“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
It’s hard to find a definitive answer as to who first opined that; some say it was Sun Tzu, others say it was Niccolo Machiavelli, and I even found an article that claimed a 14th century poet named Kabirdas, who was translated to be saying
You should always keep the person, who always criticizes you, near you.
Since his/her job is to criticize you, they will point out every minute flaws inside you
Last year, at the all-star break, the Dodgers lead the National League West by 1.5 games, their record sitting at 51-39. In second place were the bitter rivals from the north, the San Francisco Giants, their record being 46-43. A year later, a glance at today’s standings will tell you two things; A) thing have changed, and we are now chasing the Giants, currently 6.5 games out of first, and B) the Giants currently have the best record in baseball, a feat anyone inside and outside of Chicago thought impossible not even 10 days ago.
We are going to take a look at each position and the player playing it for each team, and see how we match up, who has the advantage and where, and attempt to predict how the 2nd half will play out. Let’s begin with the infield and outfield:
This battle is trending in the wrong direction on both sides for Dodgers fans. I was taken aback by Gonzo’s average sitting at .289; I know he started to heat up in that series up in Milwaukee, and, to be frank, that averages seems high. He’s struggled for a few stretches in the first half, hasn’t been getting many extra base hits, and his go to move of late has been the old GIDP; ground into double play. I’ve even seen his name mentioned in trade rumors, and as farfetched as that may be, it belies the bigger issue, which is, he seems to be downsloping (is that a word? Let’s make it a word today). I’ve always been a huge fan of Gonzo, even going back to his days in San Diego, but if the Dodgers front office is talking about perhaps throwing him in a trade, they seem to feel like his best days are behind him, and that’s just unfortunate.
Quite the opposite can be said for Brandon Belt, the first baseman for the SF Giants. A career .276 hitter, his average right now sits at .302, and his slugging percentage is spiking as well, at .521. Well, isn’t’ that special! Belt has become the anchor at first base the Giants haven’t had since….JT Snow? You know nothing JT Snow!!! (been waiting forever to drop that one!) Seriously though; the guy has a great glove, a good feel for the game, and can play other positions as well. Dem bums up north have done well on this one. Advantage: Yuck-iants.
Chase Utley/Howie Kendrick:
Well, 2nd base in Chavez Ravine has affectionately become ‘Grandpa-Land’ in my house. Howie Kendrick and Chase Utley platooning at 2nd base would have been effective, even dangerous, 5 years ago. However, both are definitely in the latter halves of their careers. There is some credit due to both Chutley and Howie-doin…Chase has been hitting a decent .263, while Howie has hovered near .250 all year. Chase has been the mainstay, starting 68 games at 2nd, with Howie only fielding grounders at 2nd 18 times as a starter. I cannot understate how invaluable Howie has been as a utility player, however, and we’re lucky we got to resign him late in the free agency period in the offseason.
Joe Panik/Kelby Tomlinson:
Up north, Joe Panik opened the season as the starter at 2nd base for the Giants, leading them with 66 starts. He recently hit the DL with concussion symptoms, but they’re not sure when he’ll return. His backup, Kelby Tomlinson, isn’t related to LaDanian, unfortunately for him. At 11 starts, I’m sure he’ll get his turn eventually, but the numbers speak to what SF thinks of Joe Panik, and his .985 fielding percentage backs that up. Advantage: Grr…this is already getting old.
You can write this name in for National League Rookie of the Year now. Feel free. I’m cool waiting. Go ahead…Ok, welcome back.
SeaGOAT, MrStealYoGirl, and a thousand other nicknames really don’t do this kid justice. His smooth swing, his lanky body giving him freakish range…the kid is the real deal. He’s started 84 games, hitting a robust .296, with 17hrs, leading the club on both those fronts. Safe to say, the Dodgers are good at shortstop for years to come.
Unlike his cousin Carl, Brandon Crawford has found a home in San Francisco. Starting 83 games at shortstop for the Giants, the club has made it known that the position is his. Hitting .281 with 9hrs, and a fielding percentage of .989, are all-star worthy numbers. Unfortunately, fans of a certain demographic *cough* CHICAGO *cough* hijacked the voting, and 900 Cubs started for the National League this year. Even taking into account Crawford’s pretty mullet, he’s got nothing on Corey SeaGOAT. Advantage: Dodgers
El Rojo Chingon. Big Red. The Ginger Assassin. Justin Turner has been a very pleasant surprise since the Dodgers signed him to a minor league deal back in 2014. His 76 starts at 3rd belie a level of trust given to few who can handle that responsibility, and Justin has responded by hitting .256, with 13 home runs, a team leading 44rbi, and an above average fielding percentage of .982.
Matt Duffy/Conor Gillaspe/Ruben Tejada:
The 3 headed monster playing the hot corner up at AT&T park in San Francisco can be summed up in one word: adequate. Duffy leads the trio with 66 games started, Gillaspe is next in line with 12 games, and a name all Dodger fans know too well, Ruben Tejada, has 11 games started. Duffy is hitting .253 with 4hrs, 21rbi and carrying a .972 fielding percentage. Welcome to adequate.com, fellas. Advantage: Dodgers
Howie Kendrick/Jocstar Pedersen/Yasiel Puig:
honorable mention: Trayce Thompson, Kiké Hernandez
Leading up to the 2016 season, the Dodgers looked stacked at outfield. Yasiel Puig. Andre Ethier. Carl Crawford (ok, maybe not Carl). Joc Pederson. And Trayce Thompson had a very good spring training, leading a lot of LA fans thinking we could be set in the outfield for years to come. Welp. About that…
Carl hasn’t really been an everyday outfielder since his days in Tampa; Andre lost a leg and has been getting a robotic one manufactured by SKYNET that should be ready in early August. Stints on the DL for Yasiel, and even Joc, make our outfield situation look meager, even weak. Hard to believe, but Howie Kendrick leads the blue in left field starts with 31, followed by Kiké at 21 and Trayce with 24. The three starters, combined, are hitting a paltry .249, and Howie leads the groups fielding percentage at 1.000, with Joc 2nd at .993, and Yasiel at .979.
Angel Pagan / Denard Span / Hunter Pence/Gregor Blanco:
Angel Pagan is one of those guys you love to have on your team, but despise if you’re playing against him. To me, he’s always looked like an angry back-up dancer for Beyoncé, but that could just be my bitterness shining through. Pagan is a pain, and he consistently haunts the Dodgers, coming up with clutch hit after clutch hit, in and out of Dodger stadium. When the Giants signed Denard Span, it largely went unnoticed, if only because they were also busy nabbing every quality arm in free agency outside of Zack Greinke. The former Nationals outfielder claimed he wanted to go to a team that is contending, and, it being an even year and all, who can blame the guy?
As a Dodger fan, it pains me to write positive things about Hunter Pence. In all honestly, the guy can play, as awkward as he makes it look, and has always been able to find a job in the bigs. He hit the DL on June 2nd with hamstring issues, but he still leads the club in starts in right with 47, and Gregor Blanco next with 19. Combined, they’re hitting .279, with Hunter’s 1.000 fielding percentage, followed by Span at .994, and Pagan at .980. Better hitting and fielding numbers? Ugh. Advantage: …back-up Beyoncé dancers….errr…Giants
Be sure to tune in on Sunday to see part two, where I will compare the starting pitching, bullpen, and catchers. I will also be sharing my overall view of how the rest of this season will go as we continue the battle against our rivals up north!
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