It’s been a year of runs for the 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers, and the bad run was especially objectionable.
In fact, that April-into-May stretch was so bad that we’d forgive you if you were still mentally stuck there, despite the fact that the Dodgers have been an elite baseball team before and since that run.
Things … things could still get better, though. Los Angeles isn’t in first place. The Padres are finally slumping against the Chicago Cubs, but they’re among the strongest teams in MLB, as expected. The Giants aren’t going anywhere; they’re a little un-killable. A little bit of luck going our way could be the difference between winning the division or being stuck in the (shudder) Wild Card Game.
For a team that was supposed to set records, that would be akin to relegation.
Over the next few months, the Dodgers will almost certainly be helped by their infrastructure. The returns of Cody Bellinger and Zach McKinstry will help, as will an ascent to the mean of Mookie Betts’ statistics.
The team will also likely be helped by baseball’s randomness, though. Somehow, the Los Angeles Dodgers — through no fault of their own — have 13 one-run losses this year. Flipping even … three or four of those coin-flip games will make a massive difference, and there’s no genuine reason to believe LA won’t start getting luckier as the summer heats up.
The Dodgers lead MLB in one-run losses.
After all, who usually wins one-run games, anyway? Teams with strong starting pitching staffs. Teams with venerable relief corps. Teams that can solve their opponent’s bullpen with one swing, possessing the ability to hit for power against even the highest velocities.
The Dodgers have all of these things.
You’d think the extra-innings rule had affected the calculus here a bit, too — LA sits just 1-7 in extra-inning games, a total disaster that might be a little different if the road team wasn’t always gifted a free runner on second before the home team had even come to bat.
Also, how … do the Dodgers … not have a single walk-off win yet?
The New York Yankees have five, and folks? The New York Yankees are bad.
All three of these metrics are luck-based and should normalize over the course of a long season. You wouldn’t be a fan if you weren’t irrational about these kinds of things, but remember, five of the extra-innings losses came at the hands of pitchers who won’t see much action in this season’s second half during the Stretch That Will Not Be Spoken Of Again.
Those losses are already banked. Don’t preoccupy yourself with them. Just think about how things could be so much better — and, with a bounce or two in their favor and maybe an extra late-and-close home run, the Dodgers’ record could vault quickly to the top of the NL West.