The Los Angeles Dodgers failed to advance to the World Series from 2013 to 2016 despite four consecutive division titles and two trips to the NLCS. They finally got over the hump in 2017, however, as the franchise posted its highest win total since 1953 before sweeping the Diamondbacks and beating the defending champion Cubs in the playoffs en route to a World Series appearance against the Houston Astros.
One of the contributing factors to the Dodgers’ success this year was how well the team did at the plate when facing left-handed pitchers.
“Last year, 2016, our production against left handers was terrible,” Dodgers VP of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos told Sportsnet 590 The Fan Monday. “It was a real issue. We were worried about it in the off-season. We talked about it at length.
“We weren’t going to start overhauling our core because we believed in them, but we needed some guys either to improve [or for] guys to step up.”
As the table below illustrates, the Dodgers made marked improvements across the board against lefties year over year.
|Season||Hits vs. lefties||HR vs. lefties||RBI vs. lefties||Slash line vs. lefties|
Cody Bellinger ranked third in the majors with 12 home runs off lefties in 2017 and earlier in the season Anthopoulos even compared the rookie to former Blue Jays star Shawn Green.
“Having a guy like Cody Bellinger come up from the minor leagues, which we didn’t plan on, having him come up and be an MVP-calibre player, he did great against left-handers,” Anthopoulos said.
The team acquired Logan Forsythe from the Rays in an effort to make opposing lefties sweat.
“He crushed left-handers. Good player, good defender, can play all over the diamond,” Anthopoulos said. “We felt that certainly was going to help, which it did. He had a great year against left-handers.”
Anthopoulos also gave props to the emergence of Chris Taylor and the clutch play of veteran Justin Turner.
“Turner was something we never understood [why] the numbers in 2016 were not good,” Anthopoulos added. “We just felt there was no reason that should happen and we felt pretty confident that there would be a significant improvement in the current year and that was great.”
The Dodgers host Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday. Clayton Kershaw hits the mound for the Dodgers with Dallas Keuchel starting for the Astros.