The Fortnight – 6/18/13

Ah, another fortnight has passed. How did you spend them? Perhaps you were deeply immersed in the Teapot Dome scandal? Perhaps you were eagerly awaiting the release of “Yeezus?” Perhaps you were simply watching the paint dry in anticipation of the next iteration of this series? I know I was doing at least one of these things.

As always, you can peep the explanation of our depth charts and standings pages — which fuel The Fortnight like so much lemon lime Gatorade — here. This week, we’ll be looking at the fortnight’s biggest losers.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Projected Full-Season Record: 78-84, .483 (21st)
Last Fortnight: 80-82, .493 (18th)

The Dodgers and Angels annually participate in the Freeway Series, and are 2-2 against their neighbors to the south this season. But the real series that they are participating in this season is that of the most underachieving team. Both have been beset by numerous setbacks, and while many of the Dodgers’ setbacks have been of an injury nature, the faith in the boys in blue is waning. They are still one of the top 10 teams in terms of projected rest of season performance, but they lost ground there in this past fortnight as well.

This season has seen a few two steps forward, two steps back scenarios play out in Dodgertown. The most recent one, of course, is inserting Yasiel Puig in the lineup by moving Andre Ethier to center field. One of the primary components to being a good center fielder is having good range, and that is simply not something that Ethier carries around in his toolbox. Since he debuted in 2006 only 12 qualified outfielders have a worse RngR mark than does Ethier, and four of them are retired. Of course, one of the 12 is also Matt Kemp, so perhaps the Dodgers aren’t doing any worse in center field than they were before. They could be, mind you — Scott Van Slyke, who certainly seems to be a superior defender to Ethier — has started in left field in the same game in which Ethier has started in center five times.

This is just one of the ways that the Dodgers’ position players have faltered. As a unit, they are not hitting at an average rate, fielding at an average rate or running the bases at an average rate. The pitchers, even with Clayton Kershaw big pimpin’ on the entire planet, have been worse. The Angels aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders themselves, but at least as a team they’re hitting well. Right now, it’s hard to look at the Dodgers and see anything other than the most disappointing team in the game, at least relative to expectations.

Texas Rangers
Projected Full-Season Record: 90-72, .553 (5th)
Last Fortnight: 93-69, .575 (2nd)

The Rangers, on the other hand, have not disappointed at all. They have, however, slipped a little bit — three spots to be precise, same as the Dodgers. The last trip through the rotation has seen Justin Grimm, Josh Lindblom and Nick Tepesch joining Yu Darvish and Derek Holland. In other words, it’s not a good time for Derek Holland to remember that he’s Derek Holland. After allowing just 29 runs in his first 79.2 innings (3.28 RA) he has allowed eight in his last 10.1 innings (6.97). With neither Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz nor Alexi Ogando expected back any time soon, it’s going to fall on Darvish and Holland to carry the rotation. In other words, Holland needs to shake off this slump quickly. Three wins isn’t a great deal, but with the A’s showing no signs of relenting, the Rangers can’t afford to squander any.

Chicago White Sox
Projected Full-Season Record: 74-88, .459 (25th)
Last Fortnight: 76-86, .471 (21st)

When I make the caveat that the Dodgers are the most disappointing team relative to expectations, I do so with the White Sox in mind. They did not enter the season with the expectations that the Dodgers carried, but for a team that has been very competitive for much of the past decade, this was not the start to the season that many envisioned for the Pale Hose.

Perhaps most disappointing is the way that Paul Konerko is going out. Konerko is a favorite son on the South Side, and he is in the last year of his deal, which makes his start all the more atrocious. Looking at his stats, it appears that Konerko is doing little different than he we are accustomed to seeing from him, but there may be a clue in his performance against fastballs. Never a stalwart against breaking or offspeed pitches, much of Konerko’s value has been derived from his performance against the cheese. And this season, he simply is not hitting them like he has in the past. His 0.41 wFA/C ranks just 86th out of 161 qualified hitters, and is one of the reasons that his performance has lagged.

The White Sox haven’t finished in last place since 1984, but in order to keep that streak alive

Cleveland Indians
Projected Full-Season Record: 78-84, .482 (20th)
Last Fortnight: 82-80, .507 (14th)

If it was possible for the Indians could be represented by one album, I would submit that it would be Things Fall Apart by The Roots. For the past few seasons, the Indians have gotten off to a good start only to have things come crashing down around them. Since we last left off, Asdrubal Cabrera and Zach McAllister have hit the disabled list, and Nick Swisher has been hobbled as well. Mark Reynolds has cooled off significantly, and to a lesser degree Michael Bourn has as well. And Yan Gomesarray of awesome potential nicknames can’t hide the fact that he has also slowed down, and given his 2.9% walk rate it may not be very long before his 123 wRC+ dips down back into double digits.

Much to Carson Cistulli’s delight, the Corey Kluber train keeps right on rolling, as has Carlos Santana. And Jason Kipnis has picked it up of late as well. But the team’s recent eight-game losing streak — including three at the hands of the Tigers — did some damage to Cleveland’s full-season projection. They will probably need more than Kluber’s brand of voodoo to get all of their pistons pumping full speed ahead once more.




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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times and a writer and editor for FanGraphs. He has written for the Boston Globe, ESPN MLB Insider and ESPN the Magazine, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.


One Response to “The Fortnight – 6/18/13”

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  1. Baltar says:

    “For the past few seasons, the Indians have gotten off to a good start only to have things come crashing down around them.”
    I don’t really have any feelings about the Indians one way or another, but I, too, am amazed how consistently they manage to do this.
    I have to believe it’s a fluke since I can hardly believe in a starting-well-but-then-blowing-quality for something as nebulous as a franchise, whose players and managers vary from year-to-year.
    But the Indians are testing my beliefs.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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