If you roll with the percentages, Dodgers could struggle to score
And now for this incredible piece of insight, carefully culled from covering baseball for more years than Charlie Sheen has been just so completely awesome:
You can't score unless you get on base.
OK, so possibly you knew that. Likewise, perhaps you heard that that ability is not looking like a particular strength of this year's Dodgers.
Unless you're driving the ball over the fence, you don't score a run until you have someone who actually manages to get their little footsies on base.
The use of the on-base percentage stat has rightfully grown in popularity through the years, and it doesn't paint the prettiest picture for the Dodgers as an offensive force in 2011.
Here's a look at the projected lineup for this season and each player's on-base numbers:
Player 2010 Career
Rafael Furcal .366 .351
Casey Blake .320 .336
Andre Ethier .364 .363
Matt Kemp .310 .336
James Loney .329 .348
Juan Uribe .310 .300
Jay Gibbons .313 .314
Marcus Thames .350 .311
Rod Barajas .284 .284
If you accept .330 as a mid-range on-base percentage, only three starters were above average last season. It gets slightly better with the career marks, but it is clear that scoring could loom as a season-long challenge.
General Manager Ned Colletti may not come across as your most ardent new-age stat guy, but he recognizes on-base percentage has merit, if to a point.
"I think it has value to it," Colletti said. "You have to be able to understand moving runners, even if it's taking a pitch so the other guy can get a jump, hitting behind a runner -- sacrificing yourself for the team."
Because the Dodgers also don't figure to be a home-run power and don't have a great deal of speed, improving their recent on-base numbers figures to be key.
The Dodgers are counting on improved seasons from several players from a year ago, but even if that happens, the historic numbers of the bottom half of the lineup are impossible to refute.
Maybe they could borrow some Sheen Adonis DNA.
-- Steve Dilbeck