The 1988 Dodgers are brought up often simply because they are the last Dodger team to win a World Series. Any time something comes up that reminds us of 1988, this is a good thing.
Well, almost any time.
In September this year, the Dodgers scored 78 runs. Total. That's three runs per game. Since moving to Los Angeles, the club has scored fewer runs per game than that just three times (in 53 years, by the way): 1967, 1969, and 1988.
Two of those years were in the 1960s, in a lower offensive environment and one of the best pitching parks ever. The adjusted OPS+ for the Dodgers in September was 70 (with 100 being average). The only month worse offensively was 1988, with a 62 OPS+. At least September saw a division getting clinched, with more to come.
The Dodgers were so bad in September that it took a sweep of the Rockies to end their month with 10 wins.
Dodger Batter of September: A.J. Ellis is the pick here, as he has kind of come out of nowhere to at the very least make himself a viable candidate for 2011 backup catcher. Ellis hit an amazing .455/.561/.545 in September. Sure it was heavily BABIP-driven (with an obscene .517 batting average on balls in play), but even lowering his BABIP to .310 (taking away six singles) puts his OPS at .778, which would still lead the team.
All you need to know about the offense is that Matt Kemp put up his fourth straight month with a sub-.300 on-base percentage, yet his .269 OBP ranked as high as ninth on the team among the 18 position players.
Dodger Pitcher of September: Clayton Kershaw finished his season strong, averaging nearly seven innings per start in September, putting up a 2.38 ERA and 0.853 WHIP. Kershaw passed 200 innings and 200 strikeouts for the first time, had his first shutout, and nearly had another one in his final start of the year. To show how badly the offense jacked the pitching staff, Kershaw was 2-2 on the month, and that .500 record was the best on the starting staff, one that put up a collective 4.11 ERA.
Honorable mention goes to Chad Billingsley, who put up a 3.06 ERA and a team-leading 1.99 FIP and 39 strikeouts. Also, Kenley Jansen and Hong-Chih Kuo each put up sub-1.00 ERAs and combined for 28 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings.
September Record: 10-16
78 runs scored (3.00 per game)
112 runs allowed (4.31 per game)
.340 pythagorean winning percentage (9-17)
|September NL West Standings|
The Giants, amazingly, allowed fewer than two runs per game in September.
Season Record: 78-81
656 runs scored (4.13 per game)
682 runs allowed (4.29 per game)
.482 pythagorean winning percentage (77-82)
|Season NL West Standings|
|*through September 29|
Games of the Month: The Dodgers weren't playing for anything other than trying to spoil the Giants' season, but the September 14 series opener in San Francisco was still exciting nonetheless. The crowd was into the game as if this was game 163 and the two clubs were fighting for one playoff berth. Kershaw was magnificent, pitching his first complete game, and it happened to be a shutout, which was needed. The Dodgers were only able to collect one hit on the evening, and that didn't even lead to a run. The Dodgers used two walks, a hit-by-pitch, and an error to plate the one run they needed, beating the hated rivals, 1-0. It was the sixth game since 1920 that the Dodgers won with only one hit.
Welcome Aboard: Russ Mitchell and John Lindsey each made their major league debuts in September. Mitchell made 10 starts in total, mixing time at first base, third base, and left field, becoming the only Dodger since 1920 (the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index only goes back that far) to start games at first, third, and the outfield in his first season. John Lindsey was a great feel-good story, finally getting his cup of coffee after percolating for 16 years in the minor leagues, but his season ended roughly a week too soon, when an errant fastball broke his left hand. Lindsey got his first, and only, hit on September 12, and Mitchell got his first hit, a home run, on September 16.
Milestone: Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect eighth inning on September 11, picking up his first major league win.
Thanks For Playing: Eight days after letting Manny Ramirez go on a waiver claim to the White Sox, the Dodgers jettisoned his buddy, designating Ronnie Belliard for assignment. Then, on September 18, while the Dodgers were hosting Colorado at Dodger Stadium, they pulled a reverse Garland, trading Octavio Dotel to the opposing clubhouse, a few hundred feet away.
Pinch Hitting: For the month, Dodger pinch hitters had nine hits in 46 at-bats, with two doubles and three walks, hitting .196/.245/.239.
On the season, Dodger pinch hitters are hitting .217/.270/.288, compared to the NL hitting .225/.294/.350.
Runners in Scoring Position: In September, the Dodgers hit .211/.305/.339 with runners in scoring position in 207 plate appearances. On the season, the Dodgers are hitting .257/.350/.405 with RISP, compared to .261/.352/.411 for the NL.
They had a runner on third base with less than two outs all of 35 times, and got the runner home 18 times, or 51.4% (the entire NL scored 379 of 768, 49.3%).
They had a runner on second base with nobody out 49 times, and the runner advanced 16 times, or 32.7% (the entire NL advanced the runner 354 of 925 times, 38.3%).
Upcoming Month: The Dodgers finish their season with three games at home against the Diamondbacks, October 1-3.