James Loney driving in runs but not with home runs
A third of the way through the season, James Loney is on pace to drive in 123 runs. The last Dodger with that many RBIs was Shawn Green in 2001.
But with only two home runs before Wednesday’s game, Loney is also on pace to finish the season with six. To find the last time in franchise history a player drove in so many runs with so few homers, you have to go back 117 years, to 1892 and Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers, who had five homers and a league-leading 124 RBIs when the team was called the Brooklyn Grooms.
“We’ve got a team that gets on base,” Loney explained of his run production, with his 41 RBIs ranking seventh in the National League.
Only 16 players in franchise history have had at least 123 RBIs in a season while the Dodgers have had pitchers hit more than six homers in a season. But Loney isn’t losing sleep over his power numbers -- especially since his two homers gave him more than five other players in Wednesday’s lineup.
“I’m just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere,” he said.
The Dodgers are more than halfway through Manny Ramirez’s 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy. And though the team has hit the skids offensively in the last week, a cursory look at the numbers suggests the team hasn’t suffered markedly in the 25 games Ramirez has missed.
The Dodgers, for example, were hitting .283 and scoring 5.6 times a game before Ramirez was suspended; they began Wednesday batting .287 and averaging 5.3 runs since then.
Look closer, however, and you’ll see some big differences. Home runs are down by more than a third. And while the Dodgers were drawing nearly five walks a game in the 29 games they played with Ramirez, they’re drawing only 3.8 a game since.
The biggest change, though, is wins and losses. Although the Dodgers still have the best record in baseball, they were 21-8 (a .724 winning percentage) with Ramirez and 15-10 (.600) in the first 25 games without him.
“Manny, he affects people around him,” Manager Joe Torre said. “It’s all about personality.”
Torre said Ramirez’s absence has been most noticeable recently, when the team has struggled to score.
“Manny’s presence would help games like that,” he said. “He sort of knows better than anybody else just how to stay within himself and yet be an impact guy. Sometimes we get in those games and get a little frustrated and lose our patience.”
Second baseman Orlando Hudson, the only Dodger to start every game, was held out of the starting lineup Wednesday and may be rested again tonight, Torre said.
“Hudson’s beat up,” he said. “It’s all over. Just from playing every day. And you see the way he plays out there, diving for this, diving after that. We’ll take it a day at a time.”
No pitch for Glavine
Although the Dodgers would like to add a starter who can eat innings and take some pressure off their overworked bullpen, their in-house options remain limited. Jason Schmidt’s comeback was shut down again last week when he experienced shoulder pain, and Claudio Vargas, another former major leaguer who has been sidelined with elbow problems, has just started his rehab, throwing a scoreless inning for Class-A Inland Empire on Tuesday.
Despite all that, the team is not likely to pursue 300-game winner Tom Glavine, who was released by the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday. So until Eric Stults returns from a sprained thumb on his pitching hand, the Dodgers are likely to stay with Eric Milton although a move at the July trade deadline remains a possibility.