In 2017, the Dodgers struck out 25.5% of the time and in 2018, it went up slightly as they struck out 25.7% of the time. They were not even close to being the worst in baseball in striking out, but they were in the bottom 30%. In 2016, the Houston Astros almost led the AL in strikeouts. Tampa Bay barely beat them. In 2017, the very next year, the Astros went from nearly the worst in strikeouts to the very best in the AL against the strikeout. Not only did their strikeouts go down, but their homeruns increased from 198 to 238! That change coincided with a World Series Championship. One thing that should not be lost in this is that if there is one team that makes greater use of analytics than the Dodgers, it is the Astros.
I know that the Astros fixed their strikeouts and hit even more homeruns. You know this and you can bet the Dodgers know this. If the Dodgers had the power to increase their home runs while reducing strikeouts, do you think they would do that? We all know the answer… and so do they. Will they try and do that? Of course they will… but they aren’t going to announce it. There will be no press release. However, it’s just common sense to try it.
You can get bent out of shape that the Dodgers are going to use starters and relievers differently in the upcoming season, just like you can get bent out of shape about Manny spiking Jesus, but there’s more to that story, just like there’s more to this story. Other teams have been doing that for a while – specifically the Astros and the Cardinals.
FAZ is not going to tell you that they would like to see Chris Taylor cut down on his strikeouts, but I guarantee that they are planning how to do that right about now. Maybe they should announce that they are going to try and cut down on team strikeouts. Yeah, that would be really dumb to say it! But, it would be really smart if they tried that and I am sure that they are… because they are not dumb… and that would be dumb. Really dumb.
I don’t think the Dodgers can reduce their strikeouts by 25%, but I do think a goal to reduce strikeouts by 5 to 8% is realistic and attainable. The Astros cut their strikeouts by 25% between 2016 and 2017! Grandal will likely be gone and Kemp will have fewer AB’s while Taylor and Bellinger can drop their strikeout totals with some work. It has worked in the past. Joc Pederson more than doubled his HR while dropping his strikeout rate by 4%. The front office is not going to discuss this, but they would be really stupid not to try… and they are not stupid.
How Much Should Change?
The Dodgers got to the World Series two years in a row… and lost. The Astros won it all in 2017 and failed to make it back in 2018. Should they blow up their team? I don’t think so, although there will be changes. Half of the Dodgers World Series Roster changed from 2017 to 2018. There will be changes this year for the Dodgers too. Boston will change and Houston will change. Contracts expire, free agents get signed, players sign with other teams, players retire and trades are made. I would suppose that you will see about the same type of movement as last year… maybe a little less. Here’s a list of changes I recommend:
- The Dodger need a new catcher. Grandal is gone! Kyle Farmer is not a catcher and Keibert Ruiz is at least a half-season away. Will Smith is a possibility. Austin Barnes will improve his hitting next year (because he can’t get worse), but I would look to a catcher like Kurt Suzuki to fill a cap of about 300 AB’s. He’s inexpensive and savvy. For the record, I think Barnes will come back with a vengeance! I also think it’s possible we could see Ruiz after July. Before you mock me, who told you Seager, Bellinger, Buehler and Toles were ready long before anyone else?
- The Dodgers need a RH Power Hitter. The team is very heavy on the LH side and someone suggested a trade I happen to like: Max Muncy to the White Sox for Jose Abreu. That’s the best idea I have heard. If I had to throw another prospect in, I would do it becasue (1) the Dodgers need a RH power hitter like Manny never really was; and (2) I can’t see Muncy sustaining what he did. Sell high. Abreu has two years of control and then move Bellinger back to 1B.
- The Dodgers need to trade Yasiel Puig.After his rookie year, I advocated trading him for Gioncarlo Stanton and was roundly criticized. I do like him (sometimes), but it is past time to move him. Why? (1) He might as well be a LH hitter because he can’t hit lefties. He has reverse splits. He hit .209 against LHP and .297 verses RHP. He’s almost a superstar against RHP, but a scrubb against LHP. (2) He is sliding very rapidly defensively. He’s no longer a TOP right fielder; and (3) His body-type is going to produce some major injuries. He had a 2.7 WAR in 2018. I think he can be moved for a couple of prospects or in a package for another player.
- It’s time for Alex Verdugo. I’ve been saying that for a couple of years. Alex has a cannon of an arm and has a chance to be Tony Gwynn… or something close (a chance). I think he’s the leadoff hitter the Dodgers covet.
- Trade Toles or Pederson. The other one platoons with Kemp in LF. See who has the most value and move them. Matt Kemp is virtually untradeable. Every GM knows he loves being a Dodger (Strike one). He makes $21 million and the Dodgers would have to pay at least $15 million of it (Strike two)… and he is a team leader and fan favorite. He’s worth more than the $6 million the Dodgers would still owe him (strike three). Let’s not forget that he hit .290 with 21 HR and 85 RBI this year. He actually hits RH pitching better… but not by that much. A platoon in LF could be very productive.
- Decide on a Second Baseman.I was wrong about Gavin Lux. When they drafted him, I said they made a mistake. They didn’t! He is the real deal and may be ready by July. In the meantime, let Kike Hernandez and Chris Taylor fight out who starts at 2B. I would only sign LeMahieu for a steal of a deal.
- Draw a line in the sand on Bryce Harper. Whoever thinks he will get 14 years and $420 million from the Dodgers has been seriously involved in illegal drug use. The Dodgers will try and get creative, but they won’t go over $275 million…. if that!
- Think about trading Wood, Stripling, Maeda, Stewart (along with Puig and Pederson or Toles). If the Dodgers put together a 3 or 4 way deal that included some of those players, and included some prospects, could they snag aCorey Kluberthat didn’t involve Ruiz or Verdugo?
Here’s my roster:
- Verdugo RF
- Turner 3B
- Seager SS
- Abreu 1B
- Bellinger CF
- Taylor 2B
- Kemp/Pederson (or Toles)
Kike, Freese, Toles or Pederson, Suzuki or Smith, Locastro or Ramos
I think it is 50/50 that Ryu takes the QO. Then there is Gnsolin, Wood, Maeda and Stripling… if not trdaed.
- Alexander (look for a huge year from him)
- Cingrani or Koehler
Remember, don’t just look at what you see… use your vision. Sight is simply the faculty or power of seeing. “Oh, this guy hit 35 HR this year, we should get him.”
Vision is the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be. “Oh, this guy hit 12 HR this year, but he looks to be capable of breaking out soon.”
You can use your eyes… I prefer vision.Get the guy BEFORE he is that guy… not after.
By the way, Albert Pujols was once the best player in baseball. So was A-Rod and Josh Hamilton and King Felix and Robinson Cano. All were paid way past their productive years which hamstrung their teams… Felix and Robinson continue to do so. Forgetaboutit!
It is looking more-and-more like Farhan Zaidi will soon be the President of Baseball Operations for the Giants and some Dodger fans are giddy to lose him. All I can say is “You really have no Clue!” If he goes, the hated Giants just got a huge edge!
- Getting to the World Series two year in a row is incredible.
- Losing two years in a row is tragic.
- But a lot of luck was involved.
- Steve “Freaking” Pearce was the MVP (no one in the history of the world predicted that).
- David Price who was worse than Clayton Kershaw in the Post-Season and 3 years older, but was lights out in the Post-Season for the first time EVER!.
- Joe Kelly was smoked during the regular season, only to become “Smoking Joe” in the playoffs.
- Nate Eovaldi was unhittable. Who predicted? No one.
- Matt Barnes has a 4.14 career ERA, but was 1.04 in the Post-Season.
- Rick Porcello had a 4.28 ERA during the regular season but was 1.93 in the World Series.
- Eduardo Rodriguez had not pitched in weeks and was Cy Young.
- The Dodgers pretty much neutralzed the big hitters of the Red Sox, but the scrubbs beat them.
The whole point of this is that the World Series is a Crapshoot. We were lucky to see the Dodgers there two years in a row… and a third is indeed possible… We just need the Big Dodger in the Sky to help them finish it!