The Dodgers gave Andre Ethier a 5-year, $85 million deal signaling that he is one of the building blocks of their offense. Then we get this. Manager Don Mattingly said the following about Ethier’s inability to hit left-handed pitching. “I can say all day long that I think he’s capable of hitting against lefties, but if the numbers keep telling us that maybe he can’t, then we have to go a different route,” he said. I’m not going to disagree with Mattingly because he’s right. Ethier is hitting .214/.269/.319 against lefties this year, a terrible batting line. For his career, the numbers are only slightly better at .236/.295/.350. The truth is the Dodgers gave a platoon player an $85 million contract. Has a contract ever looked worse before it actually took effect?
Dexter Fowler may or may not start again this season even though x-rays of his left wrist came back negative. He played some defense Thursday, so he just might still get some work at the dish, but it’s no lock. It’s been an uneven ride for Fowler this year but it’s hard to complain when he’s hit .300 with 13 homers, 12 steals and 72 runs scored. Fowler has also gotten on base at an impressive .389 clip, and that .474 SLG ain’t too shabby either. He’s hit .315 against the lefties and .293 against the righties showing an ability to handle both thanks to his switch hitting, but his work away from Coors is still an issue. Dexter has hit .332 with a .984 OPS in home games but just .262 with a .720 OPS on the road, so that continues to be an issue to think about when setting your lineups next year.
Gio Gonzalez won his major league leading 21st game Thursday night. While that is a career best mark and highly impressive in it’s own right, there is this. If he doesn’t start again (he shouldn’t), he will end the year with 21 victories and 199.1 innings pitched. That is significant because it will make him the first hurler in big league to record 21 victories while throwing less than 200 innings. The first.
The best pitcher in baseball is Craig Kimbrel. Thanks to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution for pointing the following out: over his last 49 appearances Kimbrel has a 0.55 ERA, which is amazing. He’s posted a 0.46 WHIP which is stupendous. He struck out 92 batters leading to a 16.78 K/9 while walking just six batter leading to a 15.33 K/BB ratio. Folks, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Dan Uggla has had the worst season of his impressive career. After 6-straight years of 27 homers, 82 RBIs and 84 runs scored, the longest streak in baseball history for a second sacker, he’s going to fall off the pace this season. Still, 19 homers, 77 RBIs and 85 runs scored are all solid marks. However, that .217 batting average is terrible, even for a fella who has hit .253 for his career. I can’t blame the Braves for being a bit weary but it should be noted that, in addition to the solid counting number production, that Uggla also has a .343 OBP which is an exact match for his career mark even with that career-low batting average thanks to a career best walk rate.
STRONG FINISHING KICK
(The Past Two Weeks)
.591 – The BABIP of Brandon Moss over his last 44 plate appearances. Chris Nelson is just behind at .550 followed by Joey Votto at .500.
.439 – The batting average of Justin Smoak who has also gone deep five times. He needs one homer for 20 homers for the season. Over at Fleaflicker it’s clear that no one is buying his hot couple of weeks.
.438 – Marco Scutaro’s batting average over his last 12 games during which time he’s also scored 12 runs while knocking in 11.
.417 – Ichiro Suzuki is finally hitting. Not just that, he’s running like it was the old days. He’s stolen seven bases the past two weeks, the same total as Everth Cabrera, the most in baseball.
6 – The league leading homer total of Miguel Cabrera who also leads the majors with 16 runs scored and 15 RBIs. The RBI total has also been matched by the Phillies’ Ryan Howard though he’s saddled his teams with a mere .188 batting average.
By Ray Flowers