Just like the front office drew up. The Dodgers lead MLB in home runs with 32, even after trading Matt Kemp (1 HR) and not re-signing Hanley Ramirez (10 HR). It’s still early, but the returns are quite encouraging.
The biggest story (non-story) this winter is where the Dodgers were going to get their right-handed power from. Never mind the fact they had guys like Howie Kendrick, Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner, and Scott Van Slyke. But who needs right-handed power when you have left-handed power?
That isn’t to say the Dodgers don’t have any right-handed power. Their righties have hit 13 of those 32 home runs. The 13 home runs — thanks in part to Moses Alex Guerrero‘s five — are more than the Phillies, Twins and White Sox have hit as a team. That means the Dodgers have 19 home runs from their left-handed hitters (#math).
Like last year, Adrian Gonzalez got off to a hot start in the power department. He hit eight home runs last April, and did so again this April. Where the Dodgers got a boot with left-handed power is from Joc Pederson and Andre Ethier. Pederson already has four home runs as a 23-year-old, and Ethier has three. The funny thing about Ethier’s home run total — he hit four in 380 plate appearances last year. He has three in 55 plate appearances this year.
None of these guys are going to keep up their home run pace. Gonzalez ended up with 27 home runs last year, but he isn’t going to stay on a 61 home run pace. He might end up in the mid-20s again. Pederson will probably slow down with his power, as his isolated power (as Daniel pointed out in the comment section of last night’s recap) is higher in Los Angeles (.298) than it was in Albuquerque last year (.279). As great as he has been so far, I’d be surprised if he maintained it (but he will hit the ball hard and hit the ball far).
Ethier is an interesting case. He looked downright bad last year, as he lacked bat speed and his batted-ball distance was quite poor. So far, he has looked really solid and like he might be a little rejuvenated. He’s averaging 88.7 MPH batted ball exit velocity, which is better than hitters such as Robinson Cano, Alex Gordon, Edwin Encarnacion and Bryce Harper. Obviously, Ethier is doing something different this season. He’s going to get a chance to play somewhat regularly with Puig out another 10 days or so and Carl Crawford (likely) going to be out for awhile.
The offense probably isn’t going to continue to be the best in baseball, but I’m confident it will continue to be formidable — especially from the left side. The right-handed power myth is just that, a myth. But the Dodgers do have plenty of punch from both sides of the plate.