A glance at the 2018 Dodgers offensive statistics makes it hard to believe that the team could improve on what was an impressive group of numbers.
The boys in blue scored a total of 804 runs and ranked first in the National League in the regular season in OPS at .774. Not only that, but they also led the NL in home runs with 235, only trailing the New York Yankees in this category when it was all said and done.
Yet, as many Dodgers fans might recall, these numbers were often a bit misleading. Rather unintentionally, the team employed a very hot and cold strategy throughout the season. While the highs were unbelievably high—they scored over 10 runs on several occasions and ranked first in the NL in run differential—the lows were almost unbearably low as the team was shutout by opponents eight different times.
Also, home runs often came at the expense of logical small ball strategies such as stealing bases and hitting sacrifice flies, in which the Dodgers finished ninth and tenth in the NL respectively. The blowout games were undoubtedly fun and entertaining, but they were often overshadowed by frustrating slumps.
The 2019 Dodgers Offense
Sure, this season’s Dodgers are just 19 games into their 2019 campaign, but with exception to their early six game losing streak, where their struggles were arguably more on their pitching than offensive side, things appear to be different. The first game saw the Dodgers break a major league record for opening day home runs with eight, scoring 12 runs in the game. Just two days later they put up 18 runs on the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In the young season, they’ve broken 10 runs four different times. On paper, this looks like a relapse of last season’s home-run-or-die approach, but thankfully it’s more than that.
The addition of hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc has made a noticeable difference in the team’s approach at the plate. Instead of always swinging for the fences, the players seem more comfortable taking runs wherever they can find them. And yes, in multiple instances, that has meant a return to small-ball at-bats.
Channeling the powers of Robert Van Scoyoc for some RUNS here! pic.twitter.com/ezKYUw20n8
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) April 14, 2019
While last season’s homers were viewed as absolute necessities in order to win, this season they instead appear to be punctuation marks to series of balanced at-bats.
The greatest benefactor of this change in approach appears to be Cody Bellinger, who entered this season with the drive to improve upon a sluggish sophomore season. Bellinger has been anything but that this year, leading the NL in batting average, home runs, and RBIs at this point.
It’s early, and the Dodgers’ 2019 narrative has yet to be written. However, so far, they’ve given every indication that their approach will be different this season. If the team can sustain this offensive prowess that they’ve displayed to start the year, they’ll likely be headed for another run at that all-elusive world title.Dodgers: Controversial Decisions Abound, But Can We Still Like Dave Roberts?