A 5-5 road trip isn't entirely inspiring. But there are positive signs that the Dodgers might be improving and poised for a run here, following that last ten-game stretch:
- The Dodgers scored an average of over six runs a game during that ten game stretch (on the road!). That's almost double their run production rate of 3.5 runs a game in their prior 57 games.
- When the Dodgers scored nine runs or more--which happened four times over that roadtrip--they won each time. In fact, the Dodgers are 8-1 this year when scoring eight runs or greater, and have not lost when scoring nine runs or more.
- The Dodgers have an OPS of .855 over the past seven days, and .795 over the past 14 days, both marked improvements over their .698 OPS this year. Those are 44% and 28% improvements, respectively.
- Matt Kemp is on fire. His 20 HR, .641 slugging average, 1.052 OPS (converting to a 193 OPS+) and 157 total bases lead the league (as do his 8 intentional walks). He's now on track for an Andre Dawson-like career, and he's only 25 years old. Sure, he misplayed a bad one the other day at Coors Field, lackadaisically letting a ball go past his left side on a skip bounce, but he is delivering from the plate--batting .472 on that road trip with an OPS of 1.763 and seven HR. After all the talk last year about him not having his head in the game--it's wonderful to see him fully engaged and rolling. And I don't think we've reached full potential yet.
- Let's talk Mini-Sirloin Burgers. Jamey Carroll is quietly on track for his finest career year in his tenth season, with career highs for batting average (.320) and OPS+ (120). We didn't expect much from Jamey this year except as a backup utility infielder, and he's turned into an every day player that the Dodgers can't afford to keep out of the #1 or #2 slot in the lineup. Seeing his outburst late in Saturday's 11-7 victory after his 2-RBI double demonstrated how he's showing leadership by example.
- James Loney is still tracking toward his worst OPS season, no doubt (a 80 OPS+). But on that roadtrip he batted .303, well north of his .253 average this season, with one HR and five RBI (even if four of those came on the one HR).
- Finally, I just don't think the NL West is that strong. The Dodgers are 6.5 games out, but the division leader just yet lost another everyday player (Freddy Sanchez) and has an expected win-loss record of a .500 team. We've got 12 home games coming up, three games each against the Reds, cellar-dwelling Astros, Tigers, and Angels, and two off-days in the middle of this homestand. Let's get it started, uh huh.