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This Is the Cause
2003-05-07 08:44
by Jon Weisman

On April 29, I noted how much less frequently the Dodgers are hitting home runs with a similar lineup to last season's. I'm still in the exploration stage on this issue, but I am really starting to think there has been too much emphasis on the Dodgers needing to scratch and claw out runs by the bunt and hit-and-run. As a team, the Dodgers need to start swinging for the fences.

Here is the Dodger won-lost record in 2003 broken down by runs scored in a nine-inning game:


less than 3 runs...1-11
exactly 3 runs......2-2
more than 3 runs...12-0

This is exactly what you would expect from a team that is scoring 3.52 runs per game and allowing 3.03 runs per game. In fact, the only unexpected result of this breakdown is that it adheres so closely to expectations. As of this moment, the Dodgers have even played exactly the same number of nine-inning games in which they've scored above and below three runs.

Here is the Dodger record in 2003 broken down by runs allowed in a nine-inning game:


less than 3 runs...11-1
exactly 3 runs......3-6
more than 3 runs...1-6

The breakdown is not completely dissimilar from a pitching standpoint, except that allowing three runs in a nine-inning game hasn't been good enough. When Dodger opponents score their third run in a nine-inning game, they are 12-4.

The Dodgers are averaging 0.49 more runs than they allow. With just the slightest improvement - an improvement within the range of possibility - the Dodgers can start to become a winning team. It's in the range of possibility because even the Dodgers can do better than their current ranking of 29th in the major leagues in home runs.

Currently, the Dodgers have no power potential at CF, SS and 2B.

At the five positions where they do have power potential:

--not one is performing above expectations heading into this season.
--not one is performing above the league average at their position.

It's time to get specific when we talk about the woes of the Dodger offense. There may be other problems with the team, but the lack of home runs is the biggest.

Start with Adrian Beltre if you like. He has been disappointing based even on our sliding scale of high expectations for him. However, Brian Jordan, Fred McGriff, Paul LoDuca and Shawn Green are also falling short. No Dodger is on pace to hit more than 20 home runs this year.

This is a collective failure.

And when a collective failure like this happens, it's time for someone to examine the Dodgers' overall approach. This could have something to do with the way they swing the bat, Jack Clark's injuries, or what the Dodgers are eating for breakfast. But something bigger than any individual is holding back the Dodgers.

I don't mean this in as poor taste as it may sound, but the inability to hit home runs has spread across the team like a virus, and the Dodger braintrust needs to attack that virus like it was life and death. Because, within the realm of the 2003 pennant race, it is.

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