Los Angeles Dodgers: Breaking Down the Blue Crew's Scoring Woes

Robert PaceContributor IIIApril 23, 2013

Eighteen games into the season and the Dodgers have the second-lowest run total in the MLB. What's the problem?
Eighteen games into the season and the Dodgers have the second-lowest run total in the MLB. What's the problem?Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It’s a new season, but the Dodgers have reverted back to bad habits.

Eighteen games into the season and the Blue Crew has posted the second-lowest run total in the entire MLB, topping only the “rebuilding” Miami Marlins (4-15).

It’s not as though the Dodgers aren’t hitting the ball—because they are. Despite their embarrassing run total, they rank a perfectly middle-of-the-road 15th in the MLB in hits (150) and an impressive third in on-base percentage (.342).

I could pontificate on the various factors that have led to the Dodgers’ shortcomings early on in the 2013 season, but 1) I’ve already done so, and 2) the most telling information, in this case, lies in the statistics.

As you can tell from the discrepancy between the Dodgers’ hitting and run production, there is a significant difference between getting a hit and scoring a run.

Thus, it’s the situation that matters most. Situational hitting. 

  Leading Off Bases Empty Runner on 1st Runners on 1st & 2nd RISP
  Average .306 .281 .279              .154 .185
MLB Rank  2nd  3rd 9th               27th  28th

As you start to shift over column by column in the above chart, you see the reverse correlation between the amount of pressure and the Dodgers’ hitting performance.

The team is knocking the cover off the ball when there’s nobody on base, and even fares well with a runner on first, but when runners advance into scoring position, the Dodgers simply can’t execute.

A team will occasionally slide into a slump as such for a few games, but the Dodgers have maintained this unsettling tendency for 18 games now. 

Even more disconcerting is the lack of a correlation between the team’s performance and the result of the game. 

               Losses (10)
    BA OBP RBI   R
      .224 .315  16  19
MLB Rank  10th  3rd 23rd 20th
                     Wins (8)
    BA OBP RBI   R
      .294 .373  34  35
MLB Rank  13th  7th 25th 25th

Regardless of the eventual outcome, the Dodgers are an underperforming team that struggles to manufacture runs.

But why?

This is the team with the highest payroll in the MLB, stacked with Silver Sluggers Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp at the plate to Cy Young winners Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke on the hill.

How can this team possibly lose six games in a row and only score 13 runs in the process? How can this Dodgers team ever be below .500?

 The answer is exposed by the stats.

  Leading Off Bases Empty Runner on 1st Runners on 1st & 2nd RISP
  Average       0.96       1.02        1.51              5.54 13.10
MLB Rank        7th        13th         8th              10th   24th

What’s concerning isn’t the vast difference between the Blue Crew’s ERA in facing a leadoff batter and facing a batter with runners in scoring position, but rather the stark contrast in the pitching staff’s relative ranking in those categories. As you can see from the above numbers, the discrepancy in the Dodgers’ situational hitting also exists in their pitching.

This contrast, which is also on full display in the Dodgers’ situational hitting statistics, suggests that the team is overly anxious with runners in scoring position, which further implies that the Blue Crew is indeed having a tough time under the weight of the hefty expectations that were set for them in the 2013 season.

The Dodgers are simply frantic to score runs and win ballgames—and it’s proving to be a considerable drawback to their progress.

So, how can the Boys in the Blue ease their anxiety?

Taking it game by game.

A season isn’t won or lost in one game out of 162. The Dodgers won’t be successful by overexerting themselves to make up for their mediocre season to this point.

They’ll need to start a new slate if they are to succeed from here on out. Harping on their woes and adding weight to them won’t help.

Thirteen games into the season, manager Don Mattingly fielded a question about his team’s scoring woes as if the Dodgers were already in the final stages of a playoff race. That’s not what this team needs.

Although Mattingly added a positive spin his assertion, the Dodgers need not even humor the idea that they don’t have things under control.

A premier team that appears to be sputtering out of control takes hold of its own destiny and baffles those who doubted it could regain control without crashing.

The Dodgers are burning rubber and headed for the wall.

Let’s see what they’re made of.