In what I generally consider to be a deck chair shuffling move, the Dodgers fired hitting coach Eddie Murray and will replace him in the interim with guy we're paying 4.5 million dollars so we might as well make him do something Bill Mueller. Ned Colletti gave this parting shot to Eddie Murray to the Associated Press.
While that seems all well and good, can the Dodgers offense really be a lot better than it is now? Jon Weisman tackled this question earlier today, but I wanted to look at it in a more scientific manner. To do this, I compared the equivalent averages of the Dodgers starters to what PECOTA projected them to do.
The first thing that caught my eye is that the person that has most exceeded expectations is not Russell Martin or Luis Gonzalez, it's Wilson Betemit. When you combine his performance with the expected contributions we've received from Andy LaRoche and Tony Abreu, you can argue that third base has actually been one of our most valuable positions. A far cry from the gaping hole that it's made out to be.
Other than that, there aren't very many surprises here. Martin and Gonzalez are outdoing their expected performance by a good deal, while Nomar and Andre Ethier are doing their best to sabotage the Dodger offense. Juan Pierre also hasn't even lived up to limited expectations, but his base talent was so low anyway that he's not hurting the Dodgers like Nomar and Ethier are.
The next question is which Dodgers are primed to bounce back? The simplest way to do this is to look at the player's batting average. If it's unreasonably low, and his isolated stats are fine, he's due for a bounce back. This tells me that Jeff Kent is due to bounce back, but the rest of the team is less likely to become productive.
The more advanced way to do this is to look at a player's PrOPS, or predicted OPS. PrOPS calculates what a players OPS should be with the batted ball types he's produced throughout the season. PrOPS indicates that every Dodger starter except Furcal, Martin and Abreu are under performing right now. But even if they moved to their predicted numbers, many Dodgers would still be putting up unacceptable numbers. Nomar goes from a .651 OPS to .680? Ethier from .713 to .754? Interestingly, the Dodger that's primed to make the biggest improvement is the guy who has exceeded expectations the most, Wilson Betemit. If Betemit can continue to display the patience he's shown this season, he'll have covered the gigantic hole in his game and can ascend to being an All Star level third baseman. Now, this it may be a bit unrealistic to expect Betemit to keep up a .139 isolated patience, but if he continues to walk at even a good rate he'll go from a utility player to someone that needs to be in the starting lineup.
Yes, the Dodgers lineup can be better, but "a lot better"? I don't think so. When you consider that the Dodgers have scored eight more runs than they should have this year, it seems like the slight improvements that can be made by most of the lineup will be canceled out by regression to the mean. Firing Eddie Murray might make Ned Colletti feel better, but I don't know if it's going to help the team all that much.
A small thing that caught my eye as Nate Silver was discussing his plan for rebuilding the White Sox:
I'm trying to think of things that would be more depressing, but they're not coming to me.