Monday, July 18, 2022
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2022
Even before the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Freddie Freeman, most baseball-knowledgeable people thought the Dodgers would have a great offense. After Freeman joined the Dodgers, many baseball-knowledgeable pundits compared the 2022 Dodgers to the legendary 1927 “Murder’s Row” New York Yankees. This comparison was completely unfair when modern pitchers have much more statistical analyses than in 1927, and baseball teams did not shift. The Dodger offensive production has disappointed many Dodger fans.
The Dodgers lead the National League in runs by 16 even though they have played the fewest games. Although they have not been able to capitalize on many scoring runs, they have done better since the middle of June. The Dodgers have the second highest batting average in the National League. The Dodgers have the eleventh lowest strikeout in the league.
The problem is the expectations for the Dodger offense were too high for any baseball team during the 2022 season. Every team has had decreased offensive production. After cracking down on the pitchers using “sticky stuff,” Major League Baseball has played with the ball to prevent so many home runs. After leading the National League in home runs in the abbreviated 2020 season and being third in the 2021 season, the Dodgers have the fourth most home runs in the league.
The Dodgers score 5.1 runs per game, and this means the Dodgers should win the majority of their games. They have won two-thirds of their games, an amazing accomplishment for any Major-League team. Of course, the vocal Dodger fans on social media are not satisfied with their favorite team’s performance. The media form these fans’ unfair expectations since it is much easier to criticize, and outlandish criticism sells newspapers and gets attention to the various Dodger blogs. However, this is not responsible journalism.
No, the Dodger offense is not perfect. They might struggle to score runs in the postseason unless the Dodger offense improves.
Since every Major-League team needs a catalyst to upstart its offense, the Dodgers have both Mookie Betts and Trea Turner. Both are fast and have power. If either gets on base, the team probably will score. Betts prefers to hit leadoff. Despite missing 2½ weeks with a fractured rib that occurred in a collision with Cody Bellinger, Betts leads the Dodgers with 20 home runs. He has 47 RBI. When Betts scores a run, the Dodgers usually win.
Trea Turner may be the best Dodger hitter even though Freeman has more hits. Turner has a .306 batting average with 14 home runs and 68 RBI. He uses the entire field to collect his hits, earning him the nickname of “The Hit Man.” Whenever the Dodgers need a hit, Turner usually delivers.
Freeman has been a Godsend since he has set a great example for the other Dodgers. After facing Freeman for the previous 12 seasons, the Dodgers knew he was a hard out. He goes with the pitch uncaring if he can hit it with power. As a left-handed hitter, Freeman enjoys going to left field. He has 31 doubles, and his 114 hits are the second most hits in the National League, just behind the Saint Louis Cardinal first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Freeman’s .321 batting average is the highest on the Dodgers. Early in the season, he had little power, but he has thirteen home runs and 59 RBI. His baserunning has been a pleasant surprise. He has helped the Dodgers to achieve the best National League record.
Will Smith should be an All-Star, but he is in his second full year in the Major Leagues. Although he first appeared with the Dodgers in 2019, he has not gained the popularity that he deserves. Since Smith has an even-kneel personality, he has a flair for the dramatic. During his short Major-League career, Smith has had four walk-offs. This season, Smith has a .272 batting average with 14 home runs and 47 RBI. He has improved his defensive skills.
After a slow start, Justin Turner has awakened since the beginning of July. Through his early offensive struggles, Turner still took good at-bats. Now, he has a .252 batting average with 8 home runs and 51 RBI. Historically, Turner has had a better performance in the second half than the first, and the Dodgers expect Turner to play an integral part in their divisional drive. Having the DH in the National League helps to keep Turner fresh and productive.
Gavin Lux is the biggest surprise for the Dodger offense. Although Lux made his Major-League debut on September 2, 2019, as a highly touted rookie, he toiled in the abbreviated 2020 season and the 2021 season, including many demotions to Triple-A, Oklahoma City. This season, manager Dave Roberts wanted Lux to make good contract and have good at-bats. Lux has typically batted in the ninth spot in the Dodger lineup, but he has driven in many important runs. He has a .292 batting average with four home runs and 22 RBI. In the second half, the Dodgers probably will move Lux in the lineup, and it will be interesting to see how he will respond.
Since his 2019 MVP season, Cody Bellinger has disappointed the Dodgers and their fans. At times, he has looked lost at the plate even though sometimes he has delivered the big hit. Bellinger likes to tinker with his batting stance, and often he lengthens his swing, producing strikeouts at an alarming rate. This season, he has a .210 batting average with 11 home runs and 31 RBI. Lately, Roberts has started to platoon Bellinger with Trayce Thompson. Bellinger needs to find a comfortable batting stance where he can make good contact in all areas of the strike zone. He needs to have a good second half.
On the last day of the 2021 season, Max Muncy suffered a dislocated elbow and a torn UCL that made him miss the 2021 postseason. He did not undergo Tommy John surgery, and at no time this season, he has looked healthy. Although he missed almost 3 weeks with an elbow injury, I don’t think he is healthy now. He has the lowest batting average in the Major Leagues. In the past, he routinely hit 35 home runs, but he has only 9 homers in the 2022 season. If Muncy does not improve, Roberts should rest him.
The Dodger offense will get a boost soon when Chris Taylor (fractured foot) and Edwin Ríos (torn hamstring) will return from the active roster.
The Dodgers rely on their offense to win.
Monday, July 18, 2022