The Dodgers Roar into September

I’m not sure what else is going right in the world today, but you certainly can’t say there’s too much that’s wrong with the Dodgers. At 26-10 they’ve got the best record in baseball, and they’re running away with not only the division but also the whole National League. They’ve even got a totally sick runs scored/runs allowed differential of +90. (Told y’all it was sick!) While it’s so fuckin weird that we’re rolling into September baseball with barely half the season played, that’s what’s happening…which means it’s going to take until closer to the end of the month to clinch. That’s fine with me: we all saw what clinching too early did last year.

Enough said about that: we gotta be careful about pissing off the baseball gods. So I’m not gonna even mention the month after September by name lol. I gotta admit I’m still undecided if a 60-game season counts as real baseball and if winning a World Series under these fucked up circumstances is gonna count like a real World Series…but it’s all we got, so we might as well enjoy it as best we can.

One thing I’ve definitely been enjoying is how well Corey Seager’s been playing. The dude’s on fuckin fire, batting .311 with a .951 OPS, with 7 doubles, 9 homers and 25 RBIs. And his got some dang good advanced stats too: he’s 3rd in the majors in hard hit balls (that’s over 95mph), and he’s 2nd when it comes to barrels. In case you’re wondering what a barrel is, it’s a ball that’s hit with a combination of high exit velocity a good launch angle. Look across the chart and Corey’s 4th for barrels/batted ball event percentage. and 1st in barrels per plate appearance percentage. If you want to put that in layman’s terms, that means he hits the ball like a motherfucker 15.7% of the time he gets to the plate…and that’s better than anyone else in baseball.

Seager comes out great in a whole mess of other categories too…with the one big drawback being that he strikes out too often. What I don’t get is why they give arguably the best player on the best team in baseball who’s been batting over .300 all season a WAR of 1, but then Mike Trout’s only got a WAR of 0.8. We all know it would probably take him a whole season to come back from the two surgeries…but he’s definitely back now.

Because they’re playing West vs. West for the 60 game season, there’s been more interleague play than there usually is…and los Doyers played the Mariners 4 times last month…meaning that Corey and big brother Kyle Seager got to play against each other in the majors for the first time. The first game was pretty cool: Corey homered on his first AB…and then Kyle homered two innings later. I don’t know how many times two brothers playing against each other have homered in the same game, but that can’t happen too often. And the looks they gave each other as Corey rounded 3rd and as Kyle rounded short were classic. It must have been cool growing up in a ball-playing family like that. (There’s even a third Seager brother, Justin, who’s playing in the Mariners system.) I bet no one ever got told he was talking too much about baseball at the dinner table in the Seager house like sometimes happened in the Block house lol.

The other Dodger who’s on fire is Mookie Betts. I gotta admit I wasn’t sure we really needed him, and I’m no fan ridiculously long contracts (and 12 years is ridiculously long), but, hey, the dude’s been playing some awesome ball. He’s got a .298 average and .991 OPS, a team-leading 11 home runs and 26 RBIs. That’s pretty fuckin impressive. So I won’t argue with the 2.5 WAR Baseball Reference is giving him.

What sounds like the most impressive stat from August is that the Dodgers set a new National League record for home runs in a month: 57. Ok, that sounds great, but don’t get too excited…this is the first season that the NL has played with a DH, so the odds of homering go up when you don’t have to worry about a pitcher hitting in the lineup. The record you have to compare the 57 to is the AL record for long balls in a month, and that goes to last year’s Yankees. How many did they hit? 74. That kinda puts the Dodgers’ 57 in context.

Sluggish bats are waking up, but you do have to admit that quite a few players on the team haven’t been performing as well as they did last year…and that means you, Bellinger, Hernández and Muncy. Bellinger’s still batting only .225, Kiké’s at .215 and Muncy’s all the way down at .202, but they’re starting to come to life, and Bellinger and Muncy have been blasting homers lately (Bellinger’s got 10, Muncy’s got 9.) There’s not too much time left for them to get their asses into gear, I know, but I get the feeling that they’re gonna be ok. Bellinger, remember, had a great start and a meh finish to his season last year; it’s far better that he start slow and finish big.

Pitching’s been impressive all-around, from Kershaw through Buhler and Urías down through the bullpen. So we only made one change at the trade deadline, and we didn’t even really need to do that: Ross Stripling went to the Jays in exchange for two players to be named at a later date. Stripling hasn’t been having his greatest year, and we may just have too many good pitchers, so I get why he had to go. Nobody knows what we’re getting in return, but, then, we don’t need much with the kind of depth the team has. But I do have one question: who’d gonna be the players’ financial adviser now that the resident registered stockbroker is gone lol?

There’s no arguing with the team’s overall success, even if some of the numbers aren’t stellar. The secret is – as it’s been in the past few years – depth. Having the DH has allowed more elbow room for the players who don’t have fixed starting positions – Hernández, Taylor, Pederson, and Pollock – and they’ve all had chances to stand out, even if their overall performance hasn’t been what we know they’re capable of when they’re at their best. Although Seager and Betts have been the standouts, it’s not as though they’ve been carrying the team…and the team can only get even more impressive once people like Bellinger start firing on all cylinders.

I reckon that’s exciting, but it’s not as exciting as it would be if the Dodgers were roaring into September in a regular season with 130 games under their belts and playing .722 baseball…and if I could have been at Dodger Stadium for some of those games, instead of the team having play in front of those lameass cutouts and hearing canned crowd noises. I don’t know what it sounds like when you’re on the field and 55,000 people just saw you go deep, but I do know what it sounds like when a few thousand fans are watching…and it’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life. It’s just not the same when the fans are pre-recorded. I’m pretty sure that everyone on the team is super glad to be playing irregardless, but they’re still playing in the fuckin new normal I just wrote about, and they’ve got to know it’s not what it’s supposed to be like.

But this is new normal baseball, and it’s all we got. So I’m gonna try and just be grateful that we got any baseball at all this year…and that the team’s playing great.

We’ll see where it leads when we get to…let’s just call it next month lol.

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