setting on the Pier and see baseball-themed sand sculptures on the beach south of the pier.

Time: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: Free

Saturday July 16-Tuesday July 19
MLB Live in and around the convention center in downtown L.A. Among the events: Autograph signings from Hall of Famer, take a picture with World Series trophy. Kids can receive baseball instruction from former pros. There will also be interactive games and you can see the world’s largest baseball. You can see a list of all the scheduled attractions and events here.

Time: Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Adults, $35. Kids 2-12, $30. 65 and over, $19. Military, $19. College students: $15. Events held outside the convention center are free.
Buy tickets here.

Saturday July 16
All-Star Futures Game and the Celebrity Softball Game. Both at Dodger Stadium.
Time: Futures game 4 p.m., celebrity game 7:15 p.m.

Sunday, July 17
First round of the MLB draft in Xbox Plaza at L.A. Live.
Time: 5 p.m.
Cost: Free

Monday, July 18
MLB Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium
Time: 5 p.m.

Tuesday, July 19
MLB All-Star game
Time: 4:30 p.m.

Where’s Ross Porter?

For those of you who asked, Ross Porter, who wrote the popular feature “Ask Ross Porter” in this newsletter for several years, now does something similar on his Facebook group page. Go to Facebook and search for Ross Porter Sports and become a member and you can interact with Ross and ask him questions about any sport.

Up next

Today: Dodgers (*Tyler Anderson, 2-0, 2.55 ERA) at Chicago Cubs (TBA), 11:20 a.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020
Saturday: Dodgers (*Clayton Kershaw, 3-0, 2.35 ERA) at Chicago Cubs (*Justin Steele, 1-3, 5.50 ERA), 11:20 a.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020
Sunday: Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 3-1, 2.12 ERA) at Chicago Cubs (Marcus Stroman, 1-3, 5.13 ERA) 1 p.m., ESPN, AM 570, KTNQ 1020
*-left-handed

Stories you might have missed

Hernández: Dodgers proved they don’t trust Julio Urías when they pulled him early against Giants

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Dodgers make early-season statement in sweep of Giants: Three takeaways from series

Dodgers and MLB announce All-Star week festivities for July

And finally

Vin Scully talks about the time he managed the 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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