Although the Los Angeles Dodgers reached the World Series last season for a second consecutive year, they did so with what many deemed a faulty offensive approach. The Dodgers were part of MLB setting a new home run record — which will be shattered this year — by ranking second.
For much of the 2018 season their offense was boom or bust. When bats collectively went cold in October, it created for an uphill battle through the World Series.
The Dodgers worked to address their woes by hiring Robert Van Scoyoc as hitting coach during the offseason. He was paired with new hitting strategist Brant Brown and assistant hitting coach Aaron Bates.
They have contributed to the Dodgers being much improved with situational hitting this season. However, they additionally remain the top home-run hitting team in the National League.
While Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has regularly emphasized the need for his club to have quality and productive at-bats during situational scenarios, he considers their ability to slug one key to success in the postseason as well, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“It’s really hard these days with the strikeouts being up and balls on the ground being converted to outs, to win without home runs. The Red Sox, the Astros, those teams hit some homers. We’ve been to the World Series the last couple years. I think in theory people like the idea of putting hits together to score a run and building innings.
“But when you’re talking about in the postseason, where guys typically don’t walk guys so you’re not getting the free pass essentially, now it leaves putting the ball in the air to get on base. And with the strength of these guys, the ball is going to go out of the ballpark. When you face guys like Scherzer, Verlander, Buehler, Kershaw, it’s hard to build innings. You need to wait for a mistake sometimes and hit a homer. In theory that’s one way, but in practice you’ve still got to hit homers to win baseball games.”
The Dodgers’ 261 home runs trail only the Minnesota Twins (287), New York Yankees (286) and Houston Astros (262) for the Major League lead. Of course, the Yankees and Astros are considered the two favorites to represent the American League in the World Series.
Recent regression has dropped the Dodgers’ batting average with runners in scoring position to .281, which is fifth overall. Their .862 on-base plus slugging percentage in such situations ranks fourth-best.
Meanwhile, with two outs and runners in scoring position, the Dodgers’ .262 batting average and .836 on-base plus slugging rank fifth and fourth, respectively.