Are The Dodgers a One-Dimensional Offense?


Speed is not part of the Dodger’s game this season. The Dodgers don’t have much of a running game. This has hurt the club offensively. The Dodgers are a power club. They hit a lot of home runs, and draw a lot of walks. That’s how they score their runs. The problem with that is, when they don’t hit home runs they don’t score, or have trouble scoring. You take the good with the bad I guess.

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That’s even more evident when you see the Dodgers are average ranked in base hits. The Dodgers rank 13 in the majors in hits (447), and at the top of MLB in home runs (73) and walks (193). It’s the typical sabermetric approach to scoring runs. Take a lot of pitches, get guys on base with walks, and then hit home runs. Power plus patience is great, but sometimes you have to be able to manufacture runs. I’m not talking about bunting.

There is more to good base running and speed than just stealing bases. That’s something the Dodgers don’t do anyways. The Dodgers have stolen just 13 bases this year, in 15 attempts. That ranks them near the bottom of the Major Leagues. It ties them for last place with the Nationals to be exact.

Base running and speed isn’t about just stealing bases. It’s about taking extra bases, and seizing opportunities to move guys over. They have a stat for this. They have a stat for everything these days. It’s called HAR, or hitting advancement opportunities rating. This calculates how often a club goes from first to third on a base hit, from second to home on a base hit, or from first to home on an extra-base hit.


They actually count the number of chances a club has to take that extra base, and then gives the club a rating. A good club will have a rating in the positive, and a bad club will have a rating in the negative area. I haven’t even gotten into how many Tootblans the Dodgers have this year. I’ll get into that in another post.

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  • So how do the Dodgers rank? Well, not all that good. They rank 21 out of the 30 teams in HAR. The Dodgers have had 166 opportunities to go from first to third on a hit, and second to home. The best team is the Kansas City Royals. They’ve had 209 opportunities, and the Cardinals are second with 206 opportunities. The Giants rank third with 205. I would imagine this is due to all of the home runs. It’s simple, when you hit a home run, you clear the bases, and the runners don’t have any opportunities to advance extra bases because they’ve already scored.

    In the HAR rating, the Dodgers fare a lot better, but still not great. The Dodgers are ranked 12, with a 0.54 HAR rating. That’s closer to league average. There is also a stat called SB Opportunities. That’s stolen bases, plus caught stealing plus pickoffs. The Dodgers rank 28 with just 21 chances to steal bases, or get thrown out stealing. They have a SB rating of -2.70. What this means is that the Dodgers rarely if ever take the chance to steal a base, and also rarely get picked off. This tells us that the Dodgers are essentially a station to station team. They get a lot of guys on base (mostly from walks) surely they do, however they just advance one base at a time. They never hit and run, and how often do you ever see the club take those extra bases on hits?

    This probably explains a lot as to why the Dodgers go such long stretches without scoring runs. It’s not bad luck, it’s not hitting out of sync, and it’s not poor clutch hitting either. The Dodgers rank sixth in MLB with runners in scoring position (.287, .875 OPS).

    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    The Dodgers are a club that is unable to manufacture runs when the opposing club keeps them in the ball park. When they don’t hit home runs, they don’t score. They also have trouble stringing together hits. Other clubs, like the Giants, and Cardinals, may not have the power the Dodgers have, but they’re able to either string together hits, or they steal bases, or take extra bases more often. Contact hitting, good base running, and taking extra bases can help you manufacture runs. It can go a long way when you’re having trouble hitting.

    I hate bunting, but the Dodgers aren’t even doing that anymore. The club has only recorded 12 successful sacrifices all year. The Dodgers are a National League team that plays American League style ball. Yes once the Dodgers get back guys like Yasiel Puig, and Carl Crawford, then they would probably see this are improve. They still will not be a club with much of a running game.

    What worries me is that when you get into October, runs become harder to come by. You’re facing the top pitchers, and playing in cooler weather when the ball doesn’t travel as far. Sometimes you have to be able to play a little small ball. Steal a base, take an extra base on a base hit, or even put runners in motion on a hit and run play.

    Home runs and walks. That’s how the Dodgers score runs this year. It can be both a blessing and a curse.