So we’re finally seeing the effects of a Hanley Ramirez DL stint. The Dodgers won last night, probably as a result of a deep and underlying want to do well in come-from-behind situations suddenly on the 21st day of August. THE TEAM WAS TIRED FROM LOSING. That’s… how this works, right?
Well see that stat gets talked about, 0-46, which actually is 1-46 after last night’s dramatic 2-1 come from behind win versus the Padres. And see it seems that the problems with the Dodgers aren’t so much that they’re getting down 2-0, 3-0, 2-1 early in games, and can’t beat other team’s best relievers because they can’t come-from-behind, the problem is that the Dodgers, at this point (until Sunday) are simply not a good offensive club.
Justin Turner thoroughly saved the Dodgers last night, because instead losing a 1-0 game with Clayton Kershaw striking out 10 and only giving up a single run would have been a nightmare. And granted, defense is valued a lot these days, rightfully so. The saying “a run saved is as good as a run earned” is gaining more credence as the sabermetric practices become more implemented. But sometimes, at least for me, It seems that it’s taken too far.
Remember last season? When Hanley went down twice, the alternatives were Justin Sellers, Dee Gordon, Nick Punto, etc, etc. Pretty much straight garbage outside of Nick Punto saving the situation there. Well with Hanley not slugging in the .600′s, or maintaining an OPS in the 1.000′s, it’s less tolerable having a black hole at shortstop. Now look, I get it, defense, rabble rabble, but lets look at what Hanley brings to the table. An OPS of .822, which might not seem astronomical, but lets play “May 2013″ for a moment, and look at the next step down. Justin Turner isn’t a SS, nor is the hurt Juan Uribe, nor is Dee Gordon, Miguel Rojas has pretty much been the starter for the time that Hanley has been disabled, so lets look at a straight OPS analysis:
Hanley Ramirez: .822
Miguel Rojas: .528
Yikes. Almost 300 point differential in OPS. That’s one of the bigger differentials in baseball i’m sure.
And of course, baseball isn’t geared towards one guy, and the defense Rojas brings is great, but the lineup without Hanley has clearly suffered. Instead of Dee-Puig-AGon-Hanley-Kemp-Turner, it’s Dee-Puig-AGon-Kemp-Turner and then essentially 3 automatic outs down at the bottom of the order in Rojas/Arruebarrena-Ellis-Pitcher. Having one automatic out in the lineup is bad enough. Having 2 is mediocre. Having 3 black holes is enough to kill a lineup. You work with 18-21 outs instead of 24 outs every single game.
The stats have shown it also, the Dodgers, since Hanley went on the DL have averaged 3.46 runs per game since Hanley went down, down from the 4.05 they usually tally up per game. So I get it, disliking Hanley has seemed to be more popular because he’s not good at defense, he has been a “disappointment” with the stick this season (even though he really hasn’t been), and Rojas/Arruebarrena has made the defense that much better.
But Hanley still has a bat 36% greater than league average, and that’s almost at the level he was at when he was a youngster coming up with the Florida Marlins, being compared to Derek Jeter.
The Dodgers have lost 5 games that were decided by 3 runs or less since Hanley went out. With a healthy Hanley hitting in the middle of the order, I like my chances in retrospect in a couple of those games, and going forward with the Dodgers offense. Hanley Ramirez is one of the better bats of the 21st century considering he plays third base and shortstop, and is nearly a .300/.400/.500 hitter for almost 1200 career games.
Without that? I don’t like the team’s chances at all, going into the stretch run, and *crosses fingers, gulps* eventually October.