5 Startling Statistics from Los Angeles Dodgers' Season Thus Far
The Los Angeles Dodgers have shown encouraging signs of life life over the past two weeks. But a 10-2 stretch shouldn't overshadow how poorly the Dodgers played during their previous 72 games.
Los Angeles is still a sub-.500 team (at 40-44 entering Friday night's play), a fact that can be summed up by looking at five alarming stats from the first half of the season.
The Dodgers have unquestionably been one of the hottest teams in MLB since the end of June. However, they need to improve in a few key areas if they hope to continue climbing up the National League West standings. If they don't, they risk being one of the most disappointing teams in MLB history.
Here are five startling stats from the Dodgers' first 84 games of the season.
5. 4.43 Bullpen ERA and 16 Blown Saves
After having one of the best bullpens in baseball last season, the Dodgers have had anything but in 2013.
L.A.'s 4.43 bullpen ERA ranks 28th in all of baseball, ahead of only the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros. That's more than a full run more than the 3.23 mark the Dodgers posted in 2012, when they ranked eighth in the category.
Brandon League's struggles (6.37 ERA, 1.62 WHIP and four blown saves) as the closer have been a major part of the problem, especially after he thrived in the role last year. However, he has been far from the only culprit.
Ronald Belisario's 4.21 ERA, 1.68 WHIP and four blown saves haven't helped Los Angeles either.
I could overwhelm you with more bad bullpen statistics. But the fact that the Dodgers felt compelled to trade for the human enigma known as Carlos Marmol says everything about how desperate they are to address their late-game pyrotechnics.
4. 62 Errors and a .984 Fielding Percentage
Yet another area in which the Dodgers have shown a dramatic drop-off since last season is the field. They are currently tied with the Los Angeles Angels for the second-most errors in MLB (62), and they are tied for last in fielding percentage (.980) with the woeful Astros.
They weren't exactly flawless in the field in 2012 either, finishing 11th in total errors (98) and tied for 10th in fielding percentage (.984). However, double-digit drops in the rankings in both categories have resulted in a complete disaster.
Ironically, three-time Gold Glove winner Adrian Gonzalez has been the biggest culprit. While he still regularly makes spectacular, run-saving plays at first base, his .989 fielding percentage is on pace to be the worst rate of his 10-year career.
Gonzalez has also already made eight errors this season—this after never making more than 10 in any of his previous nine full seasons.
Getting more of their regulars back in the field on a day-to-day basis should help. However, the Dodgers simply need to be more focused on defense.
3. Minus-40 Run Differential
When the opposition routinely outscores you, it is very difficult to win most of your games. With a minus-40 run differential, the Dodgers are in the bottom third of the league, tied with the San Diego Padres for 22nd.
A large chunk of that differential can be chalked up to a 16-1 loss to the Phillies last Friday. But the team's inability to score runs consistently has been a major problem all season.
The Dodgers are a respectable 14th in runs allowed (357) this year. Given the bullpen woes I detailed earlier, that number is downright impressive.
However, Los Angeles is tied for 26th in runs scored (317), which is the primary culprit behind its negative run differential.
The Dodgers' offense has improved dramatically during their recent 10-2 stretch. They've averaged 5.12 runs over their last 12 games, as opposed to just 3.54 runs during their first 72.
Their current level of production may not be sustainable for the rest of the season (the Boston Red Sox currently lead MLB in runs scored at 5.11/game). However, it is certainly a lot closer to what most people expected the Dodgers offense to do when the season began.
2. 940 Games Missed Due to Injury
According to ManGamesLost.com, the Dodgers (940) trail only the Cincinnati Reds (954) and the Padres (962) in man games lost to injury this year, through July 1. Only five MLB teams have lost more than 900 man games due to injury, with a 70-game gap between the fifth-place team (the Pittsburgh Pirates at 932) and the sixth-place team (the Diamondbacks at 865).
While the number alone is substantial, it holds greater meaning when you consider the caliber of players the Dodgers have had to place on the disabled list.
Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, Mark Ellis, A.J. Ellis, Josh Beckett, Zack Greinke, Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly have all missed significant time with an assortment of injuries this season.
Beckett and Billingsley both suffered season-ending injuries, crippling a rotation that was expected to be at least seven deep entering 2013. Lilly's availability has been spotty at best, and Capuano has struggled with consistency all year.
As devastating as the pitching losses have been, though, the offense has easily suffered the most. The Dodgers have not been able to have their expected core of Kemp, Crawford, Ramirez, Gonzalez and Andre Ethier in the lineup together at all this season.
The injuries to Crawford and Kemp in particular have allowed for the emergence of rookie sensation Yasiel Puig. His presence, along with Kemp and Ramirez returning to the lineup, is largely responsible for the Dodgers' resurgence.
But I'm sure that manager Don Mattingly can't wait to add Crawford back into the mix, making a now-potent offense even more dangerous. Crawford is expected to join the Dodgers in San Francisco Friday night and should be back in the starting lineup by the end of the weekend.
1. 3.5 Games out of First Place in the NL West
As bad as things have been for Los Angeles so far, the Dodgers are surprisingly just 3.5 games behind the Diamondbacks for first place in the division. They can largely thank Puig for that, but he is far from the only Dodger contributing lately.
While Puig continues to perform at a historic rate for a first-year player, Ramirez has been swinging a hot bat of his own. The talented shortstop is in the midst of a 15-game hitting streak, raising his season totals to a .404 average, with seven home runs, 19 RBI, 20 runs scored and four stolen bases in just 29 games.
After struggling for much of the season, Kemp may also be beginning to show signs of life. He's now homered in back-to-back games after hitting just two home runs in his first 58 games this season.
While the hitters have begun to hit their stride, the pitching staff is starting to solidify itself as well.
Kenley Jansen has returned to being the full-time closer for the first time since late in 2012. And Stephen Fife has been a pleasant surprise at the back of the rotation, posting a 3-2 record, 2.83 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in seven starts since joining the rotation in June.
The Dodgers just took two out of three games from the second-place Colorado Rockies in Denver, and they travel to San Francisco for a pivotal three-game series against the Giants starting Friday night. They then head to Arizona for a three-game series that could leave them in first place by the time they return to Los Angeles next weekend.
Just about everything that could go wrong for this team during the first half did go wrong. With L.A. almost back at full strength, though, perhaps the Dodgers' luck will turn during the second half, leading to a division title and their first playoff appearance since 2009.