Stats & Info: Ramon Troncoso

1st pitch: Strangely still at zero

April, 15, 2010
Today’s Trivia: Who is the all-time home run king while wearing No. 42 on the back of his jersey?

** On the day where baseball honors Jackie Robinson, everyone will be wearing number 42. Mariano Rivera is the last remaining player to call that number his own. Using’s Oracle of Baseball, you can get from Jackie Robinson to Mariano Rivera in a mere 4 steps. Robinson played with Gil Hodges who played with Ed Kranepool who played with Jesse Orosco who was Rivera’s teammate ever so briefly in 2003.

Quick Hits: Inspired by Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira both being homerless after 38 plate appearances, here are some other players with an unexpected zero in a stat column:

* Taylor Teagarden is hitless in 18 plate appearances, which is seven more than the next player, Andres Torres.

* Pedro Feliz has nine hits but has not scored a run.

* Rafael Furcal has 12 hits but zero RBI.

* Fresh of a 100-RBI season, Nick Markakis does not have one in 39 plate appearances.

* Jason Giambi has 10 plate appearances, but hasn’t hit a ground ball.

* Albert Pujols finished second in the NL with 45 doubles this season, but doesn’t have one this year. Of course, he does have those 5 home runs.

* Carlos Pena is tied for the MLB lead with five infield hits. Denard Span, who had 40 infield hits last season, doesn’t have one.

* Ramon Troncoso has thrown 5 2/3 innings with a 1.59 ERA but has no strikeouts.

* Wilton Lopez has allowed five hits, but zero singles.

* John Danks has allowed 10 hits, but none for extra bases.

* In 2006, Jake Westbrook led the majors by inducing 35 double plays. In 14 GIDP situations this season, he hasn’t had one.

Today’s Leaderboard: April 15 is Tax Day, so let’s see which bullpens have been the most taxed this season. The Nationals have averaged 4.4 innings per game out of their pen, which is currently sporting a 5.86 ERA. The Mets have the second most used relief staff, but sport a 2.08 bullpen ERA.

Key Matchups: Notoriously difficult to strikeout, David Eckstein has yet to fan this season in 31 plate appearances. But that hasn’t traditionally been the case against Tim Hudson, who has struck out Eckstein 13 times in 66 at-bats. No other pitcher has struck out Eckstein even half as many times.

Scott Kazmir has a 2.67 lifetime ERA against the Yankees, and it’s easy to see why. Derek Jeter is a .111 (4-36) hitter against him, his worst average against any pitcher he has faced 20 times. Alex Rodriguez has hit just .125 (3-24) against Kazmir, his second worst average against any pitcher he’s faced at least 30 times. However, this might be the game where Mark Teixeira breaks out. He is 7-for-11 against Kazmir with five walks.

Trivia Answer: Mo Vaughn, who wore No. 42 for his entire career, hit 328 home runs, most of anyone wearing that number.

One2Watch4: Dodgers RPs Ramon Troncoso & Ronald Belisario

March, 13, 2010
Ok, ok, so technically, this is Two2Watch4. But given the fact that Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers Ramon Troncoso and Ronald Belisario are used to sharing the spotlight, appearing in the same game 35 times last season. Most would credit the Dodgers success last season to the emergence of young hitters like Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in combination with a patchwork pitching staff and a dominating setup/closer combination in George Sherrill and Jonathan Broxton. All of those players do deserve a lot of credit, but we shouldn’t look past the importance of the Dodgers middle relievers, especially Troncoso and Belisario.

Los Angeles led all of baseball with a 3.14 bullpen ERA last season, and it wasn’t even close. The San Francisco Giants were second at 3.49. The strength of the bullpen was all the more impressive considering the demand that was placed on it. Dodgers starters averaged fewer than 6 innings per outing last season, forcing the bullpen to provide 553 innings of work, the third-highest total in the league. A huge chunk of that work was provided by Troncoso and Belisario.

Troncoso’s 82 2/3 innings of relief work not only led the Dodgers in 2009, it was the third-most relief innings in the league. In his second year of major league work he lowered his ERA from 4.26 to 2.72, the second-best ERA by a reliever with at least 80 innings. This despite the fact that his K/BB ratio dropped from 3.17 to 1.62 and his WHIP rose from 1.29 to 1.42. What was the difference? Not giving up the long ball was a big part of it. Although he only allowed two HR as a rookie, he threw 44 2/3 more innings in 2009 but allowed just one more homer. In fact, his 0.33 HR/9 IP ratio led all of baseball for pitchers with at least 80 innings.

Belisario didn’t get quite as much work as Troncoso, pitching only 70 2/3 innings thanks to being on the disabled list from July 6 to August 8 with a strained right elbow, but he did the most with his appearances. Among relievers with at least 70 innings of work, Belisario’s 2.04 ERA was second-best in baseball and his .201 opponents BA was seventh-best. He also limited right-handed batters to a .157 BA.

With a combination of Sherrill and Broxton, the Dodgers hope to win games by turning them into 7-inning affairs. The fact that the Dodgers staff is again headlined by Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, two pitchers that ring up high pitch counts and early exits, Los Angeles will likely come to depend on the bridge that Troncoso and Belisario provide. Their performances this season will likely have a much greater impact on the success or failure of the Dodgers than most realize, just like it did a year ago. With neither pitcher having more than two years of MLB experience, the Dodgers need to hope their breakout 2009 seasons were not just flashes in the pan.