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2014 Dodgers review: Brandon League

League struck out 25 percent of batters faced in two months with the Dodgers in 2012. Since then, after signing a three-year contract, League's strikeout rate is 12.6 percent.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

No matter what happens with Brandon League, he will be viewed through the prism of his terrible $22.5 million contract. But putting money aside and after a bad 2013, League was a reasonably useful member of the Dodgers' bullpen in 2014. Here is a look back at his season.

What went right

League went back to his bread and butter in 2014, throwing his sinker 75.3 percent of the time (per Brooks Baseball), more frequently than any other year since 2010, compared to 65 percent of the time in his previous year and a half with the Dodgers.

That sinker helped League induce ground balls at a remarkable 67.5 percent, his highest mark since 2006 and second-highest rate in baseball among pitchers with 50 innings.

As a wise man once said, nobody ever hit a ground ball for a home run, and League took that quite literally in 2014, allowing zero home runs in his 63 innings. League was just the second Dodgers pitcher in the live ball era (1920-present) to allow no home runs in a season with at least 60 innings, joining Jack Billingham (71⅓ innings) in 1968, aka the year of the pitcher.

Those ground balls came in handy for League to induce 15 double plays in 75 opportunities (with a runner on first base and less than two outs), a 20-percent rate tied for seventh among all NL pitchers with at least 20 double play opportunities. League induced double plays at nearly double the league rate of 10.9 percent.

What went wrong

But having 75 double play opportunities to begin with is a lot, sixth among NL relief pitchers in 2014. Eleven of those opportunities were inherited runners from previous pitchers, with League putting himself in a double play situation 64 times. That's the price League paid with his 1.460 WHIP and .358 on-base percentage allowed.

Left-handed batters continued to succeed against League, batting .313/.404/.350 in 96 plate appearances, with 11 walks and just 10 strikeouts.

League overcame a terrible 2013 campaign and had to work his way back to pitching in actual important roles by choice rather than by necessity. League put up a 2.06 ERA in 34 games through June, with an average leverage index (aLI) that was just average, at 1.02 (defined by Baseball-Reference as average leverage of 1.0 with higher numbers corresponding to more important parts of the game).

In the final three months of the season League put up a 3.42 ERA in much-higher leverage situations (an aLI of 1.32), but also had just 15 strikeouts to go with 14 walks in 23⅔ innings, a strikeout rate of just 13.4 percent.

But League's strikeout rate on the season was only 13.9 percent. Among the 330 pitchers with at least 50 innings in 2014, League ranked 314th in strikeout rate, and his K-BB% with 38 strikeouts and 27 walks was just 4 percent, which ranked 322nd.

2014 particulars

Age: 31

Salary: $7.5 million

Game of the year

After a pretty good start to his season in April, League pitched two scoreless innings in the 10th and 11th in Miami on May 3, picking up the win in the Dodgers' 9-7 win over the Marlins. League struck out two, and with closer Kenley Jansen unavailable League finished off the win with a perfect 11th inning.

Roster status

League has one season left on his ill-advised three-year deal, also known as the Uribe Zone. League will make $7.5 million in salary in 2015 plus the final $2 million of his $3 million signing bonus. If League finishes 55 games — something he has only done once, in 2011 — in 2015, he will get a $7.5 million player option for 2016. Several people will have been fired or badly hurt, or both, if that is allowed to happen.