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Applying FanGraphs aggregate stats to some old Dodgers favorites

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FanGraphs has a new tool

Los Angeles Dodgers

FanGraphs was already an indispensable baseball research site, but they added a new tool this week, allowing users to sum a particular string of years or games on various player pages.

This has been one of the defining features at Baseball-Reference for years, and now both top baseball research sites have that capability. So I decided to look through several Dodgers players pages at FanGraphs to perhaps find any new information.

Pedro Guerrero’s scorching summer

My first full year of intently watching baseball was 1985, and Pedro Guerrero dominated the summer. In June, the Dodgers star hit 15 home runs, tying the major league record held by Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, and Bob Johnson, and setting a new National League mark, the latter since broken.

But what most people forget about Guerrero was that he followed his June by hitting .460/.563/.794 in July. FanGraphs already had the ability to parse out player stats by month, but for older seasons there was no method to find stats for a specific time period, until now.

From June 1 to July 31, 1985, Guerrero hit .391/.489/.833. I already knew that thanks to Baseball-Reference, but FanGraphs gives comparative data for these sets, too. For instance, Guerrero had a .550 wOBA and 264 wRC+ in those two months. Incredible.

Guerrero also started his August that year with home runs in five of his first six games in the month, slamming two doubles in the other game. From June 1 to August 9, his wRC+ was 272, with 24 home runs in 51 games.

Streakers

During Guerrero’s red-hot summer of 1985, he set a Dodgers record by reaching base in 14 consecutive plate appearances, from July 23-26. FanGraphs doesn’t have the ability to parse individual plate appearances from games, so that first game included two outs, but in Guerrero’s four-game stretch he produced a .927 wOBA and 523 wRC+. He also scored in 10 of those 14 PA.

That got me thinking about some other Dodgers streaks. Willie Davis had the longest hitting streak in franchise history at 31 games in 1969, but unfortunately FanGraphs doesn’t have full game logs before 1974.

But we can see Andre Ethier’s 30-game hit streak from 2011, during which he hit .397/.462/.560, with a .443 wOBA and 189 wRC+.

In 2012, Ethier tied a Dodgers record with hits in 10 consecutive at-bats. In that three-game stretch, from Aug. 22-25, Ethier had a .994 wOBA and 557 wRC+.

Dueling finishes

The two longest scoreless-inning streaks in major league history belong to Dodgers. We don’t have advance stats on Don Drysdale’s 58 scoreless innings in 1968, but we do have numbers on Orel Hershiser in 1988.

Hershiser’s scoreless streak began in the sixth inning on Aug. 30 in Montreal, but if we go back a little more than a week his finishing run included eight complete games followed by 10 scoreless innings. The total from that stretch: 82 innings, four runs allowed, a 0.44 ERA, a 13 ERA-, with a 1.93 FIP and 56 FIP-. In September alone, Hershiser allowed no runs in 55 innings with a 2.02 FIP and 59 FIP-.

The next year, Hershiser’s totals looked remarkably similar in several ways:

  • 1988: 1,068 batters faced, 2.26 ERA, 149 ERA+, 178 strikeouts, 63 unintentional walks
  • 1989: 1,047 batters faced, 2.31 ERA, 149 ERA+, 178 strikeouts, 63 unintentional walks

But after going 23-8 in his Cy Young-winning season, Hershiser dropped to just 15-15 the next year despite essentially the same year on the mound.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

“I thought ‘89 was a better year than ‘88 personally, because my ERA was only [five-tenths] of a point higher, and I didn’t have the 59 scoreless,” Hershiser told me last year. “As far as consistency, it was a better year.”

So why did Hershiser lost so many games? Run support, or lack thereof. He lost seven straight down the stretch, the last six of those losses coming in a seven-start stretch that saw the Dodgers score four total runs and were shut out four times.

“The joke back then was, my team was trying to break my scoreless streak,” Hershiser recalled.

Hershiser had to pitch 11 innings in his final start of 1989 just to even his record at 15-15. Over his final eight starts that year, Hershiser had a 1.86 ERA, a 55 ERA-, a 2.71 FIP, and a 76 FIP-.

Other memories

There are surely countless other nuggets and tidbits to explore with this fun new tool at FanGraphs. It’s enough to get lost for hours.