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Tag Archives: BABIP

I can’t say that I’ve ever thought highly of Derek Lowe, his brilliant signing notwithstanding. As dependable as he’s been the four years he’s been here, there’s just something about the guy that I just don’t like. Nonetheless, he’s been arguably the Dodgers’ best free-agent signing of recent note. He signed a four-year, $32 million deal after being unceremoniously jettisoned by the 2004 WS Champion Red Sox — this after pitching well in the clinching games of the ALDS, ALCS, and World Series.

Former GM Paul DePodesta was 100% right about Lowe — this groundball specialist would thrive at Dodger Stadium, and even signed him to a very modest contract to boot.

Lots to love about Lowe, statistically speaking. Outside the lines, he’s been a grade-A scumbag. He divorced the mother of his children, whom he left behind on the east coast, so that he could continue his affair with former FSN West reporter Carolyn Hughes, and bemoaned (along with Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez) management’s choice to hold on to the “kids” in 2007 in lieu of trading them away for a trade-deadline rental.

Haven’t heard much of Lowe this year, which incidentally, is a contract year for him. Either he’s happy that so many of his 2004 Red Sox teammates are now Dodgers (Nomar, Manny, advisor to the GM Bill Mueller), or he knows he needs to keep his trap shut and avoid controversy considering he’s old (2009 will be his 36-year-old season) and probably still wants another multi-year deal.

That said, given the Dodgers’ offensive malaise — whole lot of change Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake did for the team — it’s surprising that he was so forgiving of the their inability to score recently. After yesterday’s loss to the 39 games under .500 Nationals, Lowe had this to say:

“I think, in this game, trying harder normally doesn’t get you anywhere, and I think that’s such a hard thing to fight,” he said. “You can’t give 110 percent. I think that’s where we are. There’s no lack of preparation, there’s no such thing as guys not trying. I think, as a collective group, sometimes you’ve got to try less to get more.

Knowing how quick everyone involved with the Dodgers has been willing to betray and blame Ethier/Kemp/Loney/Martin … I mean, their teammates for everything under the sun, it’s a little refreshing to hear Lowe not blame anyone.

In the end though, blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Ned Colletti. There’s a reason why the Dodgers are a singles-hitting team that relies heavily on a high BABIP, and will be in for epic failure when their BABIP falls as it has recently. That reason is Ned Colletti. Ned spent $57 million on Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Nomar, Jason Schmidt, and Rafael Furcal. The only one of that bunch that’s doing anything remotely productive is Andruw, and that’s solely because he’s been banished to Triple-A and not wasting a roster spot. (Okay, neither are Furcal and Schmidt).

Pierre and Nomar (not to mention Mark Sweeney, Pablo Ozuna, and Angel Berroa) continue to soak up valuable playing time, thus further delaying the advancement of players such as Delwyn Young, Chin-Lung Hu, and Ivan DeJesus — players who may actual be useful for the Dodgers.

Rather than use the money (or their minor leaguers) to acquire useful players such as Manny, or Adam Dunn, whom the Reds essentially gave away, the Dodgers waste their “stock” on retreads such as Casey Blake and Greg Maddux.

And then they cobble together a roster that has no punch aside from Kemp, Ethier, and Manny. So is it any surprise that a singles-hitting team can’t do anything other than hit singles?

Mr. Grumpy, as related to T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times:

“Scully is making the same point everyone else is making,” I said. “He says the stats indicate you are having success hitting behind Ramirez — tell me that isn’t the case.”

“I’m 40. You don’t get better when you are 40.”

What Kent is getting at is that just about everyone, the erstwhile Vin Scully included, is suggesting that Kent’s resurgence over the last three weeks has been solely the result of hitting in the 3-hole ahead of Manny. The idea is that pitchers have been serving Kent a steady diet of fastballs, because Manny is waiting in the on-deck circle.

The problem with that logic? What reasonable pitcher is going to extend the effort to put Kent on base? Wouldn’t giving Kent pitches to hit mean that he’s far more likely to get on base, and you know, present an RBI opportunity for Manny?

Furthermore, the idea of “batter protection” is largely false. Take a look at the links provided here. There isn’t conclusive data to suggest that a good hitter batting behind you increases the likelihood you’ll see better pitches. In fact, the opposite is much truer. The pitcher is far more likely to extend his effort to get the preceding batter out in order not to provide the “protecting” hitter with an RBI opportunity. It’s completely illogical to suggest that Kent is all of a sudden seeing a steady diet of fastballs now that he has Manny to “protect” him.

What is logical is to suggest that Kent was due, and he’s finally producing at the most opportune time — with an even bigger hitter behind him and two big hitters (Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier) in front of him. Just prior to the Manny deal, Kent had been smoking the ball, but was finding fielders’ gloves instead of the holes. I don’t have splits showing this exact time period, but if you’ll look here, you’ll see that Kent’s BABIP (batting average on balls in play) and LD% (line drive percentage), indicators of how “lucky” or “unlucky” a hitter is — Kent was extremely unlucky prior to the trade — have come come closer to Kent’s career norms.

So for once, I agree with Jeff Kent. His resurgence has nothing to do with Manny. And anyone watching the Dodgers had to know that Kent was starting to warm up long before Manny was in the picture. But don’t count on ESPN, the LA Times, or anyone else to bother looking into that.

But Kent was dead wrong when he said this of Vin Scully:

“Vin Scully talks too much,” Kent said.

“We all love you, Vin,” Kent added with a mischievous grin, “but you still talk too much.”

Vin might have been wrong about Kent and Manny’s “protection,” but I’ll take Vin’s play-by-play a million times before I willfully listen to any of the other hacks out there.

Case in point — yesterday’s TBS broadcast of the Dodgers/Brewers game was presumably a national broadcast, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the excitement in Chip Caray’s voice when the Brewers mounted their 9th inning rally.