Hamstrings are the devil, and they’ve cost the Dodgers two of their three right-handed hitting outfielders in the last week.
Yasiel Puig pulled him hamstring twice on the recent roadtrip and Enrique Hernandez pulled his while the Dodgers were getting no-hit against the Cubs. At risk of playing two of Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson and Andre Ethier against lefties, the Dodgers took advantage of the waiver deadline and brought in two right handed hitting outfielders Justin Ruggiano and Chris Heisey.
June 9, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Chris Heisey (28) scores a run in the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
For starters, here’s why you don’t want Crawford and Ethier playing against lefties. Crawford actually has semi-respectable numbers in the past against lefties (.261/.309/.376 slash line), but a lot of that came when he was arguably the best player in the game in Tampa. He somehow hit .321 against lefties last year (only 64 plate appearances), so he’s not as bad of an option as Ethier and isn’t as bad of an option as you or I thought before this paragraph.
Many fans have been upset at manager Don Mattingly for sitting Ethier against lefties, especially in recent games when Ethier had been producing (yesterday when Ethier hit the go-ahead homer, in Cincinnati when Ethier was 3-3). Ethier should always hit against righties, but arguing in his favor against lefties is just a waste of breath. In his 10-year career, Ethier holds a .235/.292/.345 slashline against lefties (1,360 PAs). He hasn’t had a season hitting over .240 against lefties since 2008, hasn’t had an OBP over .350 since 2006 and hasn’t slugged over .400 since 2007. His opportunities over the years against lefties have diminished, which could lead to his lower numbers. But that kind of brings up a chicken or the egg argument. Are his plate appearances vanishing because his number are horrible or are his numbers horrible because his plate appearances are vanishing?
Either way, the Dodgers made two moves that give them two good defensive outfielders that generally perform against lefties. Both of them are also kind of former Dodgers. The first move was announced a bit after the waiver deadline.
Of all the rumored Dodger-Mariners trades over the last few years, it’s funny that this is the one that happened. Ruggiano was drafted by the Dodgers in 2004, but was the PTBNL in the infamous Dioner Navarro+Jae Wong Seo for Toby Hall and Mark Hendrickson trade with Tampa, which was pulled off by Andrew Friedman.
Ruggiano has decently even average and on-base splits, but he has a career .505 slugging percentage against lefties. Here’s a writeup from when he was acquired by the M’s that basically summarizes my feelings on the move. It’s certainly a move. It’s not going to lead the Dodgers to the promiseland, but it makes them a better team than they were yesterday. If Ruggiano is starting playoff games, something went horribly wrong. But for a PTBNL or cash, it’s hard to complain.
Rough week for PTBNL/Cash Considerations, but they’re also going to Toronto for Heisey. Heisey had a less-than-stellar run with the Dodgers earlier this year. In 34 plate appearances (24 against lefties), Heisey had four hits, eight walks and nine strikeouts. He was released by the Dodgers less than a month ago, signed Blue Jays a week later and like two weeks later he’s back in LA.
He actually has reverse splits in his career and hasn’t fared all that well against lefties. But he’s a very solid defensive outfielder and the Dodgers didn’t really give anything up for him. Maybe they can take his hamstrings and give them to Puig?
Moves will still need to be made before they get added to the 25 or 40-man rosters, possibly today before the Dodgers face Madison Bumgarner.