The Los Angeles Dodgers lost perhaps their two biggest home run hitters this past offseason, with the departures of Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez.
While Ramirez is currently leading Major League baseball with 10 homers, it’s his former team, the Dodgers, that have hit the most home runs. The Dodgers are currently leading the Majors with 32 home runs, including four in the first three innings of Wednesday’s nights victory over the San Francisco Giants.
According to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly believes there are a couple factors that play into their home run outburst:
I think it’s just taken Mac (hitting coach Mark McGwire) this long to get through to guys. … (Global warming and McGwire) that’s a pretty good combination.”
While Dodger Stadium has historically been a pitchers’ park, this year’s team is beginning to show that it is susceptible to the long ball, as they have hit a majority of their home runs at home. Wednesday night’s four homers were all hit by left-handed hitters. One of those hitters was Andre Ethier, the longest tenured Dodgers. Ethier is in his 10th season with the team, and he has noticed a bit of a change in the weather, due to the drought that California has been in:
Maybe it’s so dry, the state’s so dry because of the drought,” he said. “I definitely notice it. I’ve always noticed before in April and September the grass is always wet later in the game. There’s moisture in the dugout. Around the seventh, eighth innings, the railing would be wet. It hasn’t been that way lately. Maybe that’s a factor.”
There have been 33 home runs hit in 12 games at Dodger Stadium this year. The 2.75 homers hit per game is the highest of any National League park this season. The Dodgers are 10-2 at home this season, scoring at least five runs in all 10 of those wins.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins was also one of the left-handed bats to go deep Wednesday night. While Rollins is struggling this season, batting just .185, both of his home runs have come at home. Despite that, Rollins downplayed that Dodger Stadium is a hitter’s park, comparing the current power surge to another sport:
Guys are hitting the ball well. The home runs haven’t been floating out there,” Rollins said. “Guys are squaring the ball up and hitting it on the barrel. If you know anything about golf, when you hit the ball with the right spin and you hit it well, it’s going to carry.
“Obviously, it’s a little warmer. We all know the ball carries better when it’s warmer. Balls that are hit well in warm weather really carry well.”
With the current injuries to pitchers like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenley Jansen and Brandon McCarthy missing the entire season, the Dodgers’ bats may need to continue to carry them to be successful this season.
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