Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I am quite comfortable with the back end of the bullpen being Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly and Casey Sadler.
Opinions are definitely mixed when it comes to manager Dave Roberts. Some fans love him, some fans hate him. Which is odd when you think about it, because you’d think a guy who has guided the team to two consecutive World Series appearances would be more universally loved. I don’t recall a lot of fans calling for the firing of Tommy Lasorda after he led the team to two consecutive World Series appearances (and he lost both too).
But it’s a different game now. Back when Lasorda managed, they went more by instinct than stats. Sometimes it worked (Bob Welch vs. Reggie Jackson) and sometimes it didn’t (Tom Niedenfuer vs. Jack Clark). Now there’s a sense that every decision is guided by a computer. A lot of fans wonder why Roberts doesn’t call for more bunts, or steals, or the hit and run.
Well, for one thing, those computers tell us that those things don’t really make a difference. For example, you are more likely to score a run with a man on first and no one out than you are with a man on second and one out, so why bunt? Would you do something that decreased your odds of success?
So, in a game that now frowns upon “little ball” strategy, how does Roberts compare this season to other contemporary National League managers? Let’s take a look.
Stealing second base attempts
The New York Mets, with Mickey Callaway managing, have attempted the most steals of second, with 100 attempts. The top five:
1. Mets, Mickey Callaway, 100
2. Washington, Dave Martinez, 87
3. Atlanta, Brian Snitker, 85
3. Milwaukee, Craig Counsell, 85
3. Cincinnati, David Bell, 85
15. Dodgers, Dave Roberts, 44
In 2018, Roberts was 14th, with 84 steal attempts.
What was it like in 1978? Let’s look at the top five then, plus Lasorda
1. Pittsburgh, Chuck Tanner, 188
2. Houston, Bill Virdon, 181
3. New York, Joe Torre, 180
4. Atlanta, Bobby Cox, 165
5. San Francisco, Joe Altobelli, 164
11. Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda, 138
Stealing third base attempts
1. Milwaukee, Craig Counsell, 19
2. Washington, Dave Martinez, 16
3. St. Louis, Mike Shildt, 12
4. New York, Mickey Callaway, 11
5. Atlanta, Brian Snitker, 10
14. Dodgers, Dave Roberts, 4
In 2018, Roberts was sixth with 15 steal attempts.
As you can see, the Dodgers don’t try to steal. On the other hand, with the high-powered offense they have, why risk running into an out. Because if anyone knows the value of a stolen base, it’s Dave Roberts (see Boston, 2004 playoffs).
And in 1978:
1. Pittsburgh, Chuck Tanner, 26
2. Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda, 24
3. Houston, Bill Virdon, 19
3. Chicago, Herman Franks, 19
5. San Francisco, Joe Altobelli, 16
5. Philadelphia, Dannny Ozark, 15
Let’s turn our attention now to sacrifice attempts. And we will factor pitchers out of the equation, since any manager would have a pitcher sacrifice with a runner on first and no out. This looks specifically at sacrifices with only a runner on first and no out and only a runner on second and no out.
1. Washington, Dave Martinez, 12
1. New York, Mickey Callaway, 12
1. Pittsburgh, Clint Hurdle, 12
4. Philadelphia, Gabe Kapler, 11
5. San Diego, Andy Green, 7
T6. Dodgers, Dave Roberts, 6
Craig Counsell of Milwaukee has had a non-pitcher bunt only twice in these situations.
In 2018, Roberts was ninth with 11 non-pitcher bunt attempts.
And in 1978:
1. San Francisco, Joe Altobelli, 62
2. San Diego, Roger Craig, 54
3. Chicago, Herman Franks, 40
4. Pittsburgh, Chuck Tanner, 38
4. Atlanta, Bobby Cox, 38
4. Cincinnati, Sparky Anderson, 38
8. Dodgers. Tommy Lasorda, 33
Note: The last-place manager in 1978, Ken Boyer of St. Louis, called for more non-pitcher bunt attempts (19) than the first-place manager this season.
Which managers have called for the most intentional walks?
1. Miami, Don Mattingly, 39
2. Philadelphia, Gabe Kapler, 35
3. New York, Mickey Callaway, 34
4. Washington, Dave Martinez, 33
4. Arizona, Torey Lovullo, 33
13. Dodgers, Dave Roberts, 19
Interestingly, AJ Hinch of the Houston Astros has not called for an intentional walk this year. Everyone else has at least seven.
In 2018, Roberts was sixth with 39 intentional walks.
And in 1978:
1. New York, Joe Torre, 94
2. Chicago, Herman Franks, 93
3. San Diego, Roger Craig, 92
4. Cincinnati, Sparky Anderson, 83
5. Atlanta, Bobby Cox, 82
12. Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda, 43
As you can see, it’s a much different game today. Those of you hoping for a small ball return wouldn’t get your wish even if the Dodgers and Roberts did part ways.
By the way, you can find all these stats, and more, at baseball-reference.com.
Hyun-Jin Ryu looked tired against the Yankees, but he says he is fine.
“To be completely honest, this year has been really good in terms of conditioning and my health,” Ryu said through his interpreter earlier this week. “Just by the feel of things, I feel really good.
“I’m actually really optimistic about my future just because I wasn’t satisfied with how I pitched. If I’m giving up that many runs and hits and I think I’m performing well, that’s one thing. But in those two cases I definitely wasn’t commanding my pitches well and it’s definitely not how i wanted to pitch. So I’m really more focused on internally how I can improve, in terms of commanding my pitches, rather than looking at something on the outside.”
Roberts said the team will either skip Ryu’s turn once or shorten one of his outings in September to avoid weariness heading into the postseason.
All season, we’ve heard that Cody Bellinger is the easy frontrunner for NL MVP. But the field has caught up to him. It’s pretty much a two-man race right now between Bellinger and Christian Yelich of Milwaukee. Let’s compare their stats through Tuesday’s games.
Average with runners in scoring position
Average with two out and runners in scoring position
Bellinger is better defensively, accounting for his higher WAR. But Yelich now leads in virtually every offensive category. A lot will depend on whether voters view the award as the best player statistically or the most valuable player to his team, particularly if the Dodgers make the playoffs and the Brewers don’t.
Ask Ross Porter
Ross Porter will once again answer reader questions this season. All you have to do is email me your question at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will forward the email to Ross, and he will answer some each week. Take it away, Ross.
Robert Allison of Woodville, Tex. asks: Which National League team do you think poses the greatest threat to the Dodgers in the playoffs?
Ross: Washington Nationals. Why? Pitchers Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. It likely would be in the division series which is only a best-of-five.
John Bedrosian of Los Angeles asks: Ross, do the Dodgers have more homegrown players on their 25-man roster than any team?
Ross: Yes, they do, John. 18 of the 25 have not been in any other organization. Source: Jared Diamond, Wall Street Journal
Bob B. of Weston, Fla. asks: On what ball-strike count are most home runs hit?
Ross: In each of the last three seasons, more homers have been hit on an 0-0 count. Source: baseball-reference
Charlie Mumford asks: What is your most memorable event in Dodger Stadium?
Ross: Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series.
Kris Kemp of Covina asks: Could a player use a fungo bat in a game?
Ross: No. A fungo bat is simply used for hitting practice balls to fielders.
More KTLA games
Five more Dodgers games will be televised on KTLA Channel 5 this season:
Saturday, 5 p.m. at Arizona
Saturday, Sept. 7, 6 p.m. vs. San Francisco
Saturday, Sept. 14, 4 p.m. at New York Mets
Saturday, Sept. 21, 6 p.m. vs. Colorado Rockies
Saturday, Sept. 28, 1 p.m. at San Francisco
All times Pacific
Tonight: Dodgers (*Hyun-Jin Ryu) at Arizona (Merrill Kelly), 6:30 p.m.
Friday: Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin) at Arizona (Zac Gallen), 6:30 p.m.
Saturday: Dodgers (*Clayton Kershaw) at Arizona (*Robbie Ray), 5 p.m., KTLA Ch. 5
Sunday: Dodgers (TBA) at Arizona (*Alex Young), 1 p.m.
The final inning of Jerry Reuss’ no-hitter in 1980. Watch it here.