Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Home Field Advantage vs. a Well Rested Team

There is a segment of Dodger fans that seem to be obsessed with the team obtaining maximum home field advantage for post-season play.  The belief being that it is imperative for the Dodgers to have the home field edge in order to succeed in the playoffs.  There isn’t much doubt having the most home games is a good position to be in, but with this Dodger team’s road record, how important is it really?

The Dodgers have the best road record in baseball at 40-28.  Better yet their post all star game road record is 21-4, (that’s even better than their 15-5 record at home after the break).  With the starting four of Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu and Nolasco, it doesn’t matter where they are playing.  The Dodgers are going to be winning.  

On the other hand, if the team is worn out by the start of the post-season play, it doesn’t matter where they'll be playing.  Injuries and fatigue are what they are and their result will add up to subpar performances.

(photo by USA Today Sports)

Fatigue appears to already have affected A.J. Ellis, who’s average has slipped a full 19 points (to .241) in his last 13 games.  Ellis isn’t looking right out there.  Defensively he is reacting slow to balls and he’s sloppily attempting to block pitches in the dirt without moving his body in front of them.  He's lazily swiping at pitches and backhanding balls in the dirt that he used to get in front of when he was hustling.  All these are signs of fatigue.  Ellis could probably use a week or two of rest.

Ronald Belisario and Paco Rodriguez have had some subpar outings lately too, and perhaps the innings mounting up are taking their toll on them.  With the additional relievers in the pen, maybe now is the time to cut back their innings.

A lot of criticism has been levied the past 24 hours regarding Mattingly’s lineup for the Colorado finale yesterday.  Frankly I thought it was a good idea to give five starters the day off before a day that the team would be idle.  We aren’t talking about the NL West being a race anymore.

But what about home field advantage? This is what the Mattingly detractors are questioning.  I contend that home field advantage  isn’t that important considering the way this team plays on the road.  They win everywhere and they are feared everywhere.

Bob Brenly stated it best in an interview with Greg Papa this afternoon on Bay Area radio’s 95.7 the ticket saying: 

“You talk about a team coming together and gelling, some teams look for that all season long and it never comes.  Other teams, it happens real early and then they lose it later on.    With the Dodgers, once they got all their horses back on the field to win some ballgames, it just got ridiculous.  I mean they got historically ridiculous how good they’ve played the second half of the season.  They just boat raced everybody in the division and blew them out of the water.  When you’re talking about the wildcard in July, that tells you the kind of run that the Dodgers went on to just blow by everybody, whether it was at home or on the road.”

It doesn’t really matter where they play.  The Dodgers, with the healthy horses in the lineup, they're going to win anywhere.  But health is the key.  This Dodger team with their star studded lineup at 100% will win this thing.  It makes no sense to have them get totally fatigued in an effort to gain home field advantage.  Atlanta has an even easier schedule from here on out than the Dodgers.  We all want them to have the best record in the game, but not at the expense that they enter post season play in a weakened state.


(photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

More quotes from Brenly on the Dodgers:

“With Hanley Ramirez coming off the D.L., Puig doing what he did, Greinke finally settling in and being that A-1 starting pitcher that they were looking for.  And then, of course Kershaw being himself, the Dodgers became a different team.”

He claims that the brawl against Arizona was the turning point of the Dodger season:

“Now the brawl with the Diamondbacks at that time (June 11th), Arizona felt like they were playing good enough ball to win the division.  The Dodgers were just floundering at that point.  They didn’t seem to have any focus or any direction...I think in the Dodgers case, they needed something to unify them.  They were a group of 25 egos, 25 individuals going in their own direction.  I think that brawl did kind of bring them together.  We saw them throwing some fists and we same them having each other’s back, you know it’s an overused cliche, but it  (the fight) just seemed to unite what seemed like a very fractured team at that point of the season.  It just so happened that it was immediately after that they took off on their run.”

His opinion on what he perceives to be an uneven playing field:

“The Dodgers are in a financial position where they can afford to be the Yankees west.  They can just go out and buy free agents.  Whatever hole they might have in their lineup, rotation or bullpen, they can go out and buy the best available free agent to plug that hole, like the Yankees.  That’s what they’re going to do moving forward so it’s incumbent upon the rest of the teams in the west to come up with a way to combat that, whether its developing their own players from within and then trying to have that steady stream of talent coming to the major leagues or making some wise free agent signings yourself.  But to be quite honest it’s going to be tough to compete with the pocketbook that the Dodgers have down there in southern California...”

His belief that Goldschmidt should get the MVP:

“I’m a little bit biased because I get  a chance to watch  him everyday, but I think from my years in baseball I try to step back a little bit and be a little more objective when it comes to Cy Young awards and MVP awards.  I’ll tell you what, there are some other players out there that are having some great years and MVP caliber seasons.  But watching Paul Goldschmidt and his development...I think he’s a legitmate gold glove candidate.  Offensively, there have been stretches of this season where teams just refused to throw him strikes, and to his credit, he’ll take his walks.  His OBP is off the charts this year...he's an unselfish guy.  For me he’s an MVP.  There’s no question about it.  He’s worked hard on his defense, he’s a good base runner. He steals bases, he hits homers.  The kind of person he is is top notch.  If I was going to build an organization, the first person I would start it with is Paul Goldschmidt."

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