05 August 2009

The Manny Slump

Right before last night's game started, my wife asked me if I thought the Dodgers would win.

Usually I would answer such a question with a yes, but not this time. I just didn't have a good feeling about the game. So I said no. I said I thought the Dodgers would lose.

Maybe I should say that more often.

One of the reasons I felt pessimistic about last night's game was the slump Manny is in. Was in? Manny had a great game last night, and finally picked up some runs batted in, but one game doesn't necessarily convince me a slump is over. The rule of slumps is not to overreact to them. Don't give up on a player because he's in a slump, or panic, or conclude the worst. Don't take a sample size of two weeks as if it means a whole lot. Well, the same caution applies to a one game sample, such as the game Manny had last night.

I think the perfect time to talk about a player's slump is after he's had a good game, because then you won't get too negative on that player.

In 54 plate appearances since he was hit on the hand ( and including the souvenir slam game ) Manny has 10 hits, 5 walks, and 13 strikeouts. It's the strikeouts and walks that jump out at me. It seems as if Manny has been taking a lot of strikes lately, and swinging through a lot of pitches he normally would hit well. It's almost like he's been trying to force his way into good hitter's counts.

There are a lot of theories about Manny's slump. His hand is bothering him, or he's gone off the juice and is feeling the effects, or it's that time of the month for him ( I kid, I kid! ) but the truth about most slumps is that they accept no theory. They just are, and then they go away, and all is well again.

This Manny slump just feels more dire than most slumps because we've never seen Manny slump as a Dodger before this, and because there are a couple of obvious theories for the slump out there that nag at the mind even if they are rejected, and because he's just looked so bad during the slump. Sometimes I thought I was watching a different hitter. If I still feel that way in two weeks then I'll really worry. For now, I hope last night marked the return of the old Manny.

Whenever the Dodgers have a really high scoring game I like to list all the players who had plate appearances in the game along with their totals of runs scored plus runs driven in. Here they are:

Kemp -- 8
Ethier -- 5
Manny -- 5
Martin -- 4
Blake -- 4
Loretta -- 3
Furcal -- 2
Pierre -- 1
Loney -- 1
Mota -- 1
Kuroda -- 0
Castro -- 0

Poor Loney had a terrible game. He was 0-4 with three strikeouts, but at least he walked once and scored. Otherwise he would suffer the fate of Castro, who has to suffer the ignomy of trailing Mota and his one RBI on the list.

But mostly this list is all positives. Kemp was the standout, but Manny, Martin, Blake and Ethier also had great games. Loretta, Pierre and Mota also did well in limited action.

Game 107 Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Kemp -- 1
Blake -- 1
Kuroda -- 1

Back when the game was in doubt, Kuroda did just enough to keep his team ahead. It was the bare minimum, but it was enough. He stayed low on JJ Hardy with the bases loaded in the fourth inning and got a borderline check-swing strikeout, then got Kendall to ground out. He couldn't escape the fifth inning unscathed, but at least after Braun and Fielder did their damage he was able to escape again with more ground balls. If Kuroda gives up even one more run in that inning to let the Brewers tie, I'm not so sure the Dodgers go on to romp.

Kemp had a monster game, and he did enough of his damage early with the game still in doubt that he gets a share. The last goes to Blake, who jumps over Manny and Martin who had more prolific games because Blake's double in the first inning was the key hit for the early run scoring.

Game 107 Unfair Loss Shares ( Brewers )

Gallardo -- 2
Hardy -- 1

I think the whole game changes for the Brewers if Hardy can get a bases loaded hit in the fourth inning. Instead he struck out ( and was hitless otherwise ) and the Brewers failed to score in that inning, which meant their rally in the fifth came up short of giving them the lead, which meant Gallardo was left in the game a little longer than he might have if the Brewers had a lead, which meant the Brewers got blown out.

Laugher Share

Mota -- 1

Mota may have moved up in the bullpen pecking order ( though Sherrill coming over in trade may have pushed him back down a bit again ) but when the Dodgers have a double digit lead Mota is still your man. Mota clinched his laugher share with an absurd RBI single to really rub salt in the Brewer's wounds.

And then he hit Prince Fielder and turned the end of the game and the aftermath into a farce that overshadowed the Dodgers nice rout, so once again I have to take a laugher share away from Mota. At least he didn't aim at his head.

No comments: