Heading into tonight’s game, the Los Angeles Dodgers are second in the league in errors on defense and 24th in overall batting average.
This led us to this week’s roundtable question: Are you more concerned with the Dodgers’ offense or defense?
Jared Massey (@jaredjmassey):
The good news is that the Dodgers’ starting pitching has been pretty good this season. Even without Clayton Kershaw, the staff has been fairly consistent in pitching deep into games and keeping the offense close enough to win.
Unfortunately, key players on offense have been struggling so far this season. Hanley Ramirez entered Wednesday’s game with a .328 wOBA, while Andre Ethier “boasts” a .270 mark and Matt Kemp is at .321 despite batting just .196. With A.J. Ellis hurt, the Dodgers now host a pair of backstops who simply cannot hit in Tim Federowicz and Drew Butera, who have combined for six hits in 51 at-bats. On the plus side, Ellis will recover, Ramirez’ hand will eventually heal and Ethier and Kemp figure to bounce back to at least last year’s form.
The bigger concern is the team’s defense, despite ranking 12th in Fangraphs’ metric. Hanley hasn’t played well thus far and isn’t getting any younger. Kemp rates as a poor defender once again. And Adrian Gonzalez, once considered a top defensive first baseman, graded negatively last year and does again in 2014.
An aging roster doesn’t offer much hope of a defensive turnaround. Luckily, the offense will create more than enough runs to compensate for the defense’s shortcomings.
Matt Moreno (@mmoreno1015):
I’m much more concered with the Dodgers defense. Hitting comes and goes, it’s just the way it works sometimes, and it can be contagious. In Wednesday’s win, the Dodgers had multiple extra-base hits and resembled the team many expect them to be.
As for the errors, they haven’t necessarily cost the Dodgers too many games to this point, but being lax with the glove is a bad habit to fall into. What’s alarming is some of the errors simply may be a byproduct of the kind of team the Dodgers have. Hanley Ramirez has his limitations at shortstop, same for Carl Crawford out in left. Yasiel Puig can make things interesting in right, and the normally reliant Juan Uribe has had his troubles, racking up two errors. Remember, Uribe only had five errors in 2013.
One positive is the issues on defense can be fixed – to a certain extent. You would just hope it’s not correlated to the team’s recent struggles at the plate, but rather is a matter of needing to be more focused or go through added repetitions.
Vincent Samperio (@vincesince91):
Defense. Simple as that.
The Dodgers will begin to hit. Watching the games you can see Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp are just missing a lot of pitches. Once their timing is back, all those foul balls will turn into base hits. Even if Juan Uribe and Dee Gordon regress a bit, the offense will still be rolling very soon.
Defense was never expected to be the team’s strong suit, especially with Ramirez and Gordon up the middle; however, some of the errors have just been ugly. I’ve never been a fan of Kemp in center field and I do believe Puig could handle it better, but that likely won’t change. I do believe the errors will dwindle and the Dodgers will need Ramirez to get over what ever has plagued him thus far if they have any plans of advancing in October.
Jeff Spiegel (@dnfantasyspiegs):
This one is easy for me — the defense.
22 errors in 21 games (second worst in the league) is completely unacceptable — especially for a team with so many quality defenders. Sure, Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez are below-average defensively, but they only account for seven of the errors — even if they were flawless, the team would still have the 12th most errors in the league! Also near the top of the list of culprits has been Tim Federowicz, who has three errors (second most on the team behind Ramirez) in just 10 games. Even Juan Uribe, Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez — thought to be among the best at their position — have combined for four errors this season. Add in four errors from the pitcher position, and it’s obvious the defense is a mess.
On offense, the worries are far less concerning. For most players, the offense takes a few weeks to get going in a season. Yes, it’s taking longer for the Dodgers than for others, but they’ll figure it out. Hanley and Puig will finish the season hitting around .300 and we’ll forget this slump even happened.
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