Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Early Tendencies: Pitching & Defense

Baseball Prospectus came out with a slew of numbers on 4/19/05. Instead of rattling off that the Dodgers are 11 and 2 due to outscoring their opponents 88 to 51, I want to see what the team is doing with the bat and the glove. Due to the small sample size, I'll call these "tendencies" instead of "statistics." First, I'll analyze pitching and defense.

The team ERA is 3.58 after 13 games, good for sixth best in the majors.

According to Baseball Prospectus:

Defensive Efficiency:
defined as: 1 - (hits -HR -reach on error)/(PA -K -BB -HBP -HR)

In the first 12 games, LA is 2nd in the majors at 0.7399, behind Florida at 0.7645. uses a slightly different formula and also lists Florida and LA as #1 and #2. The current Dodgers defensive efficiency rating is actually higher than last year's 0.7178, when LA led the majors.

By the way, Florida's league-leading 1.79 ERA is not a surprise, given their terrific defense and dominant pitching. (0.98 WHIP, 1st in MLB) They look like a major contender despite their "measly" 8-6 record, considering that their bats will rebound.

Fielding Percentage (from
0.979, 22nd in the majors

I can't emphasize sample size enough here. It's only 11 errors! With 3 less, the Dodgers' fielding percentage would have been 0.985, which is mid-pack. The high fielding efficiency more than compensates this anomaly. Besides, the 2 biggest culprits (Izturis with 3, Valentin with 4) surely will improve.

Also, courtesy of Hardball Times:

Opponent Strikeout Rate:
4.83 K per 9 innings , lowest in MLB. (average is 6.51)

Tha ball has gone into play a lot, and the defense has apparently gobbled up the chances, according to the defense efficienty rating.

But the defense is not solely responsible for the sixth best ERA in the majors.

Opponent Line Drive Rate:
12.7%, lowest in MLB (average is 17.3%)

The Dodger pitchers are not generating many swing-and-misses, but so far have been successful in generating soft outs. Perhaps this is somewhat due to:

1) flat out luck (probable)
2) playing games against weak lineups (somewhat unlikely)
3) having pitchers that the NL hasn't seen (Lowe, Schmoll, Carlyle, Wunsch, etc.)

This is worrisome, since you would expect a return to "norm", especially if the hitters are not swinging and missing. Eventually they will make good contact.

Still, the pitchers have held its own without ace SP (Penny), stud closer (Gagne), and versatile swingman (Alvarez). Those are three guys with historically high strikeout rates, and hopefully will balance out the "line drive luck" that the Dodgers have been enjoying. Barring further injuries, the pitching staff looks to be in good shape in the future months as everyone gets healty.

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