The Curious Case of the 2016 Los Angeles Dodgers

2016 Los Angeles Dodgers

Going into the 2016 season the Los Angeles Dodgers were met with mixed expectations.

Many saw the loss of Zack Greinke as detrimental, others saw the Dodgers attempts of adding depth as a sign of improvement. While losing a Cy Young caliber arm certainly will hurt any team, the Dodgers managed to fill that hole along with many others by bringing on guys such as Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda, an over performing Joe Blanton; along with new bats with the likes of Trayce Thompson while managing to resign veterans Howie Kendrick and Chase Utley. Dave Roberts was also brought in to make a better connection with the players that otherwise wasn’t present with Don Mattingly, and yet still they are merely just average. 

The Dodgers are currently trailing the hot San Francisco Giants by 4.5 games for National League West supremacy. Los Angeles’ 26-24 record is an accurate representation of their performance through two months of play, middle of the pack. According to FanGraphs, the Dodgers rank 19th or lower in key hitting statistics such as wOBA, WRC, and BABIP. Add those numbers to a 19th best batting average of .243 and a 13th best WAR of 6.4, and one can conclude that the Dodgers bats are slightly below average. However, the Dodgers’ greatest offensive struggle seems to be getting a rally started, as they are batting .229 with the bases empty, ranked 3rd worst in the league. Despite these numbers, the Doyers are still managing to rank 11th in the league in runs scored with 220, a number that seemingly would result in more victories due to their pitching.

The Dodgers pitching stats would be nowhere close to as impressive without the likes of Clayton Kershaw, obviously. Having the best pitcher on the planet start every five games has noticeably improved the Dodgers’ pitching ten fold. Currently, the boys in blue rank 5th in ERA, 3rd in WAR, 2nd in BABIP, and 4th in FIP. However, the Dodgers problem seems to be a lack of consistency from anyone not wearing number 22, as the rest of the starting rotation, without Kershaw, has a 4.17 ERA which would be middle of the pack at 16th best. Kershaw alone has a 3.8 WAR, while the rest of the staff combined has a 2.8 WAR. Truthfully, it is not just to compare the rest of the LA rotation to the best pitcher on the planet, but the depth that was praised before the season has not been effective as the rest of the starters hold a 12-13 record.

Defensively, the Dodgers are doing excellent, ranking 4th in both UZR and DEF. That leads the finger to be pointed at the Dodgers’ bullpen, which has history of struggling late in games. However, the Dodgers’ bullpen hasn’t been too shocking, ranking 10th best in ERA, and 12th best in WAR.

Nearly every LAD statistic for the 2016 season points to one conclusion, average. The below average hitting counteracts the above average pitching, which was even more evident on May 1st when Clayton Kershaw single-handedly won the game 1-0. Performances by the likes of Chase Utley, Corey Seager, and Trayce Thompson have been opposed by players such as Justin Turner, Howie Kendrick, and Yasiel Puig not playing up to expectations. Whatever the reason may be, the Dodgers have found themselves battling tooth and nail to become the elite team that many have expected the last four seasons, and to compete with the powerhouse Cubs and hot Giants they must start delivering in the clutch, something they are failing to do.

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I started playing baseball at the age of four through my local little league. In the twelve years I played, I experienced Little League, Pony ball, travel teams, high school teams, anything you can think of. I played up until my senior year, where I had to make the life decision to hang em' up and pursue my education. I still am immersed into the baseball world as a volunteer as a tee ball coach. Baseball is my biggest passion, my dream being to diverge into the sports media field. I am attending California State University Fullerton, and plan to major in communications and minor in education.