The Dodgers have built an offensive juggernaut in recent years. Sure, they go through dry spells at times, but what team doesn’t? One way they’ve been able to wear opposing pitchers down is by seeing a ton of pitches and drawing walks.
They’re averaging 5.08 runs per game — best in the NL. They’ve also seen the most pitches (12,071) and are tied for third in pitches per plate appearance at 3.97. Max Muncy, unsurprisingly, leads the way at 4.17 P/PA. He’s followed closely by Chris Taylor (4.15) and Will Smith (4.14). Mookie Betts (4.07) and Justin Turner (4.04) are the other two who see, on average, four pitches per plate appearance.
Here is what they’ve done as a team during the last nine seasons:
You can see the jump since 2017, when the Dodgers went from a good to a great offensive team. It coincides with pitches per plate appearance, and while it isn’t necessarily the only reason, the Dodgers are a patient ballclub. The Red Sox and Yankees were also that way in the mid-2000s during the heyday of their rivalry.
It’s only fair to note that the two highest walk rates of the last nine years have been in 2020 (9.2%) and 2021 (8.9%), but the fact the Dodgers have been able to compile some of the more patient hitters in the game and form a premium offensive team would be unfathomable for Dodger fans of yesteryear. The franchise has always been built on a strong pitching foundation. I mean, the 1988 World Series winning team had no business winning it all with that ragtag group of hitters they had, but the pitching was so good that it didn’t matter. So it’s worth taking the time to stop and appreciate how they now basically have the best of both worlds, as the progress on the offensive side of things is what has made them perennial World Series contenders.
While the Dodgers had trouble getting over the hump prior to last year, it’s clear that Andrew Friedman and friends know how to build an offensive winner in this new hitting environment. With the crackdown on sticky stuff (still unimaginably stupid to do in-season), the emphasis on patience and wearing down a pitcher could be even more important.