Los Angeles Dodgers: Using Sabermetrics To Forecast Playoff Success
After going 62-26 record in their last 88 games, it is clear that the Los Angeles Dodgers are going into the playoffs fresh off a run of historic proportions. Aside from this largely impressive statistic though, lies a pile of numbers that confirm the indication that the Dodgers will enter the postseason as the best team in baseball and leave as World Series champions.
In terms of pitching, the Dodgers have been amongst the best teams in all of baseball for the entirety of 2013. The team has the second best ERA in MLB at 3.27, the fifth best FIP at 3.46 and the second best xFIP. The FIP and xFIP statistics show that the Dodgers have been performing very closely to expected levels.
Maintaining this level of effectiveness has been possible because the Ddogers have consistently gotten batters to ground out and strikeout. During 2013, the team’s 47.1 percent ground ball rate is fourth in baseball and their 8.0 K/9 is sixth in the game. This shows that the Dodgers pitchers have not been overly reliant on fly balls staying in the ballpark, a worrying strategy come October, but on their ability to either put hitters away themselves or rely on infielders to make plays.
And the Dodgers fielders have stepped up in a big way, posting the sixth best DRS in MLB with 48 according to Fangraphs. Making it possible to save this extraordinary amount of runs has been the team’s great range throughout all nine positions, as their 34.8 RngR factor is fourth in MLB, their 846 RZR is third and their 39 rPM is seventh
All of these numbers are indicative of a defensive unit that can get to balls that other teams can’t and turn them into outs, a trait that will be extremely valuable come playoff time.
Meanwhile on the hitting end of the spectrum, the numbers say that the Dodgers are extremely average at the plate, as they have scored the 16th most runs and hit the 24th most home runs in MLB. But when looking deeper, it is apparent that the team has gotten much better in the second half, as they have scored the eighth most runs in MLB, have the fourth-best average and have hit the third-most doubles.
Furthermore, they have a .326 (wOBA) that ranks fifth in MLB, a 24.9 wRAA that ranks fifth and a 110 wRC+. What all of these statistics indicate is that a fundamental difference has occurred in the Dodgers’ ability to hit the ball in the second half, and that they will be extremely tough to slow down in the playoffs.
In the end, what all of these statistics combine to indicate is that the Dodgers have a group of pitchers, fielders and hitters who have been extremely effective this year, and that they will continue this level of productivity in October as they win the World Series.