Dodger Insider writer Cary Osborne provides a wealth of information, much like Jon Weisman did before he moved on to the Big Showtime, but you do have to take it with a grain of salt. Afterall, he is employed by the Dodgers, so there’s that! However, on February 3rd Cary wrote a column that could give Dodger fans a lot of hope for the upcoming season.
The focus of the article by Cary Osborne was about Turner Ward’s impact on the Dodgers’ hitting. Here is a telling part of the article:
A funny thing happened along the way in 2016. The Dodgers went from being one of the lesser-hitting teams in the Majors before the All-Star Break to being one of the leaders afterward.
They were 25th in OPS (.708) and 22nd in runs per game (4.20) prior to the All-Star Game and turned that around to ninth (.754) and fourth (4.83) respectively in the season’s final 2 1/2 months. A couple of reasons were an increase in power — a slugging percentage that went from .393 to .429 — and a turnaround in batting average on balls in play, from .280 to .311 (the Dodgers were 29th in the category pre-All-Star and fourth after).
That, in itself was a huge turnaround and one would expect that in Ward’s second year, the Dodgers might, just might do even better. Osborne said:
It also leads [Turner Ward] to believe that bigger happenings could be on the horizon for the Dodgers, especially with more familiarity with a second-year coaching staff and more continuity.
That’s what I am talking about. I have said for quite a while that the Dodgers hitters will be better in 2017 due to experience, maturity and now… Turner Ward’s leadership. Ward expects Pederson to be a 40 HR -110-125 RBI guy and he expects Seager to be a better version of John Olerud…
“He really wants to be the best player in the game, and he also has that capability,” Ward said of Seager. “He is a very rare person in this game with the tools he has.”
On the left handed struggles:
On the topic, which was one of the hot-button points for the Dodgers last year, Ward acknowledged a general struggle against left-handers but explained it more as an individual challenge rather than a team one. Thus there wasn’t a general approach that could fix the Dodgers’ problems against lefties. Just because Seager and Pederson, for example, are left-handed hitters doesn’t mean they’re the same hitter. They have different swing paths, they have different angles caused by different stances and different body types. They also different plans based on their individual abilities.
So it wasn’t like Ward could give everyone the same Aspirin to cure the left-handed headache. Ward gave some examples of some of the ways he has seen hitters combat left-handed struggles.
“There are adjustments that players have to be willing to try and sometimes you have to try those in the game,” Ward said. “I can only speak from the experience of other hitters in the past I’ve been able to work with who have been able to literally sit on pitches or go up there and open up their stance a little or change the bat angle just a little bit because the ball comes off at (a different) angle. Sometimes the angle gives less room for your swing to get the depth you want, and so sometimes the player has to make those type of adjustments.”
But Ward said there’s no reason to believe that an individual can’t turn things around during the season. Case in point, Grandal. On July 6, the Dodger catcher was batting .183 with a .672 OPS. By season’s end, those numbers were .228/.816. Ward praised Grandal for his dedication.
Read the article, if you like but he has high hopes for Pederson, Grandal and Puig… Seager? Even Ray Charles can see how great he will be.
Finally, Ward had this to say about Puig:
“He has been so great to work with,” Ward said. “We really get along good. We could honestly speak what was on our minds. He had no problem doing that, so he challenged me as a coach, and I definitely challenged him. I always look forward to helping guys any way I can, but he is such a talent, great-hearted, giving. I really felt like how he learned to be a better teammate last year. I watched him become a better teammate.”
2017 is Turner Wards second season as Dodger Hitting Coach and I expect incremental improvement! In fact, I expect the Dodgers to be in the TOP 3 hitting teams in the NL in 2017.
Seven more days until Spring Training!
Wanna’ buy a piece of the Dodgers? According to Bill Shaikin of THE LA TIMES the Dodgers have retained an investment banker to solicit bids to sell stock. The Dodgers five-year exemption from Baseball’s Debt Service Rules expires this year, but of course they are going to say that is not the reason for the sale. Yeah, that’s the ticket! Of course, they are going to say that. They actually have to cut debt – what better way to do it? Seriously, if the Dodgers want to make some serious coin, sell a couple of billion dollars in stock to fans. Let them buy individual shares or blocks of stock. I’d buy some… wouldn’t you? That way, we could say we own the Dodgers!