Monday, July 12, 2010

Midseason analysis and grades

The 2010 season didn't start off great for the Dodgers, as they lost 14 of 25 games to start the season. May was a lot better, as the Dodgers went 20-8 followed by a 14-13 month of June.

The Dodgers finished the "first half" at 49-39, two games back of arguably the most surprising team in baseball, the 51-37 San Diego Padres.

The Dodgers struggled mightily in Interleague play, going 4-11. Granted, they played some really good teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Tigers), but they had some winnable games. They made up for that by going 23-6 within the NL West -- a big reason why they're just two games out of first place.

Dodgers' first-half grade: B-
- Could be better, but still only two games out of first place.

Here is a grade breakdown for each player on the roster with explanations for most (grouped by position).

Russell Martin
- Started off hot and some thought he might get back to his 2007 or even 2008 self, but a .236 batting average combined in May, June and July has led Martin to a .244/.346/.332 first half. He's been decent behind the plate defensively. Grade: D+

James Loney
- Loney has been the most consistent Dodger hitter this season, as he's having one of his best seasons as a pro. At the All-Star break, he has a .309/.361/.442 line with a team-leading 63 RBI, 25 doubles, 104 hits and a surprising nine stolen bases. And he has played Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base this season. Grade: B+

Blake DeWitt
- DeWitt earned the starting job in spring training, but only because the Dodgers didn't have a better option. He started off struggling on defense, but has improved a little as the season progressed. He isn't going to win any Gold Gloves, though. He also hasn't hit for any power (.370 SLG), but he has been one of the more patient Dodger hitters, with an 11.1 BB percentage. Grade: C-

Rafael Furcal
- He is having his best season as a pro, despite spending some time on the disabled list and losing his father on Father's Day. Furcal is the catalyist of this team and as he goes, so go the Dodgers. Grade: A

Casey Blake
- After a solid 2009 (18 HR, 79 RBI, .832 OPS), Blake has regressed. He has a .259/.339/.427 line this season. He has a 109 OPS+, which is still better than league-average, but the Dodgers are probably expecting (hoping) for a little more from "Teh Beard." Grade: C-

Manny Ramirez
- Ramirez started off a little slow this season, even spending some time on the DL between the end of April and beginning of June. He started to heat up in June, putting up a .366/.441/.598 line before injuring his hamstring against the Giants. He is due back immediately following the All-Star break. Grade: B

Matt Kemp
- Kemp started out on fire, leading the majors in home runs at one time. He looked like a lock for the NL All-Star team after May. However, a poor June (.230/.286/.380) got him off-track and prompted many (idiots) in the media to speculate the Dodgers trading the guy with the most potential on the team. Kemp got benched for three games toward the end of June, which seemed to light a fire under him. His baserunning has improved and he looks like the old Matt Kemp in center field. Grade: B-

Andre Ethier
- Ethier was the hottest hitter in the majors until he broke the pinky on his right hand in batting practice on May 15. He was hitting .392/.457/.744 -- which led the National League. He has since returned to Earth (a bit), but he's still hitting .324/.379/.553 with an OPS+ of 152. Grade: A-

Starting Rotation
Clayton Kershaw
- The kid has been the unquestioned ace of the Dodger staff. He leads the team in almost every major pitching category: ERA (2.96), innings (112.1), strikeouts (128), wins (nine), strikeouts per nine innings (10.3) and ERA+ (131). He deserved to be in Anaheim for the All-Star Game, but he could use the well-deserved time off. Grade: A

Hiroki Kuroda
- Kuroda started the season well with a 2.36 ERA in April. He had a rough May (4.42 ERA) followed by a good June (2.67 ERA). He is the veteran presence on the staff will be relied upon to have a solid second half. Grade: B-

Chad Billingsley
- Billingsley started off slow, as he had a 4.85 ERA in April. He had a good month of May (3.00 ERA) followed by a rough June (6.11 ERA), which led to a stint on the DL. He's had two solid starts in July thus far and there's no reason to expect anything else for the rest of the season. He does need to do a better job of keeping runners off base (1.39 WHIP on the season). He seems to be pitching to contact more, as his BB/9IP has decreased from last season (3.9 to 3.2), but his H/9IP has increased (7.9 to 9.3). That might not be all bad. Grade: C+

Vicente Padilla
- Padilla, the Opening Day starter, had a horrific April (6.65 ERA), but has been absolutely nails since returning from the DL. In his last five games, he has gone an average of 6.8 innings with a 2.38 ERA and a terrific 0.76 WHIP. I don't expect him to keep up this pace, but he should be a fixture in the Dodger rotation for the rest of the season. Grade: B

John Ely
- Ely, acquired from the White Sox in the Juan Pierre trade, like many Dodgers, had a fast start. By the end of May, he was 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA and only six walks allowed in his first six starts. However, he hit a roughy patch. He then had a couple good starts (at Anaheim and San Francisco) before getting smacked around in two starts against the Marlins and Cubs. He was recently sent back to AAA, but he should be back to the majors soon. He is, after all, a rookie. Grade: C

Jonathan Broxton
- Save for a disasterous game against the Yankees, Broxton has been dynamite this season. He is headed to Anaheim for the All-Star Game -- his second consecutive appearance -- and owns a 2.11 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 12.9 K/9IP and 19 saves. He has been great. Grade: A-

Hong-Chih Kuo
- Kuo's talent has never been questioned -- and he was rewarded for it this year with a trip to the All-Star Game. He has a 0.99 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 11.9 K/9IP. He is one of the best left-handed relievers in the game. Grade: A-

Travis Schlichting, Grade: B
Jeff Weaver, Grade: B-
Ronald Belisairo, Grade: C+
Justin Miller, Grade: C+
Carlos Montasterios, Grade: C+
Charlie Haeger, Grade: D+
Ramon Troncoso, Grade: D
Ramon Ortiz, Grade F
Russ Ortiz, Grade: F
George Sherrill, Grade: F
Scott Elbert, Grade: INC
Jon Link, Grade: INC

Jamey Carroll, Grade: B
Garrett Anderson, Grade: F
Reed Johnson, Grade: C
Xavier Paul, Grade: C
Ronnie Belliard, Grade: C-
A.J. Ellis, Grade: C-
Brad Ausmus, Grade: INC
Nick Green, Grade: INC
Chin-Lung Hu, Grade: INC

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