Is the Dodgers’ shaky defense a growing problem?

Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, flanked by left fielder Carl Crawford (25) and right fielder Andre Ethier (16) reacts to a misplayed ball earlier this season.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The Dodgers have bullpen problems and hitting with runners in scoring position problems and health in the rotation problems.

And one other little thing: They’re a lousy defensive team.

This defensive trouble might come as a surprise. All three outfielders have won gold gloves. Adrian Gonzalez has won three at first base. Mark Ellis is superior at second base.

Yet 40 games into the season, there can’t be any denying the Dodgers are having trouble consistently fielding the ball.


Only three teams in baseball have committed more than the Didgers’ 30 errors. The Diamondbacks have committed only 12.

And it’s not like any individual is responsible, like Dee Gordon has been playing shortstop all season and leading the league in errors.

The Dodgers with the most errors are actually Gonzalez and Kemp (four each).

Kemp and Carl Crawford have been particularly unpredictable in the outfield, capable of a dazzling play one moment and a miscue the next. Kemp hasn’t reverted to his 2010 struggles, but his jumps and lines on balls have been highly inconsistent, as have Crawford’s.


With Ellis still out at second, the Dodgers have been using Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker, both of whom have been reasonably effective. Still, the defense on the right side of the infield will take a step up when the reliable Ellis returns from his quad strain.

The left side of the infield started the year with Justin Sellers at shortstop in place of the injured Hanley Ramirez, specifically because of Sellers’ strong glove. But he hit so poorly (.191) that when Ramirez was injured again the Dodgers went back to Gordon, who last year had 18 errors in only 79 games at shortstop.

And of course it’s not just the errors, but the plays the defense makes and and the balls it gets to. It’s Gordon dropping a double-play ball and getting only one out. It’s Jordan Schafer’s little blooper falling amongst Crawford, Kemp and Gordon on Friday night. It’s bad jumps leading to singles, bad lines on balls leading to extra bases.

One fourth into the season, it’s another unexpected problem.

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