Categorized | Mark Timmons

Fade to Blue…

Fade to Blue…

During the last season I constantly harped upon the idea that the Dodgers should rest their position players more often so that they would be rested for the playoffs.  The following tables show the overall trends of the Dodgers, Phillies and Yankees on a monthly basis for 2009.

    Dodgers Phillies Yankees
Won-Loss        
April   15-8 11-9 12-10
May   20-9 17-11 17-11
June   14-12 11-15 15-11
July   15-10 20-7 18-9
August   14-15 16-11 21-7
September   17-13 18-16 20-11
    95-67 93-69 103-59
Ranking   3rd Best 5th Best Best

For the first 4 months of the season the Dodgers had the best record in baseball and yet faded and were passed by the eventual World Series winner the Yankees.

    Dodgers Phillies Yankees
Batting Averages      
April   0.290 0.270 0.281
May   0.286 0.259 0.282
June   0.241 0.248 0.253
July   0.288 0.266 0.288
August   0.264 0.254 0.296
September   0.255 0.255 0.295
    0.270 0.258 0.283
Ranking   4th Best 8th Worst 2nd Best

 The Dodgers had a very good team batting average for most of the season and faded during the dog days of summer, while the Yankees surpassed their 2009 average during each of the last 3 months of the season.

    Dodgers Phillies Yankees
Batting Averages – Balls In Play    
April   0.333 0.289 0.305
May   0.345 0.290 0.300
June   0.273 0.279 0.269
July   0.326 0.308 0.319
August   0.303 0.282 0.321
September   0.292 0.288 0.333
    0.312 0.289 0.309
Ranking   3rd Best 3rd Worst 8th Best

 The Dodgers had a significantly better batting average when actively swinging their bats so maybe they should not have kept their bats on their shoulders so often.  Many observers noticed, and commented, during the season that the opposition were obviously taking advantage of the overly patient Dodger hitters thus allowing the pitchers to grove fastballs early in the count and throw off speed pitcher later in the count, resulting in the Dodger hitters swinging at pitches that traditionally have a lower probability of successful contact.  This failure to make a proper adjustment seemed to haunt the Dodgers in many areas late in the season, especially against the Phillies.

    Dodgers Phillies Yankees
ERA        
April   4.16 5.63 5.79
May   3.42 4.58 4.28
June   3.34 4.38 3.55
July   3.61 3.22 4.19
August   3.17 3.33 4.10
September   3.00 4.19 4.03
    3.41 4.16 4.28
Ranking   Best 9th Best 12th Best

The Dodgers had the best Team ERA during 2009, even without a true ACE.  The depth of the pitching staff was able to overcome the lack of innings by the starting pitching and the excessive wildness evidenced by the significant number of balls and wild pitches.  The staff performed above their season average from August through the Cardinal series. It is unfortunate that the pitch calling during the Phillies series was so predictable.

Win Probability Added Dodgers Phillies Yankees
2009   7.56 9.90 12.82
Ranking   4th Best 2nd Best Best
         
Win Probability Added – Positive    
2009   121.09 112.84 123.46
Ranking   2nd Best 7th Best Best
         
Win Probability Added – Negative    
2009   -113.83 -102.94 -110.64
Ranking   5th Worst 2nd Best 11th Worst

 Although the Dodgers had a superior WPA, and second only to the Yankees in exciting successful outcomes, they also had a significant number of untimely failures which were amplified during the series with the Phillies.  The Dodgers seemed to be unable to handle the superior pitchers and extremely stressful situations, which may be a result of their inner makeup not being improved with proper coaching.

In conclusion, the Dodger position players may have played a few too many games before the All-Star break, but it appears that (1) they were too erratic in pressure situations, and (2) the opposing teams made better adjustments during the season which resulted in their superior post season play as compared to the Dodgers.

About Ken

Ken is a professional working in multiple disciplines who has participated in various sports from elementary school through post intercollegiate level. He may be the only athlete in intercollegiate sports history to have started as both a middle blocker on an intercollegiate volleyball team and as a hook on an intercollegiate rugby team during the same season. He has been a Dodger fan since youth and now regularly watches over 150 Dodger games per season.

14 Responses to “Fade to Blue…”

  1. Miguel says:

    Ken, great post. So it seems that your conclusion, based on your “Kenetics” is that the Dodgers needed better coaching so that they could be better at making adjustments. And that this was emphasized by their poor performances against good pitching.

    I can’t argue with the fact that against good starting pitching we were terrible last season. Our strategy all year was to work the count with the goal of knocking the starter out early with high pitch counts so that we could get to the bullpen and feast on those lesser pitchers.

    It worked pretty well but can give fans heart attacks! But I definitely would like to see our hitters improve against better opposition for sure!

  2. Rory says:

    That is an interesting theory, but Utley and Howard didn’t need any extra rest, and neither did Rodriguez and Jeter. All of those guys were there all year and actually had pretty good Post All Star stats.

    And nobody’s starting pitchers got more rest than did the Dodgers.

    Why do the Dodgers players fade when other teams players do not?

    Actually I just checked the stats for pre and post All Star and the middle of our lineup didn’t fade at all. Kemp and Loney were just as good post, and Ethier and Furcal were better. Blake took a dump, but he was replaced by a hot Belliard. Martin also faded, which we really should address. Was it the loss of Hudson?

    We ended up leading the NL in hitting and you just can’t improve on that – what did happen down the stretch? Nothing. We won the West.

    Maybe the Phils were just better than us.

  3. Bill Russell says:

    What Badger said

  4. Bill Russell says:

    Interesting theory as the Bad ger said- however

  5. Mark Timmons says:

    Ken,

    I am wondering if one more statistic needs to factored in, that being age. Most of the Yanks and Phillies players were vets of longer tenure than the young Dodgers. This could explain some of the disparity…

    as well as give us reason for hope!

  6. Rory says:

    Give me a stat about how the team hit WRISP the second half. Seems to me that was the difference. I don’t have time to look it up now, NFL play-offs and all.

  7. Roger Dodger says:

    Rory said: “…Utley and Howard didn’t need any extra rest, and neither did Rodriguez and Jeter. All of those guys were there all year and actually had pretty good Post All Star stats.”

    Now Rory, you are talking about 4 of the best players in the major leagues today. The Dodgers are not in the class.

    Ken — what about the stats for: when those three teams (or more if you wish), when starting against all other teams’ best 2 starting pitchers — what was their average and win’s and losses.

    For instance, Dodgers going up against the Giants with Lincecum & Cain — what did the Dodgers do, and average against them.

    Would take some time those three teams, against the league — but that is important.

  8. Rory says:

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/rosters/_/sort/average_age/order/true

    Middle of the pack. Not sure how the starting lineups fared.

    I guess if you figure in Manny’s avg. dropping along with Martin and Blake, there is your drop that shows in Ken’s figures. Let’s face it, in April remember we were on pace for 120 wins. We all knew that wasn’t going to happen. And the team did lead the NL in hitting. We beat the Cards, but then just went flat against the Phils. I think they have our number.

    Your point is a good one Roger, but the middle of our lineup (cept maybe Manny) was there post All Star. If Manny hadn’t faded, we could have lived with Martin and Blake fading. We played better than .500 ball in September and October. As I remember, the difference in the division was, S.F. Colorado and even San Diego was playing much better at the end of the year. It was almost like we weren’t worried about the losing the division as Colorado chased us. Complacency maybe?

  9. Ken says:

    Miguel

    Thank you. You got the jist of the article.

  10. Bill Russell says:

    Just Curious……

  11. Badger says:

    Well I tried Ken, but I never heard of Win Probability so maybe I just didn’t understand it. I do appreciate the work you put into it.

    I think I do understand this:

    “In conclusion, the Dodger position players may have played a few too many games before the All-Star break, but it appears that (1) they were too erratic in pressure situations, and (2) the opposing teams made better adjustments during the season which resulted in their superior post season play as compared to the Dodgers.”

    I don’t know how you can bench your starting position players before the All Star break. I think Torre has been around long enough to know how to give his players a rest. As hard as I was on him for what I considered overusing the bullpen, it must have worked because of team ERA. As for your last point, we played in the NLCS. We led the league in BA, team ERA and wins. That’s not a bad year.

    I still want to know what our team batting avg. WRISP was post All Star break. I remember a stretch the year before when we were something like 4 for 100. I don’t think it got that bad this year, but I do believe for a long stretch we were not clutch.

    At the beginning of the year, everybody was hitting. We had Manny in there and he hit .355 with a 1.156 OPS pre All Star. Blake had a hundred fewer at bats and half the production post All Star and Martin just ran out of gas. The team had an OPS+ of 104 which led the NL. I don’t know where to find the WRISP splits, so maybe a more knowledgeable stat geek can help with that.

    I think two things happened in the post season. 1. we should have played Hudson and Garland and 2. the Phillies are just better than the Dodgers.

  12. lawdog says:

    Very interesting article Ken. Rory made some good observations as well.

    I think part of the problem was that as the season was winding down, Blake, Manny and O-rod we’re geezing. Furcal played better but he still was sub par for him after being Gawd-awful earlier. And Bills crashed and burned. Maybe I’m saying substantially the same thing but using the vernacular. Fatigue and physical breakdowns as the seasons end neared certainly didn’t help us.

    I recall that from the get go last season we’d have some awful games where we couldn’t hit a consecutive rookie soft tossers to save our lives, but Pierre was always hot and we snapped out of it after a few games and played like Champs until we went into another fog. As the season progressed the fog periods extended longer and the winning streaks became shorter. We still held on to win, but it was very uncomfortable to watch. When we lost we looked like the Hartford Weaky Pee Wees. When we were streaking we looked like the 1956 Brooklyn team.

    If you’re going to fill the club with geezers at key positions you certainly have to rest them often. Blake isn’t good for more than 120 games. Martin, (who is geezing prematurely), should be held to the same number. Manny needs to take some more roids and hope for the best! ;)

    NO MORE GEEZERS! LET THE KIDS PLAY!

  13. Roger Dodger says:

    The 4th outfielder situation now with Pierre gone will be important.

    Manny does need to rest a bit along the way.

    For those of us at Spring Training last year — Xavier Paul looked great. Then the injury. Now I hope he is back and can be given that slot. Nice throwing arm. Some pop with the stick. He will get some playing time.

    OH — I think we might find out next week, but it might be that Ortiz is paying the Dodgers to play next year. He cannot just hang it up.

  14. Badger says:

    I still say what we did to Hudson was bogus. He hit the same post All Star as he did pre All Star. Yes, he only hit .237 in September, but had a .357 OBP and played Gold Glove defense. He also had a 1.250 OPS in the play-offs, with only 4 at bats. He was ready for post season and he was a spark the Dodgers missed. And there is still no explanation as to why we didn’t add Garland, a winning play-off pitcher, to the post season roster, but I would bet it had something to do with money.

    No more geezers ldog? So, Blake and Manny sit? I am fine with losing Blake, but this team is going to need a refurbished Manny to have any shot at all. And Furcal won’t be nearly as effective a lead-off hitter without an experienced pro like Hudson hitting behind him.

    I hope Paul can win the 4th outfielder spot Roger. He was very impressive last Spring. We are going to miss Pierre. I know many didn’t like him, but, he was a .308 hitter with speed (30 SB in 300 ab’s) and a great clubhouse guy. Those kind of back-ups don’t exist anywhere.

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