James Outman: Current Slump ‘Feels Less Dark’ Than Rookie Season With Dodgers

James Outman’s struggles so far this season for the Los Angeles Dodgers have been well-documented. He is slashing .153/.252/.276 through 111 plate appearances and has a 50 OPS+, signaling that he is 50% below replacement level at the plate.

This comes after a rookie season that saw him finish with a .790 OPS and a third-place result in National League Rookie of the Year voting.

However, Outman suffered from a similar stretch during that rookie campaign. From May 5 to July 2 — 160 plate appearances — he slashed .189/.263/.259 with 57 strikeouts.

He had to learn how to adjust to right-handed pitching and elevated pitches. But he worked through that and ended up with a strong end to his rookie season.

Outman is hopeful to turn it around in 2024, as well. And part of what gives him confidence that he’ll do so is comparing the slumps between the two seasons, according to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic:

“It’s no secret it hasn’t been great, obviously,” Outman said hours before the home run.

“It feels less dark this time,” Outman said, “just because last year was really my first time really grinding. It’s baseball. Just get in there, get some at-bats and it’ll work itself out.”

Outman is currently not playing every day, as he has just one hit in his last 25 plate appearances. But he continues to fight through the slump, and if last year is any indication, he should be able to come out the other side stronger.

Even with the immense struggles, his strikeout rate is down from what it ended at last season, at 30.6% compared to 31.9%. He is also hitting the ball to the opposite field at a significantly higher rate and has increase his hard hit percentage.

The advanced metrics favor his work at the plate in 2024.

Hopefully, the counting stats will eventually match up with the advanced metrics.

Andrew Friedman knew Dodgers lineup would be top heavy

The Dodgers’ core four of Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman, and Will Smith have all been producing at a high level, while Max Muncy and Teoscar Hernández have been performing well also. But after that there is a steep drop-off in quality of at-bats and positive results.

The Dodgers called up Andy Pages to help spark the bottom of their lineup, but that group has still been lacking despite his production. Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor and Outman have all failed to hit their stride, and it’s left a lot of runs on the field.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman knew the the top of the lineup would carry the load, naturally, but expects the bottom of the order to kick it into gear as well.

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