Memorial Day Fun Times

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. In years past, a loss like yesterday’s would have killed me, seeing a winnable game slip away as Chad Billingsley faltered and the bullpen imploded. But now? Just a blip on the radar, as the Dodgers still have four more wins than anyone in baseball and lead the division by a comfortable 7.5 games. The Padres have indeed shockingly won nine in a row, but can we really get ourselves all worked up thinking they’re for real? No way. Besides, as SOSG so astutely pointed out, Padres victories might actually be good for the Dodgers. Let’s take a quick jaunt around the interwebs for some fun facts before returning to your regularly-scheduled day of overindulgence and outdoor activities.

militaryfirstpitch.jpg* Now here’s a tradition we should bring back.
Last year on this day, Inside the Dodgers posted some Memorial Day Dodger stats, including noting,

The Dodgers played 58 doubleheaders on Memorial Day from 1890-1957 (68 seasons) and have three in Los Angeles. The last was 1980 in Cincinnati.

We all know it’ll never happen, but wouldn’t you love to see that? After honoring our servicemen, what is Memorial Day if not barbeque and baseball? The more of each the better, I say.

* Now here’s a tradition we should definitely not bring back. Last year on this day, Inside the Dodgers, after posting the aforementioned holiday note, put up the lineup for that day’s game against the Cubs. It included Jeff Kent hitting cleanup (in the midst of challenging for the title of “Worst cleanup hitter season ever”), the corpse of Mark Sweeney hitting fifth, and Luis Maza eighth. Needless to say, the Dodgers only scored one run and saddled Billingsley with a loss, despite going six innings and allowing two runs. Remember, that was the lineup just one year ago. My, how things have changed.

* Today’s going to be a good day. The current members of the Dodgers roster, as a group, have had great success against Rockies starter Jorge de la Rosa in the past, combining for a line of .344/.398/.598 with 4 homers in 108 plate appearances. Blake, Kemp, and Loney lead the way, as each have homered against him and have career OPS’s over 1.000. The only guy who really hasn’t had success is Andre Ethier, who’s just 1 for 7 with 2 K’s, but I’m sure he’ll play anyway if his toe is okay.  

* Cory Wade’s deal with the devil may have expired. After a second ugly performance in a row yesterday, you don’t need me to tell you he’s not been himself this year, but here’s part of the reason…

BABIP – League Average, 2008-09: .264
BABIP – Cory Wade, RHP, LA, 2008: .227 
BABIP – Cory Wade, RHP, LA, 2008: .363

Wade has gone from being absurdly lucky in 2008 to completely unlucky in 2009 – nearly a 140 point rise in batting average on balls in play. There’s more to it than that, of course, because his K/9 rate is down (6.43 to 4.91) and his BB/9 rate is way up (1.89 to 3.68), and that’s two metrics that are headed in the wrong direction. However, that BABIP has to come back down to average at some point, and his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, an alternative way of calculating ERA, defined as a stat which “helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, regardless of how well his fielders fielded”) is actually lower than last year (3.78 to 3.28).

Cory definitely needs to get a handle on those free passes, but otherwise, things are not nearly as bad as they may seem with him. Besides, don’t let that “actual” ERA of 6.14 fool you; every single run he’s given up this year has come in just four appearances, meaning that he’s had eleven scoreless outings.

* In case you want to know why Hong-Chih Kuo keeps hurting his arm… Driveline Mechanics takes a look into his wonky mechanics, complete with animations. It’s an interesting read, even if you may need an actual PhD to understand paragraphs like this:

Kuo takes his throwing arm laterally behind his body quite a bit – better known as “reverse rotation.” When he returns it to the throwing side, it causes a serious case of forearm flyout, which causes his olecranon process to slam into its fossa and do serious injury to the elbow.

* You know you’re a big leaguer when: You have to feel good for Jamie Hoffmann, having his first major league hit being a home run (in front of his family, no less) and then later adding an RBI double. As Vin mentioned, he’s been named the best defensive outfielder in the Dodger system by Baseball America for four years running, so while he’s not going to be a star, you think that maybe he’s got a chance to contribute at the big league level. But there’s one thing we know for sure: he’s already got a group of people devoted to pointing out how much he sucks. I’m not even sure what to make of this; the “Jamie Hoffmann Sucks forum” has been up since at least April of 2008, which would be about 13 months before most Dodger fans even knew he existed. Should he be flattered? Offended? Confused? A combination of all three?