Friday, September 04, 2009

With 27 Games Left, The Numbers Are In Dodgers' Favor

Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports gave the Dodgers a quick shoutout today in saying that the team's statistics are overlooked:

Care to guess where the Dodgers ranked in batting average?

First, at .273.

Care to guess where the Dodgers ranked in ERA?

First, at 3.49.

I'm not about to declare that Joe Torre will win one for the thumb in early November. But he could, and it's time we remind ourselves of that. Despite a 14-15 record in August, the Dodgers are a very good team with October experience and a genuine chance to win at least one more postseason series than it did last year.

The Dodgers' batting and pitching statistics aside, this NL West title is effectively locked up for us. Even if the Dodgers perform as mediocre as they did in August, limping to a 13-14 record over the last 27, the second-place Rockies (with 28 games left) would have to go 19-9 (basically winning all of their remaining series) just to force a tie. It could happen, as it's the Rockies, who have pulled off impressive streaks before in prior and this season.

But our schedule also provides us a huge advantage. We play the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and last-place Nationals one more series each, as well as two series each against the Giants, last-place Padres, and last-place Pirates. That means we've got six of our last nine series against sub-.500 teams, with five of our last nine series against teams last in their divisions. And that series against the Rockies? It's the last series of the season, and it's here at Chavez Ravine.

The Rockies have two series against the Diamondbacks and Padres, and one series each against the Brewers, Reds, first-place Cardinals, first-place Dodgers, and wild-card contender Giants. They play St Louis at home, but the Dodgers and Giants on the road.

The Giants, one game behind the Rockies, have 16 of their final 28 games at home (where they have a league-leading 44 wins and a 44-21 record). They play two series each against the Padres, first-place Dodgers, and Diamondbacks, plus one series each against the Brewers, wild-card contender Rockies, and distant wild-card contender Cubs. But they would have to go 20-8 to tie the Dodgers for the lead, if the Dodgers go 13-14 the rest of the way, a little better than even their home-field winning percentage. Their fight is most likely wild-card focused, which will preoccupy their and the Rockies' time from here.

All this to say, the Dodgers are in pretty good shape from here on out, which should give Joe Torre time to experiment with lineups (as if he isn't doing this every day anyway), rest some of the players who may be pushing too hard (Rafael Furcal, Manny Ramirez, and Russell Martin come to mind), let Jim Thome work out some of the kinks against NL pitching (I would even play Thome in the field a couple of times; what the heck?), and start some of the peripheral arms (Jon Garland, Vicente Padilla, James McDonald, Scott Elbert, etc.).

Why not? We're going to the post-season, and if we're a sleeper team that is getting no media coverage due to a relaxed September stretch run (while the Rockies and Giants duke it out and beat each other up in their wild card chase)--all the better.


Unknown said...

Hey Saxxy-Why did you save your worst season for my White Sox? Anyways lots of luck in the playoffs, you Dodgers do look like the best team in baseball.

Greg Zakwin said...

If by experiment with lineups you mean "everyone but Rafael '.321 OBP batting lead off' Furcal gets moved around", then yeah, he's been experimenting.

rbnlaw said...

Jeff Miller in the OC Register just wrote the same thing in his column today. He went so far as to say the Lost Angels are more likely to give up their post-season bid. They have a stretch where they play the Yank-me's, the Bosox, and Rangers in one week.

If I was an Angel fan, and living in Anaheim, people wonder why I'm not, I wouldn't buy those play off tix just yet.

Steve Sax said...

I hope the Angels sweep all three of those guys. Until they play the Dodgers, I'm rooting for them, too.

Ken said...

Angels vs Dodgers would be a dream series. Then maybe ESPN would take the teams past the Mississippi more seriously.

Eric Karros said...

I didn't realize the The Dodgers are first in both ERA and batting average. Is that in the NL or in all of MLB?

Alright fine, I'll look it up.

I'm totally up for a freeway series too.

Unknown said...

wow-you guys picked up Garland! My White Sox stole him from the Cubs for Matt Karchner,and he was excellent in our 2005 World Series season. You guys remember Jeff Albert? He was the throw in guy in the famous Dodger/Cub trade in 1977 involving Bill Buckner/Rick Monday/Ivan DeJesus. Jeff's ML career was exactly one major league pitch(that's what he told me),a pitchout that nailed the runner at 2nd, 1/3rd of an inning. We sold cars together in Skokie, Illinois.He's also BJ Surhoff's half brother, and his dad played for the Knicks.A great guy.Wonder how he's doing lately, he was a great Chevy Truck salesman.

Unknown said...

I'm going to miss Jim Thome, the pride of Peoria, a real class act. I think he's got a few more productive seasons left in him,and he's an excellent baserunner also. I hope he hits #600 in Dodger blue. I always liked the Dodgers, I briefly lived on Riverside Drive, not far from Dodger Stadium when I was discharged from the Army. My late Dad, born in Brooklyn, told me that the day the team moved to California, was the last day he ever cared about his childhood team. He once caught a Homerun ball hit by George Selkirk, when he played for the Newark Bears,as a kid.

Unknown said...

I was only half joking Steve, you were born 10 days after me! But somehow I have this memory of you making 4 errors in a game when you played for the WhiteSox(not saying you did).But you did steal a lot of bases. We were kind of disappointed, as you were coming off a great season, and we were hungry for a winner in Chicago back then. We are close to the Sax family in Morton Grove, Illinois, if you are related to them, I say L'Chaim!