The 2022 Dodgers are not the 1927 Yankees, with Los Angeles lacking the weaponry to form a Murderer’s Row. This year’s team will also not end up as the best lineup in franchise history, as some dope said in March.
In the wake of one of the worst offensive performances in the history of Coors Field, let’s look at where the Dodgers offense stands at the moment.
- The Dodgers on the season lead the National League in runs scored per game, something they’ve done every year since 2018, this year the only team averaging five runs per game (5.06).
- In June though, Los Angeles is scoring only 4.09 runs per game. That’s 11th in the 15-team NL.
- Monday was just the sixth time in 30 years the Dodgers were shut out in Denver, losing 4-0 to Chad Kuhl and the Rockies.
- The Dodgers reached base only three times on Monday, reaching scoring position for the first time in the ninth inning. Only five teams in a game at Coors Field have reached base fewer times in a game. Two of the three hits came from ... we’ll get to him a little later.
- The Dodgers were shut out once in the first two months of the season, but have been blanked three times in June, all in the last 18 games.
- Mookie Betts breaking a rib has definitely hurt the offense, but he was also struggling in June, hitting just .193/.207/.316 in 13 games.
- Dodgers cleanup hitters this season are hitting .187/.320/.374, the 19th-best OPS in the majors.
- Max Muncy has batted cleanup in all but three games since his return from the injured list. Since then he’s hitting only .182/.308/.309, which actually counts as an improvement from before he landed on the IL (.150/.327/.263).
- Dodgers No. 5 batters in 2022 are hitting .197/.287/.285, ranking 29th in OPS.
- In June with runners on base, Dodgers No. 5 batters (almost all Justin Turner and Chris Taylor) have five hits in 40 at-bats, with four runs batted in.
- The Dodgers on the season are hitting .257/.348/.426 with runners in scoring position, with a 21.2-percent strikeout rate and a 116 wRC+ that ranks ninth in the majors. LA ranks 11th in batting average with RISP.
- In June with runners in scoring position, the Dodgers are hitting .192/.271/.356. During the month in those situations, their 28.5-percent strikeout rate is worst in the majors, and they rank 28th in both batting average and wRC+ (74).
- Dodgers No. 7 batters in June (Cody Bellinger and Taylor have accounted for 14 of the 23 starts) are hitting .156/.191/.233, with a 21 wRC+ that is worst in the majors.
- On the season the Dodgers swing at only 28.6 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, the lowest such mark in the majors. In June, they’ve chased on 31.3 percent of those pitches, down to ninth in MLB.
The offense at the moment has three great hitters — Trea Turner, Freddie Freeman, and Will Smith — and a bunch of question marks. Many of those question marks have track records, which helps explain the stubbornness in keeping Muncy hitting cleanup despite clearly not being the same coming off a UCL tear.
I’m generally agnostic on lineup order. As long as the best players are playing, I’m not too concerned where they hit in the lineup, at least to a point. And for the most part, the Dodgers are playing the best players currently on the roster. Though part of that is because of limited actual options. A bench player has to start every single game with Betts out, and there’s not much inspiring about Trayce Thompson, Eddy Alvarez, Hanser Alberto, and Zach McKinstry.
Last year’s Dodgers bench was bleak, which necessitated trying several external options. This year is looking like more of the same.
With most of the starters locked in place, there are simply not many solutions on the current Dodgers roster that would dramatically improve things. Gavin Lux has batted seventh, eighth all year, with the No. 9 spot accounting for 70 percent of his starts. The rationale has been that Lux gets on base, helping to set the table for the robust top of the order, which was usually Betts, Freddie Freeman, and Trea Turner in the first three spots, but is now Turner, Freeman, and Smith.
Lux is hitting .262/.362/.392 on the season, a well-above-average 117 wRC+. His strikeout rate (17.9 percent) is the lowest its ever been in the majors, his best since 2018 in Double-A when he was rocketing up MLB prospect lists. In June, Lux is hitting .347/.392/.500, a 152 wRC+.
It’s time to shake things up a bit. Gavin Lux should bat leadoff, at least until Betts returns. That concentrates the Dodgers’ best hitters at the top of the lineup.
Lux hitting leadoff is not some panacea for the offense. The other hitters still need to actually perform. But it gives one of the Dodgers’ best performers a chance to bat even more than he already has, which is worth a try at this point.
- Teams: Dodgers (45-27) at Rockies (32-42)
- Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw vs. Kyle Freeland
- Location: Coors Field, Denver
- Time: 5:40 p.m. PT
- TV: SportsNet LA