Friday, May 08, 2015

Here are April's Dodger Pride Award Winners - Minor League Players of the Month

The Dodgers just announced their April 2015 Dodger Pride Award Winners.  These awards celebrate the franchises best performers in the Minor Leagues for the month of April.  This year, instead of naming a fielder and pitcher for each Minor League club they are classifying the awards into three categories: “Strong Mind Pitcher of the Month,” “Strong Mind Position Player of the Month” and “Strong Mind Teammate of the Month.”  Per the press release:
The winners of the pitcher and position player of the month are selected based on a strict statistical method incorporating several baseball measureables, including best first-pitch strike percentage, best 1-1 count strike percentage, best overall strike percentage, best walk-strikeout ratio, best swing percentage on strikes and lowest chase rate. The teammate of the month is voted on by players, coaches and staff. 
Quantification is what it's all about. Check out the winners below.

Strong Mind Pitcher of the Month

RHP Scott Baker- Triple-A Oklahoma City: In three starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City, he went 1-1 with a 1.06 ERA (2 ER/17.0 IP) and struck out 16 against just one walk. The 33-year-old veteran was had great command, throwing 73.4% of his pitches for strikes, ranking near the top in the Dodger minor league affiliates. He would get ahead in the count against most batters he faced, throwing 70.5% of his first pitches for strikes and 66.7% for strikes on a 1-1 count. He led the Pacific Coast league with a 0.65 WHIP and a .169 opposing batting average. The right-hander earned a call-up to Los Angeles and made two starts for the Dodgers, after having his contract selected on April 26.

I am such a flake.  I had failed to make a fantasy Baseball card for Scott Baker when he initially joined the Dodgers 25-man roster a few weeks ago, so this is a bit belated.  Shown above is Baker's card featuring a photo originally taken by Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo/LA DOdgers 2015 and the 1987 Topps Baseball card design.


Strong Mind Position Player of the Month

(Pic via MiLB)
IF/OF Jarek Cunningham - Single-A Rancho Cucamonga:  The 25-year-old infielder/outfielder topped the California League with 21 RBI and tied for second with three triples in April, while posting a .325 batting average (25-for-77) with 11 runs, six doubles, three triples and a home run in 19 games. Cunningham was swinging at 74.7% of pitches thrown for strike, while ranking second among all Dodger minor leaguers swinging at 75.0% of in-zone fastballs on the first pitch.  Cunningham posted a 14-game hitting streak from April 14-29, hitting .345 with three doubles and 15 RBI during that span. He was originally signed by the Dodgers as a free agent on Jan. 20, 2015.


Strong Mind Teammate of the Month

(pic via MiLB)
IF/OF Mike Ahmed – Single-A Great Lakes: The Springfield, Massachusetts, native batted .290 (20-for-69) with five doubles, one triple, four RBI and seven steals in 17 games. He posted an eight-game hitting streak from April 12-20, batting .333 with three doubles and seven runs during that span. The 23-year-old was originally selected by the Dodgers in the 20th round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft out of the College of the Holy Cross.

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Duke Snider did some Pitching - Pitching Ovaltine

Lights, Cameras, Action!

During the Golden Age of Baseball you would often find the brightest stars of the game promoting every product imaginable on print, radio and television.  Fortunately, much of those efforts remain memorialized as collectibles from the period.  There are cardboard ad signs, pins and cards of your favorite players available for just about every consumer good on the market.  Best yet, some of the television commercials from the period can now be seen on YouTube.

Featured here is something that melds both the memorabilia aspect with an actual television commercial that you can still watch today. I recently came across an old copy of an advertising agency storyboard for a commercial that featured Dodger great Duke Snider selling Ovaltine powdered chocolate milk on eBay, and knew I had to share it here.  Check it out above and below.

The commercial features Captain Midnight, originally a radio serial superhero, giving a young lad a tour of the "Secret Squadron Hall of Fame."  The kid is introduced to such sports greats as "Crazylegs" Hirsh of the LA Rams, champion swimmer Florence Chadwick and finally slugger Duke Snider.

Unfortunately, it's tough to tell what exactly the storyboard and attached script says, but we can watch the final product via Classic TV Commercials on YouTube.  Check it out below.

Video Link:

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Blog Kiosk: 5/8/2015 - Dodger Links - Kapler on Intangibles, Puig's Rehab and Grandal's Big Day

What a monster day at the plate for Yasmani Grandal.  Yesterday he went 4 for 4 with two - three run home runs, two walks and eight RBI's.  He did most of his damage when the Dodgers were already well on their way to a victory - his two homers came in the 8th and 9th innings.  Nevertheless, it was a nice break-out for the young catcher.  Heck, it was an legendary game overall.  Per Aaron Gleeman at Hardball Talk,
– He’s the first catcher with two home runs, eight RBIs, and six times on base in a game since Walker Cooper of the Reds in 1949.
Yasmani also had this to say, via Andrew Wagner at
“It’s a new team and I want to do good,” Grandal said. “I understand that last year, RBIs wasn’t a big thing for me. I wanted to get those RBIs so I was pressing a lot. Every time I got a good hit, it was straight at guys. I guess it was a good move to change the lineup a little bit.”
The photo above of Alex Guerrero congratulating Grandal was shared by the @Dodgers on twitter. Below are some more links to check out:
Scouting is hard. We, as an industry, simply haven’t figured out how to appropriately measure and value intangibles. We’re still learning, and I have no doubts that a clever individual will create a method to do so. Right now, quantifying those intangibles remains elusive.
  • Via Brian Melley at AP, "Bryan Stow's attacker goes from smirking to begging for judge's mercy."  He ended up receiving three additional years to his eight year sentence for the federal gun charges.
  • Yasiel Puig went hitless in four at-bats during his first rehab assignment in Rancho Cucamongo last night, but he did make a new friend via a tweet from @RCQuakes.
  • The item below is absolutely fantastic, and I'm leaving it here for posterity.  Featured is a circa 1880's Baseball themed bowling pins set sold through RSL Auctions.  Per the auction description:
Probably by Selchow & Righter American - Circa 1880’s This rare and exquisite American toy was found recently at a flea market in northern England. It is absolutely mint condition and it had been stored for more than a century in its original box. It seems that the ball players have rarely strayed from the box because the lithography is as bright today as the day they were sold. This rare set of figural ten pins is particularly significant because they depict men playing baseball; a favorite American spectator sport. There are only a handful of other known sets and a couple of isolated figures. And none of those retain this extraordinary quality. This set also includes three original wooden balls that would have been rolled to knock down the figures. The chromo-lithographed label for the lid of the box shows a ballgame in progress. The graphics are nothing less than AMAZING. A second label on the side of the box reads “One Piece Base Ball, S & R (Selchow and Righter) Ten Pins”.

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