After falling short to the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers attempted to overhaul their offensive approach with the hiring of Robert Van Scoyoc, a first-year hitting coach who replaced Turner Ward at the position.
Behind an improved approach and more of a balance on offense, the Dodgers cruised to a seventh consecutive National League West title and the second-best record in all of baseball with one of the deepest position-player groups in all of baseball.
The Dodgers hit a franchise record 279 home runs during the regular season while posting the third-best walk percentage (9.7) and fourth-lowest strikeout percentage (21.6) in the NL.
And while they looked poised to replicate that success in the postseason, L.A. unfortunately had their hands full with a formidable Washington Nationals pitching staff.
The Dodgers scored a total of 22 runs in the five-game NL Division Series, striking out 64 times while drawing 20 walks. “Obviously we were facing great pitching,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said at his end of the year press conference.
“I don’t think there’s enough credit given to how difficult it is hitting in Major Leagues, especially against elite pitching. It definitely fell short of my hopes in terms of how as a team offense would kind of adapt and tackle the difficulties of October pitching.
“Hopefully it’s another one of those areas we can focus on this offseason and continue to refine and make better as we go into next year.”
Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager were among the notable players to struggle offensively in the NLDS, often falling behind in the count and chasing out of the strike zone. It was a noticeable shift from their usual approach during the regular season.
“I think it’s on all of us,” Friedman said of players developing better habits for postseason success. “I think human nature is to want to be the hero, which I totally understand. In October I think pitchers feed off of that.
“They throw less fastballs, throw less pitches in the zone. I think it’s just that awareness and second level of thinking, team-wide approach, that will put us in a better position.
“It’s a hard thing to counter act, because what they’re doing is the most difficult thing in all of sports, in my opinion. And you have that human instinct of wanting to be the hero.”