The Los Angeles Dodgers set a franchise record with 235 home runs in 2018, but on the other hand, they also had an all-time club high 1,436 strikeouts, which is a record they have increased in each of the last four seasons.
Matters have turned thus far in the 2019 season, however. The Dodgers rank fifth in all of baseball with 63 home runs, which puts has them well on pace to surpass last year’s total.
While there’s been an early surge in power, it has not come with an increase in strikeouts.
The Dodgers rank 20th with 320 strikeouts, and that’s despite the likes of Max Muncy, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor and Justin Turner not yet meeting their expectations.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman recently discussed the team’s decreased strikeout rate, crediting the players and coaching staff for changing their approach, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group:
“We have a really mature group that has totally bought in to our hitting guys and our offensive approach,” Friedman said. “For me personally, I like when guys can move the baseball and have a different mindset when they get to two strikes. By and large, guys don’t have a lot of offensive success with two strikes. Trying to do damage and catching something one out of 10 at-bats with two strikes – let’s move the baseball and make positive things happen in other ways.”
A big reason for the improvements has been due to the Dodgers’ new hitting coach, Robert Van Scoyoc. A few of the team’s players such Turner and Taylor worked with Van Scoyoc in the past and credited him for helping turn their careers around.
One other aspect of the Dodgers offense that has improved is their hitting with runners in scoring position. L.A. ranks fourth with a .281 batting average in such situations and their .863 on-base plus slugging percentage is fifth-best.
While they’ve tailed off since a blistering start to the season, the Dodgers’ .266 batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs ranks eighth overall. Their .909 OPS is good for fourth.
In 2018, they hit .253 with runners in scoring position (13th) and .199 with runners in scoring position and two outs (tied for last).
If these improvements continue throughout the course of the season, the Dodgers will have one of the best offenses in all of baseball and should be considered a shoo-in to win their seventh straight National League West division title.