Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Fastest Creep Back into a Race Since...Last Year

Standings 21 days ago, June 8, 2014:

San Francisco     41-21  .661   ---
Los Angeles        32-31  .508   9.5
Colorado             29-32  .475   11.5
San Diego           28-34  .452   13.0
Arizona               27-37  ..422  15.0

Panic was beginning to set in.  Mattingly had made his annual speech bashing the team's effort and lack of concern.  Adrian Gonzalez was quoted about questioning if the club had a comeback in them and a few players reiterated that the amazing run of 2013 (forty-two wins in fifty games) was historic and might never likely be repeated.  Matt Kemp stated that gaining one game a week in the standings would suffice allowing the Dodgers to catch up.

Three weeks later, that one game gained per week has turned out to be a little more than three.  The .840 winning percentage clip from 2013 will not be matched, but a .684 run in the last three weeks has been very respectable.  There are those that will say that the Giants are tanking it and handing the season to the Dodgers.  Maybe so, but there was no way they were going to continue playing near .700 ball all season and good teams don't panic.  This team hasn't done that and though they aren't world beaters yet, they are playing good ball.

Since June 8th, the Giants are playing at a .263 clip (photo by Ron Chenoy/Reuters)
Good teams capitalize on opportunities, and when the Giants started to fizzle, the Dodgers stepped up.  The Giant's June swoon isn't of epic proportions, (now 5-14 over the past three weeks), but it's notable.  And truth is, it won't continue, but a slump of some magnitude was bound to happen to them.

Good teams play well on the road.  The home record always seems to eventually be well above .500 for them, but the true test is on the road.  This Dodger team was playing well on the road from the get go, and that has continued.  In fact, the Dodgers 26-16 road record is the best in the National League and only a half game behind Oakland for the best in the majors.  Once they squared things at Dodger Stadium, it was only a matter of time that the Dodgers would be back near the top.

Good teams don't panic, even when they're slumping.  When the Dodgers hit rock bottom in early June and it appeared that they might even dip below .500, they knuckled up on the road and just kept winning series after series.  And that brings me to my next point.

Good teams aren't dependent on long winning streaks.  Yes, they help a lot, but churning out series wins and not pushing the panic button after losses are signs of a veteran team.  This Dodger club has not put together a winning streak of over three games all season.  To fans, this has been rather frustrating.  Then again, even after painful losses that would have put them over that 3-game win streak hump (i.e. the Jansen blown save in San Diego on June 20th), they have bounced back and continued to win series'.

Good teams beat up on their division and the inferior teams.  The exception to that rule was probably the 2013 Dodgers who played extremely well outside the Division (55-31, .640), and just below .500 within (37-39).  The tables have turned this year, as the Dodgers are taking it to the NL West with a 23-16 record, while going 23-21 against everyone else.

Good teams refuse to get buried when some of their star players aren't performing up to par.  That has been the case with the Dodgers, who have players such as Adrian Gonzalez slumping, and Hanley Ramirez injured.  Matt Kemp spent much of this season in the doldrums of a miserable start and Andre Ethier has not played well at all.  Combine that with A.J. Ellis' and Carl Crawford's injuries and the recipe for a disastrous season is in place.  Yet, contributions from unexpected sources such as Dee Gordon and Justin Turner have kept them afloat.
Zack Greinke picked up his 10th win is yesterday's 9-1 win over St. Louis. (photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/AP)
Good teams have solid pitching, and the Dodgers have that.  A case can be made for Kershaw, Greinke and Beckett to all make the all star team.  Though the bullpen has had its struggles, JP Howell has been lights out.  Brandon League has bounced back for the most part and Kenley Jansen is still a closer to be feared, being second in the league in saves.

Good teams overcome injuries and don't use them as an excuse for sorry seasons.  This team has had their share.  Crawford, Uribe, Hanley, Kershaw, Ellis, Kemp, Puig, Wilson, and now we can probably add Turner to that mix.  But here they are, within a game of the division lead and plugging holes with the likes of performing players like Rojas, Arruebarrena, Butera, Red Patterson (remember him?), Figgins, Triunfel, Van Slyke and Turner.

So here we are, 21 days later and the standings are as follows:

San Francisco    46-35   .568   ---
Los Angeles      46-37   .554   1.0
Colorado           35-46    .432   11.0
Arizona             35-48   .422    12.0
San Diego         34-37   .420    12.0

Giant fans be wary.  This thing has a long way to go, but it's safe to say that this Dodger team hasn't even hit their stride yet.

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