Pull up a chair and come sit down at our Lasorda’s Lair roundtable discussion. This new column will feature a different discussion topic each time which our writing staff will have the opportunity to address individually. We also would like for you to participate by answering the roundtable question in the comments below.
Question: Why do you think the Dodgers have had so much trouble hitting with the bases loaded this year?Comment below with your response to the Roundtable question!
Matt Borelli, Staff Writer-The fact that the Dodgers are struggling this badly with the bases loaded baffles me. When the bases are loaded, their team OBP of .193 is last in the NL. However, when they have runners on 2nd and 3rd, their team OBP is a NL-leading .357. The Dodgers are one of the best teams in baseball, wRC+ and OBP-wise, so I don’t think this will have a major effect on them going down the stretch. Don’t let their awful bases loaded stats fool you, they’re still having a solid season offensively as a team.
Julian Lopez, Staff Writer-You look at the number and it makes you sick to your stomach because of how bad the Dodgers have been with the bases loaded. Take Wednesday’s game for example when they had multiple opportunities to win the game with the bases loaded and failed to capitalize. They need to stop waiting for the right pitch and also chasing pitches. They need to turn it around now or else their troubles could cost them come October.
Carlos Flores, Staff Writer– My response to this can basically be found from one of my articles I recently wrote but my response is: I don’t think it is anything serious and believe it to be just a frustrating case of small sample sized randomness. There isn’t anything that can be taught or done to change these numbers, but in the end it just happens to teams from time to time but doesn’t indicate a mental weakness or lack of talent. They still do well overall offensively and even with runners in scoring position they have success. To take from my article:
The Dodgers have 5,351 plate appearances as a team so 109 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 there 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.
Ryan Somers, Staff Writer- I honestly think that the biggest reason for the Dodgers struggles with the bases loaded can be found right between the ears of the players. They simply cannot get out of their own heads with the bases loaded and with RISP this year. The snowball effect has been in full force for most of the season. The numbers continue to plummet as the Dodgers try to find their way. Believe it or not, we in the media have played our part. The Dodgers are constantly bombarded about their atrocious stats with RISP and perhaps rightfully so. But having played baseball most of my life, I can attest that there is nothing more difficult to overcome than a negative mindset entering the batter’s box. Combine that with the natural impulse to press and the end result is the putrid performance we have seen from some of our top run producers in key situations. The Dodgers and their fans have reached the point where we almost expect the worst in the clutch. This is truly a mental hurdle which the ball club will have to overcome if they are to have any hopes of advancing deep into the postseason!
Scott Andes, Editor- There is no logical explanation for this. Since there is nothing physically wrong with the Dodgers preventing them from hitting and scoring runs with the bases loaded, then it has to be a mental block. I don’t mean a character flaw, a mental block is more like the yips. A lot of Baseball is mental. With poor plate approaches, lack of adjustments, and too many swings and misses, the Dodgers play right into opposing clubs hands when they hit with the bases loaded.
I think some new adjustments and a change of plate approaches would help the Dodgers hit better with the bases loaded.
Stacie Wheeler, Editor- When the Dodgers load up the bases in 2014, we all sigh. We already know the outcome. Failure. As to why this is happening, I feel like this glaring weakness is partly the fault of the coaching staff including Mark McGwire and Don Mattingly as well as the inexperience of some of the key Dodger players. McGwire and Mattingly, both great hitters of the past, should know a thing or two about batting with the bases loaded. Yasiel Puig has zero hits (one walk) in 8 plate appearances with the bases loaded this year. Gordon has been completely shut down with the bases loaded (0-for-10). The good news is that the Dodgers are hitting well with runners in scoring position, yet it’s completely frustrating to think about how many more games the Dodgers could have won if they had come up clutch with the bases loaded.
Dustin Hanson, Staff Writer-Only one NL team has had more runners left on base than the Dodgers this year. The Pirates. But this team is a top 5 offense in the league. At this point, with the bases loaded, we’re looking for outliers. We’ve had 111 plate appearances with the bases loaded this year. Not an outlier. 10 walks in those 111 PA. Not an outlier. Kemp, Hanley, Puig, and Gordon are a collective 2-28 with the bases loaded this year with Hanley collecting both of those hits, though he is just 2-12! OUTLIER.
A .215 BABIP simply means that this team will normalize soon. It would be great if it happened in a few weeks just in time for the playoffs when they get HOT and streak through October to a championship.
Lucas Talbot, Staff Writer– It’s all in their head. That’s the biggest problem right now. Their confidence when it comes to bases loaded. Once they get their first grand slam out of the way, everything will take off for them. Until then, us Dodgers fans, will have to patiently wait until the Dodgers get the right moment to hit a bases loaded grand slam.