Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press did a terrific job incorporating advanced defensive metrics into a recent article about Delmon Young.
She spoke to sabermetricians Bill James and John Dewan while noting that the 30 pounds Young lost last offseason didn’t actually lead to major improvement in his fielding numbers and then used her access to get comments from manager Ron Gardenhire and outfield coach Jerry White.
For all the silliness trying to pit new-school versus old-school, I’m hoping to see more mainstream writers blend the two like Smith did.
My favorite excerpt is this Gardenhire quote:
We thought he was running faster, but that just meant he was chasing the balls he missed faster.
It’d be even funnier if it weren’t so true, as Ultimate Zone Rating pegged Young as being 10 runs below average defensively last year. On the other hand White said Young “is actually a good outfielder” and “knows how to play guys.” I find it almost impossible to believe White thinks Young “is actually a good outfielder,” but the guy in charge of coaching outfield defense doesn’t have much to gain by saying otherwise.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.