By record, the Dodgers are the best team in baseball. Heading into Sunday’s game, the team lead the Majors in victories with 69, and in winning percentage at .651. They also had lead the Majors in runs allowed at 405, and their +164 run differential remains tops in baseball.
However, stats are one side of the story. The team seems to have hit a point where some fundamentals on the defensive side have been lacking.
While the Dodgers were charged with only 1 team error in an 11-4 loss to Washington, the Nationals took advantage of sloppy play and put the game out of reach for Los Angeles.
Verdugo with the slow toss in and both Soto and Turner come in after Rendon lines it to right.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) July 28, 2019
Manager Dave Roberts spoke on the situation.
It’s something that shouldn’t slump. We are not playing consistent defense. When you don’t make plays, it adds to pitch counts and things like that. It really changes the dynamic of a game.
I know the preparation is there, and we just have to get better. It’s pretty simple.
The team wasn’t beat by errors, but they weren’t helped by lazy defense, and by questionable decisions. Alex Verdugo cost the team a run by hesitating to throw the ball in, and Joc Pederson’s struggles at first base continued. While he has been charged with only 5 errors in 19 games at his new position, his presence there seems to be affecting the defense as a whole.
The Dodgers have 77 errors this season. They have 38 since Joc Pederson played his first game at first base on June 20.
That's 32 games and 38 errors. They had only 39 errors in the first 69 games.
Not saying Joc is the reason, but something changed since that day.
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) July 28, 2019
You read that tweet right, 38 team errors in the 32 games since Pederson’s first appearance at first base. Now this isn’t meant to exclusively put the onus on Joc as the reason for the poor team play, but he cannot be overlooked as a key contributor.
Much respect to the guy for trying to help his team by adding versatility to his game, but it’s hit a point where he’s doing more harm than good.
While Dodgers Nation will be providing a more deep dive on this topic later, the infield defense appears to be focused on trying to throw strikes to a still-learning Pederson instead of making baseball-instinct plays to record outs. Our Tim Rogers echoed this sentiment:
What gets missed about Joc at first is that everyone else on the infield has to worry more about their throws.
Tim also points out something blindingly obvious, Joc is trying a mid-season position change that is best suited for off-season work. And it’s hurting the team.
Joc Pederson is fine player (at times), but he is not a Major League first baseman.
End the experiment.