SSI Sudoku
or can we call it Dodger Neoplasticism

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BJOL provided us a little puzzle, if you're looking to use a cup of coffee's worth of time to figure something out about baseball.  

Earlier he had flatly stated that a good SEQUENTIAL offense is superior to one that's based around "everybody let's hit home runs together."  Now he runs into an offense that is both of those things:

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Hey Bill,  
   an LA Times article from a couple of days ago on the Dodgers struggles this year noted that they were 1st in the National League in home runs but 21st in the majors in homers with men on base.   Even acknowledging the switch in terms, league to majors, it still seems like an extraordinary disparity for a statistic that, without invoking the clutch hitting gods, should be measuring essentially the same skill.   If it were early in the year you'd write it off as small sample size but...it's the last week in August.   Do you think that disparity is measuring any underlying issue or it just a fluke?
Asked by: kevin1

Answered: 8/26/2018
 Thanks for pointing that out; I wasn't aware.  The Dodgers have 2,861 plate appearances this year with the bases empty, 2,209 with men on base, and 181 home runs.   Given that data, one would expect them to have hit 79 homers with men on base.   In fact they have hit only 58.   
 
A discrepancy of that scale is not likely to occur at random, although of course it is possible.   I simulated the data 100 times, trying to see what the variation was in the home runs with runners on base.  In 100 tests, there was NO case in which the team with the Dodgers' overall home run rate hit as few as 58 home runs in 2,209 plate appearances.  The lowest number was 62, although the number 64 also occured three times.  The Standard Deviation was 8.3, so the Dodgers are two and a half standard deviations below expectation. 
 
I note also that the Dodger hitters are striking out significantly less with men on base than you expect.   They have 468 strikeouts with men on base, 668 with the bases empty, while you would expect their split to be 642-494.  
 
This suggests the possibility that some Dodger hitters may be shortening their stroke with men on base, concentrating on not striking out with men on base.  It could be that someone in the organization has spread that theory, or that some players have picked up that idea on their own.  
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A few more facts of the case:

1.  With men in scoring position, the Dodgers have a .346 OBP but a .397 SLG; with no RISP it's .327 vs .430.

2.  The Dodgers have the #2 offense in the NL, in terms of runs per game ...

3.  With the #9 AVG, the #4 OBP, and the #2 SLG.

4.  Their ERA is 114 and their record almost exactly equal to the M's.

So what do you think?  Is this a good way to play, to swing away until there are men on, and then to try to shorten up to move them around?

BABVA
Dr D
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Comments

1

Runner on first base, two outs, Dodger's Joc Pederson at the plate...It probably makes sense to swing away.  Pederson has pop, and it's going to require two singles to score the guy from first.  Make that two outs and a guy on 2nd, well then the equation changes some, doesn't it?

My sense is that "situational" hitting  seems to have died as a MLB point-of-emphasis.  Lift and Separate, er, I mean Pull and Elevate is the every-AB mode of attack.

I've bored you guys before with Kyle Seager's lost singles data, but let me add a bit more to hammer at my point:  Seager's exit velocity over the past 4 years has been 88.9, 90.1, 87.8, 89.6.  This year he's hitting the ball hard in 39.8% of his AB's, up over '15 and '17, but slightly below '16.  That number is well above his career average.  He's on pace to have 120 hits this season.  120!  His previous low is 144...last season.  He's on track to have 70 singles.  Yep...just 70!  He had 83 last season, and ran numbers between 95-105 every season before that.  He's hitting the ball as hard or harder than he ever did, yet he's losing 30 singles a season.  

The Shift does that.

But it illustrates the idea that situational hitting, in Kyle's case of simply refusing to try to hit it where they ain't, seems to be a lost philosophy.

By the way:  I thought the first Felix bunt atempt last night was fairly silly, considering the time it takes him to get down to 1B is measured in weeks, but the subsequent one (after the failed first attempt) was moronic. Anything other than a perfect bunt was likely going to be a DP, maybe even the 3rd to 1st variety.

We would have been better off having him swing feebly at the first three pitches and walk back to the dugout, intentional K in the books.

2

Moe... I greatly appreciate the numbers on Kyle, and the numbers are UGLY... but... it appears to me that MOST of the M's have been and still are doing nearly exactly thing.

I mean Zunino, Healy, Dee, Heredia, Hermann, and when they are up Vogelbach, Freitas, and Beckham. Moreover, when Gamel and Haniger were slumping, they too were just trying to pull the ball in the air. This is NOT the way that Edgar approached at bats. This is not Controlling the Zone. This is NOT the way to that Sequential offense that Doc mentioned above. This has to be a symptom of how the players are being coached.... but I can't imagine WHY the coaches would be telling these players to do this all the time.

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