Even though plenty of media outlets are proclaiming the San Diego Padres as “offseason winners” with their shocking roster overhaul, it would be foolish to disregard what the Los Angeles Dodgers were able to accomplish.
When the Matt Kemp trade was announced, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman repeatedly used the words “highly functional” to describe the new roster, despite the fact that he just broke up a 94-win team.
It’s obvious the team will likely score fewer runs with the departures of Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, but the defense up the middle is significantly improved, and the overall lineup is much deeper. Depending on how much value you put into team chemistry, a case can be made that there’s more leadership quality in the clubhouse for next season, as well, with the additions of Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick.
While scrolling through Twitter one day, the following tweet from ESPN’s Buster Olney immediately grabbed my attention:
LAD have added hitters who grind out at-bats: Rollins 4.15 pitches per plate appearance '14; Grandal 4.26; Kendrick 3.72; Hernandez 3.91.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 11, 2014
Players who take more pitches tend to have higher on-base percentages and at the very least, make pitchers work harder. Here’s how the new acquisitions compare to the players who have departed from the 2014 team in terms of walks, walk percentage, and pitches per plate appearances:
We all know that A.J. Ellis excels at taking pitches and drawing walks, but Yasmani Grandal is arguably even better. Last season, Grandal drew 58 walks in 128 games while posting a .327 OBP, easily surpassing Drew Butera’s total of 17 walks in 61 games and .267 OBP, the catcher he is essentially replacing on the active roster.
Needless to say, the combination of Grandal and Ellis in 2015 will undoubtedly give the Dodgers improved offensive numbers all-around at the catcher’s position. When Dee Gordon was traded, many fans were upset at the notion that Los Angeles lost a young “spark plug” in the leadoff spot who could steal 60-70 bases each season. Well, that simply isn’t true.
In the first half of 2014, Gordon posted a .344 OBP with 27 walks in 392 plate appearances, leading to 43 stolen bases due to the amount of times he reached base. Unfortunately, in the second half he only posted a .300 OBP in 258 plate appearances with just four walks that amounted to 21 stolen bases — far below the standard that was expected from him.
Kendrick, on the other hand, posted a .347 OBP throughout the entire season with a respectable 48 walks in 674 plate appearances, while the two almost saw an identical amount of pitches per plate appearance. Gordon’s first half was most likely a mirage and he won’t come close to stealing 60 bases again, especially if his on-base percentage continues to hover around the .300 mark.
CONTINUE READING: Dodgers Will Be More Patient In 2015