Lest we forget the rest of the club is still a damn good team. The suspension of Manny Ramirez runs through July 2, for a total of 50 games. There are four other clubs that think they are going to gain on the Dodgers during Manny's absence, so here's a goal for the Dodgers: "win" the division over this 50-game stretch. Widen your 6 game lead.
The Dodgers did just that.
Without Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers had to settle for simply the best record in the National League. Here is a look at the top records in the National League since May 7:
Despite a furious rally from Colorado, and improved play from the Giants, the Dodgers did not give up any ground without their superstar. Let's take a look at how the Dodgers did it:
Dodger Batter of the Manny-Free Zone: Juan Pierre did more than we could have reasonably asked for in Manny's absence (.318/.381/.411, 21/28 SB), and for the first three weeks Pierre was producing at a level damn near Ramirez. However, the main cog in the Dodger offensive wheel was The Beard, Casey Blake. Blake migrated from the 8th spot in the order all the way up to cleanup, and that he did. Don't let the seemingly low total of six homers fool you. Blake added 15 doubles, and hit .319/.371/.530, easily the best OPS on the club, while driving in 33 runs.
Dodger Pitcher of the Manny-Free Zone: Clayton Kershaw was very good (2.63 ERA over 10 starts) but also wild, keeping him from going deep into games. I'm giving this award to Ronald Belisario, who logged over 30 innings (as did Ramon Troncoso) and put up a stellar 1.19. That wickedly moving fastball has served him and the Dodgers well this season.
Pre-Suspension Record: 21-8 (.724)
161 runs scored (5.55 per game)
106 runs allowed (3.66 per game)
.698 pythagorean winning percentage
Manny-Less Record: 29-21 (.580)
220 runs scored (4.40 per game)
191 runs allowed (3.82 per game)
.570 pythagorean winning percentage
Thanks For The Chance: It could be argued that without the Ramirez suspension, the Dodgers wouldn't have had the need to call up outfielders Xavier Paul, Jamie Hoffmann, or Mitch Jones, each of whom made their major league debut during the suspension. The three combined to hit .224/.273/.429, and quite frankly the .701 OPS isn't out the range of expected production of 4th outfielder Juan Pierre (2009 PECOTA prediction: .293/.334/.356)
What Is This Bench You Speak Of?: Juan Pierre not only took over for Manny during the suspension, but he played every second of every game, appearing in 462.2 defensive innings without a rest. His workload is about to become dramatically different, as he will move to the bench and give the club a viable left-handed batter Joe Torre can use in the late innings, and getting a spot start once or twice a week as needed.
What's Next?: Mannywood invades San Diego, and True Blue LA will be there!
Manny-Less 50-Game Stats