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      The Dodger fan base exploded with excitement this summer, as one might expect, when former all-stars such as Shane Victorino, Hanely Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez were thrown into a lineup that already included Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.  People around the baseball world expected this offense to take off and propel the Dodgers to a division title in the NL West, despite absorbing over $260 million in the Red Sox mega-trade.  However, the exact opposite became the reality.  Since the trade (August 25), the Dodgers have gone 9-16 and were only two games back, while the Giants took off, culminating in winning another division title. This is just a simple case of guys underachieving, not performing, and not living up to expectations.  

                Let’s start at the top, with Shane Victorino slotted into the leadoff spot in the LA lineup.  The Dodgers were in desperate need of a leadoff guy, as Dee Gordon just simply wasn’t getting the job done despite his incredible speed.  Victorino has posted just a .225/.298/.303 slash line, which is well below his career averages of .274/.340/.428.  The former all-star center fielder also owns an OPS+ of just 67, very much below league average (100) and his career mark (101).  He does have 13 steals in 44 Dodger games, but Don Mattingly has not been able to use those wheels as often as he would have liked.  He also has a WAR of just 0.6 in his time with the Dodgers. 

                 Now onto the man who was "born" to hit at Fenway Park with his sweet left-handed stroke.  However, his time in Boston was surprisingly cut about 6 years earlier than most expected.  Gonzalez’s production has significantly declined, especially in Los Angeles.  Normally a patient hitter who gets on base at a superb rate(.370 career OBP), Gonzalez has boasted just a .302 OBP in 116 plate appearances with the Dodgers to go along with a dreadful .245 batting average.  Also, the pop in Adrian’s bat has seemingly disappeared.  He has just 1 home run with the Dodgers, which ironically came in his very first at bat in blue.  Yet, he has not left the yard in his last 115 plate appearances.  Despite a small sample size, all the offensive numbers are down for Gonzalez.  His slugging percentage sits at .368 (.505 career) and his OPS+ is 84 (136 career).  

                Hanley Ramirez, another big acquisition by LA, has struggled mightily the past 3 seasons.  He has shown decent production (10 HR 42 RBI in 54 games) in his time with LA.  However, he is still not hitting for average and not getting on base enough.  His slash line with the Dodgers (.257/.310/.458) is well below his career averages (.298/.371/.496).  As mentioned, the power has been pretty good, however he is also striking out a lot more than he should, averaging 1 K per game (54).  He also has only walked 15 times in 232 plate appearances.  Collectively, these 3 players have produced much less than expected at the time of their arrivals.  The other 2 full-time Dodger superstars  mentioned (Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier) have also slumped for the entire month of September.  Kemp, last year’s MVP runner-up to Ryan Braun, has battled continuous hamstring injuries all season long.  In a season that started out with great promise (was hitting .417/.490/.893!! with 12 HR and 25 RBI in April alone) for Kemp is going to culminate with his worst month of the year. His performance this September has been downright awful (.186/.230/.300).  Those numbers are not close to what Kemp is capable of and he has also hit just 2 home runs in 74 September plate appearances.  August wasn’t much better in the power department for Kemp, hitting just 2 long balls in 110 plate appearances, with before coming prior to the acquisition of Gonzalez.  Therefore, the 3-4 hitters in the Dodger lineup (Gonzalez and Kemp) have combined to hit 3 home runs since Gonzalez was added to the roster, and just 2 in the month of September.  

                In addition, Andre Ethier has also been below average in September, posting just a .304 OBP (his worst of any month in 2012).  In the end, this Dodger offense has sputtered when it was expected to turn into a juggernaut.  This is a huge reason why the Dodgers completely fell out of the NL West race and sit 3.5 games behind the second wild card spot with 10 games to play.  The pitching staff for LA has been pretty good.  As a team staff they are third in the NL in ERA, second in Batting Average Against, and fifth in WHIP.  Clayton Kershaw is still a dominant ace and Cy Young candidate to go along with a strong bullpen lead by the trio of Ronald Belisario, Kenley Jansen, and Brandon League.  It is the Dodger offense to blame in the stretch run of 2012.  

 

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