On OBP, John Lindsey, and the Continuing Fallacies of Bill Plaschke

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the offseason moves of the Dodgers and how they seem to have no regard at all for on-base percentage, which we all know to be vital if you want to score runs. I joked on Twitter the other day that I might almost be ready to start a “Free Jamey Carroll!” campaign, if only to have someone in the lineup who can actually get on base, and today Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts takes a deeper look at that idea. (Warning: you may not want to click that link if you didn’t like the Juan Uribe signing and don’t want to see stats that suggest Carroll was more valuable than Uribe in 2010.)

I wondered just how much losing the OBP skills of Russell Martin and others would hurt now that they’ve been replaced by the low-OBP likes of Uribe and Rod Barajas, but wasn’t quite sure how to quantify it. Fortunately, baseball-reference had a similar question, in that they wondered how much the Red Sox offense would improve now that they’ve added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. They used the lineup generator at Baseball Musings to try and predict the estimated runs scored for the likely 2011 Sox lineup.

I’m going to do the same thing, by comparing what the generator said for the 2010 Dodger lineup as compared to the likely 2011 squad. To choose a starting 9, I went with the 8 players who had the most PA at their position in 2009, and put the top bench player – Carroll – in the pitcher’s spot.


A lineup of Furcal, Martin, Kemp, Manny, Ethier, Blake, Loney, DeWitt, & Carroll would be predicted to score 5.148 runs / game. (The “ideal” lineup, featuring such moves as Carroll leading off and Manny 2nd, would get you 5.266 runs / game.)


A lineup of Furcal, Uribe, Kemp, Either, Blake, Loney, Barajas, Gibbons, & Carroll would be predicted to score 4.965 runs / game. (The “ideal” lineup gets you to 5.069.)

It’s not an exact science, of course; the games do take place on the field and not in a database, and you certainly can’t expect every player to perform identically to how they did the year before. We’ve always known that if there’s not some bounceback from players like Kemp and Loney, the team’s in big trouble anyway. But there’s always the worry of Furcal breaking down, Blake continuing to regress, and the complete unknown of the left-field situation.

Long story short, it’s not a good trend.


Over at TrueBlueLA, Eric Stephen posts one of my favorite pictures ever, as you can see a color-coded, numerically-based roster board behind Juan Uribe at his introduction last week. Eric notes that we see J.D. Closser and Jon Huber listed as non-roster invites, which we didn’t know, but I also saw that John Lindsey is not listed under his #35. He’s still technically on the 40-man roster, but that’s about to be full, and his omission on the board almost certainly points to his departure. That doesn’t mean he can’t come back in the spring, of course, but any small bit of job security he may have had seems to be gone.


I hate, hate, hate to even acknowledge Bill Plaschke’s presence, but if he’s going to spout misinformation and stupidity, I suppose it’s my job to refute him.

Today, Billy’s complaining about how Los Angeles is apparently no longer a preferred baseball destination, because neither the Dodgers nor the Angels are going to land big-ticket free agents like Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee, or Jayson Werth. Nevermind that giving $130m+ contracts isn’t always the best way to build a team, nevermind that Werth would never have come back to the Dodgers after how his previous tenure ended, and nevermind that the Dodgers needed to build an entire starting rotation, not just an ace. Nevermind that the Dodgers don’t get marquee free agents because they’re constrained by the McCourt divorce, a fact which Plaschke conveniently neglects to mention until the very last sentence. Why let facts get in the way of a sob story?

Rather than do the entire article, lest my keyboard get covered with bile, I’m going to pick and choose some of the fun ones.

In what may be the saddest of possible words, we were also the place that somebody named Matt Diaz just rejected for some place called Pittsburgh.

Though that did seem odd at first, Diaz – who went to high school in Florida – said he made the choice because he wanted to stay in the East and spend his spring in Florida. Also, the Dodgers never made a formal offer. Kind of hard to argue that, no?

The last time the Dodgers signed a premier free agent, they made Kevin Brown baseball’s first $100-million man, but that was a dozen years and a million Kevin Malone jokes ago.

Well, there was the time they signed Manny Ramirez after 2008. He seemed pretty “premier” to me. Or when Rafael Furcal bolted Atlanta, then chose to stay when he hit free agency a second time. Or the $44m and $47m, respectively, they handed out to Juan Pierre and Jason Schmidt, and even though those were poor choices that didn’t work out, they still happened. Or when Derek Lowe, J.D. Drew, and Jeff Kent all came to town. None of those guys got paid, or contributed, right?

These days, they don’t even last as long as the Washington Nationals, whose $126-million contract for Jayson Werth borders on the clinically insane, but at least the Nationals are players.

Not that Werth was coming back, but if the Dodgers handed him $126m, you wouldn’t be praising them for spending. You’d be assailing them for being foolish, just like we’ve all said about the Nationals. Don’t deny it.

When is the last time someone really wanted to play baseball in Los Angeles?

Well, there was last winter, when Jamey Carroll turned down more years and dollars from Oakland to come to Los Angeles. Or when Jon Garland turned down the likelihood of more money with the Padres to come back to the Dodgers. Or when Hiroki Kuroda turned down the chance to test the market for a certain three-year deal for big dollars to come back to LA. Or when Jay Gibbons and Rod Barajas repeatedly said they wanted to be Dodgers. Or when Furcal, Ted Lilly, and Casey Blake all re-signed with the team after reaching free agency, rather than going elsewhere. And that’s just the Dodgers, in the last year or two, not including the Angels, and off the top of my head. LA’s actually a pretty good draw for players, wouldn’t you say?

I realize attacking Plaschke is low-hanging fruit and all, but… he gets paid for this. And people read it.



  1. [...] been a question that’s been sort of gnawing at me since I posted last month about the seeming irrelevance of OBP to the Dodger front office in constructing the 2011 squad: [...]

  2. [...] both no good option for a #2 hitter and how the lineup as a whole seems to have been assembled with no regard for OBP. We’ve worried about atrocious outfield defense and considered what things may have looked [...]

  3. [...] good option for a #2 hitter and how the lineup as a whole seems to have been assembled with no regard for OBP. We’ve worried about atrocious outfield defense and considered what things may have looked like [...]

  4. [...] good option for a #2 hitter and how the lineup as a whole seems to have been assembled with no regard for OBP. We’ve worried about atrocious outfield defense and considered what things may have looked like [...]

  5. zwembroek says:

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