05 May 2007

Hit and hide

This thing with the Dodgers unable to hit with runners in scoring position ( OK, especially with bases loaded. Which is mega-RISP ) is getting old. How many innings has it been that we scored 6 runs in? The fun thing about stats is that you can be as arbitrary with your ranges as you want to be. So, to maximize the impact, let's take the 17-inning Padres game and start counting from the 4th inning onwards. That is one run scored in 14 innings, and then the whole Diamondbacks series for five runs - for a total of six runs in 39 innings.

Oh, and last night for a big fat zero!

Six runs in 48 innings. Blegh.

Almost all teams get to be shut out for the first time in the season at some point. The Dodgers became the 20th team to be shut out this year. Only the Blue Jays, Brewers, Devil Rays, Indians, Orioles, Marlins, Mets, Tigers, Padres and Phillies have avoided being shut out so far.

The Devil Rays, Padres and even Orioles are not teams that spring to mind when you think "offense". Yet, they've managed to squeak at least a run over home plate in every game they've played so far.

Back to the Dodgers and the men left on base. Last year this was a Dodger strength. We did ridiculously well with runners in scoring position for most of the year. This year, though the lineup is much the same, it's been 48 innings in which we've fallen and couldn't get up. Or loaded them and couldn't find the trigger. That's 55 runners left on base in 48 innings, which sounds excessive. I had a look at the start of the season and a four-game winning streak for comparison - 36 innings with 28 men left and 22 runs scored.

Personally I eye ( aye! ) the black hole starting at the Betemit slot and extending around the tail of the lineup to the Furcal spot as the probable culprit. When you get to the hitters who are currently hitting well only once every three or so innings, you may be in trouble. Especially when they all single or walk their way on base and it is left to the black hole to drive them in ...

Will this clutch hitting drought last? Of course not. Good things and bad things never last in baseball - unless they're intrinsic, like the oompah in the Red Sox lineup or the hopelessness of the Nationals. I don't believe that the Dodgers are really this bad at scoring runs, therefore I believe that is just a streak, and a streak that will hopefully end soon. After all, the batting average with runners in scoring position is still around .266, which is good for seventh in the league ( even if it is only 8 points higher than our overall batting average ). I actually hope that last night's shutout will lance this mini-boil: that the worst will have happened, and that the lineup will snap out of its funk. The batters actually did plenty of things right last night - working into the count, laying off of the low and away stuff - and in the end, maybe the difference was that the Braves' outfielders made the good catches and one of ours came up with a glove of empty instead of the ball.

Final thought: At least we haven't been shut out thrice already ( Cardinals, Nationals, Athletics and Giants hold the four-way tie ) The Giants got shut out by the Padres all three times. Bruce Bochy must be wishing he still had those arms in his rotation and bullpen. ( Peavy, Young and Maddux plus assorted bullpen arms inflicted the shutouts. )

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