Beyond the Statistics

Last night’s comeback victory was typical of how the Dodgers have came back to win all year, but this one was different in that Dave Roberts did not try and exploit the usual matchups.  It was not an analytic driven win. As much as some may dislike, it was a win that was made on “gut feelings” as much as analytics.  I thought Dave should have left Rich Hill in the game until it looked like he had lost it.  He clearly hadn’t lost it after 4 innings.  Doc did leave Alex Wood in for 5.2 innings while he was throwing a no hitter, but when he gave up his first hit (which happened to be a Big Fly), Dave yanked him.  I thought that was a good call.

However, the lineup was not analytics driven as the Dodgers had 6 RH batters in the lineup against a RH pitcher.  Using sabermetrics, you might have seen Utley instead of Forsythe, Ethier instead of Hernandez  or Grandal in place of Barnes.  One thing this lineup did is improve the defense.  Andre Ethier is a liability in LF and Logan Forsythe is much better than Chase Utley.  Look, I am all for statistical analysis and all the possibilities that it brings, but it was a breath of fresh air to see Dave Roberts, when the Dodgers were down 2-1 go with his “gut” and not purely follow the numbers.

Sometimes, you just have to change it up and trust the guys you put out there.  When they see the trust you place in them, they often rise to the occasion.  Barnes, Hernandez and Forsythe all played roles in winning that game, but no one came up bigger than Cody Bellinger who was stone-cold, dead and buried by many, and Joc Pederson, whose struggles have been well documented.  Joc appears to have accepted that what he was doing was not working.  He is evolving and it appears to be working.  Wouldn’t if be wonderful to see him get a few more hits and win the Series MVP Award?  Talk about coming full circle.

I knew Bellinger would adjust – it took him some time, but he will be a force the rest of the way.  Alex Wood was amazing, especially considering how little he has pitched in the last 30 days.  If the series goes 7, I would think he might be available to pitch a couple of innings, if needed.  He was not awed by the Big Stage and neither was Charlie Morton.  That guy pitched one amazing game too.  Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson did their part, but I do not want to see Doc bring Kenley in for a 6 out save.  His ERA is 4.50 against the Astros.  He is not automatic against them.

Now, it’s back to Kershaw and Keuchel tonight.  This is Clayton’s opportunity to throw that playoff monkey off his back once and for all. He needs to pitch the game of his life.  No pressure!  Just like last time.  A dominate performance by Clayton tonight with the team headed back to LA would be HUGE! My only question is:  Will we see Joc at DH again, or will it be Grandal or Ethier (that would defy the analytics, but maybe it all does)?

Photocredit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

 

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don’t do game recaps or such things — lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don’t think they are the “end-all-be-all.”. This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We’d like to hear your voice.

This article has 64 Comments

  1. I think we’ll see JT at DH with Culberson getting a start at 2B and moving Forsythe to 3B. JT took a ground ball off his knee and was limping around a bit and I think Doc will try to get him off his feet and use him in a DH role tonight. I agree with your assessment that Doc went with instinct last night and did not “overthink” the situation. Left Forsythe and Barnes in to hit against a RH pitcher and both game through big with a game tying single by Logan and a nice insurance run with a sac fly by AB.

    Puig and JT need to come up big tonight. With Keuchel pitching it feels like both will have an opportunity to hit in a big RBI situation. Lets get this game tonight and get back to LA up 3-2.

  2. Dodgerpatch recently posted, incorrectly:
    “To validate your statistically fact based argument you’re using a sample size of one?
    That was dumb.”
    .
    I wisely corrected it to as follows:
    To validate you widely-accepted statistically fact based argument you’re using a very recent example? That was timely, it’s sad you have to do it with all these proponents of “using their gut” and “junkyard dogs.”

    1. Perhaps you don’t like my use (overuse?) of metaphors or maybe you are offended by references to the colon and/or canines?

      I do enjoy the subjective assumption that your correction was “wise”. Some may not concur…

      1. Mark

        I think your right about everything you said!

        I have never been a big Forsythe supporter, but I wanted him to be in the line up, almost the entire time, in the post season, and especially in this series.

        And Barnes has played good defense too.

        We have not had to worry about any pass balls, in the post season.

        And I am not a Grandal hater, like some.

    2. To which, I would add to correctly complete it:

      “To validate your widely accepted statistically fact based argument you’re using a very recent example? That’s still a sample size of one, which means nothing, and it would be monumentally stupid to try to use that as validation of an argument based on historical trends.” FIFY

      Flipping a coin has exactly a 50% probability of being heads. If I flip a coin twice and it comes up heads the first time and tails the second, it would will be really dumb to try to use this to validate that probability.
      *
      *
      The coin flip example is a little different because it is based on probability rules that we already now mathematically with absolute certainty. Baseball statistics aren’t based on mathematical rules of probability, but are based on compiling long-term historical data to look for trends that could be then used to make predictions on future outcomes. They are variable and subject to change. It is just as fallacious, even more so, to use one single event to validate statistics that, on their very premise, are based on long term historical trends.
      *
      *
      Now, you could buttress your argument with something along the lines of:
      *
      “Because he had seen Wood twice already, it seems upon observation that Springer timed that pitch better – almost as if he knew it was coming.”
      *
      *
      But then that would invalidate the core foundation of your argument because it’s introducing the concept of subjectivity and human observation, which you’ve argued should be dismissed in it’s entirely because it is not measurable.
      *
      *
      Again….dumb

      1. LOL.
        .
        Nice inanity.
        .
        Yes, the TTOP penalty only derives down to pitch awareness.
        .
        But keep simplifying, the coin flip diversion was a good waste of everyone’s time. Maybe the next useless post of yours can invoke randomness, or the impact of external forces.
        .
        If you keep changing the argument, it’s almost as if you don’t have one.

  3. AC/Mark – R U out there??? Where does Pederson & Wood fit in the 2018 Dodger plans in your estimation. I know pitching and returning OF’s are in abundance…
    Wife had to put on my BP cuff after the 4th. She checked at the top of every inning…
    Hope J.T. is OK and the Kid has turned the corner on his slump…
    All hands on deck tonite…

    1. I also have to wonder where Grandal fits in the team plans and Ryu. They have been almost forgotten in this postseason run. Darvish cost himself many millions with his last performance, maybe enough that they can bring him back. Maeda on the other hand has brought his stock way up.

      1. Vegas

        The only reason that Ryu isn’t on this roster, is because it takes him a lot of preparation to pitch, and because of that, he is not good in the bullpen.

        Other then that, Ryu had a very good year, considering what he has been through.

    2. Peter,
      .
      In my estimation, Wood will be in the Dodgers rotation in 2018. I have read where others say to move him while he is a hot commodity at the peak of his value. I am a huge Alex Wood fan, and it would break my heart to see him go, but more importantly it makes no sense. I have probably written more about Alex than any other Dodger on this blog. At the very worst he is a #4 starter. I also think he could be a perennial all-star if he went into the pen.
      .
      Joc is another story. Unlike Wood, I have been indifferent about Joc, but have taken exception to those who have derided him with the incessant name calling. He may very well be nothing more than a platoon OF, but that has value, right Kike’? FAZ will not give him away, but could include him in a trade it they get fair value. Just like with Puig, FAZ will not trade him at his lowest, but hope he rebounds to get that value up. I do think Logan Forsythe is the key. If the Dodgers exercise their option with him, CT3 stays in CF, then Toles, Verdugo, and Joc would look to be the LF, with Puig in RF. if he does not win the LF job outright, Verdugo could be optioned, but there would be no need for both Toles and Joc.

      1. I too am a big Alex Wood fan, and believe he will be in the rotation next year. His velocity dipped a bit after the All-Star break, but, I don’t believe it is anything that can’t be resolved over the winter through conditioning, etc. He came to spring training focused on being a starter and performed very well for the Dodgers. I would take Wood over Ryu any day of the week.
        .
        As for Joc, I remain a fan of his potential. I have to remind myself that he is only 25 years old and has lots of room for growth. He certainly has value as a trade chip, but I think he has equal value as a a serviceable left fielder.
        .
        I expect the Dodgers to exercise their option on Logan Forsythe. In the playoffs and WS he shown more of the value we expected from him all year. I’m thinking that Utley’s days as a player are near over and LF could step in to the blue collar leadership role vacated by Utley. Looking at how Roberts is presently using Barnes, I think our biggest off-season trade chip would be Grandal. Barnes and Farmer can hold down the catching just fine until Smith and Ruiz are ready. If Farmer isn’t ready, then they can always use a Bobby Wilson type as the back up.

  4. Good call about JT possibly being DH today. I first assumed Seager would DH, to rest the back, and Culby play ss. But Seager does seem totally healthy.

    I also wonder if Joc, who’s swinging much better, would get a shot at DH’ing vs the leftie today?

    We’ll find out

    1. I will play devil’s advocate here. Joc is on a high right now, deservedly so. Why mess with that confidence against Dallas Keuchel, one of the top 5 LHP in all of MLB. Keep his confidence up for Verlander and McCullers (if necessary).

      1. AC

        I bet you were proud of your guy last night!

        He pitched stubbornly last night, until Springer hit that one out!

  5. I am guessing that Kershaw comes out in attack mode today, and for the first time in years, under no pressure to save our season in one game. I think the bats will reflect that too, they have to feel more relaxed knowing that they are going back to Dodger Stadium no matter what. By the way, in all the hoopla about how dynamic the Astros lineup is, They have only scored 3 runs since the 2nd inning of Game 3. Hmmmm….

  6. I think Forsythe will be with the Dodgers next year. Grandal will be traded. He will not want to be the back up. Like AC I have no feeling about Joc. I prefer Toles and Verdugo fight it out for LF. The loser would be the 4th outfielder. It just seams to me that Joc has not adjusted. He needs a change of scenery.

    I hope Ryu stays with the Dodgers. Remember next year will be his 2nd year after his shoulder surgery. The nice thing about Maeda and Wood in the starting line up next year, they are both great out of the pen. Beuhler will be a nice addition to the starting line up. I would like to see the Dodgers keep Morrow and Watson if the price is right. Again I would like to see Baez stay only if they teach him a good curve ball or slider and he will use it.

  7. I don’t see Joc in the lineup today given his struggles against lefthanders. Culberson in the lineup makes a lot of sense to me, if he’s a little banged up, JT at DH makes sense as well.

    Maybe part of Doc’s decisions on who to play yesterday was anatomically based, but statistical analysis probably also played a role.

    Even though he hasn’t been hitting, Austin Barnes does have reverse splits against righthanders, and is more likely to make contact than the struggling Grandal. Utley just hasn’t been hitting, and like Ethier doesn’t seem capable of catching up to velocity anymore. Statistically speaking, Doc probably values the importance of good defense, which largely supports starting Forsythe and Kike. Also, Forsythe has consistently shown the ability to get on base all year, and Kike’s ABs against righthsnders have been better lately, with him showing more of a willingness to hit to right field.

    The HR that Kenley surrender last night was not hit off his cutter, but instead came off a hanging slider. Not sure if that will affect him in any way.

    Maybe After having faced Keuchel once before will help the Dodgers to lay off all the stuff he throws outside the strike-zone, and force him into it more often, in counts favorable to the hitters.

    Just want to see the Dodgers putting up some runs tonight. Early and often would be nice.

  8. Thank God for Alex Wood! He didn’t have his good fastball and he struggled with his control, but he made pitches when he had to and he battled every hitter. What a great job and when we really needed it. THANK YOU ALEX!

    While I am at it, Great game Logan. I didn’t know you could play so well. Keep it up.

    I would love for the Dodgers to score early and take to Houston fan out of it. It would also help to limit my stress level. Good luck to us all tonight. Thanks again Dodgers for lifting my spirits and giving me hope.

  9. Very important game because if dodgers win, they take out VElander of the equation.
    Ithink that the team had not been playing good game 2, 3, 4 in fact Ithink astros did not win gsme 2 y 3 dodgers lost them insted.
    Good to see Cody with small sewing and hit to the otber side. I dont know why he takes toomany time to underten that
    Dodges have to bsck to thebases. Patient in hit box, run the bases good, make grest defense, and piching…thats mode buildt this team
    Go DODGERS

    1. Kind of strange to see Kike batting cleanup and Cody 5th but Kike should get some pitches to hit in that spot. I like Culberson getting some at bats at 2B, this is a leftie killer lineup for sure. Bring it home Clayton!

  10. Forsythe is a keeper. Calm and professional. A true ball player. Pederson put a perfect swing on the HR. Not like the 2 step earlier in the year. Maybe the Astros don’t like pitchers with funky motions ie. CK and Wood. Kershaw has to keep the ball in the yard today. Mo is on our side when the game starts. Will Darvish start game 7 or Wood? Maeda was spared yesterday so he’s in for multiple innings today. I wouldn’t mind pitching him in the 9th in a save situation.

    1. Would you really take the ball away from Darvish for Game 7 after all that has transpired. I think it would be poetic justice if Darvish stuck it up the Astros #@*es. Wood could certainly be available for relief work, but Darvish is going to want the ball, and he deserves it. Whether it was nerves or whatever, that was not the real Yu Darvish pitching in Game 3.

  11. AC, I agree with you Darvish will pitch game 7. Wood will be in the pen. Let us finished it in 6.

    Kike is becoming a better hitter against righties. I hope they keep Culbertson around next year. I can see Kike and Culbertson being very valuable bench personnel. I bet if you put a first baseman’s glove on Culbertson , he would look like he was playing there for years.

  12. Something interesting. Bleacher Report has said that both teams say the balls are slicker for the World Series. The slider is harder to throw.

      1. The ball being slicker makes total sense. That article was VERY interesting. The ball is definitely this season and especially the playoffs.

  13. The Dodgers are letting Keuchel off the hook. Starting to swing at too many pitches out of the zone. If he doesn’t throw strikes the Dodgers have run up his pitch count.

  14. Not just tonight’s umpire. Those pitches outside the third base side of the plate have been called strikes throughout this series. If there was ever an argument for an electronic strike zone this is it.

    Meanwhile Kershaw just NOT not get that call.

  15. And the walk by Kershaw that began the 4 run inning was one of those pitches that Keuchel was getting. No walk and the entire inning may well have been different. Could still be 4-0.

  16. With 7 runs the Dodgers should have a commanding lead. But what’s making it worse is INCOMPETENT umpiring. Seager just had two pitches outside the strike zone called against him.

    1. Brooklyn

      Kershaw should have been taken out, after he walked the first batter!

      Roberts put Maeda in a bad situation, because of Kershaw.

      I hope Roberts didn’t leave Kershaw in to get a win!

      People want Kershaw to do so well in the post season, they let him stay in to long!

  17. Dodgers have no chance with that miserable SOB behind the plate. And I don’t see the Dodgers getting the same calls.

    Joc needs to run. No excuse.

    Dodgers hitters need to answer back.

    1. Watford

      When are people going to stop giving Kershaw the benefit of the doubt in the post season?

      Kershaw 6 era in 4 innings.

  18. Kersh shrunk on the big stage. Had a 4-0 lead and then 7-4 and could put to rest all the naysayers who say he isn’t a good post season pitcher. Didn’t get it done!

  19. I’ve always defended Kershaw in the past but today is on him. He shit the bed… twice. He’s lucky that this game is still winnable.

    1. Kenley was really afraid to pitch on Springers hands and the kid who got the hit.

      You can’t let them extent there arms.

      1. Do you know how many HRs and hits, the Astros got on a first pitch, six including this last hit!

        The Astros jumped 6 first pitches, and our pitchers didn’t adjust!

        Kenley was afraid to throw inside, and he was pitching defensively.

        He has to throw on the young Astro’s hands, so they don’t extend them!

        Orel just had the nerve to say Kershaw pitched well.

  20. Great comeback, but the homeplate ump was horrible all night long, and totally squeezed Jansen on the last two batters. Just pathetic. Makes me want to consider automated balls and strikes for the first time. Never thought I would say that.

  21. No doubt a gut wrenching defeat, made all the more worse by the gut wrenching defeat in the 2nd game.

    This will be hard with a bullpen that looks gassed. We need a big game from Hill on Tuesday, and an outburst by the offense against Verlander.

    Can’t blame the offense, which came back more than once in this game. Two things lost this game. Horrid pitching and criminal umpiring.

    Need to collect myself, so I have nothing more to say at this time. Maybe tomorrow, or maybe Tuesday.

  22. I didn’t hear Orel, but I do know he’s a homer, and probably a Kershaw apologist.

    Kenley pitched inside to McCann, and we see how that worked out. Kenley just may be gassed like the rest of the pen. His pitches didn’t appear to have much bite. And quite frankly the Astros have a very talented and deep lineup. Most of the credit needs to go to them.

    1. Brooklyn

      We all feel the same way, and it sucks that we will have to wait another day off, and have to rerun this game, in our heads!

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