DODGERS SCORE BIG
WITH YOUNG TALENT
Since moving to
Los Angeles in 1958, the Dodgers have led the National League in runs scored in
a season only twice, in '74 and '78, yet they were atop that category at week's
end despite a spate of injuries to their regulars and no one among the top 27
qualifiers in the NL batting race. The explanation: L.A. is copying the 2005
Braves--contending while at the same time revamping their lineup with young
players from a flush farm system.
Willy Aybar, 23; catcher Russ Martin, 23; outfielder Andre Ethier, 24; and
infielder Joel Guzman, 21, look like keepers (combined stats: .298 batting
average, 10 home runs, 60 RBIs), while power-packed outfielder Matt Kemp, 21,
has the highest ceiling of all. Kemp belted six home runs in his first 13 major
league games--including two on Sunday that led the Dodgers to a 6--5 win over
the Rockies--while slugging .829. Though Kemp (left) hadn't played above Class
A until this year, he might never see the minors again.
Now the Dodgers
are looking for a starting pitcher and even more offense, with Nationals
outfielder Alfonso Soriano (.302, 23 HRs, 47 RBIs) at the top of their list of
catcher Victor Martinez (right) can hit--his 43 RBIs were second among American
League backstops--but he throws so poorly that he will always be dogged by
critics who say that he should change positions and play first base instead.
This season Martinez had thrown out only five base stealers in 48 chances. Says
one AL scout, "He's the next Mike Piazza. He's that bad
?The joy of six:
On 6-6-06 the eight major leaguers wearing number 6 who played that day hit a
combined .412. Among the group, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard had the best
day, going 3 for 4 with two doubles. Only Brewers shortstop Jeff Cirillo went
?With quick feet
and an equally quick release, Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander is the rare
righthander with a wicked pickoff move. He's nabbed five runners already and
allowed only one stolen base in three tries over 78 innings.
? Adrian Beltre's
explosive 2004 season for the Dodgers, which helped him get a five-year, $64
million free-agent contract from the Mariners, is looking increasingly like one
of history's most anomalous seasons. Through Sunday, Beltre (above, left) had a
.336 slugging percentage, compared with .629 in '04, and he was the majors'
worst hitter with runners in scoring position (.141) among those with at least
50 such at bats.