The 2019 season is still very young. Only 18 games deep in fact, and when you’re talking about such a short sample size, stats can get weird. You see OPS’s sky above 1.500 and ERA’s balloon over 9.00. Non-sustainable type stuff.
Nonetheless there’s some stats that really stick out even considering the short timeframe and could also be indicative of something more.
Below, we look at four Dodgers players and some interesting numbers for each one. Are these stats simply the result of short sample sizes? Or could they be indicators of a possible trend for each player?
1. Cody Bellinger is cutting way down on his strikeouts
Interesting stat: Bellinger’s K% = 11.5%
Why it’s interesting: Even when Bellinger was tearing up the league during his 2017 rookie year, he still didn’t have low strikeout numbers like this. In his first two years, Bellinger K’d at 26.6% in 2017 and 23.9% last year. At only 11.5% so far this season, he has the lowest strikeout rate on the team. This is in large part because when he’s getting his pitch, he isn’t missing. Bellinger’s SwStr% (swinging strike percentage) is 6.0% this year, less than half of what it’s been over his career.
What it could mean: Having a low K% is always a good thing, but to have your team’s best power hitter striking out so infrequently is that much better. His 11.5% is probably not sustainable for the entire year, but if Bellinger can significantly reduce his K’s while still putting up monster offensive numbers, the rest of the league is in big trouble.
2. Justin Turner’s plate discipline
Interesting stat: Turner’s O-Swing% = 30.2%
Why it’s interesting: The O-Swing% shows the percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone. Turner has always been known for having a great eye at the plate and rarely chases outside the zone. But his 30.2% mark this year is the highest on the team. Because of that, his K% this year (21.1%) is far higher than it’s been over the last couple of years (12.7% in 2018 & 10.3% in 2017.) He’s also yet to homer this year, and the only Dodger not to do so.
What it could mean: Hopefully, not much. Turner has a long track record of great plate discipline and being selective at the plate. It’s what has made him one of the best hitters in the league over the last few years. So far, however, he’s not seeing the ball as good as he normally does, and his numbers are down a bit because of it.
3. Alex Verdugo isn’t walking
Interesting stat: Verdugo came into Monday night’s game with no walks on the year. Of course, literally as I’m writing this, he earned his first one… so he now has one BB in 37 Abs.
Why it’s interesting: Over the course of his minor league career, Verdugo was known for having a high OBP thanks to a keen eye and good plate discipline. His BB% in AAA was 9.0% last year and 10.5% in 2017. Despite the lack of walks Verdugo is hitting the ball very well, sporting a .343 Avg on the year. Still, it’s a little odd to see a player like him with an OBP that practically mirrors his BA.
What it could mean: Perhaps Verdugo is just being more aggressive this year when he gets his pitch and not waiting around for a walk. And with how he’s hitting, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, one interesting aspect to consider is whether the lack of playing time could be a factor is his approach. With having no full-time role yet, and battling for playing time, maybe Verdugo feels like he has to do more with the opportunities he gets. With the results so far though, it’s hard to say he’s “pressing.”
4. Yimi Garcia leads the team in K/9
Interesting stat: Garcia’s K/9 = 11.74
Why it’s interesting: The Dodgers’ bullpen hasn’t been very good overall this year, and Garcia is just one of the relievers struggling. His 9.39 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, and 7.98 FIP scream of inadequacy. But perhaps the one silver lining is his ability to miss bats so far. His 11.74 K/9 leads the team and is even higher than Kenley Jansen. Unfortunately for Garcia, he’s also walking a lot of batters as well, with a BB% of 13.2%.
What it could mean: Again, we’re talking about very small sample sizes here. But with that said, Garcia has swing-and-miss stuff which could allow him to stay with the team longer than some might want considering his other stats. If he could cut down on the walks, he would likely see his numbers improve and may develop into a dependable option for Dave Roberts. However, Garcia’s K/9 rate alone won’t win him any trust, and he still has a lot of improving to do.
These are just a few interesting stats that help paint the picture of the 2019 Dodgers, and help you sound smarter at the bar.
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