LOS ANGELES — For the second year in a row the Dodgers have powered up as the season turned to summer, reaching 51 home runs with three games still remaining in June.
Joc Pederson hit the 50th home run for the Dodgers this month, a two-run shot in the second inning Wednesday night against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs, giving the Dodgers their second 50-homer month in franchise history.
It was the 10th home run of June for Pederson, one of 10 different Dodgers with a home run this month. Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger also homered on Wednesday, the Dodgers’ 13th game with three or more home runs this season. Ten of those games have come in June.
Five Dodgers have at least six home runs in June, the first time in franchise history they have done that. They had four players do it in the same month just twice before — July 1953 and June 1954, both in Brooklyn.
Dodgers June home runs
The Dodgers have 11 more home runs than any other team in baseball in June, with the Yankees next in line with 40 homers.
Last June the Dodgers set a franchise mark with 53 home runs, and finished the season with 221 long balls, also a club record. The major league record for home runs in a month is 58, held by the 1987 Orioles and 1999 Mariners, both setting their records in May.
“You look at our lineup, we’re built to slug. That’s just the way it is,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Each night we have six, seven, eight guys who could hit a home run at point and any time.”
Muncy and Kiké Hernandez have already set career highs in home runs for a season, and we haven’t even reached the halfway point of the season. Hernandez, who was honored on Tuesday with a bobblehead giveaway at Dodger Stadium commemorating his three-homer game, hit a career-best 11 home runs last year, and 24 doubles, in 342 plate appearances. This year Hernandez has 13 homers in 217 PA.
“I took the offseason seriously, trying to get stronger and get in better shape,” Hernandez said. “Those doubles have turned to homers, I guess.”
The Dodgers lead the National League with 107 home runs this season, on pace for 219, just shy of their club mark. It’s a far cry than their poor start to 2018, when they were 16-26 (.381) and ranked 13th in the NL with 39 home runs. They have hit 68 home runs in 37 games since, doubling their per-game output. Not so coincidentally the club is 27-10 (.730) during that span, the best record in baseball.
Finding good pitches to drive has keyed the Dodgers’ power surge. They have swung at just 25.4% of pitches outside the strike zone in 2018, the lowest rate in baseball. In June it’s down to 23.9%. Their walk rate is 9.8% on the season, second in the NL, and in June it has spiked to 11.0%.
“You have a team-wide approach where guys are taking walks when they need to, and swinging at strikes,” Roberts said. “If you look at all of our guys who have been taking their walks, when they get the opportunity they slug, and that’s been kind of our formula for a while.”