Jun 23, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coachMark McGwire
(25) waves to fans during batting practice before the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
You have certainly heard it one way or another: The Dodgers bases loaded numbers are the worst in baseball. They are the Chris Perez* of bases loaded struggles. “Mark McGwire needs to find a way to fix this”. These bases loaded struggles for the Dodgers are severely overplayed and don’t mean much in the big picture though, as these situational hitting scenarios are pretty random and not indicative of the Dodgers not having the mental capacity or talent to thrive in these situations. It means that in 2014, the Dodgers just happen to not do well in the this sample size.
To begin, let’s show the ugly numbers. The Dodges are hitting .169/.192/.213 in 99 plate appearances this year with the bases loaded. Ugly numbers, for sure, but 99 plate appearances is a tiny sample for a team. The Dodgers have 5,176 plate appearances as a team so 99 plate appearances account for 2% of the teams plate appearances. TWO PERCENT! That’s like taking huge stock into 10 plate appearances by Yasiel Puig. Saying the Dodgers problem with the bases loaded is something to be highly concerned about is the same as taking any 10 plate appearance sample from Puig and making a huge case about it. This doesn’t even mean getting 10 straight plate appearances from Puig, it could be 10 from any situation and making a big deal about it. You could tell me any narrative you would like and I would be able to find a 2% sample from any player and force it to fit.
With runners on 2nd and 3rd, the Dodgers are 3rd in the MLB with a .939 OPS. That makes no sense if you want to continue to yell about the bases loaded struggles. It’s random, it’s weird, and it is frustrating but take other situational hitting numbers and it is not bad. Unless you believe that with runners on 2nd and 3rd the Dodgers are magnificent but once they add a runner on 1st base they close their eyes, pray to the heavens, and wimp out.
If you believe that this struggle will prevent the Dodgers from going far, have at this: In 2012, the San Francisco Giants were 28th out of 30 in OPS with the bases loaded with a .575 OPS. The Detroit Tigers were 29th with a .534 OPS. These two teams met in the World Series. (I apologize for reminding Dodger fans about the Giants and 2010).
What matters is how the offense is doing overall, and although the Dodgers aren’t without their holes, they have had good success this year with the bats. They are 6th in the MLB in WRC+, and 3rd in the MLB in OBP. Even with terrible production from the catcher’s spot, the Dodgers have had good to great production from the other 7 spots resulting in an underrated year offensively from the team. It’s not to say their isn’t room for improvement or that the games where they can’t score off someone who you have to google to find out they are a real human don’t make you ponder punching a wall, but the offense isn’t terrible and that’s part of the equation as to why the Dodgers are in first place.
Sure, the Dodgers could do better with the bases loaded and theoretically improve the offensive numbers, all other things equal. However, fretting over 2% of the teams plate appearances is not something to waste your anger over as it is more random then anything and doesn’t indicate something major.