A Dodger inspired baseball blog that will feature news and opinions about the Dodgers and baseball in general, as well as a look into sabermetrics.


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Spring Training Is Underway: 2014 Season Preview

Yesterday we took a look at Matt Kemp manning center field. Today we’re going to take a look at Andre Ethier again. We already went over what he adds in terms of offense, but today we’re going to examine what Ethier can add in terms of defense. The running theme, so far, has been about the projected offensive contributions from the 2014 lineup. The reason for that is because defensive metrics are not exactly 100% reliable, and because I don’t quite understand them. So bear with me as we discuss Andre Ethier’s potential defensive value in center field.

When Matt Kemp succumbed to injuries in the 2013 season, Ethier took over center field duties. In fact, in 2013, Ethier played over 200 more innings in center field than in right field. If we were to just eyeball his performance in center, we would probably say, “He was actually pretty decent in center.” In fact, I wouldn’t disagree. Ethier’s versatility was a pleasant surprise. Since there is a pretty good chance that Kemp will not be ready by Opening Day, expect Ethier to start in center field, not right.

Yasiel Puig is simply the better defender in right field. In 443.2 innings played in right, Ethier posted a UZR/150 of 2.6. Meanwhile, in 773.1 innings played in right, Puig posted a UZR/150 of 9.7. The innings played has no effect on UZR/150 as the stat is normalized on a 150 game season. Puig has only played 55.1 innings in center, which is an absurdly low sample size to say anything about his skill as a center fielder. The only other realistic option in center field would be Scott Van Slyke. As much as I like SVS, he hasn’t played center field and is better off on the corners according to his combined RF/LF 3.4 UZR (of course the added caveat is limited sample size: 383.1 innings played.)

The reality is that the Dodgers lack depth in mostly every position. If Kemp and Ethier go down this year, the Dodgers could possibly throw Van Slyke in center. But then the team is in the ugly position of hoping Crawford’s hamstrings hold and hoping Puig doesn’t run through the right field wall, completely destroying the right field pavillion. If either were to happen, the Dodgers options are severely limited.

Spring Training Is Underway: 2014 Season Preview

We’ve concluded our examination of the Dodgers two options in right field. In the next few posts, we’ll take a look at center field. Our first post on center field will take a look at Matt Kemp’s projections for 2014. Then we’ll return to Andre Ethier in tomorrow’s post. 

2013 numbers: .270/.328/.395, .316 wOBA, 103 wRC+
2014 projected numbers
(Steamer): .271/.343/.464, .347 wOBA, 125 wRC+
(Oliver): .268/.332/.437, .335 wOBA, 116 wRC+

Talk about a rough season and a half. Matt Kemp has not been the same player since his breakout season in 2011. Coors Field is an abomination that eats the good Dodgers and spares the shitty ones. In the case of Matt Kemp, Coors Field devoured him and then spit out just the shell.

Despite playing injured, and even playing less than 100% healthy, Matt Kemp still put up numbers that were above league average in 2013. In the 2014 season, Kemp is expected to return to form. So then why the decline? If we look at 2011, Kemp hit .324/.399/.586/.985, had a godly .483 wOBA, and posted a 168 wRC+. Even if we look at his partial 2012 season, Kemp still hit .303/.367/.538/.905, had a .383 wOBA coupled with a 146 wRC+. If Kemp is expected to be healthy, shouldn’t he be expected to return to his 2011/2012 former self? Sadly, we probably won’t see those numbers from Kemp again. Let’s not forget that in the 2014 season, Matt Kemp will be 30. And while that is not old in baseball years, it’s years removed from his age 27 season.

Matt Kemp will be a contributor to the Dodgers lineup, but both Steamer and Oliver show a decline in his BABIP. Kemp has a career BABIP of .352 and projections have him pegged with a .339 and .329 BABIP, respectively. A possible factor for the low projected BABIP is his low projected ISO (ability to hit for power.) Kemp’s career ISO is at a solid .201, both Steamer and Oliver have him projected at a .192 and .170 ISO, respectively. In the last three seasons Kemp had began healthy, the Dodgers center fielder boasted an ISO of .201 in 2010, .262 in 2011, and .236 in 2012. So while Kemp will reportedly begin 2014 completely healthy, after missing 145 games over the course of two full season, it will take some time for him to find his power. If that happens sometime in 2014, then the lineup just went from pretty good to stacked.

Spring Training Is Underway: 2014 Season Preview

In our last post, we went over Yasiel Puig’s projected numbers. Today we continue our examination of right field with our look at Andre Ethier.

2013 numbers: .272/.360/.423, .340 wOBA, 120 wRC+
2014 projeted numbers
(Steamer): .269/.348/.431, .338 wOBA, 119 wRC+
(Oliver): .263/.348/.398, .328 wOBA, 112 wRC+

Andre Ethier has been a mainstay in the Dodgers outfield for the last seven years. So for those of you that keep clamoring about a trade deal, STAHP IT! I firmly believe that people don’t appreciate the sorry state of the Dodgers bench. Let’s not forget that with four healthy outfielders, either Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, or Yasiel Puig, can be pulled from the bench at any given time, depending on the day’s starting lineup. As stated in yesterday’s post, Ethier is likely to see less playing time than the other three outfielders. Honestly, it looks to be the best move going into 2014.

Unfortunately for the Ethier and the Dodgers, Ethier’s numbers have been on a gradual decline.


Source: FanGraphsAndre Ethier


Source: FanGraphsAndre Ethier

The first graph is Andre Ethier’s batting average over the last seven seasons. The second graph is Ethier’s wOBA. As you can see, he has not been the same player since his age 26 season in 2008. 


Source: FanGraphsAndre Ethier

With his declining batting average and weighted on-base average, there has also been a severe decline in power. Ethier’s ISO (ability to hit for extra bases) is hardly above the league average.

So with all this, why the hell should the Dodgers keep Andre Ethier around? I seemed to have made a solid case for his ouster, right?  

Relegating a starter with declining numbers to the bench is a prudent move. In Andre Ethier’s case, it is the best move the Dodgers can make and here is why: 


Source: FanGraphsAndre Ethier

Ethier has consistently had an OBP well above the league average going from season to season. In fact, going into 2014, despite seeing a dip in his on-base percentage, Ethier will still boast a .348 OBP. His 2014 on-base percentage is likely due to his ability to still hit but also because of his respectable BB/K ratio.


Source: FanGraphsAndre Ethier

With Ethier’s ability to hit and draw walks still intact, he is the ideal player to have on the bench. And as last season taught us, you can never have too many players for any position. Now if the Dodgers can teach Ethier to play second, the bench woes of 2014 can be solved.

Spring Training Is Underway: 2014 Season Preview

February typically marks the beginning of the 2014 baseball campaign. Pitchers and catchers arrive in Arizona for Spring Training with the rest of the crew showing up two weeks later. Currently, our 2014 Dodgers are at Camelback Ranch preparing for this year’s journey to the World Series. As a special treat, Piazza Parlor will do it’s first season preview. We will examine the starting lineup of the 2014 season and give our thoughts and #ANALYSIS. We’ll begin this blogging journey with the number nine spot: right field.

Our examination of right field begins with Cuban phenom, Yasiel Puig. 

2013 numbers: .319/.391/.534, .398 wOBA, 160 wRC+
2014 projected numbers
(Steamer): .290/.360/.502, .371 wOBA, 141 wRC+, .330 BABIP
(Oliver): .292/.362/.512, .376 wOBA, 145 wRC+, .347 BABIP

Yasiel Puig had an incredible rookie season. After beginning in Chattanooga, Puig was called up on June 3rd to bolster the decimated outfield. As you can see from his 2013 numbers, he completely blew away everyone’s expectations. With four everyday outfielders that will be ready more or less around Opening Day, the question on everyone’s mind is, “Who will get the least amount of playing time?” In 2013 Andre Ethier showed his versatility by adequately playing center field while Yasiel Puig played primarily in right. Steamer has Puig starting more games in right field than Ethier. With more playing time comes more plate appearances, which is why we see the dip in his offense. Another reason why we will see a dip in 2014 is because in the 2013 season, Puig’s offense was aided by a ridiculous .383 BABIP. Taking into considering the normalized 2014 BABIP, and roughly the same K%, it’s no surprise that Puig’s averages will dip. Last year, Puig’s strikeout rate was 22.5% and according to Steamer and Oliver, his projected K% is 19.9% and 23.0% respectively.  Now just because Puig’s averages have dipped, that does not mean he is going to be a bust in 2014. He’s projected to have a stellar wOBA and wRC+. Keep in mind, 2014 will be Yasiel Puig’s first full season in the majors and at 22 years old, the wrinkles in his game will eventually iron out.

The biggest detriment to Puig’s numbers in 2013 were the games he played on the road. In 2013, Puig hit .360/.422/.584/1.006 at home, had a .427 wOBA with a 18.6 K%. On the road, Puig was an entirely different player at the plate hitting only .284/.365/.490/.855. His .374 wOBA was hampered by a 25.8% strikeout rate. Now it’s silly to say that Puig was an impotent hitter with those numbers, but those are severe splits. With his 2014 numbers matching his numbers on the road in 2013, the Dodgers offense could be in serious trouble if one of its key assets has the same drastic home vs. road splits from last season.

All in all, 2014 is definitely the season which Puig can really shine and solidify his place in the Dodgers lineup (more so for the naysayers.) The more refined skill set, coupled with a wiser head on shoulders, Puig will add more than just numbers to the Dodgers.

A Whole Lot of MEEEEHHHHH!

MEH-sahiro Tanaka
During most of the off-season, it was all but guaranteed that Masahiro Tanaka was going to be a Los Angeles Dodger. If you looked at twitter, #TanakaWatch almost became a pool in which the winner would have had enough money to actually bid on the Japanese ace, provided money was actually wagered. Dodgers fans and bloggers were so drunk with their own new found #SWAGGER that it was inconceivable that Tanaka was going to sign with another club (lol, GG Cubs, you signed Clark instead.)

Of course, we all woke up to the news that Tanaka was signed by the New York Yankees. And Dodgers fans went through denial (“He’s not even that good,”) and anger (“Fuck the Yankees!”) They bargained (“The Dodgers should trade *insert your least favorite outfielder* for Tanaka,”) fell into a state of depression (“WELP. There goes 2014,”) and have finally accepted it (“Phew.. I thought we were getting this guy

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The reality is, as has been said by other, more esteemed bloggers, pitching is not the Dodgers weakest link. In fact, with a rotation bolstered by Dan Haren and a hefty bullpen (HELLLOO Wilson/Jansen setup/closer duo!) the Dodgers run prevention should be top notch, according to no actual data that I can provide. What the Dodgers need is a bench.

Chode Figgins over MEH-chael Young
The Dodgers attended Chone Figgins’s workout last Wednesday and were so impressed that they signed him yesterday… you know, kinda like therapy shopping after a bad breakup. You shouldn’t really spend money on a Chone Figgins, but you do anyways because it makes you feel better and it’s better than eating a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s. In this case, eating a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s is a metaphor for signing Michael Young, only at no point is signing Michael Young good. At least eating a whole pint of Cherry Garcia tastes delicious. Anyways, this isn’t about Ben and Jerry’s, it isn’t even about Michael Young, it’s about why Chone Figgins? The original form of this post was about why the Dodgers shouldn’t sign Figgins. But the news beat my laziness and now this post is more of a prayer that Chone Figgins isn’t.. uh, bad.

Figgins is not the same player he was on the Angels. While in Anaheim he hit a respectable .277/.349/.364. Unfortunately, on the defensive side, the only position where he was worth a damn was third base. According to Fangraphs, over the course of ten seasons he has logged over 1000 innings at second, third, and in the outfield, and the only position where he posted a positive UZR is at third base. That includes his time in Seattle. Speaking of his time in Seattle, good lord. Over the course of three seasons with the Mariners, Figgins slashed .227/.303/.283. In 2013, Figgins signed a minor league contract with the Miami Marlins. Forty days after signing with the Marlins, he was released. Let me elaborate. The 2013 Miami Marlins, a team that finished 69-93 in 2012, signed Chone Figgins to a minor league contract and after 40 days, said “Yeaahhh.. no.” So if you’re not afraid of what Figgins adds to the Dodgers

Where Are They Now: George Sherrill

image

Before the Long Winter, I was thinking of ways to keep the blog going through the off-season. One of those ideas was to do a “Where Are They Now?” series of former Dodgers players. On my drive home from work, I saw a bro with a flattened brim and immediately thought of the Brim Reaper, George Sherrill for the inaugural post.

Pre-Dodgers
George Sherrill began his Major League career with the Seattle Mariners. Sherrill’s first year in the Bigs was not a complete disaster, though he posted a 6.08 K/9 and a 3.42 BB/9. Compounded with a 1.39 WHIP and FIP/xFIP of 4.61/5.13, Sherrill, needless to say, struggled. In 2005, Sherrill improved all around. His K/9 jumped to 11.37 while his BB/9 dropped to 3.32. While his ERA and ERA- increased significantly, 5.21 and 124, respectively, his peripheral stats, FIP and xFIP eventually dropped to acceptable levels as he posted a 3.81 FIP/ 91 FIP- and 2.99 xFIP/ 69 xFIP-. The caveat, however, is that over the course of 2004 and 2005, Sherrill only pitched 42.2 innings.

Sherrill continued to pitch less than 50 innings per season until 2009, when he logged 69.0 IP. He was no longer striking out as many batters as his K/9 dropped to 7.96, well below his career high in 2005. However, he was also walking less batters. With a BB/9 at 3.13, it would be the lowest walk rate of his career up to that point. With an ERA/FIP/xFIP of 1.70/3.21/4.10, and an ERA-/FIP-/xFIP- of 38/74/94, it would seem as if he had finally found his stride. 

Brim Reaper Year
2009 would also be the season that the Brim Reaper joined the Dodgers via trade with the Baltimore Orioles. In 27.2 innings of work with the club, Sherrill posted a 7.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and would command a respectable 1.084 WHIP. Batters that faced Sherrill hit .192/.273/.263 while he pitched for the Dodgers in 2009. This proved to be enough to earn him a 1 year/ $4.5 million contract with the Dodgers in 2010.

If You’re Going to Suck, Fix Your Damn Hat
Sadly, The Brim Reaper became the Brim Sleeper. In 2010, Sherrill posted the worst numbers of his career.  In 36.1 innings pitched, Dodgers fans saw Sherrill’s numbers turn into caked turds. He ended the season with an ERA/FIP/xFIP of 6.69/5.20/5.41, 6.19 K/9, 5.94 BB/9, a mind numbing WHIP of 1.93, and even worse averages against batters: .311/.406/.500. For the first time in his career, Sherrill was below replacement level with a -0.6 WAR. Even in the McCourt years, that was enough for Ned Colletti to say, “Get lost!” On December 2, 2010, the Dodgers decided to part ways with their once dominant setup man and Sherrill became a free agent.

Post-Dodgers
Six days after being released, Sherrill was picked up by the Atlanta Braves. He posted better numbers than the prior season. With an ERA/FIP/xFIP of 3.00/3.08/3.08, 1.25 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, and 3.0 BB/9, Sherrill was slightly better than replacement level with a 0.4 WAR. However, with only 36 innings pitched over the course of 2011, it’s difficult to say if he had returned to form. 2012 would have been the season to prove the naysayers wrong, unfortunately for Sherrill, that would not be the case. After agreeing to a one year contract with Seattle, Sherrill only saw 1.1 innings of action with his former team before going on the 15-day DL. Sherrill’s season eventually ended after undergoing Tommy John surgery. George Sherrill has not returned to The Show since. He agreed to a minor league contract with the Royals for the 2013 season but was released midway through 2013 by the Kansas City affiliate Triple-A club. To date, there has been no news of any team picking up George Sherrill.

Clayton Kershaw: The Greatest Pitcher of All Time in All the Universe

In case you have been living under a rock thinking of terrible cliches, the Dodgers extended Clayton Kershaw for $215 million over seven years. For those that are not math savvy, that’s $30 million per year. Kershaw has a fifth year opt-out. Essentially, the Dodgers guaranteed five more years of Clayton Kershaw in his prime.

Since coming up to The Show in 2008, Kershaw has logged over 1000 innings pitched (1180, to be exact.) Within five years, his K/9 sits at a sexy 9.2, while his BB/9 is 3.0. To give you a better perspective, Kershaw has struck out 25% of the batters he has faced in the last 1180 innings pitched and has walked only 8.3%. With a career ERA/FIP/xFIP of 2.60/2.88/3.31, 1.09 WHIP, and 28.4 WAR, Clayton Kershaw has landed himself within the top 10 starting pitchers over the last five years, and is at the top of the list when looking at WHIP and ERA. When looking at league average stats, ERA-, FIP-, and xFIP-, Clayton Kershaw leads baseball with a 68 ERA-, is in the top 3 with a 75 FIP-, and ranked 8/10 with a 83 xFIP-. All of this has been accomplished within five years. And the Dodgers have him guaranteed for five more!

Oh yeah, he also has two Cy Young awards.

Did I mention he is also 26 years old?

But of course, all of that means nothing because:

And:

All that stat mumbojumbo means nothing:

Thank god he wasn’t a free agent, otherwise no one would have signed his ass.

Sloooow Off-season: Why the Dodgers Need to Extend Hanley Ramirez’s Contract

The Dodgers camp has been quiet this off-season. Of course the Dodgers have made moves, they’ve been subtle ripples instead of the large splash we’ve been waiting for. Still on the list of moves that we’d like to see are the contract that Clayton Kershaw deserves and Hanley Ramirez’s unofficial extension made official. What more could be said about the historically great Clayton Kershaw? He’ll get a contract. The fact that it hasn’t happened yet is worrisome, but I’m sure the Dodgers have TOP MENnegotiating with the ace. Though extending Kershaw is a big priority, of equal importance is extending Hanley Ramirez’s contract.

The Dodgers offense was struggling without Ramirez during the regular season. In 2013, Hanley hit .345/.402/.638, he had a wOBA of.442, and he also had a wRC+ of 191! He generated 91% more runs than the league average player! In 2013, Hanley Ramirez was worth 5.1 WAR and all of this was done in 86 games with 336 plate appearances. Even more amazing, for players with a minimum of 300 plate appearances (I know, I know. Sample size!) Hanley is second in wOBA and wRC+ in all of baseball for 2013. The only player ahead of him in those two categories, Miguel Cabrera. Good god! When Hanley was healthy, he was productive. Plain and simple. Looking at the 2013 playoffs, Hanley hit .323/.432/.613, had a wOBA of .425, and a wRC+ of 179. We had seen how limp the offense became without our beloved shortstop during the NLCS. 

If there is a player that needs to be extended as much as Kershaw, it is Hanley Ramirez.