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The expected and unexpected of the Dodgers offense

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Dodgers rank 3rd in MLB in runs per game (5.67) despite some stars missing time.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers were expected to be very good, and through 12 games they have been just that, to the tune of their best start to a season in 16 years. The offense is humming along nicely despite facing the only real adversity this team has seen through the first two weeks.

Last year the Dodgers led the majors in runs scored and home runs, so it’s no surprise that through 12 games they are hitting .285/.380/.493 with an MLB-best 139 wRC+ as a team. But that they’ve done it with Cody Bellinger playing only four games and Mookie Betts only seven to date is notable.

They could have Bellinger back at some point this weekend in San Diego, for the first of their six showdown series against the Padres, though manager Dave Roberts didn’t want to commit to a timetable for when Bellinger’s calf would be ready just yet.

How the Dodgers have kept plugging along has been a combination of some expected things and some unexpected things.

Corey Seager is tied for the National League lead in doubles, just as he did in 2019. That just feels right, especially for someone who has averaged 43 doubles per 162 games in his career and has two of the twelve 40-double seasons in Los Angeles Dodgers history.

Max Muncy leads the NL in on-base percentage (.520), and his 11 walks are one off the major league lead, looking very much like the hitter who walked more times in one postseason than anybody but Barry Bonds. Muncy has averaged 102 walks per 162 games since joining the Dodgers. This is normal for him. Maybe not “OBP starting with a five” normal, but Muncy is going to reach base.

The Dodgers have a 12.1-percent walk rate as a team, second in the majors (the White Sox are at 12.2 percent). Muncy is at 22 percent.

In the unexpected pile is Zach McKinstry, who has filled in quite nicely in the absence of Bellinger and Betts in the outfield, and at the moment is tied for the team lead in both home runs (three) and RBI (11).

Who McKinstry is tied with is a little surprising, but only because of timing. Justin Turner has been one of the most productive hitters in baseball since joining the Dodgers. He just usually gets off to a slower start in the power department. Entering this season, Turner had three career home runs in 480 plate appearances before May 1, slugging .378, well below his .482 collective slugging percentage for all other months.

But this April, with 15 games still remaining in the month, Turner already has three home runs in 46 plate appearances, slugging .732. One of those homers landed in some cheese on Wednesday night. This is nacho ordinary April for Turner.

“I’m not trying to hit a bunch of homers,” Turner said, smiling. “I’m just trying to take good at-bats, hit balls hard somewhere, and a couple of them have gone over the fence already. That’s nice.”

That Dodgers offense will try to back Julio Urías on Thursday night, as the Dodgers try to sweep the Rockies for the fifth time in Colorado’s last seven series in Los Angeles.

Game info

  • Teams: Dodgers vs. Rockies
  • Location: Dodger Stadium
  • Time: 7:10 p.m. PT
  • TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network (out of market)