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June 27, 2003

Prospectus Triple Play

Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners

by Baseball Prospectus

Cleveland Indians

  • Breakin' the Rules: Jackie Robinson gets more press, but Larry Doby's courage and perseverance are no less deserving of attention and respect. Doby passed away this week at the age of 79, and he'll be remembered (and rightfully so) for breaking the color barrier in the American League. Kind of lost in the shuffle is what a truly great player Doby was. Click on that link above and review his performance record. Doby could do it all, and did so despite a lack of support from his teammates, receiving constant verbal assaults from fans at each ballpark, and under persistent social pressure the likes of which we can't fully understand. Our condolences go out to the Doby family, and our gratitude goes out to Mr. Doby for the effort he put into the best game ever created.

  • Two Way Street: If you already get Baseball America's Kevin Goldstein's Daily Prospect Report in your email, you've probably noticed Victor Martinez showing up there on an almost daily basis. (If you don't get the Daily Prospect Report, don't just sit there--click here to get it. Goldstein kicks.) Martinez has been hitting like Barry Bonds in a T-Ball league for about the past month, bringing his line for the year up to .323/.392/.472 in Buffalo. Eric Wedge and Mark Shapiro will likely have Victor up right around the All-Star Game. It's probably a good time to go short on Josh Bard's playing time.

    In the other direction, it's long past time to send Brandon Phillips down. He continues to be completely and totally overmatched not only by major league pitching, with the notable exception of the Texas Rangers, but we get into some definitional ambiguity there. His 8-game hot streak (8/27) has his season line up to .216/.249/.315, which is to hitting what From Justin to Kelly is to filmmaking. Phillips' performance, month by month (BA/OBP/SLG):

    April: .231/.268/.346
    May: .215/.253/.367
    June: .215/.241/.253
    Vs. Texas: .353/.389/.588

    He's getting blown away, and running up his service time.

  • Famous for its Sustain: Are we having fun yet? Milton Bradley is. From the right side, he's making Albert Pujols look like a piker. .476/.566/.683? That's Ichiro in single-A, isn't it? Bradley's performance hasn't dropped off since his hot start, and it appears that all the skills demonstrated during his minor league career have finally come together. Bradley will undoubtedly make the all-star game, probably along with teammate C.C. Sabathia, and once he starts turning his doubles into homers, he could well enter the MVP race once the Indians are in contention again. For now, his .347/.444/.529, with 13 stolen bases, three caught stealing, and good defense in center is going largely unnoticed.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • The Replacements: There aren't too many teams in that would take a severe, offensive hit upon losing Fred McGriff to the 15-day DL, but the Dodgers are exceptional. Last in the National League in just about every offensive category (including Equivalent Average, which proves that this isn't merely a case of Chavez Ravines), the Boys in Blue lack a legitimate offensive threat at nearly every position on the field, save catcher, where Paul Lo Duca is among the best in the league.

    In fact, despite an OPS of just 744, McGriff was actually third on the team before going down with a strained groin. Check out how his replacements have done so far this season:

    
    2003              AB   AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS
    Daryle Ward       91  .198 .223 .209 .432
    Ron Coomer        70  .243 .321 .329 .649 
    Mike Kinkade      89  .270 .393 .427 .819
    
    Average          250  .233 .309 .314 .623
    
    
    These are first basemen? Granted, Kinkade's OBP is a positive, but overall that's a bit like having Tony Womack as your backup corner-infielder. Seriously.

    With that being said, some reports are suggesting that The Crime Dog could be back as early as next week. However, if I'm the Dodgers--and runs are about as scarce Sandy Koufax sightings--a week of that type of production at first base is about a week longer than I can stand.

  • And Since We're Talking About Crappy Hitters... Win or lose in 2003, the Los Angeles Dodgers are going to be one of the main players in the Miguel Tejada Sweepstakes this offseason. And the reason? It's because of this:
    
    Pos.                 AB   AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS
    SS   Cesar Izturis  261  .253 .290 .299 .589
    2B   Alex Cora      231  .228 .274 .306 .580
    
    
    Quite the keystone combination, no?

    The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the two-worst offensive teams in major league baseball right now, ahead of only the Tigers. That's not a good thing. While their pitching has been good enough this season--best in the league--where two-to-three runs of support per night has frankly been enough, the likelihood of that trend continuing is slim-to-none.

    As it was mentioned in a previous Dodgers PTP: the last team to finish in the bottom-two in MLB in runs scored while winning 90 games was the 1985 Kansas City Royals. And do you know how many games the Royals won in 1986?

    Seventy-six.

Seattle Mariners

  • Potter Mania: I mean, uh, Ichiro-mania. After a slow start, Ichiro's been on an insane tear (May .389/.415/.558, June .440/.463/.604). In June, there have been only seven games where he hasn't gotten two or more hits. Ichiro is leading All Star outfielders in balloting, and while many may argue he's overrated, our own park-adjusted stats show Ichiro as the AL's best right fielder. And the ladies love him.

  • Weasley: But just as the real hero of the Potter series is not the guy everyone dresses up as but instead his sidekicks, the driving force hasn't been Ichiro but a baby-fat-having short guy who enjoys his pranks and comes from a large family. Bret Boone is currently having another standout season at second, at +29.9 Runs Above Position, and our EqA rankings show him as the third-most valuable player in the AL in that respect, behind only Carlos Delgado and Nomar Garciaparra. This season is almost identical to his shocking 2001 campaign, when he hit .331/.372/.578. Plus, the ladies love him.

    Still, like the Weasleys, Boone has difficulty getting respect.

    
                AVG  OBP  SLG  Defense   All-Star Votes
    Player A   .284 .338 .512  Bad              881,865
    Player B   .315 .373 .601  Excellent        546,657
    
    

    It's this kind of thing that makes me want to agitate for the West Coast to secede from the Union and go it alone. Damn Yankees.

  • Miss Granger: Which makes the hard-working self-made future Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez Hermione. Smart, super-prepared, amazingly talented and unheralded, except without the know-it-all attitude and (so far as we know) the crackling sexual tension with Ron (which is Boone, for purposes of this tangled PTP). Edgar now returns to the lineup nearly every day again, after interleague play gave him a little bit of a rest. A couple points (5, say) to rookie manager Bob Melvin for getting Martinez at least one trip to the plate in 5 of the 9 games the team played in NL parks. Why didn't Martinez get at least one at bat a game? No clue.

  • 100 Points from Hufflepuff: Speaking of clueless, Melvin continues to use his best relievers to protect a lead, any lead, while frequently writing off winnable games where the team is behind by one run, with the AL's fourth-best offense and third-best pen. Take for instance Arthur Rhodes. The staff's ace lefty has appeared in 36 games at press time, and 28 times the team's been ahead, once they were tied, and only 7 times were they behind by any margin. Rhodes has been brought in to protect a lead of more than three runs as often as he's been called on when the team trailed by any margin.

    As Rany Jazayerli showed ages ago, your highest leverage situations are your closest. Melvin's consistent concession of close games where the Mariners trail has and will continue to cost the team games.

  • 100 Points to Slytherin: Local scalpers are suing the city for selectively enforcing the city's anti-scalping ordanance (which is so carefully hand tailored to the Mariners needs it's apparent the team went in for a measurement and then a trial fitting before it was enacted). In essence, while the team hires off-duty cops to cite the loveable work-a-day scalper (who will become hated public nuisance #1 if the team makes the playoffs) under the city's anti-scalping laws while the team in the safety of cyberspace acts as the middle-man in scalping by season-ticket holders, offering few safeguards to ensure that no scalping occurs in violation of the law. We wouldn't mention this except it keeps coming up in emails, so apparently people keep discovering it for the first time. The Mariners make about 25% off each transaction, which should enable them to make their traditional no-move at the deadline and pocket a couple more million dollars.

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