For as high of a ceiling the Los Angeles Dodgers’ offense has, it also has an extremely low floor. I’m not necessarily talking about the last handful of games that matter little at the end of the regular season as much as I’m thinking about the consistency over the entire year.
The scary thing is that four players have consistently carried the club over the course of the year. Justin Turner, who has had a remarkable turnaround during the second half, makes five. Anyone else, sans Gavin Lux, is a crapshoot when they come to the plate, with the majority of the question marks being outfielders.
If we think about a good average for OPS, the major league standard comes in right around .750. Five Dodgers have an OPS over .800 — (Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, Trayce Thompson, Will Smith and Trea Turner) — with JTurner at .797 and Lux right near the average mark at .756. Freddie Freeman’s .925 OPS is second in the entire National League, by the way.
After Lux, there’s a lot of daylight, with the next qualifying batter being Max Muncy at .725.
While some managers like to stick with a consistent lineup during the postseason, Dave Roberts this year might choose to base his daily batting orders on matchups or the opposing pitcher’s handedness. If we’re talking strictly about defense, a combination of Betts, Bellinger and Gallo with Thompson floating is tough to beat. However, it’s sometimes tough to win playoff games with just great gloves.
Taylor could possibly be one of the team’s streakiest hitters, but he’s almost always come up big in the playoffs, as made evident by his .476 average (10-for-21) with three homers and three doubles in last year’s NLCS.
Bellinger seems to be heating up a bit at the end of the regular season, but it’s impossible to predict how he’ll perform when the playoffs roll around.
Over his last 26 games, Gallo has gone 9-for-70 (a .129 average), and probably wouldn’t even be on the roster if it wasn’t for a few big-game hits and his stellar glove. To boot, Thompson is in a similar slump of his own, hitting just .169 (11-for-65) over his last 21 games after having a sizzling start in his return to the team.
I guess the point of this whole mess is that choosing an optimal offensive lineup can sometimes be a crapshoot outside of the Big 4 of Mookie, Freeman, TTurner and Smith. Should that group of four collectively go cold by the time the playoffs roll around, the Dodgers might have a tougher time than many people imagined.
Having outfielders like Bellinger and Taylor step up big in the playoffs — like they’ve done in the past — could be critical to the team’s success.