Get a Grip on Reality!

The best team does not always win… well, maybe I should rephrase that: The team with the best players does not always win, but the best team usually does win. By far and away, the Dodgers have the best players in the NL, but currently they do not have the best team. Certainly, the players have execute, but the players also have play as a team.  Too many times I feel that the players are trying to win it by hitting a home run.  When the Dodger were doing poorly early in the season, Farhan Zaidi, the Dodgers GM, talked to Dylan Hernandez of The LA Times about that very fact.  Here’s a portion of that article:

If the Dodgers’ early-season malaise becomes a season-long problem, the responsible party will be the front office that constructed the team.

I’m not the only one who thinks that. The general manager does, too.

“I mean, who else is it on?” Farhan Zaidi said.

So what’s wrong with the offense?

“We just haven’t hit homers,” Zaidi said. “When you look at our overarching team performance, I think we still have a positive run differential. There are some positive indicators. But we have been outhomered. We’re a team that’s played a lot of close games. When you’re playing close games and you’re getting outhomered, it’s really tough to win those games.”

The Dodgers ranked fourth in the National League in home runs last season. They are third from the bottom now.

The first signs of trouble appeared in the final months of the regular season last year, when pitchers started attacking the Dodgers differently. Even though the offense didn’t react well to the changes — the team dropped 16 of 17 games over one late-season stretch — Zaidi didn’t think that it called for significant offseason changes in the lineup.

So, the Dodgers went out and took what Zaidi said to heart: They became a “homer happy team.”  Did it help?  Well, obviously, they turned the season around and are now in the playoff hunt. They now lead the NL in Home Runs and are second only to the Yankees in all of baseball with 202 big flies. Quick: Guess who’s #3?  The A’s.  Who knew? The Dodgers are 4 runs scored behind the Cubs for the NL lead in runs scored, so the offense woke up.  The only problem is that some days it doesn’t show up.  The Dodgers either win big or loose close. 

In Cincinnati, a 10-6 game  is close and the Dodgers offense did produce 6 runs last night – that should be enough to win, especially when you have the best pitching staff in the NL, second only to the Astros in all of MLB.  Alex Wood, who has be very reliable for a couple of months inexplicably gave up 7 runs.  You are not going to win very often when that happens.  They had opportunities – two bases loaded situations that yielded zip, but that is common with this bunch. It’s not likely that they are going to change this late in the season.  It is what it is, and some of the blame goes to the front office.

The rest of the blame goes to the coaching staff.  If you look at just the obvious stats, you will see that Kike Hernandez hits RH pitching the same as LH pitching THIS season.  You can also see that he hits over .300 in the 1st and 8th spot, but his BA is .140 hitting 4th.  How many times have they rolled out Kike in the cleanup position?  Felony stupid! Doc should be playing that hottest players and I don’t mean hot for a week, but like over the past 28 days:

  • Hernandez – .333 BA/.429 OB%
  • Dozier –  .141 BA/.244 OB%
  • Kemp – .288 BA/.373 OB%
  • Barnes – .174 BA/.296 OB%
  • Grandal – .130 BA/.262 OB%
  • Turner – .380 BA/.409 OB%
  • Machado – .286 BA/.359 OB%
  • Puig – .200 BA/.259 OB%
  • Taylor – .241 BA/.339 OB%
  • Pederson – .156 BA/.264 OB%
  • Bellinger – .299 BA/.360 OB%
  • Muncy – .239 BA/.364 OB%
  • Freese – .267 BA/.340 OB%

Andrew Toles can’t even get a sniff and Alex Verdugo has looked solid when he had the opportunity.  It’s time to forget the splits and quit wishing.  The reality is this:  Right about now, Barnes, Grandal, Pederson, Puig and Dozier have no business in the lineup.  Play the guys that have shown they can hit… and for God’s sakes, don’t bat Kike cleanup. Some of this is on DOC.  I would roll out this lineup:

  1. Muncy  2B
  2. Turner  3B
  3. Machado  SS
  4. Bellinger 1B
  5. Kemp  LF
  6. Verduro  RF
  7. Taylor  CF
  8. Farmer C (Yes, I do it and bring in Barnes later)

Freese, Kike and Toles  would play too.  This ain’t rocket science. Just play the players who give you the best chance to win TODAY! It’s time to quit believing whatever wierd science you are smoking and deal with reality.

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 62 Comments

  1. You’re making too much sense for your advice to reach Roberts ears. Roberts is certainly overwhelmed at some point of the hemisphere on top of his shoulders. I’m sure the players are aware of where they fit best in the lineup. After all, who would know their stats best? I wonder if the players have a voice at all in what so many call “great communication” between manager and players. The team chemistry seems to be fading some as the world turns. They aren’t at the point of blaming anybody but themselves individually and say they win and lose as a team. I don’t think they’re buying into the ‘plan’ and that’s taking their wind. The fix is in the past and needs to be brought to the present. Making the lineups should be in the comfort zone that has been established and that should be for offense as well as defense. Dammit! Dance with the ones that brung ya!

  2. I think your wrong about playing Puig. He is the one best defensive right fielder in baseball.
    When Kemp plays right field a lot of runs are scored because of errors, ball’s he can’t reach and base hits that turn into a double because of his arm.

  3. Mark, it ain’t gonna happen. Robert’s (front office) delusional lineup philosophy is flawed. There is no consistency when you play different players each day. Other than Turner and Machado, players that do well are pulled from the lineup the next day for some ill con sieved reason. Roberts says they favor using a player’s long term results.
    What?? What is long term? Last week? Last month? This season? Minor leagues? High school? No real, clear, explanation of what long term means. First off, that doesn’t make any sense I just don’t understand the thinking and have felt that way all season. They use and believe in SABR until they don’t. They justify lineups and playing time because of stats. And then they turn around and ignore those same stats. Like I have stated in the past, you play you best players as much as possible (especially now). Backups are backups for a reason. This BS of a all right handed lineup to face a lefthander (or vise versa) and then when a reliever comes in that throws the opposite Roberts changes the entire lineup. Why? Just start the best eight from the beginning and quit screwing around. While trying to prove you are the smartest in the room, you’re showing that you’re coming the dumbest. It’s just so frustrating and sad to watch. What a waste of talent for the best team in the NL.

  4. The Dodgers are in a tight race for the Division championship. They made trades to get Machado and Freese mostly because Taylor’s bat couldn’t keep him in the lineup and the Dodgers couldn’t score against lefties. I like those trades and I support those players being in the lineup.
    .
    What I don’t support is going home with players (aka September callups) that didn’t take us to the dance (aka first 130 games).
    .
    Many are down again with Joc. His biggest problem is his bat won’t keep him in the lineup against lefties. He goes from hot to cold when off days mixed in with an unusual high percent of lefties pitching. He needs to fix his problem against lefties or he will continue to be hot and cold. He needs to choke up a bit as well.
    .
    Muncy seems to be swinging harder every time I see him and is striking out more and walking out less.
    .
    Belli doesn’t seem to be able to hit a ball to left unless it is pre-planned. He roles his wrists on outside pitches and misses them otherwise. Tommy Davis said he always strove to hit outside pitches to RF, down the middle pitches to CF, and inside pitches to LF. Belli seems to think pull on every pitch and isn’t reacting fast enough to go the other way. Kemp’s hayday approach was to go to right center and react to inside pitches.
    .
    The Dodgers miss Seager’s bat. He seemed to think straight away and was not pull happy.

    1. He spent some time on it, but it’s very incomplete. If you really want to compare then do it year-over-year with RISP. Bases Loaded, Runners on 1st and 3rd, etc. and what do they hit is the #1 spot, the #4 Spot, against LH ands RH in each spot. What Chad published was nice, but it really doesn’t give the insight all the other stats would. Have him compile that and I guarantee you will have an entirely different opinion. Add in day games, night games, games when they play other positions. The stats are getting better, but that stuff is still really difficult to compile.

      What does Kike Hernadez hit when he bats 6th in a day game verses a LHP who has a 99 MPH FB and a cutter with RISP with 2 out when he plays LF?

      Get me that and I will be impressed. Figures are only as good as the stats you put in. Sometimes, the “eye test” is hard to beat.

  5. I have said for most of this year Roberts is not a good game day manager. If his lineups are because of the FO then they are the biggest part of the problem, but if this is Roberts and his coaching staff then they should go, although if this is on Roberts and the coaches why hasn’t FAZ stepped in and made the necessary changes?. Lot’s to talk about but nothing is going to change for this season so I’ll wait until after the season. The Dodgers better take the last 2 games against the Reds, and do nothing worse than a split with St Louis or this season might be over.

  6. Well today the Reds throw a rightie against us. We already know who should be leading off today: Verdugo. And we all know who will likely ACTUALLY lead off: Joc! My prediction?
    Joc
    JT
    Manny
    Belli
    Muncy
    Grandal
    Kike
    Barnes

    1. Your crystal ball clouded up today Bobby. Turner wore himself out in Colorado and should have rested yesterday instead of today.

  7. In the tail end of this crazy pennant race, lets all take a moment today to remember 9-11-2001… When I put my flag at half mast and out this morning I stood quietly on my driveway just thinking, dear God please let this never happen again!!!..
    OK, now go Blue!!!

  8. It is not just a two-headed problem (Front Office and Manager), but a three-headed problem (add the players). There is no doubt how this team was structured…HR over contact, good starting pitching (not overpowering, but good with depth), and we will make the bullpen work. Zaidi may believe that is the proper way of constructing a ML 25-man roster, but I cannot agree.
    .
    I do not care how many HR’s the Dodgers have, or how many runs they have scored. I care about wins and losses. The HR is a good attribute, but it should not be total focus. Strikeouts are acceptable on this team, but how do you hit a runner in by striking out? I guess that is okay, if your whole approach to offense is the HR. In the 10 games prior to Sunday’s game in Colorado, the Dodgers scored 3 or fewer in 8 of the 10. One game they scored 11, and the other they scored 4. During that stretch the Dodgers were 6-4.
    .
    Since the All-Star Break, the team has compiled a 25-23 record. Certainly not what was expected with the Machado acquisition. In the 48 games prior to the Machado acquisition, the team was 32-16. It certainly appears that Machado has not improved this team. He did not bring his clutch bat with him from Baltimore. The addition of Machado is exactly what the front office should have done, so this cannot be laid at their feet. There really is no difference between Dozier and Forsythe. The Dodgers saved some salary, so the front office accomplished another stated goal; get below the luxury tax threshold and stay there. Where the front office whiffed on at the trade deadline is that while several quality relievers were moved, none came to the Dodgers. IMO, that was very shortsighted.
    .
    The lineups are a concern. For a sabermetric team that does not avail themselves of all the numerical information, it is beyond frustrating. Prior to every game, the fans point out the sabermetric shortcomings in the lineup. Mark points out the Kike’ BA when batting 4th. How hard is it to find that information?
    .
    But the players deserve their fair share of the blame. Machado in Baltimore – .315/.387/.575/.963; 24 HR, 51K, 413 PA. That was a HR every 17.2 PA, and a 12.3% strikeout rate. With the Dodgers, Machado is batting .274/.350/.479/.829; 9 HR, 43K, 214 PA. His LAD HR rate is one every 23.8 PA, and his strikeout rate with LAD is 20.0%. If Machado duplicates his Baltimore numbers, FAZ looks like geniuses and the Dodgers have a comfortable lead. But Belli, CT3, Puig, Grandal, Barnes, Forsythe/Dozier, are not hitting like they were expected. Kemp and Muncy have overperformed to make up for part of that loss. JT is hitting as we expected, but over a shorter time frame due to his spring injury. Joc showed some adjustments in June but has regressed since. Kike’ is showing more power, but not a better overall approach. And nothing can make up for the loss of Corey Seager.
    .
    Not one Dodger starter has won more than 8 games (4 have 8). Only Kershaw and Stripling have ERA’s less than 3.00 for those who have started 17 or more games. But none have an ERA over 4.00. Good but not overpowering. The relievers have woefully underperformed. In 70 save opportunities, the Dodgers have converted 44 saves. That is 26 blown saves. 16 different pitchers have a blown save. For a championship team, that is just not acceptable.
    .
    FAZ did not address obvious shortcomings, Doc’s lineups and in game management decisions are a work in progress and not improving, and the players themselves must accept their fair share of the blame. It just has been a very mediocre year.

  9. As with most things in life, there is plenty of blame to go around. The players have not performed, the manager has tinkered too much, the front office has failed to address glaring needs. We can’t blame injuries because every team has them and we haven’t even been as affected as other organizations.
    *
    I will admit that yesterday’s loss felt like a very bad performance by a team supposedly in the heat of a playoff push. But there are no complete jokes in baseball. Every team is capable of winning and you never know the motivation that groups of men can muster to achieve a goal. No one loss will define the season.
    *
    All I ask for as a fan is effort, crisp performance [or you should be benched), and focus. If those things are in place, the better team usually wins. I’d say it’s very much in the air how good of a team we are. We were the best team in baseball last year and couldn’t quite close the deal. I blame Roberts for that [pulling Hill after 4 innings in Game 2], but I also blame Darvish [for crapping the bed in Game 7]; others point to Kershaw or Jansen or Bellinger. It doesn’t really matter at this point.We are entitled to win the division just because last year we won 100+ games. That’s not the way baseball works.
    *
    Even though I have my doubts, I still believe we’ll make the playoffs. I consider the Rockies to be a very good team so if they win it’s because they’re better than we are. I also think Milwaukee is a good team. If they claim the Wild Card it is because they had a better year than we did. We can still win the division; we can still grab a Wild Card spot. At this point I really do think it’s about desire and not getting in your own way. I’m no Dave Roberts apologist but it all seems too convenient to point to one person for being our downfall. If there’s a stud out there who’s not getting enough play, maybe he should’ve performed better when he had the chance so he got noticed.
    *
    Technically tonight’s not a must win. Saying that reveals a deep ignorance of mathematics and probability. But it kinda feels like one. If we can’t beat the Reds with a playoff spot on the line in the last few weeks of the season, maybe indeed it’s not our year. I never believe that until it’s proven to me in the standings.

    1. AC

      Your right, those almost twenty HRs most of this line up have hit, that are mostly solo HRs, don’t mean much, when most of these type of hitters, disappear at the plate, for months at a time.

      And most of these hitters are hitting under 250, and because of that, they are not going to be able to get key hits, when runners are in scoring position, that often.

  10. interesting piece on http://www.lookoutlanding.com [mariners blog] about potentially trading edwin diaz. one of the teams mentioned was us. their proposal was verdugo/may/lux for diaz [who has 4 team-controlled years left]. i don’t think we would do it, but it is an interesting exercising in timing, windows, and team needs. not sure what we’d do with the big guy but don’t the yankees have like 3 closers? the more the merrier, right? (note: i’d rather develop our own edwin diaz: alvarez, jimenez, uceta . . .)

      1. Gonsolin is going to get every opportunity to stay a starter. He has a 4 pitch repertoire (3 plus, 1 average). His fastball operates between 93-97 and the velocity is still there even when he goes deeper into the game. He has a big splitter that he throws in the uppers 80’s with a big heavy sink. He has also has a curve and slider that are thrown in the low 80’s as his off-speed pitches. He is going to need to improve one or both of those if he wants to be an effective starting pitcher at the MLB level.
        .
        In 128 IP in 2018, Tony struck out 155 and walked 42 (almost 4-1 ratio). Tony gets the start tonight in Game 1 of the Texas League Championship.
        .
        I think Jesen Therrien is a potential closer. Marshall Kasowski is another potential closing candidate, as is Melvin Jimenez, and Jordan Sheffield (who has taken to relief very well). I think Andre Scrubb is going to get more of a closer role next year to see how far he can go (AA). He and Jordan Sheffield should be the late inning high leverage relievers at Tulsa next year.

  11. The Dodgers should be playing the best 8 players. The hot and cold stats don’t mean as much when players are in and out of the lineup and aren’t able to sustain anything they may have started to put together.

  12. I would have Verdugo lead off against lefties, because in AAA he is hit almost hundred points higher against lefties, then righties, and his OPS against lefties was 160 points higher, too.

    And that last run he hit in, was against a leftie!

    I don’t think having Muncy leading off against righties, is a bad idea, either.

    I think our line up has came alive the few times Muncy has hit, in the lead off position.

    Muncy would also get better pitches to hit, in the lead off position too.

    Because he is not the same hitter, when Roberts bats him fourth like he has, at times.

    I don’t understand why Toles is being treated this way.

    But the fact he is not being played, tells me they are not looking at the numbers, that really could improve this team.

    And they are not looking at the numbers that really matter
    right now, either.

    Because Toles is sitting on the bench, even though he has never hit lower then 300, when runners are in scoring position, and his OPS has never been lower then in the 900s in these situations, at the major league level, and that includes this year too!

    And this year in AAA he had really good numbers, in these situations, too.

    Because his numbers in these situations at AAA, were 80 points higher in average, and 300 points higher in OPS, then Verdugo.

    And Toles hit 30 points higher in average, and 50 points higher in OPS against righties, then Verdugo too.

    Yet Roberts is having Verdugo pinch hitting against righties, and he has started Verdugo against righties, but not against a leftie, since he just came up.

    On a team that is not hitting well against lefties, why is a player that excells especially against lefties, that he is hitting a hundred points higher against lefties, is not in the line up, against lefties, like Verdugo?

    Not to mention again, Verdugo’s OPS is 160 points higher, against lefties, too.

    And why is Toles not getting any playing time, or at bats, when he excells in these high leverage situations, and he has produced any time, he was given a chance?

    I know Toles is four years older then Verdugo, but Toles didn’t play an entire year, just before he joined the Dodgers, and he missed most of last year.

    And because of that, he has only played two more seasons of pro ball then Verdugo, so they are not as far apart, as their age difference, suggests.

    But the real question, is why aren’t both of these players getting more playing time, on a team that has so much trouble, maintaining a consistent offense, from game to game?

    And why does a team like the Dodgers, that seem to base every move they make on numbers, are not looking deeper into the numbers, or looking at the right numbers?

    Because these line ups they have went with most of this year, are not suddenly going to become a line up, that produces offense, consistently.

    And they will not suddenly, be able to hit runners in, when they are in scoring position, either.

    With the starting pitching we have, we should be much better!

    1. I wonder what it is about Muncy that allowed him to get playing time when he started out as totally unproven that doesn’t allow Toles to get the same opportunity. I like Toles and would love for the Dodgers to Bill Russell him into a second baseman. He might get more attention there.

      1. it’s because toles is in the doghouse

        maybe he acted up in AAA and the organization didn’t want to reward him

        not sure but the writing’s on the wall

        1. Curdybuff

          If he did something in AAA, they probably wouldn’t have called him up.

          But it still makes me wonder, if he is still with the team.

          But on the Dodger com site, where they list the line up, he has been on the players that are available list, during the games.

          But I wouldn’t blame him for feeling bad, after he has been treated, this year.

          First in spring training, and then now.

  13. We should just hang on tight and hope somehow a couple of guys get hot in the final 18. Approach will not change, Ronert’s will definitely not change.

    I want to make the playoffs but if not making it will ramp up the urgency and perhaps alter the philosophy a little then maybe that is for the best. It just amazes me that in a year we went from the best team in baseball to around the 10th best. Losing a superstar like Seager hurt, and regression for some was inevitable but other teams faced similar hardships. And we unexpected contributions from guys like Muncy and Kemp and I would put Buehler in there as well( didnit rhink he would be this good this soon)

    So with that being true I just think the philosophy was short sighted and did not really account for what was exposed late last season and in the World Series as AC talked about earlier today.

    I guess no one really knows who pulls the strings on lineups, or if FAZ and Robert’s do truly believe they are the smartest people in the room. Would love to give truth sermon to all involved and get the real answers. Lol

    What we do know is that are one true competitive advantage is our money, and with Guggenheim’s internal problems I am unsure if that is even still the case. Presuming it is then this offseason we need to take advantage of that, and make some changes. 10th best is about the worst possible place to be, draft low and fight for wild cards yearly and. Win the division every so often. First round flameouts are the norm for the 10th best team, as this organization will never posses the black magic the Giants did in 2011, 2013, 2015 . In those years they were 10th best.

    Conclusion get it right over the next 9 games or let’s start seeing what is needed in 2019 to put us back in a postion to win it all in 2019 and 2020.

    1. I 100% agree with the Dodgers getting out of the competitive balance penalty this year and don’t want them to jump back into that crater again.
      .
      Now, lets trade for Stanton. Yankees want a lefty hitter for that friendly right field porch and Harper fits that bill if the Yankees can move payroll. Kemp and Hill for Stanton. Yankees can DFA Kemp and the Dodgers could sign him for $510,000.

      1. honest question: assuming we pay kershaw his regular salary next year [either he doesn’t opt out or we extend him], could we still afford bryce harper? we can set harper’s salary as incrementally above the highest AAV right now for the purposes of this exercise.
        *
        i don’t care about how we fill in other spots: could we afford taking on a salary like that? if so, might as well . . .

        1. The Dodgers could absolutely do that. Puig, Pederson, Grandal, Ryu would have to go. There’s no moving Kemp. That’s a fairy tale.

          This could be our lineup next year:
          1. Verdugo LF
          2. Seager 2B
          3. Machado SS
          4. Harper RF
          5. Turner 3B
          6. Bellinger 1B
          7. Taylor CF
          8. Muncy DH
          9. Barnes and __________ C

  14. Freeze is batting .500 against tonight’s pitcher (4-8 with 1 home run and 2 RBI) yet Roberts doesn’t have him in the starting lineup.

    1. I think it is safe to say that the Reds own that trade. Three former Dodger prospects starting tonight for the Reds with absolutely zero in return. Peraza, Schebler, and Dixon for Trayce Thompson, Micah Johnson, and Frankie Montas. A colossal loss on that transaction. And I do not count Rich Hill in return. Jharel Cotton and Grant Holmes would have done that.

  15. How is this possible that the Reds are getting ready to kick our asses again? 7 k’s in the first 3 innings? Really? Way to pass the baton guys.

  16. Just turned on the game. Can I guess that the Dodgers had a couple of runners on in the top of the first that was accompanied by three strikeouts?

  17. 2 out of the first three get singles and then the next 15 straight retired. Good for Joc to break that string with a HR.

  18. I had planned to go to the game tomorrow. It’s only a 90 minute drive to Cincy… but I am re-thinking it. If they play like this tomorrow I might drive up a tree on the way home. OK, I’ll decide tomorrow.

  19. Wow, typical of this season this last inning. Failure to get runner’s in from third with less then two outs and even our best hitter failing in the clutch. Oh yeah and no urgency from Robert’s with expanded rosters when he does not pinch run for the slowest runner in baseball Grandal.

    I don’t want to hear about talent being unmatched, talented players come through much more then this bunch.

    1. thought the same thing. What the hell is Locastro on the roster for if he’s not used to pinch run for Grandal at that point??

  20. 0-6 against one of the worst teams in baseball. Need no more proof we are indeed pretenders and while there is much blame to go around, please don’t let the FO off the hook completely. Doc, players and the FO all share the blame in this shit show.

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