After a week of the Dodgers not exactly playing all that well, I’m going to ‘timehop’ back to last year and compare the Dodgers progress from 2018 to 2019.
The Dodgers made it to the World Series in 2019, but the road there was extraordinarily bumpy. 2019 has been much more similar to 2017, and even 2017 had it’s ugly parts. (September 2017 ring any bells?) Dodgers stat man Rick Krajewski always has the numbers, and today is no exception.
Yesterday wasn't pretty, but quick comparison of where the #Dodgers were at this point last year:
First 108 games (2/3 of season)
*2018 = 59-49 record < – 0.5 back in division
*2019 = 69-39 record* < – 14.0 up in division
*Also the best record in MLB
— Rick Krajewski (@Rick_K21) July 30, 2019
This time last year, the Dodgers were not in first place. This time last year, the Dodgers had 10 less wins. The Dodgers were just days away from the trade deadline. That’s when a few things changed.
By July 20, 2018, the Dodgers had Manny Machado in the lineup everyday. However, to end out July, they went 6-6. Not exactly the hot streak, but the offense had definitely started producing more consistently.
In August, the Dodgers went 14-13. Also not exactly setting the world on fire. Unlike 2017, it was September that separated the Dodgers (literally) from the NL west. They went 18-9. By that point, the team had completely sold out / bought in on platoons, and they had a huge boost in late summer that set the tone for their playoff push: an unleashed Walker Buehler.
While Manny Machado in the lineup obviously was a big help to the offense overall, the real shot of adrenaline was Buehler.
In 5 starts in August, Buehler posted a 1.53 ERA, with nearly 11 strikeouts per 9 innings. FIVE runs allowed in 29.1 innings is uber-elite. The Dodgers rode the Buehl-dog into game 163 and through the World Series.
Side By Side Numbers
The 2019 offensive is far and away superior to the 2018 squad. A team that ended with a record 235 home runs in 2018 is being outpaced by more than 30 bombs in 2019.
I don’t want to glaze over the eyes of anyone by discussing clutch hitting, but the Dodger offense has basically been better overall. The Dodgers have had less games where the offense falls flat entirely. 2018 had a lot of wins that looked like “11-3” and a lot of losses that were “3-0.” 2019 has had much more balance.
Those numbers are pretty comparable at first glance. The pitching staff is striking out fewer and allowing more home runs, but also is walking less and giving up fewer hits.
That IS% is the only number that really stands out. It means that 43% of inherited runners have scored. Compared to the 29% clip of 2018, it makes it even more abundantly clear where the Dodgers need to improve.
Conclusion: Dodgers Are In Good Shape
The next 48 hours are going to shape the moods of Dodger fans regardless of the outcome. If the Dodgers make a big splash for a starter or reliever, people will probably be happier. Whether or not any moves that are made amount to anything is another story.
The bigger thought to find here is that the Dodgers are in good shape, and 2019 is already better than 2018. Every elite team has hiccups. Every single championship team hits the proverbial swoon. Call it law of averages, regression to the mean, call it inevitable. The offense will explode again soon. The Dodgers could end July on a skid, but they’re going to get right back up. When they do, they’ll still probably have over a 10 game lead.