Monday, May 27, 2013
Defense, injuries hinder Los Angeles teams
By Lee Singer
The underachieving Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers open up a four-game set on Monday, with two games at Dodgers Stadium followed immediately by two games in Anaheim.
The Angels are nine games behind in the AL West and four games under .500, despite spending more than $450 million on free agents the last two seasons.
After more than doubling their payroll in less than a year, the Dodgers are seven games out in the NL West at 20-28, tied for the team's worst 48-game start since moving to Los Angeles in 1958.
Entering the season, the primary concern for the Angels was starting pitching. So far this season, the starters haven’t done much to alleviate those concerns, sitting 20th or worse in ERA, WHIP and K per 9 IP.
Things may be looking up, as the Angels have won a season-high eight straight games, with improved starting pitching fueled by a depressed home-run rate.
But those eight wins have come against the White Sox, Mariners and Royals, all of whom are in the AL's bottom four in team OPS.
Defense may be a bigger issue. According to Baseball Info Solutions, the defense saved 58 runs last year but has already cost the team 37 runs so far this season. Defensive Efficiency, which measures how well a team turns batted balls into outs, ranked the Angels first in 2012 but 27th this season.
The Dodgers have used the disabled list 14 times this season, tied with the Yankees and Marlins for the most in baseball.
The injury bug has bit some of their most notable and expensive players, including Adrian Gonzalez ($21 million salary this season) and Zack Greinke ($17M).
The Dodgers currently have seven players on the DL, accounting for $48.7 million, which is 22 percent of the team’s payroll.
Only the Yankees are currently spending more money on players on the DL, according to The New York Times. According to the Times, the Dodgers are currently paying $11,157 per hour to players on the DL.
The Dodgers offense has struggled this season to produce around the injuries, ranking 10th in on-base percentage but 29th in runs per game, thanks in part to woeful situational hitting.
The Dodgers have 53 plate appearances with the bases loaded this season, tied for 5th most in MLB, but are the only team without an extra-base hit in that situation. The Dodgers rank dead last with a .303 OPS with the bases loaded, which would be the worst mark by any team since 1946.
The playoff situation isn't promising for either team. According to Elias, the Dodgers are the 116th team to start 20-28 or worse in the Wild Card era (since 1995). Only four of those teams, or 3.5 percent, recovered to make the playoffs (2009 Rockies, 2005 Astros, 2003 Marlins and 1995 Yankees).
The outlook is marginally better for the Angels. In the Wild Card era, 196 teams have started 23-27 or worse and 13 of them (6.6 percent) made the playoffs, including both the Tigers and Athletics last year.