Pitchers and hitters don’t progress from one stage to another in a straight line. That’s what we would like, because we like predictable. We like things neatly arranged and sequential, but baseball player development happens so differently… and sometimes, so maddeningly different than what we like, that we are frequently frustrated beyond belief.
This time last year, Striker Buehler, who was then named “Walker” Buehler, was stinking up the joint with a 7.71 ERA and walked 7.7 batters per 9 innings. They were forced to change his name to Striker, when he dropped to 2.3 walked batters per 9 innings this season. That is a true story: Only the names have been changed… blah, blah, blah!
Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger were the anointed ones about this time last year. However, their progress also has not been linear. One step forward and one step back is how much of this year has been for them. I, for one, have confidence in their march and I believe that both will remain/become very good players for a long time, but I get frustrated too.
Max Muncy has traveled a long and winding road. In 2015 and 2016, he had a little over 110 plated appearances each season and then was out of the majors as the Dodgers worked with him in the minors. This year, while he won’t have quite enough plate appearances to officially qualify, only players named Trout, Betts, JD Martinez and Yelich have a better OPS that Max Muncy. Speaking of Mookie Betts, he has taken his game to a new level this year by increasing his OPS by 276 points!
I can go on and on: Trevor Story, Justin Turner, Scooter Gennett, et al… some slowly figured it out and others did it seemingly overnight. That’s why I want to put some things in perspective. These guys aren’t machines and they can have good years, bad years and mediocre years. Sometimes they plateau for a while and then grow on… sometimes they plateau and fall back.
In 2016, the Giants signed Will Smith, who in his previous 4 years of major league service had almost a 5.00 ERA with Milwaukee and KC. He then had TJ Surgery and missed all of 2017, but now looks to be their closer for a while… unless he is traded… and he could be. Let me digress for a minute. If the Giants can’t beat the Dodgers on the field, maybe they will try and take them at the Front Office. No, I am not talking about the Giants taking that old dinosaur, Ned Colletti (won’t happen – they are also convinced about the new baseball paradigm). Andrew Friedman is not going anywhere, but Farhan Zaidi could be hired by the Giants to be their President of Baseball Operations. The Giants need to do a total rebuild, which means trading MadBum, Posey and just about any other asset like Will Smith… and Farhan could be the guy. It could be a homecoming of sorts for him to return to the other side of the bay.
I have been hard on Dave Roberts this year, but I do have to admit that most of the issues could have been eliminated with better execution by the players. That they have been poor when hitting with RISP is certainly true… and it frequently doesn’t matter who he rolls out there, Oh, we can blame it on the lineups, but it’s really the players… players who don’t always develop linearly.
Where Do the Dodgers Go From Here?
Let’s just get this over with: I want Dave Roberts and the Coaching Staff back next year. I am sorry if I doubted you earlier, Doc. I had been a big supporter of Doc’s in his first two years, but soured on him somewhat in 2018. I believe now that it was unfounded. I think Turner Ward’s work is also not done.
Speaking of Linear Progression: it has not been that way with Joc or Kike or the Wild Horse, but I don’t think anyone would be surprised if one, or all of those guys broke out big time. What about el Gasolino who has become el LightsOuto?
Some think that the Dodger’s front office had no “Plan.” No, they had a Plan. Yes! Oh, it was a bad Plan? I still like the plan. It’s just that the plan can’t always be executed for many reasons, most involving the players…and when teams do not execute plans, the fans want someone executed. I’ll save this for another day…
This season could have another month to go, but if it doesn’t, we will try and figure out why. In the meantime, the Dodgers are in the playoffs and can still win the division, and while the later is not in their hands, the Rockies will have to most likely beat Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer to win the division.
Last Night’s Win Was a Team Win
- Ryu is looking more like an Ace, even though he’s the #3 or #4. 1.97 ERA
- Brian Dozier still isn’t hitting, but took part in 4 of the 5 Dodger double plays.
- Kike 3-4 hitting leadoff.
- Turner with just one hit, but it was big!
- Manny with another big hit,
- Where would the Dodgers be without Yasmani Grandal, who hasn’t tired this year?
- Kenley looked confident in closing.
- That may have been Mad Bum’s last game as a Giant. His magical run is over. He’s just another “guy.”
- This team is built for the Post-Season and now they are there! It would still be nice to win the NL West!