Wednesday, April 13, 2011

After Matt Kemp, the Dodgers' lineup is an abyss

The Dodgers are off to a 6-5 start this season, which isn't terrible. Matt Kemp is off to a fantastic start this season, which is great.

Kemp is firmly entrenched in the cleanup spot and has taken to it quite well. He leads the National League in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS-plus.

Kemp's numbers through 11 games: .472/.578/.694, 9 R, 5 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 7-for-8 SB, 9 BB, 4 K, 246 OPS+

It's surprising to see him doing so well considering he has zero protection in the lineup. With Andre Ethier hitting third, James Loney and Juan Uribe have been tasked with protecting him. As of today, they're doing a terrible job.

The high walk total is surprising, but at the same time it isn't because of who's hitting after Kemp in the Dodger lineup.

Here is how the lineup breaks down after Kemp through the first 11 games of the season:

No. 5: Loney (6 times), Uribe (4 times), Marcus Thames (1 time)
No. 6: Uribe (5 times), Loney (5 times), Gimenez (1 time)
No. 7: Rod Barajas (6 times), Xavier Paul (2 times), Thames (2 times), Ellis (1 time)
No. 8: Jamey Carroll (5 times), Barajas (3 times), Aaron Miles (2 times), Thames (1 time)

*Pinch-hitters/runners and defensive replacements NOT included

Among all those players, here's how the numbers break down:

No. 5: 8-for-46, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 6 K, 4 GIDP, .174/.174/.283
No. 6: 6-for-39, 1 R, 1 2B, 4 RBI, 2 BB (both IBB), 10 K, 3 HBP, 1 GIDP, .154/.244/.179
No. 7: 8-for-40, 1 R, 3 BB, 11 K, 1 HBP, 1 GIDP, .200/.273/.200
No. 8: 11-for-42, 4 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB (both IBB), 10 K, .262/.295/.429

Totals: .198/.246/.275/.521, 4 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 7 BB (4 IBB), 37 K

*Pinch-hitters/runners and defensive replacements included*

As you can see, the numbers are quite putrid. We all knew the offense was going to struggle, but this is an understatement. It's amazing Kemp hasn't been given the Barry Bonds treatment, seeing as there are no players behind him capable of even adequately protecting him.

At this rate, Kemp is going to easily shatter his career-high in walks (53), which he set last season.


Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness has a bit on Jerry Sands, who is absolutely lighting up Triple-A. Some Dodger fans are trying to temper their excitement over this power-hitting prospect, but to see what he's doing makes it awfully tough.

Sands has homered in four consecutive games and his last two were absolute bombs. This one is from last night's a game, a 440-foot blast (at least) to dead center.

Even more impressive than the power is the lack of strikeouts. Sands has whiffed just one time in his first five games after striking out 123 times last season. That is quite encouraging as his high K-rate was a bit of a concern.

Now, Sands is bound to slump sometime in Triple-A (all baseball players slump). When that time comes, however, it doesn't look like it will be prolonged. Sands looks like a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter and Dodger fans should be excited. But the Dodgers aren't going to rush him -- he won't be up next week. If Loney, Uribe and Co. continue to struggle as much as they are protecting Kemp, though, Sands could get the call sooner than most expected.

Trayvon Robinson also homered for Albuquerque while Dee Gordon chipped in four hits. The Isotopes routed the Iowa Cubs 18-3 Tuesday night.


Garrett Gould and Matt Magill both made their season debuts last night -- Gould for Great Lakes (LoA) and Magill for Rancho Cucamonga (HiA) -- and both were rather impressive.

Gould's line: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K

Magill's line: 6 IP*, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K
*- Four no-hit innings

Gould is coming off a decent season, but there were concerns about his velocity. Magill is coming off an impressive showing in the Midwest League and is just 21 years old in the California League.

Today, Zach Lee, Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa (making his season debut) pitch for the Loons, Quakes and Chattanooga Lookouts. These are my top three Dodger pitching prospects.


From the Quakes' game last night: OF Blake Smith hit his first home run of the season. He was the Dodgers' second-round pick from Cal in 2009 and he has good power potential. He's a little older than his competition, which isn't ideal. If he gets off to a quick start, though, he could be promoted to Double-A to see if he's a legitimate prospect.

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