Hitting at home is hard right now for Dodgers

It’s no a secret the Dodgers have struggled offensively at home this season. They are two games under .500 at home and two games over .500 on the road. The entire National League West has fared poorly in their home ball parks this season, with the Giants being the only team above .500 at home (by one game). Even the Rockies, which has the highest home batting average in the league (.294), are 8-10 at Coors Field.

The numbers are ugly. The Dodgers are 13th in the NL in home batting average (.223), 14th in OBP (.291), 12th in OPS (.661), 12th in wRC+ (84) and 11th in slugging (.370). Their slugging has improved thanks to the 14 combined home runs from Corey Seager, Trayce Thompson and Joc Pederson. Dustin wrote about the promising improvement in the number of fly balls they are hitting and hitting further of late.

There is still work to be done for Dave Roberts and his coaching staff. There are concerns regarding the offense overall, but they have been especially unproductive at home. The Dodgers are tied with the Mets for dead last in stolen bases (three) at home and are ninth in walks (62) and strikeouts (149). They are striking out 19.2 percent of the time and walk 8 percent. Yasiel Puig walked for the first time since April 24 on Wednesday night. He has seven walks on the season in 158 plate appearances.

When they do get on base, which is not often, they have no running game. They have grounded into 23 double plays, the most in the league. Their GB% at home is second in the NL at 50.6 percent.

Their BABIP is the lowest in the league at home as well (.248). Bad luck may have factored into at least some of those outs. We have seen Puig’s hard-hit balls find the gloves of opposing defenders quite a few times. Puig’s BABIP at home (.214) is in the middle of Turner (.220) and Gonzalez (.208). Pederson (.167) and Crawford (.160) are even lower.

The individual numbers exhibit the trouble Dodger hitters are having at home.

Thompson .341/.400/.732
Ellis .280/.419/.400
Seager .275/.301/.550
Grandal .222/.288/.463
Hernandez .222/.271/.400
Utley .218/.328/.364
Kendrick .213/.234/.213
Turner .194/.286/.239
Puig .189/.200/.284
Pederson .178/.339/.444
Gonzalez .171/.253/.286
Crawford .154/.241/.231

One of the most disturbing situations is that of Adrian Gonzalez, who is hitting .171/.253/.286/.539 at home, has just 12 hits (including two home runs) and 21 strikeouts in 70 at-bats. Usually he is the consistent “butter and egg man.” Last season he hit .261/.317/.504/.821 with 17 home runs in 78 games at Chavez Ravine.

Even though it is an arbitrary stat, Gonzalez has just five RBI at home in 2016. His offensive woes could be attributed to his lower back issues, but interestingly on the road he is hitting a much more robust .389/.464/.528/.992 with 15 RBI. This suggests that trouble hitting at home is an epidemic for most of the team.

Puig may get criticized for his offensive slump continually, but Justin Turner‘s problems at the plate have been a big issue this season as well. The former non-roster invitee has not performed as well so far this year as he did during his first two with the team. After earning a starting job upon the departure of Juan Uribe, Turner hit .314/.388/.541/.928 with eight home runs in 60 games in 2015. He’s currently hitting below the Mendoza Line at home, and he has yet to hit a home run at Dodger Stadium this year.

Dodger Stadium is a pitcher’s park of course, and opposing hitters are only hitting .215. That’s great for the pitching staff. I’m sure Zack Greinke is missing the Three Sisters about now. Last season the Dodgers were a .251 club at home  (9th in the NL) with a 111 wRC+, but they hit 97 home runs at Dodger Stadium (2nd most in the NL behind the Rockies at Coors).

The loss of Andre Ethier has also been felt. He hit .311 with 9 home runs at home last year. Howie Kendrick, who was slowed down to start the season with a calf injury, also hit well (.312) last year at home. Puig’s offensive struggles are well known, but let’s not forget that Turner and Gonzalez as well as Yasmani Grandal and Enrique Hernandez were all supposed to contribute consistently out of Dave Roberts‘ lineup.

Bad luck is not the only factor in the Dodger’s offensive tribulations at home this year. Poor plate approaches have also been a detriment. The Dodgers have the highest swinging strike percentage (11.3) in all of baseball. So when they do make contact, the majority of ground balls are not finding holes for base hits or they are being turned into double plays.

The positive news is that the Dodgers cannot possibly be this offensively stagnant at home for the entire season. They are hitting the ball hard, and hopefully Turner Ward can continue to work on plate discipline. Perhaps Roberts will be able to spark some new life into their running game at some point as well. We have already seen a uptick in home runs at home thanks to the youth brigade. The young guns will need to continue to contribute, but the veterans including Turner, Gonzalez, Puig and Grandal need to find their way at the plate sooner rather than later.

The Dodgers have three games at home against the Reds next week. Winning that series before taking on the Braves, Rockies, Brewers and Nationals at home in June could give them a push in the right direction toward more offensive success at home.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the Co-Editor of Lasorda’s Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation and Dodger Blue 1958. She currently contributes to The Hardball Times. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.