Dodgers Fifth Starter Compares Well

An in-depth study of the No. 4 and No. 5 starters in Major League baseball during the 2006 season turns up some startling numbers. And the Dodger staff turns out to be very competitive with the number of other MLB teams.

In the remarkable article by Jeff Sackmann, he admitted that it is difficult to actually determine the ranking of your starting rotation, citing the fact that Zach Miner, the fifth-best starter on last year's Detroit Tigers, had a lower ERA than any regular starter for the Royals.

Sackmann is the creator of MinorLeagueSplits.com. Check that excellent site out for the complete story.

He pointed out, that including injuries, your #4 pitcher may become the #3 man and you struggle all season to find an adequate #5.

He determined also that a team's No. 1 starter does not always hold that slot for the entire season. He used earned run average to measure the ability of each starter for the purposes of this study. And obviously, the process is not an exact science by any means.

The average for each rotation slot:
League     #1      #2      #3      #4      #5
NL        3.51    4.04    4.57    5.11    6.26
AL        3.70    4.24    4.58    5.09    6.22
MLB       3.60    4.14    4.58    5.10    6.24
The Dodger staff posted this record:
Team      #1      #2      #3      #4      #5
L.A.     3.52    3.76    4.34    4.65    5.75
The Dodger number #1 was probably a combination of Derek Lowe (3.63) and Brad Penny (4.33) as they traded slots during the season with Penny enjoying a great first half (2.91) and Lowe posting a remarkable second half (.333).

Greg Maddux, who arrived just before the trading deadline, had a sparking 3.30 earned run average the rest of the way and rookies, Eric Stultz (2.45), Hong-Chih Kuo (3.07) Chad Billingsley (3.34) boosted the club's numbers.

Veterans Odalis Perez (8.53), Mark Hendrickson (5.32), Jae Seo (5.32), Brett Tomko (5.12), and Aaron Sele (4.18) all had a shot at the rotation at one time or another and didn't step up.

Perez and Seo were traded, Hendrickson, Tomko and Sele were all relegated to the bullpen with Sele not re-signed after the season ended.

Bob Milliken Dead at 80-- A relief pitcher and sport starter for Brooklyn in 1953 and 1954, died January 4 at the age of 80.

He recorded an 8-4, 3.37 record in 1953 and pitched two scoreless innings in the World Series that year against the New York Yankees, a series the Dodgers lost in six games.

Milliken finally made the Dodger roster after a sparkling spring training in 1953 at the age of 27, after battling tough luck had held him back.

Milliken had a 12-5 record for Fort Worth in 1949 and nearly made the Dodger staff but a sore arm sidelined him the entire 1950 season. He then spent the next two years in the Army.

After his solid 1953 season, his arm again acted up after 62 innings in late July, 1954 and with a 5-2, 4.02 record he never pitched in the major leagues again.

He spent 1965-70 as a coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Making Room for Raptors-- No, not a Jurassic Park sequel, rather an expansion program for the very successful Ogden franchise in the Pioneer League.

The team is proposing a $3 million expansion at Lindquist Field that would raise the number of seats to as many as 6,500. The Raptors averaged more than 3,500 fans last season, third in the system despite being a short-season club and trailing only Jacksonville (5,869) and Las Vegas (5,078).

City planners recommended approval and sent the plan to The mayor with the team and city sharing the cost of the project.

The proposal includes bleachers along the foul lines that would be replaced with 2,400 chairs. A standing-room-only deck would be built in left field. Hopefully, some of the work could be done in time for the home opener June 16, club president Dave Baggott said.

Steroid Bats or Rabbit Balls?-- A company using a CT scan computer imaging system claims baseballs used in 1998 during the Major League Baseball home-run boom had a larger rubberized core and a synthetic rubber ring - including the ball Mark McGwire hit for his record-establishing 70th homer.

Universal Medical Systems Inc., with doctors from the Center for Quantitive Imaging at Penn State, X-rayed 35 balls from '98 and declared: "While McGwire may or may not have used illegal steroids, the evidence shows his (70th homer) ball, under the governing body of the league, was juiced," said David Zavango, the UMS president.

Baseball's chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said the league is "satisfied that the ball comports with all major league specifications."

So, what did you expect him to say?

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