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Entries in Andre Ethier (8)

Wednesday
Feb192014

Can Kemp Reclaim Inner Part of the Plate?

Matt Kemp hasn't yet been medically cleared to run this spring, but the Dodgers star owed a combined $128 million through the 2019 season is putting as much distance as possible between himself and all of the fourth outfielder talk. The 29-year-old is coming off a season wrecked by shoulder, ankle and hamstring injuries that limited him to just 73 games and a career-low .395 slugging percentage -- nearly 200 points below the mark he posted while finishing as runner-up to Ryan Braun in 2011 NL MVP voting. But he told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon that "Beast Mode" should return in 2014 now that his swing is no longer compromised:

I couldn't really get through the ball. If anybody knows my swing, when y'all see that go up in the air like that," Kemp said, lifting his left arm over his head, "you know something good happened. I was cutting my swing off. I couldn't get extension, man. I couldn't do a lot of things.

The impact that Kemp's ailing left shoulder -- surgically repaired in each of the past two offseasons -- had on his game last year was most apparent when pitchers tried to bust him inside. He throttled inside pitches during his halcyon 2011 season, swatting 14 home runs and slugging .698. Kemp wasn't as much of a monster against inside stuff in 2012 (seven homers, .554 slugging percentage), but he was still way above average (MLB batters slugged .416 versus inside pitches that year).

Last year, though? Kemp admitted he couldn't do a lot of things while his body betrayed him. One of those things he couldn't do was drive inside pitches: he didn't hit a single home run on an inner-third pitch while slugging .290. Among the 249 hitters seeing at least 350 inside pitches last season, Kemp ranked 225th in slugging. A couple years ago, he did more damage than Miguel Cabrera when pitches challenged him inside. Last season, he inflicted less pain than Jose Tabata and Gregor Blanco.

Back when he was healthy and competing for MVP hardware, Kemp had no problem getting extension versus inside stuff. He sprayed the ball all over the diamond, hitting nearly as many home runs to center field (six) and he did to left field (eight).

Kemp's spray chart vs. inside pitches, 2011

 

Unable to fully extend his swing in 2013, Kemp pulled more inside pitches to left field (57.7% of balls put in play, compared to 42.9% in 2011) but did little more than roll over the ball, leading to lots of 5-to-3 outs scribbled on the score card.

Kemp's spray chart vs. inside pitches, 2013

Kemp's clearly no fourth outfielder when healthy, but he did hit like one last year when pitchers came inside. Perhaps opponents are starting to catch on, as he has seen more inner-third pitches three years running (29.3% in 2011, 30.9% in 2012, and 33.4% in 2013). Plenty of scouts will scrutinize Kemp's swing during spring training. If he looks vulnerable against pitches on the inner third, expect pitchers to make him prove that his mended shoulder will finally let him get extended in 2014.

Tuesday
Jun042013

Peter Gammons: MLB Sources Say...

Don Mattingly, Matt Kemp and the Ned Colletti's Next Move

While speculation about Don Mattingly’s job security was rampant a week ago, one Dodger official made a cogent observation:”We had a clearly-defined projected lineup before the season opened. That lineup has not been together for one game.”

Matt Kemp’s pulled hamstring is viewed as a blessing in disguise, because he is now beginning his weights program to strengthen his surgically-repaired left shoulder, and that lead shoulder is what has left his mechanics a mess in the first half.

Carl Crawford’s pulled hamstring has further weakened the Dodger lineup, although the word around the game is that they would like to deal Andre Ethier, knowing they have to eat a chunk of the contract. Considering Ethier is owed a guaranteed $70M 2014-2018, he’s 31 and is sometimes considered a platoon player(.634 OPS, 1 HR vs. LHP) that isn’t going to happen.

The scouting department would love to see Joc Pederson, who is hitting .303 with a .387 on base percentage and 17 steals in Chattanooga and has a plus-plus makeup, get a chance, but the front office believes he needs more time.

“If the Dodgers get closer to Arizona and into the race in the next month, it will be interesting to see if Dodger ownership tries to force Ned Colletti to deal a couple of their prospects to make a run at the playoffs,” says one rival GM.

Pederson, RHP Zach Lee and LHP Chris Reed would all be trade chips. Reed was a reliever at Stanford and has taken time to learn to start, but while he’s 2-5, 4.34 at Chattanooga scouts following the club say Reed has consistently been throwing in the 90’s and is an attractive piece, either as a starter or a reliever.

Nationals on the Mend

Ryan Zimmerman’s continued throwing problems have him up to 10 errors, and Mike Rizzo’s suggestion voicemail is getting all kinds of advice. Make Zimmerman a Jeff Kent-style second baseman, where he can throw sidearm, and put Anthony Rendon at third. Or put Zimmerman at first, bring up Rendon and trade Adam LaRoche. For now, Zimmerman will continue to work on his footwork and try to get his throwing back to normal.

There have been suggestions that Stephen Strasburg’s strained oblique is an ongoing problem, but the day after his previous start against Philadelphia several Phillies players talked Strasburg. “I think he’s going to end up better than Justin Verlander,” said one, which is high praise, indeed. “Not only does he throw 98 with that great breaking ball,” said another, “but his changeup has evolved into an 89 mile an hour sinker, a nasty sinker, at that. It’s an unbelievable pitch.

Twin Thrillings

In one week, three different general managers have said, “the Twins right now have the best talent up and down their organization—by far.” With Terry Ryan absolutely the right man to decide who can play, and who cannot.

Sunday
May122013

The Dodgers (and others) struggles with runners in scoring position

In today's Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo writes extensively about the Dodgers troubles hitting with runners in scoring position.

Cafardo points out that the Dodgers entered the weekend ranked fifth in batting average (.255), and second in on-base percentage (.330) in the NL, but 14th in slugging and 11th in OPS. With runners in scoring position, the Dodgers are hitting .213, 13th in the NL.

They’re also 12th in OBP, 15th in slugging, and 14th in OPS in the NL with runners in scoring position.

“The key for us is execution,” Dodger GM Ned Colletti told Cafardo. “We’re getting runners on base but we just can’t seem to get that one hit at the right time.”

The Dodgers are just one of the teams struggling when hitting with RISP.

 

The major league average for hitting w/RISP this season is .255.

Their American League neighbors, the Angels, are equally awful also hit .223. Then again neither of these two teams' fan base should be complaining as much as those who follow the residents of "the friendly confines." The Cubs are the only team in baseball hitting under .200 with runners in scoring position. And their Second City neighbors, the White Sox are only hitting .221.

The Marlins, Mariners, Jays and Diamondbacks are all under .220 in their miserable displays of hitting when it matters.

15 players whose career average with runners in scoring position fall below .255

(at least 2000 PA w/RISP)

Rk I Player From To G BA PA AB H RBI
1   Adam Dunn 2001 2013 1268 .222 2044 1542 342 607
2   Tom Brunansky 1981 1994 1232 .239 2023 1676 400 632
3   Dave Kingman 1971 1986 1302 .240 2066 1774 425 771
4   Royce Clayton 1991 2007 1374 .243 2133 1808 440 598
5   Lance Parrish 1977 1995 1396 .244 2244 1954 477 692
6 I Jim Wynn 1963 1977 1334 .245 2201 1704 418 638
7   Bobby Grich 1970 1986 1368 .248 2169 1712 425 609
8   Andruw Jones 1996 2012 1585 .249 2632 2154 537 824
9   Darrell Porter 1971 1987 1238 .251 2000 1550 389 623
10   Graig Nettles 1968 1988 1781 .252 2689 2218 560 886
11   Chris Speier 1971 1989 1409 .252 2153 1745 439 576
12 I Darrell Evans 1969 1989 1825 .253 2919 2242 568 895
13   Ron Gant 1987 2003 1285 .254 2040 1680 427 674
14 I Bill Mazeroski 1956 1972 1354 .254 2113 1806 459 641
15   Benito Santiago 1986 2005 1339 .254 2125 1841 467 696
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/12/2013.

There are 121 batters who this season have to the plate at least 20 times with runners in scoring position who are hitting under .255, 56 of them are under .200.

Here are the 25 under .150

Rk Player BA PA AB H RBI
1 Eduardo Nunez .000 24 16 0 4
2 Luis Cruz .038 29 26 1 2
3 Dan Uggla .050 26 20 1 4
4 Ryan Flaherty .050 25 20 1 3
5 Darwin Barney .063 23 16 1 1
6 Martin Prado .063 37 32 2 4
7 Nolan Reimold .067 22 15 1 4
8 B.J. Upton .083 33 24 2 3
9 Rickie Weeks .088 45 34 3 8
10 Nick Hundley .091 27 22 2 7
11 Mike Moustakas .091 30 22 2 4
12 Miguel Montero .095 36 21 2 10
13 Alex Avila .103 32 29 3 3
14 Josh Hamilton .103 36 29 3 6
15 Mike Morse .108 41 37 4 7
16 Chris Iannetta .118 29 17 2 6
17 Eric Sogard .125 28 24 3 3
18 Maicer Izturis .130 25 23 3 3
19 Ike Davis .133 36 30 4 6
20 Tyler Flowers .136 23 22 3 8
21 Skip Schumaker .136 27 22 3 4
22 Cliff Pennington .136 30 22 3 8
23 Will Middlebrooks .138 33 29 4 9
24 Justin Smoak .148 35 27 4 5
25 Chris Parmelee .148 31 27 4 5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/12/2013.

The Dodgers individual batters with runners in scoring position.

Fans certainly can have no complaints with Adrian Gonzalez or Mark Ellis.

But Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are very different stories.

Rk Player BA PA AB H RBI
1 Mark Ellis .545 14 11 6 10
2 Adrian Gonzalez .500 38 28 14 23
3 Juan Uribe .273 17 11 3 4
4 Carl Crawford .269 31 26 7 3
5 Nick Punto .250 15 12 3 4
6 A.J. Ellis .241 37 29 7 7
7 Justin Sellers .231 15 13 3 1
8 Andre Ethier .200 40 35 7 8
9 Matt Kemp .171 44 35 6 11
10 Skip Schumaker .136 27 22 3 4
11 Jerry Hairston .071 16 14 1 3
12 Luis Cruz .038 29 26 1 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/12/2013.

It appears, that even when the Dodgers recover from their injuries, if they don't recover their hitting stroke with runners in scoring position, this season will continue to be ugly.