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The Dodgers and runners in scoring position

Think less performance, and more opportunity

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers try to solve their road trip offensive woes against old friend Zack Greinke, in their third and final meeting with the Diamondbacks ace in 2016, on Friday night at Chase Field.

LA has scored just 19 runs in seven games on the trip that includes two shutouts, a one-run game and five of the seven scoring three or fewer runs.

It’s easy to point to numbers with runners in scoring position as the culprit, because outside of home runs that’s basically the bulk of how you score runs. Bunch the hits together, and the runs will come. Just ask Rich Hill about Thursday night.

The Dodgers have been bad with RISP of late, it’s true. They are just 4-for-41 (.098) on the road trip, but these things tend to even out in the long term. In the six games just before the road trip, including three against Arizona, the Dodgers were 14-for-41 (.341) with runners in scoring position.

On the season, the Dodgers are hitting .249/.330/.407 with runners in scoring position, 10th in the National League in OPS, 10th in wOBA (.311) and 11th in batting average. But that’s pretty much in line with their overall numbers on offense, hitting .249/.318/.410, ninth in OPS, 11th in wOBA (.314) and 11th in batting average.

The National League as a whole is hitting .253/.322/.412 overall, and .255/.340/.412 with RISP.

The real problem for the Dodgers, it seems, is getting run-scoring opportunities in the first place. They have 1,308 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, which is only 12th in the NL. The only teams below them in PA rank 13th (Mets), 15th (Phillies) and 10th (Padres).

The average NL team has 1,420 PA with runners in scoring position this season, so the Dodgers are missing out at a rate of roughly three run-scoring plate appearances every four games relative to average.

Yet they are scoring right at the NL average (4.42), at 4.43 runs per game. So if anything the Dodgers have done a remarkable job in finding ways to produce runs despite not getting many runners in scoring position.

If it’s any consolation, in September, the Dodgers have 90 plate appearances with RISP, 29th in MLB. But they have allowed 74 such plate appearances, fewest in MLB. As a result, they are 8-5 in September and have outscored opponents 51-33.

But the overriding point here is that the Dodgers aren’t struggling to score because they aren’t clutch. They pretty much are who they are in those situations. They just need to keep putting themselves in those situations in the first place, and the runs will come.

Game info

Dodgers (82-64) at Diamondbacks (62-84)

Time: 6:40 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA