By Jon Weisman
Beginning tonight, the Dodgers face two left-handers in their short sojourn to Tampa Bay.
So of course, I’m going to start things off by talking about their hitting against right-handers.
Why? Because lack of offense is on every Dodger fan’s mind these days, and a big part of the struggle is that the Dodgers’ righty-on-righty hitting has gone off a cliff.
Los Angeles ranks last among the 30 MLB teams with a .544 OPS by their right-handed batters against right-handed pitchers. That’s the baseball equivalent of shooting free throws like Shaquille O’Neal.
While the Dodgers platoon quite a bit, righty-on-righty still accounts for 33 percent of their plate appearances this season. So while their lefty hitters have been strong against right-handed pitching (.802 OPS), the righty batters have been dragging them down.
The good news is that this is so far out of the norm that it isn’t likely to continue. (Click below to enlarge …)
- The Dodgers’ righty-on-righty OPS has dropped .150 from last year — a decline of more than 21 percent.
- Of the nine right-handed position players the Dodgers have used this year, only A.J. Ellis has shown even the slightest improvement over his 2015 and career numbers against right-handed pitching. (And with Yasmani Grandal healthy again, Ellis rarely plays now against righties.)
- Ellis and Yasiel Puig are the only ones clinging to a year-to-year improvement against righties.
- Justin Turner is way, way below his recent and career norms against righties, while Howie Kendrick has struggled to an almost unfathomable extent.
While this might not mean much for the Dodgers in Tampa Bay, while they get some R&R from their R-on-R, it does mean something going forward. Even an adequate performance from the Dodgers’ right-handed bats — nothing special, just merely ordinary — will be enough to jump-start the offense again. Let alone if they hit to their actual potential …