The Dodgers Look Better (and Worse) Than You Think

By
Updated: August 17, 2012

I know, it’s a cliche. I don’t know why, but every Major League Baseball team circles that 119th game. After the 119th game, you can really tell which teams are serious. After all, there are only 43 games left. If you aren’t in contention, you need at least 44 games to get back into the race…

Now that that’s out of the way, I want to evaluate to some actual Major League Baseball-related statements I’ve head lately:

Mike Trout is better than Matt Kemp

Of all the bold statements on today’s list, this is the one that I’m most torn about. Trout is good. REALLY good. The 22 year-old has been performing for most of the season at the level that would make him a top-5 player in the game. Since his May call-up, Trout is batting .340 with a .998 OPS. His athletic ability is explosive. He is like the five-tool player A’s General Manager Billy Beane would have been has he been a successful major league player. There just don’t seem to be any holes in his game. Great baseball players don’t have to be great athletes, but he absolutely is both.

Trout masters the balance between hustle and savvy. He has scored 93 runs and swiped 38 bases in 95 games.

And here’s where the “but” comes in. Trout has only played 135 games in his career. While he has been the best player in the game since May, I’m not ready to crown him.

With the two best center fielders in the game in the Los Angeles area, the comparisons are natural. Kemp has 4 1/2 full seasons in addition to two partial ones under his belt. Kemp has made the All-Star team each of the past two seasons. He has two Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger Awards and should have won the MVP last season. He is 27 years old and has proven how great he is over 3100-plus at-bats in the big leagues. During the season that Trout has broken-out, Kemp’s OPS is 1.058. Remember, during Trout’s monster season, his OPS is .998.

Matt Kemp’s Career Stats

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB Awards
2006 21 LAD NL 52 166 154 30 39 7 1 7 23 6 0 9 53 .253 .289 .448 .737 69
2007 22 LAD NL 98 311 292 47 100 12 5 10 42 10 5 16 66 .342 .373 .521 .894 152
2008 23 LAD NL 155 657 606 93 176 38 5 18 76 35 11 46 153 .290 .340 .459 .799 278
2009 24 LAD NL 159 667 606 97 180 25 7 26 101 34 8 52 139 .297 .352 .490 .842 297 MVP-10,GG,SS
2010 25 LAD NL 162 668 602 82 150 25 6 28 89 19 15 53 170 .249 .310 .450 .760 271
2011 26 LAD NL 161 689 602 115 195 33 4 39 126 40 11 74 159 .324 .399 .586 .986 353 AS,MVP-2,GG,SS
2012 27 LAD NL 69 292 258 55 89 15 2 17 51 7 3 31 61 .345 .414 .616 1.031 159 AS
7 Yrs 856 3450 3120 519 929 155 30 145 508 151 53 281 801 .298 .355 .506 .861 1579
162 Game Avg. 162 653 590 98 176 29 6 27 96 29 10 53 152 .298 .355 .506 .861 299
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/19/2012.

In comparison, Trout has just over 500 at-bats in the Major Leagues. He is only 20 years old and a physical specimen, but… well… he’s 20 years old. His promise is both exhilarating and tempting. But it needs to be taken as just that. Promise. Lots of players have had amazing single seasons. Not as many have had them at the age of 20 though, and not quite like Trout. If he stays healthy, he could be really, really great.

Mike Trout’s Career Stats

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB Awards
2011 19 LAA AL 40 135 123 20 27 6 0 5 16 4 0 9 30 .220 .281 .390 .672 48
2012 20 LAA AL 98 450 396 95 136 22 6 23 69 39 3 42 91 .343 .407 .604 1.010 239 AS
2 Yrs 138 585 519 115 163 28 6 28 85 43 3 51 121 .314 .378 .553 .931 287
162 Game Avg. 162 687 609 135 191 33 7 33 100 50 4 60 142 .314 .378 .553 .931 337
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/19/2012.

 

A friend of mine said about Trout, “he needs to do it for three seasons before you can call him the best player in the game.” While I like the concept of waiting, I don’t think we should have to wait three full years. Give me until the end of next year. If Trout is still performing at this high a level, I’ll consider it. Until then, he remains chalk-full of promise and excitement. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The Angels have a better shot at the World Series than the Dodgers

Since we’re at the 119-game mark, let’s talk about which team in Los Angeles is better. The Dodgers stand at 65-54, completing a successful road trip and ready for a end-of-season run. Despite having the fewest home runs in the Major Leagues — mostly thanks to having James Loney and Juan Uribe as the “ideal” starting corner infielders for most of the year…. — their pitching has given up the third-fewest runs in the majors. Yes, they play in a much weaker division, but the bet with Luke was that the Dodgers would finish with a better record. And they are on-pace to do just that.

The Angels are so much better on paper though. They have two or three ace starting pitchers and it’s a wonder they ever lose with a lineup that sometimes seems like it should be in the Bronx rather than Orange County.

Baseball doesn’t always turn out following the numbers though, and my prediction is that, whether it’s because of the easier record or better players, the Fansmanship site will be flush with Dodger Blue come October.

The Dodgers’ offense is now a potent lineup that should be feared by opponents.

I’m a Dodgers fan. Let’s be clear here. But this is flat wrong.

While the Yoyers have given up the third-fewest runs in baseball, they have also hit the fewest home runs and are 24th in runs scored. That’s not very high for a division leader. While Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino bring better name recognition than Juan Rivera/Jerry Hairston Jr. and Juan Uribe, the addition of these two players does not cause the Dodgers lineup to become one of the top-10 even in the game.

As a fan, I don’t think they have to be top-10. They only have to make the playoffs and be hot like recent Cardinals and Giants teams have proven.

Andre Ethier. What gives?

This is actually my question. Because in the end, the big difference for the Dodgers might not be their big acquisitions at all. It may be whether Andre Ethier can get back on-track.

Since signing his contract extension, Ethier has basically disappeared. His power numbers have waned and he is far from the potent hitter he was at the beginning of the year. If the Dodgers want to make a deep run, the former Sun Devil will have to find his pop again. If the Dodgers are to make a run, Ethier must perform better than he has over the past four weeks, during which time he has hit .255 with zero home runs and only 7 RBIs.

 

 

1 comments
Luke Johnson
Luke Johnson

I will say what I said on FB...why aren't we simply loving the kind of season Mike Trout is having? Why do we have to fast forward and project? Mike Trout, like Matt Kemp, has displayed the patience at the plate, the ability to steal bases, a gold glove, hit hit for average, use of all sides of the field, increased power and clutch gene that Matt K has. I am so thankful that both of these players exist in Cali! What an amazing thing. We have two of the best four outfielders in baseball -- including Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Braun(the best) -- in our own state. I think it's interesting that most of the people "raining" on the Mike Trout parade are Dodger fans or LA related. It seems, they're worried another might swap the title of being the "best" from their own. Lastly: This article ignores the face that while it took Kemp two years to come into his own(both seasons after unlike Trout's this year) it has taken Trout his ROOKIE year. Doesn't that say something? Isn't the kid, perhaps, ahead of the curve, therefore built brick brick with an all star's game? Just watch him five straight games. Ignore Dodger baseball and step into Trout baseball for a time. Watch the kid does. He can go 0 for 3, walk once, steal a base, score a run and steal another one or two with his glove. The guy is an industrious gamer.