Dodgers Show No Mercy to the Rockies

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Left Punch, Right Hook

Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick and  are the most potent 3-4 punch in baseball at the moment. In the three game sweep of the Rockies, Kendrick went 6-for-12 with 2 doubles and 2 homers while Gonzalez went a pedestrian (for him) 4-for-13 with 2 doubles as well. A-Gon appeared to have finally cooled off a bit going 0-for-5 in Game 3 of the series.

0-for’s aside, every time I look up I feel like I’m seeing either Kendrick or Gonzalez hitting another double and knocking in another run. They’re wearing down wagon trails around the base paths, running laps like a junior high gym class. Their slash lines are absurd. As Brandon Warne once wrote over at FanGraphs, the .3xx/.4xx/.5xx triple-slash “is probably the most pleasing to behold,” both aesthetically and with respect to player performance. If a hitter is maintaining a .3/.4/.5 line they are contributing at a very high level.

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So let’s take a look at Adrian’s and Howie’s slash lines and see how they match up with some of the other high-end 3-4 combos so far this young season. After wiping out the Rockies, the Dodger hitters’ lines sparkle like the Pacific at high noon. Kendrick has achieved a .3/.4/.6 and Gonzalez has done even better with a .4/.5/.9. I’ve pulled the numbers of a few of the other high-profile 3-4 hitters in baseball as a comparison.

Apr 17, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick (47) is greeted by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (23) after he hit a 2 run home run in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzalez (.469/.527/.939)

Kendrick  (.370/.431/.674)

Numbers after Saturday’s games:

Boston Redsox

David Ortiz (.237/.341/.421)

Hanley Ramirez (.233/.306/.512)

San Diego Padres

Matt Kemp (.340/.358/.540)

Justin Upton (.326/.373/.630)

Seattle Mariners

Robinson Cano (.239/.239/.391)

Nelson Cruz (.333/.391/.762)

Detroit Tigers

Miguel Cabrera (.442/.510/.674)

J.D. Martinez (.256/.273/.558)

The Dodgers have been getting production throughout their lineup both from the regulars and certainly from the bench, but it has been the 3-4 bats that have primed the pump these first two weeks, pacing the Dodgers to the NL lead in runs, homers, and OPS.

It’s wonderful to see Ellis rounding first again.

Yasmani Grandal has now reached base safely in 20 consecutive games. Prior to Game 3 of the Rockies series, I would have said that if Grandal keeps going at this rate, A.J. Ellis may find his starts diminishing quicker than a curl of soft-serve on hot asphalt. Then seeing Grandal catch for Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 appeared to confirm every Ellis fan’s worst fear. So far this season Grandal has an OBP of .353 which is 7th highest on the team (even higher than Jimmy Rollins). Ellis, on the other hand, has an OBP of .091 and was batting .000 (or “zilch” for short) prior to Game 3.

April 19, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis (17) hits a single in the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Then Game 3 happened. Sunday was a day game after a night game so Ellis got the nod to start and he certainly cashed in on the woeful Rockies pitching. He went 2-for-4, netting a single and a stand-up double. I don’t think anyone expects Ellis to out-hit Grandal this season, but if Ellis can begin to contribute offensively, even in the slightest, it will be a boon for this team (and for Ellis’s playing time) that got nothing offensively from the catcher position a year ago.

Uribe’s Bat: Cold as night swimming in the Arctic.

Juan Uribe’s slow start at the plate this season has now rolled through nine games. The third baseman is hitting a meager .214 and has Dodger fans far and wide wondering when we’ll see more of Justin Turner or Alex Guerrero. Uribe’s bat hasn’t cost the Dodgers so far due to the high production of others in the lineup [see above], and Uribe’s glove is still strong. The 36-year-old Dominican has a .962 fielding percentage with only 1 error. In Game 3 of the Rockies series, Turner was given the start and just like Ellis did with his opportunity, Turner took full advantage. Big Red went 4-for-5 with three doubles and seemingly a hundred replays of “Turn Down for What.” With more performances like this, and if Uribe continues to falter at the plate, the questioning will grow louder: Why isn’t Turner the everyday option?

The Bullpen continues to be untouchable.

Game 1

IP:3 H:1 R:0 BB:0 SO:4

Game 2

IP:2.1 H:0 R:0 BB:1 SO:2

Game 3

IP:3 H:1 R:0 BB:0 SO:3

Series Totals

IP: 8.1 H:2 R:0 BB:1 SO:9

Other random observations.

Clayton Kershaw appears to be improving with each start. In Game 1 against the Rockies he pitched 6 innings, giving up 6 hits, 3 runs, 1 earned, and had a dozen strikeouts. Even with my third grade math skills I know that’s 2 strikeouts every inning, but his post game comments still gave the impression he was the losing pitcher. When asked by Alanna Rizzo of SportsNetLA about his performance, the left-hander responded that he threw “too many pitches, yeah, give credit to the Rockies.” Give credit to the Rockies? That’s what you say when you lose, Clayton. This guy is ever the perfectionist.

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  • There used to be a popular method people would use if they wanted to quit swearing. They would set up a jar, and each time they accidentally used an expletive in front of anyone they would drop a quarter or a dollar inside. I humbly suggest to Joc Pederson that he set up a money jar on the edge of the dugout. Each time he returns after a strikeout he has to drop a ten-spot inside. Every month the stockpile could be donated to charity. Or spent on additional batting practice. Pederson is hitting .289 on the young season which is quite an accomplishment, but he also has 17 strikeouts in only 38 at-bats. It’s an interesting statistic because Joc also leads the team in walks. My guess is he’s pitched around at times to reach the pitcher spot (since Joc usually bats 8th), which probably means many of those strikeouts could have been avoided with a little more patience at the plate.

    You can only play the team in front of you and you can only play the schedule you’re given. I have to remind myself of this old sports truism from time to time during this early run of scalding form by the Dodgers. They have now won 9 of their first 12 games with 7 on the trot, good enough for first place in the NL West. Fantastic. But, says my cynical side, they’ve played 9 of those games at home. And when they went on their only road series to date they got punked for two losses.

    Next week sees the Dodgers travel north to Frisco and south to San Diego. If we are still singing the praises of how well this team is playing this time next week then these numbers will actually begin carrying some weight.

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