A Few Random Thoughts About 2021 NL West Offenses So Far

(Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

With a run differential of +98, the Dodgers still find themselves leading the pack among all National League clubs. However, will inconsistent production end up hurting the team come playoff time in the fall?

Obviously, injuries have hammered the Dodgers from the very beginning of the year. Some segments of the season have been better than others, but the club still hasn’t reached a point when they’ve been at full strength. Nevertheless, even if the team does become completely healthy, will it still struggle to produce from one game to the next or fail to deliver with runners in scoring position when it matters most?

So far this season, the Dodgers have scored in double digits an impressive eight times, including a 16-run outburst against the Brewers in May and two separate 14-run endeavors against the Angels and Cardinals. Thanks to performances like these, the Dodgers find themselves averaging 5.1 runs per game, which is second only to the Astros in all of baseball.

Of course, the runs per game and the run differentials don’t mean much when a club scores 10 or more runs one night then gets shut out the next. For example, the Giants are leading the division by a full three games entering Wednesday, but they are fifth in the majors with 4.97 runs per game. San Francisco’s +95 run differential is second in the NL only to the Dodgers. Coincidentally, the Padres score an average of 4.51 runs per game—which is 13th in the MLB—but they still lead the bigs in ERA, with the Dodgers and Giants not far behind.

Surprisingly, the Giants lead the majors with 109 team home runs, a category the Dodgers have dominated in recent years. Los Angeles has tallied 93 team homers, which right now ranks 10th in the majors. The bottom line is that all these figures lead to a highly competitive division, a product that fans are currently witnessing.

Certainly, the Dodgers have been throttling some of the worst teams in the league lately, which is important. There have been times when Los Angeles struggles against some of the more elite teams in the league, but it’s nothing consistent. Don’t forget that the Dodgers swept the Giants on the road late last month and they have won other significant series against the Padres and Athletics. However, getting swept by the Cubs last month suggests just how vulnerable Los Angeles can be at times.

As we alluded to on Tuesday, the summer trade deadline will dominate the MLB headlines over the coming weeks, and one wonders what type of upgrades the Dodgers might pull off. More importantly, will the Giants and Padres consider upgrades of their own to stay on an even keel with moves the Dodgers might make?

Being three games out of first place at this juncture of the season might feel disappointing to fans, but the Dodgers are certainly within striking distance of yet another division title. As the season winds down, the obvious key to success is simply victories and not runs per game or differentials. At this juncture of the year, it’s surely excusable if a team is shut out on a rare occasion, especially if it is winning series—primarily against division opponents—consistently.

Even though fans have been witnessing what might be a preview of potential playoff matchups right now, just remember the ones that matter most are the head-to-head contests down the stretch, specifically if the division is as tight as it is now.

10 thoughts on “A Few Random Thoughts About 2021 NL West Offenses So Far

  1. Here is a thought, who ever believed the Giants would get the kind of performances they are getting out of guys like Gausman and Desclafani? Or even the start they got from Alex Wood. He has come back to earth some. They are also leading the NL in HR’s. No one expected that. Jake McGee has 14 saves for them and a very respectable ERA. So do they collapse, or not? I think they might really believe they are this good. They have had resurgences from a couple of vets. They have guys in contract years, and others trying to prove they belong. They are without one of their big guns in Evan Longoria, and they have almost as many guys on the IL as we do. They also seem to have the resources to upgrade at the deadline, which is July 30 by the way this season. We all knew the Pads were going to give us trouble if their pitching staff lived up to the hype. Even without a couple of major pieces, Clevenger and Lamet, the starters have kept the Dodger hitters below the Mendoza line. My take is that you need to not give them any breathing room. Do not let them believe they belong on the same field with you, and to do that, you need to score first and often and keep their big bats silent. So far, Dodger pitching has not done that.

    1. The giants have an asset that will change that organization. Already has. They’ve got Farhan Zaidi. And they’ve got money. I knew they’d be back, but I didn’t think it would be with this group. I don’t see a collapse, but I don’t see them keeping a pace for 100 wins. Not this year. I figured more likely ‘23 and not 100 wins. This Division is too deep for multiple 100 win teams.

      Three teams in our division are very good. If our starters hold up, I still like us to win the West. I also think it’s important that Bellinger return to at least a near .900 OPS level. This lineup needs him.

  2. Well that sucked.

    The stats say we are the better hitting team, even without Seager and Bellinger. It’s close in pitching, but who knows how those numbers might change in the no stick era. In watching these games it just appears that the Padres are more jacked than the Dodgers.

    Since players have no interest, therefore no intention of developing any beat the shift skills I find myself stuck tightly between two positions. 1: I still think you can get on base if you hit ‘em where they ain’t, and B: f*** it, change the rules on defensive alignments.

    I’m not sure how to do it but I think baseball needs a new ball. Something with a tacky surface and yet a high coefficient of restitution. Or, just allow a league approved grip imporover, like what they do with bats, and let the bats get slightly larger, and/or allow an improvement in the sweet spot by adding something to the core on the last 6”” of the bat. Or cork it. Why not? Improve the tools of the trade.

    I used to like watching baseball played the way I played and coached. I wasn’t big, nor did I coach a team of guys built like NFL football players. Everybody on my teams could bunt, hit and run, throw accurately and they all backed up bases. Nobody in the bigs does any of that and let’s face it, today’s fan doesn’t give a damm that they don’t. Just like in football they want more offense. So let’s give it to them.

  3. If the Dodger offense can reach any sort of consistent hitting, they will be fine. I have to believe they will be much better when Seager gets back. His presence in the two hole moves Muncy to cleanup and Belli behind him. Betts will get better, One has to believe that. Pitching match ups for the Cubs series. Buehler-Davies, Gonsolin-Arrieta, Urias-Mills, Kershaw-Adalay. Sets up Bauer to open the Giants series with Buehler in game 2.

    1. I agree to a point.

      Will Betts? He’s never had a start like this. Ever. He’s still OPSn over .800 but not really near his career numbers through June. It is true he finishes strong, but since he started like he never has who’s to say he will finish like he always does.

      And Bellinger concerns me. His projections say 38 home runs 109 RBI’s and a .275/.369/.548 slash line. That was with over 600 plate appearances so we know he won’t do that, but will get on pace for it, as in a .900 OPS? He’s got some catching up to do. He’s currently OPS’n .646. He never really got it together last year, odd year, I can give him that, but frankly he hasn’t been a post season crusher either. 11 series, .631 OPS. Who is Cody Bellinger in 2021? And going forward toward 30 – prime years or…… MVP at 23. Peak early? Every team has had one. Remember Walt Dropo? Mark Fidrych? Bobby Crosby? Gravel Gurdy? Ok, I made that last one up but you get the idea. No guarantees Bellinger gets back to age 23 numbers.

      1. I totally get it, I just think in Betts case, professional pride and the desire to be the best he can is going to make a huge difference in his second half. When he is totally healthy, he will put up the numbers. I think the injuries have curtailed what Bellinger might have been. But I think the talent to be better is there, and the professional pride will kick in for him too. Last couple of years have not been good.

      2. Well, I hope you’re right. I think you are, but the Dodgers sluggish play while the Padres danced around just got to me. 3 straight nights watching the Blue was like taking Sertraline. ZZZZZZZZZ

  4. I’ve said this before but it was even more obvious to me during the last three games. We need a guy on this team who brings life to the field. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a glamour boy like Tatis but someone who can stir up some passion. AF has built a roster full of professionals who go about their business and don’t cause disruptions. That’s all well and good, but we need one guy who can motivate the others with something other than his actions in getting prepared for a game (a la Kershaw).

    Bauer has pretty much said the same thing, but he isn’t the type of personality to get the others going. And besides, I think it needs to be a position player. Have no clue who that might be, but if we can find him AF needs to bring him on board, if not this season then during the winter.

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