Moments after the seven-player deal with the Reds went down last Friday, some people breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the logjam in the Dodgers‘ outfield was finally clear, along with the fact that some salary was removed from the books to conceivably allow the club to address other weaknesses on the player roster.
However, there was another group of fans who realized what the club lost in Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. Despite all of their apparent faults in several areas of the game, both of their presences will be missed in the lineup, especially in the power department.
And, aside from the return of lefty-hitting shortstop Corey Seager, there’s really nobody to step in and compensate for the departed power, particularly from the right-side of the plate. Sure, Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez are always capable of having fantastic seasons, but considering their own contributions in 2018, they’d almost need to double their production in order to pickup the slack.
Between Puig and Kemp’s HR and RBI totals, coupled with those from Machado and Dozier (just during their time in a Dodger uniform), the tally comes out to 62 long balls and 210 RBI. The team as a unit hit 235 long balls and drove in 756 last year, so some simple math tells us that the aforementioned righty hitting crew accounted for more than 26% of the homers and almost 28% of the club’s total RBI.
Even when you look at doubles, they connected for 69 of the team’s 296 two-base hits, which calculates to more than 23%.
Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge area of concern, especially when taking splits into consideration, but the Dodgers struggled mightily with runners in scoring position last year while many of their runs scored depended solely on the long ball in some shape or form.
Puig was much more successful against right-handed pitching, which deviated from his career norm. But Kemp and Machado were split relatively evenly between right-handed and lefty pitching when considering the number of chances they had at the dish. Regardless, the absence of these four will be felt, specifically when an opposing lefty pitcher is on the mound. Even with a few left-handed hitters who are regularly successful from RHP and LHP (Seager, Bellinger) the imbalance is still significant.
Furthermore, there are no guarantees at all regarding the production of Seager.
There’s still time for the management group to make one or two offensive moves to fill the right-handed hitting gaps; but in the meantime, the existing group consists of Taylor, Hernandez, Justin Turner, Austin Barnes and David Freese, which isn’t anything overly exciting to write home about.
There’s lots of talk about new hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc attempting to address the team’s ability to produce with runners in scoring position, but for now, those thoughts will continue to lurk in the “wishful thinking” department until actual production proves otherwise.
In 2018, the Dodgers scored 804 total runs—235 of them were attributed to the long ball in one way or another. That’s almost 30%, which is staggering. At the end of the day, if the 2018 production trends carry over, Los Angeles will need to find a way to compensate for the departed 62 homers, unless the club finally balances their attack with small ball tactics and the ability to produce with runners on base.