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Dodgers notes: Attendance, Will Smith, starting pitcher trends

Los Angeles Dodgers v Texas Rangers Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

The Dodgers will hold DodgerFest later Saturday at Dodger Stadium as a final sendoff for fans before spring training. Here’s a look at a few stories from the last week to take us into the weekend.

In every full season under the current ownership group — dating back to 2013, excluding 2020 when there were no fans in any stands — the Dodgers have led the majors in attendance, including topping 3.8 million in each of the last four seasons in which stadium capacities weren’t limited by a pandemic.

Bill Shaikin at the Los Angeles Times looked at how the Dodgers, now with Shohei Ohtani on board, could make a push to reach four million fans, and how they are effectively the last pro sports team that could reach such a milestone. From Shaikin:

“We’ve been pretty consistent in the 3.8 range, 3.7 to 3.9,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten said. “Do I think it will be a little better than that? Probably. But we have to go out there and perform. I don’t take that for granted.”

Links

Esteban Rivera at FanGraphs looked at various hitters who got stuck with too much weight on their back foot in 2023. Included were a few Dodgers with leg kicks, including Will Smith, who struggled mightily down the stretch, and Kiké Hernández, who cleaned things up mechanically after returning to Los Angeles.

Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus looked at trends in starting pitcher usage over several decades, and especially most recently, with starts getting shorter and shorter:

What’s clear though is that two major changes in the play of modern baseball—the shortened start and the increase in strikeouts—are related to each other. For the same reason that teams started favoring shorter relief appearances in favor of relievers who would just “air it out” for an inning, they began doing the same with their starters. Blake Snell rode that all the way to two Cy Young Awards.

In case you missed it Friday, strong major-league-ready pitching depth has the Dodgers farm system ranked in the top 10 in MLB at Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN.

On the latest Three-Inning Save podcast, Jacob Burch and I talked about the Dodgers’ addition of James Paxton.