The Dodgers struggled offensively
In the past six games the Los Angeles Dodgers have struggled, and no Dodger has stood out. The Dodgers won two and lost four against the Montreal Expos and the New York Mets. This week no player will be the Dodger of the week.
The recurring theme of this season for the Dodgers is offensive struggles. Though pitching wins games and sometimes even championships, runs are required to win any game. The Dodgers can keep the opposition scoreless, but if they cannot score a run, they cannot win. Though many teams have struggled offensively, the Dodgers' offense problems seem more serious. The Dodgers have poor batting averages and poor on-base percentages. Taking more batting practice is not the solution. The Dodgers must change their philosophy of batting.
During the off-season Kevin Malone, the former Dodger general manager, strengthened the starting pitching while weakening the offense. Malone re-signed Darren Dreifort and signed Andy Ashby. He did not replace the offensive production of Todd Hundley nor find a suitable leadoff hitter. These shortcomings have hurt the Dodgers.
During the spring Jim Tracy talked about manufacturing runs, but this season the Dodgers have not manufactured many runs. Most Dodgers do not understand the importance of walking. The Dodgers even hired Maury Wills, a legendary Dodger base stealer, to teach the Dodgers how to bunt. Not many Dodgers have bunted nor stolen bases this season. The Dodgers still are relying too much on the home run to score.
Tom Goodwin has the speed to utilize the bunt skill. However, Goodwin never tries to bunt. With a batting average of .215 and an on-base percentage of .273 Goodwin has to do something to improve his batting statistics. Alex Cora has the ability to utilize the bunt to get on base, but he does not. If he does not improve his batting average of .215 and on-base percentage of .262, he may lose his job at shortstop.
The Dodgers have no good leadoff hitters causing offensive problems for the team. The leadoff hitter arguably is the most important hitter in any team's lineup. Unlike most hitters the leadoff hitter has the main goal of getting on base and not driving in runs. The Dodgers' leadoff hitters have a batting average of .232 and on-base percentage of .278. When the Dodgers' leadoff hitters do not get on, the Dodgers have limited chances of scoring. The opposing pitcher can relax without runners on and select off-speed pitches, which are more difficult to hit than fastballs. If the Dodgers had better leadoff hitters, they would score more.
Shawn Green arguably is the most disappointing hitter this year. Although other Dodgers have poorer offensive performances than Green, they have causes. Eric Karros struggled offensively and with a stiff back. Alex Cora and Chad Kreuter do not have many offensive expectations. The Dodgers expected Green to be one of their offensive forces.
Green was a great left-handed power hitter when he came to Los Angeles from Toronto, but he has not showed that ability. Last year Green had trouble adjusting to the National League pitching when he batted .269 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI. This year he has a .259 batting average with ten home runs and 31 RBI, even after a three-game series in Denver. He has not provided enough protection to Gary Sheffield. The Dodgers need Green to perform as he did in Toronto.
Mark Grudzielanek and Gary Sheffield have been the most consistent hitters for the Dodgers. Grudzielanek has always been a good contact hitter as his .313 batting average indicates. However, his seven home runs this season have shocked many people because he has not had more than ten home runs in a season. Last year Sheffield emerged as the Dodgers' best hitter, and it has continued this year. Sheffield has been slowed by a swollen finger but still has hit .293 with eleven home runs and 26 RBI. Most of the season Grudzielanek and Sheffield have carried the Dodgers offensively.