Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dodgers' Offense: Producing At Historic Pace

Thanks to Mike Petriello, who tipped off David Schoenfield, about the fact that the Dodgers' offense so far has been more potent than the 1927 Yankees, not to mention all other teams all-time:

Wow. I had no idea. That link goes to a list of the best teams in history in a stat called wRC+, which stands for weighted Runs Created. It's park- and league-adjusted, so it's a better barometer for determining the best offensive teams of all time than just looking at runs scored totals, which will obviously be skewed toward teams from the high-scoring 1930s and late 1990s. Also, this particular list has removed pitchers' hitting from the equation.

So there are the Los Angeles Dodgers, first on the list, ahead of the famous 1927 Yankees of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Maybe they won't miss Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez after all. [...]

[T]he 2015 Dodgers:

wRC+: 141 (.282/.365/.508)

W-L: 23-12

Runs per game: 5.26

League average: 4.13

The Dodgers are playing in a relatively low-scoring era and in a pitcher's park, so that helps pump up their wRC+. Everybody was concerned about the offense after they traded Kemp and lost Ramirez to free agency, but the Dodgers have impressive depth in an era when most teams are struggling to put out four or five decent hitters, let alone seven or eight. They've even managed to do this despite a hamstring injury to Yasiel Puig -- the team's projected best offensive player -- that has limited him to 11 games.

The big surprises have been rookie center fielder Joc Pederson, hitting .243/.401/.559, after a preseason ZiPS projection of .239/.327/.420, and veteran Andre Ethier, who has received playing time with Puig out and is hitting .330/.431/.582 versus a projection of .259/.335/.392. Of course, Adrian Gonzalez has been hot with a .689 slugging percentage that is second in the NL to Bryce Harper's .690, and Alex Guerrero is slugging .786 in limited playing time.

Is the offense overperforming? Sure, we can expect some regression to happen -- although there is plenty of bad pitching on the Rockies and Diamondbacks to tee off against the rest of the season. Pederson has continue to hit home runs but his average has dropped from .300 on May 1. Gonzalez hasn't had a .500 slugging percentage since 2011, let alone one approaching .700. Yasmani Grandal has an OBP over .400 and that will likely decline.

Still, it's fun to watch. Manager Don Mattingly already is having trouble getting all the hot bats into the lineup, especially the revolving door at third base with Juan Uribe, Justin Turner and Guerrero. Once Puig returns, what happens with Ethier? And Scott Van Slyke has replaced the injured Carl Crawford in left field with better results. Then there's Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, a 30-year-old third baseman/second baseman who signed a $62.5 million contract and just got cleared for his visa, and shortstop prospect Corey Seager, now in Triple-A after hitting .375 in Double-A to start the season.

Anyway, it certainly explains why the Dodgers are 23-12 even though Clayton Kershaw has just two wins, Hyun-Jin Ryu has yet to pitch and Brandon McCarthy made just four starts before being lost for the season. There are different ways to win games. This is just a new way for a franchise historically built on great pitching.

The 1927 Yankees have a wRC+ of 135.


Dusty Baker said...

Except last night.

Oof. I take another loss on the season.

Fred's Brim said...

and today. Regression is a bitch