Mr. Stats Notes: Dodgers return to South Beach

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The best team in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers, have a nostalgic road trip beginning this weekend, first going to South Florida to play the Marlins (146 miles from historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, the Dodgers’ spring training home for six decades) and then going to New York to play the Mets at Citi Field (13 miles from the site of Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, where the Dodgers played from 1913 until the franchise moved to Los Angeles following the 1957 season).

Sunday’s game with the Marlins can be streamed on Peacock beginning at 12 pm. How long did the Dodgers train at Vero Beach? From 1948 (Jackie Robinson’s second season) to 2008 (Clayton Kershaw’s rookie season). By the time current Marlins manager Don Mattingly became the Dodgers manager in 2011, the team was training in Arizona. But Mattingly played his entire career with the Yankees, who trained in Fort Lauderdale, so Mattingly played spring training games each year up the road in Vero.

2022 MLB on Peacock schedule: How to watch, live stream Sunday morning baseball games online

It’s hard not to think about history when talking about the Dodgers.

But first, I want to talk about the current Dodgers. Is this team going to win it all in 2022?

How are the 2022 Dodgers doing it? 

Los Angeles is running away with their division and putting up some historic numbers. In their first 123 games, the Dodgers have outscored their opponents by 275 runs (more than two runs per game). They score well north of five runs per game (5.4) and allow just over three (3.16).

Dave Roberts’ team is likely to win two-thirds of their games, finishing around 108-54. And they could probably win more, but they’re unlikely to push it, preferring to tinker with combinations and rest to best handle expanded playoffs in October.

This is a team that ownership has spared no expense in building. President and CEO Stan Kasten and President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman have built a roster with an estimated 2022 payroll of $261 million dollars. The league-leading payroll won’t put the team in the World Series every year, but it gives the team a chance to win every year.

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In 2021, Los Angeles fell in the NLCS to the Braves and their first baseman Freddie Freeman.  In 2020, the Dodgers won the World Series. In 2019, the Dodgers were eliminated in the 10th inning of the winner-take-all Game 5 of the NLDS to the Nationals and their shortstop Trea Turner. In 2018, the Dodgers lost the World Series to the Red Sox and their fabulous right fielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher David Price (2-0, 1.98 ERA in 3 games, 2 starts against L.A. in the World Series).

There is no commandment against coveting thy opponent’s best players, is there?

Here’s my point about the 2022 Dodgers offense. Sure, the back of everyone’s baseball card looks great, but how many of them are having career-best seasons?

Let’s discuss. But first, a stat I must point out:

The Dodgers lead Major League Baseball in runs scored.

And they lead by a lot.  The Dodgers — through Wednesday night — have scored 42 more runs than the next closest team in the bigs (the Braves).

That 30-year-old first baseman, Freddie Freeman, has an OPS of .919. If you sort his career by OPS, you would find that 2022 — while a fine year — is Freeman’s fifth-best season. In 2020 (his MVP year), his OPS was 1.102. It was .989 in 2017. It was .968 in 2016. It was .938 in 2019. This year, his .919 OPS is barely ahead of 2013 (.897), when he was 23.

The 29-year-old right fielder, Mookie Betts, has an OPS of .873. If you sort his career by OPS, you would find that 2022 — while a fine year — is Mookie’s fifth-best season. In 2018 (his MVP year), his OPS was 1.078. In 2020, he had a .927 OPS. In 2019, it was .915. In 2016, it was .897. And this year’s .873 is better than 2021’s .854 OPS, Mookie’s first season with L.A.

Surely, the 29-year-old shortstop, Trea Turner, is having a career year — right? Wrong. Trea’s OPS of .847 puts him in the MVP discussion, but it pales next to his 2020 season, when he put up a .982 OPS. And his .937 OPS in his 2016 rookie campaign was much better than this year. As was 2021, when Trea had an OPS of .911 for both Washington and Los Angeles (.950 with LA). And don’t forget the World Series season of 2019, when Trea had an OPS of .850.

That makes 2022 Trea Turner’s fifth-best season.

Max Muncy agreed to a contract extension earlier this week, just before his 32nd birthday. Muncy has been terrific in August (19 games, .294/.375/.676 with 7 HR, 17 RBI). He was excellent in the 2020 World Series run (.904 OPS in 18 playoff games). He didn’t play in the 2021 postseason because of an arm injury sustained in a late-season collision.

RELATED: Dodgers, Muncy agree to $13.5M deal for 2023

That injury lingered and affected Muncy in the early months of this season. But the facts remain: Muncy’s .699 OPS in 2022 is slotted after 2018 (.973), and 2021 (.895), and 2019 (.889), and 2020 (.720). This year is, yup, Muncy’s fifth-best season.

The centerfielder, 26-year-old Cody Bellinger, isn’t close to his best couple of seasons.  In 2017, he was the Rookie of the Year.  In 2018, he was the NLCS MVP.  In 2019, he was the National League MVP. His OPS+ in those first three seasons was 144, meaning he was 44% better than the average hitter.

Cody Bellinger

2017-2019       OPS of .928    OPS+: 144

2020-2022       OPS of .654    OPS+:   76

Since the start of 2020, Bellinger is batting .201. His OPS is .654, and his OPS+ is well below an average hitter. This year is a touch better than last year, so this is his fifth-best season in a six-year career.

Chris Taylor, “CT-3”, is the primary left-fielder. He turns 32 on August 29. His OPS this year is .711, which represents his sixth-best season. He topped out in 2017 at .850. In 2020, it was .842.  In 2019, it was .794, and .782 in 2021. It’s down to .711. His OPS+ is just 95, meaning he’s five percent below average.

The catcher, 27-year-old Will Smith, is in the prime of his career and one of the top backstops in the game. But his .825 OPS this season does not equal up to his 2020 season (.980), or his 2019 season (.907), or his 2021 season (.860). Congratulations, Will, on your fourth-best season!

Only the second baseman, Gavin Lux, 24, is having his career-best season. Of course, this is only his second full season. His OPS is .824 and his OPS+ is 124.

RELATED: Dodgers All-Star Buehler has 2nd career Tommy John surgery

As for the other guys on the bench, well, it’s about the ninth-best season for 37-year-old Justin Turner. Backup catcher Austin Barnes is batting .189 with a .669 OPS and an OPS+ of 85 (and that’s after Wednesday night’s 2-4 performance with a homer). He’s had much better seasons. Newly acquired Joey Gallo has had much better seasons, although he’s much better now that he’s away from New York and playing for L.A.

Dodgers pitching staff: They buy a lot of “fine china” but they rely on the “everyday” dishes

Los Angeles certainly has a lot of money spent on pitching. And the pitching staff leads all of baseball in ERA.

But the Dodgers’ pitching rotation in October could include Dustin May (25 years old, not yet eligible for arbitration, and just back from recovery from Tommy John surgery). It could include Tony Gonsolin (28, also not eligible for arbitration). It could include Julio Urias (making $8 million dollars, with one more year of arbitration). And it could include Tyler Anderson (on a one-year, $8 million dollar deal). Anderson is 13-2, with a 2.73 ERA and leads the team with 135.1 innings pitched. Urias is 13-7, with a 2.36 ERA. Gonsolin is 16-1, with a 2.10 ERA.

The fine china is cracked. Walker Buehler is out for the season — and a good portion of 2023. Clayton Kershaw is currently on the Injured List, but hopes to be back for the postseason. Kershaw has made just three starts after the All-Star break, in a statistic that should surprise no one.

In the bullpen, will the franchise go with Craig Kimbrel? His strikeouts are way down. His WHIP is 1.523. In recent weeks, it has only gotten worse.

The Dodgers are paying Kimbrel $16 million dollars this year, and David Price double that.

But the Dodgers have the entire month of September to figure out a back-end of the rotation.  And they have Brusdar Graterol and Blake Treinen and Evan Phillips backing up Kimbrel. Phillips has a 1.29 ERA with 10.5 K/9 and a WHIP of 0.735.

Maybe the Marlins will defeat the Dodgers this weekend. Miami has a terrific starting pitcher named Sandy Alcantara. If the Dodgers falter this October, they can always target Alcantara. After all, Dodgers history demands a top-of-the-rotation Sandy.

Mr. Stats’ Notes: Playoff picture starts to take focus

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This is the time of year that baseball turns from a marathon to a sprint. The Toronto Blue Jays are steps ahead of other teams for a spot in the postseason. Toronto finished one game out of the playoffs a year ago. Will this year be different?

On Sunday, in a game streamed on Peacock beginning at 12 pm eastern, the Blue Jays will play the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 2021, the Jays finished one game behind the Yankees for the Wild Card; and 39 games better than the division rival Orioles. Can Baltimore pass Toronto in the final weeks to nab the third and final Wild Card?

It’s time to sharpen up the predictions to pick out some potential October matchups and storylines.

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Wouldn’t it be something if…the Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series?

Well, not the 2022 Pirates.  But several former Pirates.

The 2017 Pirates team had Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon in their starting rotation. By 2018, Cole was gone but Clay Holmes was in the Bucs pen.  If the New York Yankees win the 2022 World Series, it will almost certainly be with heavy lifting being done by Cole, Taillon, and Holmes. Jameson (12-4, 3.97) leads the Yankees in wins. Cole is their ace. Holmes should be the closer.

And if the New York Mets win the World Series this year, they will lean heavily on two other Pirates from those Clint Hurdle-managed teams. The Mets don’t hurdle through the National League without Starling Marte and, to a lesser degree, Trevor Williams.  Marte is slashing .309/.359/.511 with 41 extra-base hits in 93 games since May 1, and for the season his bWAR is 3.7. Williams, meanwhile, has not allowed a run in a career-high 24.0 straight innings. Trevor has a 0.88 WHIP, a .190 opponent’s average and a .483 opponent’s OPS during that span.

Pittsburgh fans can find someone to root for even if the San Diego Padres win the World Series (Joe Musgrove), or the Atlanta Braves (Charlie Morton) repeat.

2022 MLB on Peacock schedule: How to watch, live stream Sunday morning baseball games online

Wouldn’t it be something if…the Cardinals beat the Mets in the postseason (with Adam Wainwright getting the final outs)?

In 2006, the Mets won 97 games. The Cardinals won 83 games. But the two teams met in the NLCS, and in Game 7, the Cards had a 3-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth. Rookie Adam Wainwright closed it out, slamming the door and eliminating the Mets by striking out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to end the game.

Wouldn’t it be something if all these years later, the Cardinals once again eliminated the heavily-favored Mets in the deciding game with Wainwright (9-9, 3.09) on the mound!

And if that happened…

Wouldn’t it be something if…the Cardinals beat the Yankees in the World Series (with Jordan Montgomery eliminating his former team)?

Jordan Montgomery was traded from the Yankees to the Cardinals in exchange for Harrison Bader. Montgomery, in his first five starts for St. Louis, is 4-0, with 1.76 ERA and a WHIP of 0.815. How great would it be for Monty, who started the season as the Yankees’ No. 3 starter, eliminates New York.

Of course, October is a long way away. Perhaps Harrison Bader will run down a long blast by Nolan Arenado or Paul Goldschmidt to save a game for the Yankees.

I know what you’re thinking. Even if the Cardinals make the World Series, the Yankees may fall in the ALCS to the Astros. And if that were the case…

RELATED: Does Pujols deserve more respect?

Wouldn’t it be something if…the Cardinals and Astros meet in the World Series, a rematch of the 2004 NLCS (when St. Louis won) and the 2005 NLCS (when Houston won)?

Albert Pujols was the MVP of the 2004 NLCS versus the Houston Astros. Albert batted .500 (14-28 AB) with 1.000 SLG, 1.563 OPS, and 4 HR in the series! Imagine if he has a surge in the very late stages of his career. In the 2005 series, he hit a ninth-inning blast off Brad Lidge that’s a signature highlight in a career full of them.

I know, the Cardinals are a long shot. The Mets have a much better chance of reaching the World Series. So:

Wouldn’t it be something if…Buck Showalter finally makes the World Series in his 21st year as a Major League manager…and loses the Series when the Yankees bring in a reliever named (check notes…) Zack Britton to slam the door on Buck’s Mets?

Well before Timmy Trumpet, Showalter once had an elite reliever in his stint with the Orioles, Zack Britton. In 2016, Britton saved 47 games in 47 save opportunities. The Orioles won 89 games in 2016, and played in the one-game Wild Card in Toronto. The elimination game was tied 2-2 after five innings. And six innings. And seven innings. And eight innings. And nine innings. And ten innings. Buck kept waiting for his Birds to score a run, to bring in the great Britton to close out the Jays. Trouble is, he never did get Zack into the game, and eventually Ubaldo Jimenez lost the game for Buck in the 11th.

Just a thought. If there’s an opportunity to get Edwin Diaz late in a tie game on the road, do it. If you go down, go down with your best.

RELATED: Rogers: Mets are ‘built for postseason’

Wouldn’t it be something if Buck Showalter finally makes it to the World Series against the Astros and Dusty Baker? One of them has to win, right? Please tell me someone has to win.

Is it even remotely possible that Dusty’s team blows another series lead? Baker shouldn’t have lost the 2002 World Series to the Angels, or the 2021 World Series to the Braves. He shouldn’t have blown a 2-0 series lead to the Giants in a 2012 best-of-five series. He shouldn’t have blown a three-run lead with five outs to go in Game 7 of a 2003 series to the Marlins. And only Dusty — poor Dusty — can have a lead after four innings of a winner-take-all game, bring in Max Scherzer — and still lose the game and series, as Dusty’s Nats did against the Cubs in 2017.

Wouldn’t it be something if the 2022 World Series were a rematch of the 2017 World Series? Only this time, Clayton Kershaw pitches on a level playing field, if you know what I mean. Man, it would be great to see Clayton start a game in Houston.

Remember what happened when Kershaw started Game 5 of the ’17 series in Houston? Clayton was unhittable in Game 1 of that series at Dodger Stadium; but in Game 5, Kershaw blew a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning, and a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth.

I know Kershaw found redemption in the 2020 World Series in Arlington, Texas against Tampa Bay. But I want more. I want Clayton to shut down Altuve, Bregman, and Gurriel in Houston. In a World Series. Wouldn’t that be something?

And if the Astros defeated the Dodgers, I would feel so glad for Dusty Baker, who would have a World Series championship as a player for the Dodgers (in 1981) and as a manager against the Dodgers (41 years later, in 2022).

RELATED: Astros ace Justin Verlander placed on IL with calf injury

Wouldn’t it be something if someone other than the Astros or Yankees made the World Series?  Wouldn’t it be something if the Mariners defeated the Yankees?

Time for a little history lesson. In 2001, the Mariners had a historic regular season, winning 116 games. But they lost the ALCS to the Yankees in five games. In Game 5 at Yankee Stadium, with the Yankees blowing out Seattle 9-0 and eventually eliminating them 12-3, the Bronx crowd chanted “Over-rated” at the Mariners.

Classy, I know. But wouldn’t it be something if the tides were reversed a generation later, and the heavily-favored Yankees fell in Seattle, with the Pacific Northwest crowd serenading the Yankees with the “over-rated” chant?

Wouldn’t it be something if…Rays manager Kevin Cash refuses to take out a starting pitcher that is on his game?

Wouldn’t it be something if…Bryce Harper finally was part of a winning playoff series? Harper appeared been in four Division Series as a member of the Nationals, and lost all four. 

Wouldn’t it be something if…Francisco Lindor makes the World Series against his former Cleveland team and manager Terry Francona?

As the rock group Green Day sang, “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

MLB schedule 2022: Every Sunday morning baseball game on Peacock, matchups, what to know

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Sunday baseball is officially coming to Peacock this May! 18 MLB games will be featured on the streaming service starting with the Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Sunday, May 8 at 11:30 p.m. ET. See below for the full Sunday baseball on Peacock schedule.

Sunday Baseball on Peacock schedule

Date Time Matchup
May 8 11:30 a.m. ET Chicago White Sox at Boston Red Sox
May 15 11:30 a.m. ET San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves
May 22 11:30 a.m. ET St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
May 29 11:30 a.m. ET San Francisco Giants at Cincinnati Reds
June 5 11:30 a.m. ET Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees
June 12 11:30 a.m. ET Oakland Athletics at Cleveland Guardians
June 19 Noon ET Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals
June 26 Noon ET New York Mets at Miami Marlins
July 3 Noon ET Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers
July 10 Noon ET Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles
July 17 Noon ET Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays
July 24 Noon ET Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia Phillies
July 31 Noon ET Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays
August 7 Noon ET Houston Astros at Cleveland Guardians
August 14 Noon ET San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals
August 21 Noon ET Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Guardians
August 28 Noon ET Los Angeles Dodgers at Miami Marlins
September 4 Noon ET Toronto Blue Jays at Pittsburgh Pirates

How to watch the MLB on Peacock                              

Baseball is back and for the first time ever MLB games are coming to Peacock this May, featuring a total of 18 Sunday match ups. Click here to sign up for Peacock and watch MLB games live on Sunday mornings!

The first MLB game on Peacock will take place on Sunday, May 8 at 11:30 a.m. ET as the Chicago White Sox battle it out with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The game will also be available on the NBC broadcast network.

In addition to MLB games, Peacock will also feature a new MLB hub which will include access to highlight packages and award-winning documentaries from the MLB Film & Video Archive.

Opening Day for the 2022 MLB season takes place on Thursday, April 7 and the league will stick to its original slate of 162 games despite a 99-day-lockout. For more on the 2022 MLB season click here.

See below for additional information on how to watch MLB on Peacock.

How can I watch baseball on Peacock and what devices are compatible?

Peacock is currently available on the Roku platform; Amazon FireTV and Fire tablets; Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; Google platforms and devices including Android™, Android TV™ devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices;  Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; Sony PlayStation4 and PlayStation 4 Pro; Samsung Smart TVs; VIZIO SmartCast™ TVs; LG Smart TVs; Comcast’s entertainment platforms including Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex, and XClass TV; and Cox’s Contour and Contour Stream Player devices. To learn more about Peacock and how to sign up, visit PeacockTV.com.