Evaluating The Dodgers Offense: Did It Get Worse?

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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