Doomed: The Dodgers Can't Score, or Small Sample Sizes

Some would say that two weeks of a disappearing offense and increasing lead for the Padres in the NL West is insurmountable.  Some would say that it's just a rough two weeks and things will normalize for the better.  While truth and facts tell us that things will get better, Fake Plaschke has this to say:

Anaheim is the land of all-stars.

Chavez Ravine is the land of Movie Stars.

The Angels do all the little things right.

The Dodgers do all the little things and big things wrong.

Maybe Matt Kemp needs another trash can pushed next to his locker.

Maybe Andre Ethier should sit on the bench while veteran Garrett Anderson shows how it's done.


But as John Madden would say, until they're winners, they're just losers.

The quick and dirty version is this: BABIP. Batting Average on Balls in Play, a statistic that fluctuates in the short term but over a meaningful sample size will regress to the mean, usually around .300. Often when a player is in a slump, that will slip down. Some of that is due to luck (hitting the ball right at people), some of that is due to an offensive funk (making poor contact), but usually it's one or two players at a time, and not for too long, and over the course of a season, hot streaks and cold streaks usually even out. However, since the All-Star break, the team has had a BABIP of .252 since the all-star break, coming after a .314 BABIP before. Thus the .211/.273/.306 line, so one would think the offense is bound to pick up.

Now, let's look at the BA/OBP/SLG/BABIP/seasonBABIP of the Dodger starters:

Furcal: .239/.364/.370/.263/.351

Ethier: .140/.260/.302/.133/.307

Loney: .178/.213/.267/.200/.328

Kemp .292/.340/.417/.333/.315

Blake: .191/.208/.277/.258/.302

DeWitt: .313/.333/.438/.385/.330

Martin: .258/.343/.323/.333/.285

Carroll: .241/.303/.310/.259/.339

For Furcal and Carroll, it looks like they might simply be normalizing, given how high their average on balls in play was pre-ASB.  Loney and Ethier are both clearly just in bad slumps which should end reasonably soon, though Ethier has still demonstrated a bit of power and OBP, which Loney hasn't during the slump.  Blake should improve too, though not as drastically, reflecting his age a bit.  Matt Kemp and Blake DeWitt are hitting for average better than the rest of their season performance suggests, meaning that either they are making progress, or they're in a relative good spell, even if Kemp's power is missing in the last couple weeks.  

If you really want to get into small sample size freakouts, you could remark that Ethier hasn't been the same since hitting .450 in May.  Well, no shit; nobody's going to hit .450 all year long.  And if you compare his season stats overall to 2008 and 2009, they're right in line, though his walk rate is down a bit.  Ethier often has a couple great months and a couple poor months; this time, his great month was May and his poor one was June.

As for Russell Martin, he has sucked ever since Don Mattingly became the hitting coach.  It could be coincidental, and due to being run into the ground, but Mattingly became hitting coach after the all-star break in 2008, which is exactly when Martin stopped hitting for power.  I would like to know what Mattingly did to ruin him, but after two years, I blame he-who-must-not-be-named-manager.

The offense will also improve with Manny healthy, whenever that happens.  Trading for Dan Uggla would be wonderful, or Kelly Johnson for that matter, given DeWitt's production.  But even then, the Dodgers aren't going to hit .211 all year.

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