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Matt-Kemp-Dee-Gordon

With Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon among the key pieces from the 2014 lineup who no longer with the Dodgers, what can fans expect from the 2015 lineup?

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As far as I can tell, the object of playing offense in baseball is to score runs — and in 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers did a pretty darn good job of that, finishing sixth in MLB in runs scored and second in the National League.

Last week, however, Buster Olney released his list of the “Top 10 MLB Lineups” and the Dodgers actually dropped in the rankings — falling outside the top 10 and even outside the list of teams that made “honorable mention.”

To most of you, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise — you lose Dee Gordon, Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, and your offense will naturally suffer. I’ll admit, however, that the rankings caught me off guard, mainly because I feel like people are undervaluing the players the Dodgers have brought in to replace them.

So, I posed the question: Did the Dodgers really get worse offensively?

Well, I think you’ll find the answers interesting.

The first thing I did was list out the top 10 teams in runs scored last season to compare how they ranked in other important hitting categories (average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, home runs, and strikeouts).

My goal was to see which of these categories had the highest correlation to the others (i.e. were there any categories that the top 10 run-scoring teams all finished high in).

The answer was a resounding, yes.

First, for the categories that had little correlation (three of the top 10 teams finished outside the top 10 in this category): strikeouts, home runs and batting average.

Of the three remaining (OBP, SLG and OPS), there was a clear winner: OPS. Now, to clarify, I’m not claiming this research to be perfectly scientific or an automatic predictor of runs scored next season, BUT, when all 10 of the teams who led the league in runs scored finish in the top 13 of another hitting category, I think it says something.

Better yet, nine of the top 10 run-scoring teams finished Nos. 1-9 in OPS.

So with that in mind, I moved to the group of players the Dodgers had in 2014 (Drew Butera, A.J. Ellis, Gordon, Kemp and Ramirez) and compared them to the group of players who will be replacing them (Ellis, Yasmani Grandal, Howie Kendrick, Joc Pederson and Jimmy Rollins).

Note that I include Butera and Ellis on this list to compare the 100 (or so) games the Dodgers will get from Grandal and the 60 (or so) they’ll get from Ellis, to the games they got from Ellis (100) and Butera (60) last season.

CONTINUE READING: So, on to the results

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28 Responses

  1. package206

    Spoken like a true follower of the new front office. We shall see.

    Reply
  2. Daniel Rankin

    My problem is your making to much of a deal about Joc Pederson. You can not expect and force him to make up for matt kemp and the rest of the offense lost. I look at Joc Pederson and then Dee Gordon and Matt kemp now granite I know add Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins to that mix but I perfer Dee over Joc. Jimmy Rollins is getting older and older and his stats are getting worse and worse. He was medicore last year he will be below that this year.

    Reply
    • package206

      The problem with Jeff’s assessment is he skews his report on maintaining the Front Offices trade moves were correct and the Dodgers are as good as last years team. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that losing Matt, Hanley and Dee from last years team is an offensive nightmare. C’mon, Grandal and Pederson are really wishful thinking. One thing about it though. Grandal’s knees better hold up and I think he made more errors than Ellis, not sure. Pederson was terrible during his brief stay and they are determined to put him out there and they WILL GIVE HIM CF. Watch. They keep saying that chemistry will be better. What was the bubble machine, bad teammates? Donnie is in the middle of this fiasco and he doesn’t even know that he is the one to go if the Dodgers don’t win. It will be hard to top last seasons 94 wins.

      Reply
      • Michael N. Norris

        According to reports, there will be a spring training competition for CF….Ethier and Pederson..we all know the FO would prefer Pederson wins,,, Ethier needs to have a monster spring to not find himself riding the pine again. If he loses the job to Pederson he will be back on the bench and he will not be happy….

    • Michael N. Norris

      Joc is the big deal….believe it or not…a lot hinges on him winning the CF job outright. If he does, and he produces it makes things much easier for the manager and the front office……If he falls flat on his face in spring, then DM is forced to either platoon Heisey and Ethier, or play Ethier out there all the time….which makes the defense ok….but not great

      Reply
  3. Tmax

    package206 I heard Smoltz talk about being a pitcher with runners on base in a tough game. He was saying how stressful it is to face someone like Kemp or Ramirez as they are special hitters. He was saying there are only a few guys in each lineup that can hit “Whatever a really good pitcher throws” we had three guys last year that were plus hitters. We have one left Adrian Gonzalez. I have watched the Angels play as I am a Mike Scoscia fan. Kendrick is a gifted contact hitter. Rollins used to be but not anymore so I would say we are one less than last year. Can Peterson make it up? Maybe but he needs 150-200 Major League at bats minimum to see if he can hit. Grandal I doubt it although we will have to give him 100-200 at bats also. I think the addition of a solid platoon of Crawford and Van Slyke will put up big numbers. Van Slyke had Peterson type numbers in Triple A and has continued to put up big numbers the Dodgers have to get him more at bats. So I think we will possibly score less in 2015. But we will be better defensively, Ramirez was the worst Shortstop in the League. Having Rollins there will also make Uribe better and he was great last year. The Bullpen is better I think cannot be much worst. I think we still win 90 plus games. Because we have a great starting 3 and hopefully 5. Much better defense and a better bullpen. So we are at the mercy of Mr Puig. If he is as good as advertised we are OK. If he starts to clown around it will be a long year.

    Reply
    • package206

      I think you have a pretty good assessment of the year so far, however, I still think that the team will need some luck and not much can go wrong or they will be out. I also think defensively the team will be better. I am not sure of 90 wins but who knows? I think our starters had a better chance last year with Beckett and Haren at the bottom whereas they new guys seem to be accident prone.

      Reply
      • Tmax

        You may be right about the starters. I have friends in NY and they said second half McCarthy was a very good pitcher. I am trying to be hopeful. I do believe the highly improved infield defense up the middle and the added speed in the outfield if they go Puig, Peterson and Crawford will help. I do think the Bullpen is better but have no idea ho much better. Losing the speed of Gordon will hurt, he is a dynamic guy and I loved his attitude. Kendrick is very good and Rollins is solid so lets see. The Padres are better but not good enough and the Giants I think have lost some. They lost Lester and have not picked up another pitcher to be a solid 2 or 3. So I think we win the West. But so what then what? Are we good enough or Lucky enough to go further that is the question. Defense and Bullpen MATTER in close games and we are better this year, I truly believe. Playoff games with top pitchers matching up are all generally close games.

      • package206

        Both of the new starters have had injury issues so I don’t expect both to go through the season without a trip or 2 to the DL. I think the defense is better also but I have some reservations about Pederson. Crawford Puig and Ethier coupled with SVS in a platoon role may be what the Dodgers end up with. Maybe Pederson will bloom but the jury is still out. I thought the bullpen was improved last year so I will wait to see how it shakes out in ST. You are correct about bullpen and defense but you still have to score runs. Between Hanley and Matty we lost 160 RBIs and 39 HRs. Tough to make up.

      • Tmax

        Yes the run scoring is my biggest fear. It is also one of the reasons I am skeptical of the Front Office claims that defense etc will make up for it. The Oakland Athletics is a team built on stats and they could not score runs the second half of the year. You must have that guy that Plus hitter that can hit ANYBODY. Oakland and the stats tend to play guys that do the little things, walk , bunt take the extra base play defense. All great things in a baseball sense but what Smoltz talked about the guy the “A” pitchers do not want to face. Those guys are not the people they have in their lineups. Consequently they do not win in the Playoffs because those are the guys you need to win those tight games. I do not think the Metrics Guys account for the “Oh Crap look Who’s on deck” Metric. So we let the A Plus guys go with Kemp and Ramirez.

      • package206

        Exactly the way I feel. If those guys weren’t any good (Hanley, Matt) they wouldn’t make all that money.) Right?

      • Michael N. Norris

        That’s right..and Matt was finally healthy. I can understand not resigning Hanley….last couple of years his injury’s have affected his production and availability and if you notice, the Sox are moving him to LF.

      • Michael N. Norris

        They will not make up that….Rollins might hit 13 but no way Pederson hits 25. Unless he is all of a sudden Griffey Jr.

      • Michael N. Norris

        One point…Lester was not a Giant…he was a Red Sox, then trade to the A’s. If Joc makes the cut the OF defense will be better…Crawford is injury prone, but SVS is a solid backup. Neither has a great arm. BP to me is wait and see….at this point it is overloaded with a lot of maybe’s and not so many yes’s. Infield defense will be better….but the whole infield is north of 30, so expect breakdowns in health and range. Kendrick and Gonzo will play almost every game, but we all know Uribe is good for about 130. Rollins is the wild card here…..maybe he gets infused with a lot of enthusiasm playing on a winner and has a great year offensively. I have some faith that McCarthy will be a solid #4…but none what so ever in Anderson. That’s why Bedard, Huff, Bolsinger, and Nicasio are on the roster…all of them starters….I do not care if Nicasio was better out of the pen…he is no short man, (the biggest need) …the Bench is fine…Turner, Barney, Heisey, Ethier if not traded, and whoever is not starting in the OF..They have to make a decision on Guererro in spring because if he does not break camp with the team he has to be released…in his contract…..C to me is the biggest if. Grandal is a better pitch framer…a stat I think geeks made up…..Ellis calls a better game….both have had knee problems. Neither is a great hitter

      • Michael N. Norris

        One other thing…signing McCarthy almost insures that Zack Lee will not get a shot at breaking into this rotation. It would take an injury to one of the starters and a monster showing by Zack…..it would also make him trade bait

      • Tmax

        Duh thanks for the correction Michael. I knew that , I think….

      • Michael N. Norris

        Better check the Padres roster there pal…..they are a lot better..that offense is going to be tough to stop….Giants have regressed, mainly because they have less pop losing Panda and Morse and to this point only adding McGhee and Aoki,…But except for Vogelsong who looks like he is signing with the Astros , that pitching staff is still intact…Pads have a lot of good young arms too

      • Tmax

        Michael I agree the Padres are vastly improved, their New GM did a great job. I think their young arms are a year or two away. Also I have had the pleasure to see a game at Petco. Great place by the way, fun park. The outfields are very large. Kemp may be a real defensive liability there with the ankle and the hips. I still think Dodgers are in good shape this year to win the division. Can we get by the Cardinals or the Nats, not sure.

      • Tmax

        Yes you are right the Padres are a lot better. But we all know the game is mostly about pitching and I still think they are a year or two away. We will see. I agree about Rollins as he has a lot of miles. I love Kendrick and I think Turner can fill in for Uribe. You have to wonder about Guerrero they say he can hit. How bad a fielder can he be? Ramirez was horrible and he played. Of course Ramirez is a plus hitter but still. Have you heard what kind of arm Guerrero has? They were going to try him at short can he play third in a pinch to sub a few games for Uribe? If you really look at the Dodgers starting line up the infield is really solid both offensively and defensively. Same with Outfield especially if they platoon Crawford and Van Slyke. The questions are with Peterson and Grandal/Ellis. Not bad I think the bullpen is a lot better. McCarthy if healthy is very solid. So we see about Anderson. If they are serious about getting to the World Series they would pick up Shields. It is only money.

      • Michael N. Norris

        Scouting report on Guererro is that he has a solid bat 15 to 20 HR power….but is a so so fielder…..they used him mostly at 2B at Alb until the ear incident…..his arm not strong enough for 3rd….I really think they expected him to beat out Dee at 2nd. He would be a disaster at SS for lack of range…..remember the guy is 27 now. If he does not make the team out of Spring he has to be released,,,it is in his contract…..he and Arruebarenna were probably mistakes…..Eri cannot hit, and Guererro cannot field…..they have Barney to back up Kendrick and Rollins…and Turner can play anywhere on the inf except first….but they will probably keep Guererro for his bat..he can play some OF…..If Pederson does not pan out and they keep Ethier….you can bet CF will be a platoon thing too……Ethier against RHP, and Heisey vs LHP….Ethier is pitiful vs lefty’s ….checked the Pads depth chart…..first 4 starters are Cashner, Ross , Kennedy and Despaigne. Not bad…they brought Josh Johnson back as a reclamation project…their BP is pretty solid

      • Tmax

        Looked at their roster. I agree it is very good but still not a believer in their starting pitching. If San Diego plays well at least Petco is close and I have a great time down there. I will go down and see them play. I know the Giants keep winning the World Series But I am still not that impressed with them this year. As usual they will probably prove me wrong. I think it is still Dodgers and maybe a dog fight for second with Padres and Giants. It is going to be very hard to get a playoff spot as the Cubs, Mets, Marlins look improved.

      • Mike

        I’m getting my Padres jersey ready for the post-season!

  4. Mike

    The only thing the Dodgers ownership wanted in the new season was more money.
    They got it when they whored themselves out to Time Warner.
    They’re happy no matter what the fans think.
    75% can’t watch the game? Who cares?
    The Dodgers got their $20,000,000,000 contract even if no one watches
    and their season tickets are sold out.
    But, they’ll make sure to have at least two Magic Johnson bobblehead games.
    You know, one of the Guggenheim guys who helped screw the viewing fans.

    Reply
  5. Mike

    Gordon was the dumbest trade imaginable.
    Kendrick is a great addition and should have been moved to short.

    Reply
    • Tmax

      Mike it is funny that the Dodger Brass were not Dee Gordon believers. They made comments about selling him while his stock was high etc. I think most of Dodger Nation saw a guy who kept trying to improve and fight for a job and got better and became a dynamic force with his speed. Also everyone loved him for his grit and love of the game. I am sorry to see him traded I am a big fan and wish him well. I hope he has a huge year in Miami. Good news for Dee is he is from Florida so his family especially his Dad can see him play. We all know the Dodgers are sold on Seager and he is slotted for short next year. So Rollins is a one year gap guy. But I am a big Howie Kendrick fan solid at bat guy, really good fielder, great citizen. But if they do not re-sign Kendrick I think it was a bad trade.

      Reply
      • Michael N. Norris

        I agree…if Kendrick stays one year that trade is awful…..and Mike,, Kendrick has never played short…..that would be a disaster……only thing that will make the Gordon trade look good is if Hatcher and the 2 prospects they got make major contributions to a WS team

  6. Mike

    At least San Diego isn’t that far to go for post season seats.

    Reply

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