Even with the NHL Playoffs hitting us right in our sweet spot, and the NBA gearing up for the most arduous playoff schedule of all-time, we here at MAMBINO HQ still have some love for Major League Baseball.
Most teams have played about 12 games so far, and even just 7% into the year, we’ve got some snap judgments on this young season that are entirely too premature, over-excited and amateur in nature. But like my love life, that’s never stopped me before.
Better than I thought, but certainly not on a 132-30 pace. Let’s throw out the most basic and obvious truth about this incredible 9-2 start LA has had; before this series with the Brewers, they’ve played the Padres and Pirates 10 times. Those two teams, if my projections are right, will end up being two of the worst four teams in the National League (along with Houston and Pucklius’ beloved Mets). Their schedule has been ridiculously easy, and even with a mediocre offense, beating starting pitchers like Kevin Correia, Jeff Karstens and Edison Volquez isn’t a terribly impressive feat. Lastly, while Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have been absolutely atomic at the 3 and 4 spots, producing 30 RBI in 10 games isn’t a sustainable business model.
The offense has been one of the best in the National League, and it’s productivity has largely been through the strategy of manager Don Mattingly. Faced with the challenge of creating offense with a entirely marginal crew of hitters, Donnie has created a line-up that best utilizes each guy. With the speedy Dee Gordon leading off, the number 2 hitter Mark Ellis doesn’t have to be an extra-base hitting juggernaut, but rather just a contact hitter to move Gordon over. From there, Ethier and Kemp can swing away. With Kemp batting clean-up and either hitting doubles or stealing second, contact guys like James Loney and Juan Rivera simply turn into a Mark Ellis with slightly more pop. As well as Mark Ellis, Kemp and Ethier are playing right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they came back to Earth a bit, but still maintained strong production.
The pitching has been exactly what I projected a couple weeks ago (amongst the league leaders in ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched), but with an offense that’s producing runs, they go from a very good starting rotation to an excellent one.
I don’t expect the Dodgers to keep this up all season, but with series at Milwaukee and Houston, and then Atlanta and Washington at home, it’s possible that the Dodgers remain looking like a playoff team…for at least one more month.
- Ethier has always been a fast starter, and this season is no different. I’d ride him for now, but trade him at the very first sign of trouble. Dre’s been known for gutting out injuries (to everyone’s detriment), so his being in a contract year with literally $100 million dollars sitting on the table really isn’t going to change anything.
- I’d buy on Mark Ellis. He’s scoring runs because of the massive production of Ethier and Kemp, and as I described, he’s in the perfect situation to thrive. Even as a modest .270 hitter, he’ll still score a ton of runs. I don’t think he’s a long term solution at second for any owner, but certainly ride him until Ethier gets hurt.
Josh Willingham, AJ Pierzynski, Corey Hart and Omar FREAKIN’ Infante are all top 10 in OPS. First of all, who are these guys, and who keeps this up?
I would say that t… Read more...