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The Nomar Enigma

No one denies that when Nomar hits the road he leaves his bat behind. Past the midway point and 175 at bats later Nomar has a pathetic 517 OPS.  When you look at Nomar's overall numbers you start to wonder why he is starting at 3rd base. His overall numbers leave much to be desired by a 3rd baseman but he has several things going for him that will allow him to keep his job for the time being.

  1. His reputation that is grounded in his excellent career up to this point.
  2. He hits at home. He is not hitting at his historical clip but he is hitting. Even before his little power surge this weekend his OPS was near 800 fueled by an excellent OBP of 398. Nomar started the current home stand with a home OPS of 797. The spread between his home/away was 280 points. With the current home stand at an end his home OPS is now up to 825 making his home/away spread 308 points. Bob Timmerman the author of the  did some research last week and couldn't find any Los Angeles Dodger with over 300 plate appearances who had a larger split in history. Leon Wagner gave it a run for his money but he was a California Angel when he played in Dodger stadium.
As they hit the road will Nomar take this momentum with him or will he leave it behind as he's done on every trip this year? How he does on this trip may very well determine who is the starting 3rd baseman when the Dodgers return because Wilson Betemit is smoking hot. In July, Betemit has the following line 500/600/875/1.475 in 30 at bats. That is Barry Bonds hot. A lot of people are clamoring for Betemit to take over 3b and become the regular Dodger 3b with Nomar becoming the utility guy. Is this the right call? I always believed in Betemit's power but the patience has come out of nowhere and I have little faith that it is for real, however I'd like to find out. When a player is this hot, he should be playing every day. I don't think Nomar is done as Joe Sheehan, Jim Callis, Keith Law, and just about anybody on the internet with an opinion has stated, and I don't think Betemit is this good. What we have are probably two players who once their numbers normalize are going to give us an OPS between 800-850 but Betemit is young enough that I'd take the chance on him rather then on Nomar. If it were my call, Betemit would be playing 3b everyday this road trip against RHP.

For a position that looked so weak as we rounded into May it is now looking very strong. Betemit has come on like gangbusters, Nomar has finally added some power and continues to do the job at home but the biggest light is the performance of Andy La Roche since he came off the minor league DL. When we last saw Andy he was taking a walk and doing nothing else. He went down to AAA and still did nothing and many were starting to write him off as an over hyped Dodger prospect. Then word came that the shoulder had been bothering him and he went on the DL. Check these numbers out since he's returned:
July 429/477/1.036/1.513 with 9 home runs and 22 rbi's in 15 games.