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NL West Report: Dodgers Conquer Pythagoras

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This guy is pretty good.
This guy is pretty good.

Yesterday, the Angels did something amazing.  Sure they swept the Dodgers at home, but they beat Los Angeles in a one-run game!  If you've been paying attention to Los Angeles this season, that's a virtual impossibility.  Before that game, the Dodgers had won 8 of their last 9 one-run ball-games (three by a score of 1-0).  They are now a blistering 15-7 in one run games, helping the team to nine games over .500 despite a run differential of just +2, which ranks 11th in the NL.

On top of that, the Dodger offense ranks just 22nd in WAR (Fg), an atrocious number for a team that should dominate the NL West.  Their pitching staff isn't fantastic either, ranked 14th in WAR.

So they're lucky right?  Smoke and mirrors? It will all come to a screeching halt and the boys in blue will fall to .500.  That's what this is about, yes?  Not exactly.  As we know all too well from the Diamondbacks in 2007, even 162 games don't even out based on run differential.  Some teams can over-achieve their run differential, and the Dodgers have one big key to that.

Jonathan Broxton.

Close games are often one-run games, and having one of the best relievers in major league baseball is a boon to eeking out the squeakers.  It shouldn't surprise you, then, that Broxton leads all MLB relievers in WAR (Fg) with 1.80 and is second in WPA with 2.42.  He is getting the job done.

In fact, the entire Dodger bullpen leads MLB in clutch rating at 2.58 and is 7th in WPA.  Think that helps win close games in late innings?  The offense has a WPA of 45.31, good for 5th in MLB and their clutch rating comes in 7th.  For those that eschew "clutch" as statistical noise, 2009's "Clutch Performer of the Year" Andre Ethier leads the team in WPA and is 10th in the NL despite missing a couple weeks with a broken pinky.

The Dodgers probably won't continue to win 68% of their one-run games, but don't make the mistake of looking at that run differential and writing them off as a .500 team.  They have earned that record by performing when it counts.  While that may normalize some as the season goes on, Broxton is sure to keep their record over the Pythagorean expectation deep into the season.

Buoyed by the Rockies' league-best mark, the National League West leads all MLB divisions in interleague play with a 16-11 record.  

All data above taken from Fangraphs.com.

Don't forget the team capsules after the jump.

NL West Report

Arizona (26-38, 5th, W2, 11.5 GB)

Last Week: 4-3. 2-2 vs. Braves, 2-1 vs. Cardinals.  The Cardinals did no favors for the Rockies in the NL West, going 1-5 against Los Angeles and Arizona.  NL Worst ftw?

Previous Week: 0-3 @ Dodgers, 2-1 @ Rockies.

Divisional Change: Lost one games to first-place San Diego.

This Week: 3 game road series @ Red Sox.  3 game road series @ Tigers.  

You Should Know:  Starting with the series against the Rockies, the Diamondbacks have won 6 of 10.  That wouldn't be noteworthy had they not lost ten straight before that.

News:   The biggest news out of Phoenix lately has been the possibility of Arizona being bigtime sellers at the trade deadline.  The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo says everyone except Justin Upton could be traded.  Jon Heyman agrees, though he adds Ian Kennedy to the untouchable list.  Yes, that means Dan Haren could be traded.  That would add far more bitterness to the pills D-Backs fans have swallowed watching CarGo go batty on them.

Brandon Webb

#17 / Pitcher / Arizona Diamondbacks

6-2

230

R

R

May 09, 1979

After taking a surprise step forward over the weekend, Brandon Webb is also a potential trade chip.  Webb is targeting the All-Star break as his time to resurface in the majors.  If he pitches well and remains healthy, the Diamondbacks may jump on the opportunity to get players instead of draft picks for Webb according to Bob Nightengale, who will be a free agent at season's end.

Dave Cameron wrote at Fangraphs that there is "no doubt" that the Diamondbacks should be sellers at the trade deadling.

Miguel Montero has been activated from the disabled list, but Arizona will be careful in easing their catcher back.  Having Chris Snyder as a backup allows for that, not to mention the slim likelihood of competing this fall.

Buster Olney reports that AJ Hinch blames no one but himself for Arizona's disappointing season.

Justin Upton is one big reason for Arizona's struggles. After posting a .388 wOBA last season, Upton is only at .327 so far this year, worse than Jason Giambi, Eric Young Jr and Greg Smith.  Hinch recently dropped Upton to seventh in the batting order.  

Needless to say, Upton isn't really viable as an All-Star choice for Arizona.  As AZSnakePit's soco suggests, Kelly Johnson is the only real All-Star choice from AJ Hinch's squad.  Despite a poor May, Johnson still leads all NL second sackers with a .400 wOBA.

Transactions:  Traded Billy Buckner for Dontrelle Willis.  Optioned C John Hester to AAA Reno.  DFAed RHP Saul Rivera, then assigned him to AAA Reno after he cleared waivers.  Called up RHP Blaine Boyer.

Injuries:  I'm not sure why Willis appears in the injury widget.  Maybe it's a joke from the SBNation people forseeing a mental breakdown.  Arizona activated Miguel Montero from the DL.  Brandon Webb threw off a mound yesterday.  Otherwise, there's not much to report.


Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Dontrelle Willis other-excused 06/12/2010

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Tony Abreu wrist 05/24/2010
Kris Benson shoulder 04/29/2010

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brandon Webb shoulder 03/26/2010
Leo Rosales foot 04/29/2010

Star-divide

Los Angeles (36-27, 2nd, L3, 1 GB)

Last Week: 3-3.  3-0 vs. Cardinals.  0-3 vs. Angels.  The Dodgers had lost only one series at home this season - May 4-6 against the Brewers until this weekend.  The Angels have now won 5 of their last six against the Dodgers.

Previous Week:  5-2.  3-0 vs. Diamondbacks.  2-2 vs. Braves.  The Braves are tough to beat these days, and one has to tip the cap for a sweep regardless of competition.  A good solid week vaulted Los Angeles to the NL's best record, but the Angels series changed that quickly.

Divisional Change:  Gained 1.0 game on first place San Diego. 

This Week:  3 game road series @ Reds.  3 game road series @ Red Sox.  Enter line about the Dodgers being "in the red" here.

You Should Know:  The Dodgers had not been swept at home since May 6-8, 2008 before yesteday.

News:  Nick Cafardo suggests that the Dodgers are indeed willing to pay the money necessary to bring in Roy Oswalt.  That's a surprise.  But don't get too worried.  According to several of his sources, it is unlikely that Los Angeles is willing to part with the prospects necessary to facilitate a trade.  I wonder if Carlos Santana's recent call-up brought that to light.

George Sherrill has been activated.  Sherrill wants to return to Los Angeles next year, though rumors are that will only happen if he is non-tendered and re-signed.

George Sherrill

#52 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers

6-0

230

L

L

Apr 19, 1977

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - George Sherrill 0-1 23 0 0 0 0 2 15.0 19 14 13 1 16 10 7.80 2.33

Rookie John Ely has finally hit his predictable rough patch.  His eight runs allowed over his last ten innings raised his ERA to 3.38, making me feel better about this silly exchange.

The hot topic last week was Los Angeles' choice of Zach Lee in the Rule 4 amateur draft.  Many suspect the tough sign was selected to avoid paying a first-round bonus this season, though Dylan Hernandez refutes this (isn't that his job to say though?).

Kiko Calero signed a minor league contract, and Nick Green cleared waivers and accepted an assignment in AAA.

Andre Ethier was traded for Milton Bradley, but that's the last time they have been treated equally.  Ethier apparently beat the daylights out of the team's bat rack in frustration last week, but Joe Torre thinks "the organization should be proud of a guy that cares so much."  Has Bradley talked about like that?

Manny Ramirez is a free agent after this season.  MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith discusses Ramirez' prospects in the offseason.

Transactions:   Optioned RHP Travis Schlichting to AAA Albuquerque.

Injuries: Vicente Padilla is due to return from the DL on June 18.  Charlie Haeger sprained his right big toe and was placed on the DL June 7.  Activated Andre Ethier (May 31) and George Sherrill (June 8) from the 15-day DL.  


Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Vicente Padilla forearm 04/23/2010
Charlie Haeger toe 06/06/2010

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brad Ausmus back 04/09/2010
Cory Wade shoulder 03/26/2010

Star-divide

San Diego (37-26, 1st, L1)

Last Week: 4-3.   1-0 @ Phillies.  1-2 @ Mets. 2-1 vs. Mariners.  The Mets series was the first series San Diego lost since May 14-16, though they haven't swept a team since May 11-13 in San Francisco.

Previous Week: 3-3.  2-1 vs. Mets. 1-2 @ Phillies.  Although it appears San Diego appears to have lost the Philly series, it was indeed a four game-set that spilled into Monday.  

Divisional Change:  Lost one game to second place Los Angeles.  Lead the division for the eighth straight Monday.

This Week:  3 game home series vs. Blue Jays. 3 game home series vs. Orioles.  

You Should Know:  The Padres are 4th in the NL with 9.7 WAR offensively.  That's better than their 7.5 WAR pitching staff, fifth in the NL.  Oh PetCo Park, how misleading that 2.98 team ERA is.

News:   The Friarhood is calling for the Padres to add a middle-of-the-order bat in order to stay in competition.  Of course, nothing is immenent on that front according to Corey Brock.  What a shocker.

Instead - let me know if you've heard this before - the Padres might be sellers.  Heath Bell indicated "if (the Padres) choose to go in a different direction, it would be my first choice to come back and lead the Mets to a championship."  That's a little strange, since just two weeks earlier, Bell said this:  "I have a lot of hostility toward my ex-team. I got told things I found out weren't true. I wasn't always hearing the whole story."  

Heath Bell

#21 / Pitcher / San Diego Padres

6-3

250

R

R

Sep 29, 1977

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Heath Bell 2-0 27 0 0 0 17 3 27.0 27 5 4 1 8 35 1.33 1.30

I understand wanting to prove a team wrong, but it doesn't require playing for said team again.  I don't understand how hostility breeds burning desire.  In my experience, that's a recipe for a dangerous relationship.  I digress.  Also included in the previous link is mention of Yorvit Torrealba's counterintuitive spectacular stats at PetCo Park this season.

Jake Peavy certainly holds no hostility to the Padres for freeing him via trade, but Peavy does resent the Padres for something:

Kevin Towers getting let go out there is an absolute joke.  You can quote me on that. Kevin Towers is a heck of a general manager." - Jake Peavy

Paul DePodesta explains the club went with high upside over safe early returns in drafting Karsten Whitson.  Nothing surprising about that analysis.

Transactions:  Optioned OF Luis Durango to AAA Portland and called up OF Aaron Cunningham.

Injuries:  Kyle Blanks is on a rehab assignment to return from his strained forearm.  Matt Stairs was placed on the 15-day DL Saturday retroactive to June 7 with a knee injury and activated OF Scott Hairston from the 15-day DL June 7.

San Diego Padres Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Matt Stairs knee 06/07/2010
Tim Stauffer appendix 05/10/2010
Kyle Blanks elbow 05/18/2010
Everth Cabrera hamstring 05/24/2010

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Chris Young shoulder 04/07/2010
Matt Antonelli hand 04/30/2010

Star-divide

San Francisco (35-27, 3rd, W3, 1.5 GB)

Last Week: 5-2.  2-2 @ Reds.  3-0 vs. Athletics.  By sweeping the A's via the Lincecum/Zito/Cain monster, San Francisco has won 6 of their past 8.  They are 0-3 in their past three games not started by the trio.

Previous Week:  3-3. 1-2 vs. Rockies. 2-1 @ Pirates.  A .500 week had to be a disappointment after facing the California-challenged Rockies and weak Pirates.

Divisional Change:  Gained one game on first place San Diego.

This Week:  3 game home series vs.Orioles.  3 game road series @ Blue Jays. 

You Should Know:  Tim Lincecum has allowed 11 ER in his last two starts combined, one at home and one on the road.

News:   We were told that the Giants wore their hideous orange uniforms strictly during Friday home games.  We were lied to.  The Giants love them so much, they will be bursting with orange pride against the Orioles tonight.

Pat Burrell got called up June 5 and has posted a burly .381/.440/.667 line over 24 PAs.  That includes his first home run with the Giants Friday.

Pat Burrell

#9 / Left Field / San Francisco Giants

6-4

235

R

R

Oct 10, 1976

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2010 - Pat Burrell 9 24 4 9 3 0 1 4 3 3 0 0 .375 .429 .625
Burrell "couldn't be happier" now that he's a Giant.  I suppose that's how I would feel if I was on the scrap heap one day and starting for a contender the next.
The Rockies and White Sox weren't the only teams to draft their manager's son.  Brett Bochy was selected by the Giants in the 20th round.
I haven't followed extremely closely, but from afar, the Giants' OF situation has appeared to be a comical game of musical chairs.  Grant from the McCovey chronicles the OF situation in great depth.
Andrew Baggarly applauds the offseason signings of Aubrey Huff and Juan Uribe.  I was a believer in Uribe enough to draft him on my fantasy team, but Huff has surpassed most people's expectations.
Bruce Jenkins at the San Francisco Chronicle believes the Giants are "one big bat away" from a World Series. Even if that's true, who would expect that to happen?
Baggarly suggests the Giants target Derrek Lee.  With the Cardinals showing immense cracks and the legitimacy of the Reds' season to be determined, I'm not sure that Chicago will decide to be sellers by the trade deadline.  They currently sit in 3rd place in the NL Central, 7.5 games back of Cincinnati.  An acquisition of Lee would mean the third different full time first-baseman for the Giants this season.
Lastly, Madison Bumgarner came completely unglued following a dropped ball by Eugenio Velez and "unfriendly" calls by two different umpires.  Bumgarner was suspended for three games by the Pacific Coast League after he threw the ball into the outfield following his ejection.  There is a video, though it doesn't show the juicy stuff (Bumgarner is #40):

madison bumgarner gets tossed (via TheEaglesfan09)

Transactions:  Optioned John Bowker and outrighted RHP Brandon Medders.  Called up OF Pat Burrell, RHP Joe Martinez and IF Matt Downs.  Medders cleared waivers and reported to AAA Fresno.

Injuries:  Placed Ryan Rohlinger and RHP Todd Wellemeyer on the 15-day DL.  Mark DeRosa will decide today whether to have surgery on his injured left wrist.  Edgar Renteria ran the bases Friday for the first time in trying to return from a hamstring injury.  He could return very soon.


San Francisco Giants Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Ryan Rohlinger hamstring 05/31/2010
Todd Wellemeyer quadriceps 06/11/2010
Mark DeRosa wrist 05/09/2010
Edgar Renteria hamstring 05/26/2010

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Emmanuel Burriss foot 03/26/2010