The Los Angeles Dodgers are in First Place: The Reasons

The Los Angeles Dodgers have sole possession of first place for the first time all season and it comes on the strength of the team’s current 21-5 record since June 22nd. That day changed everything for the Dodgers. They are the hottest team in baseball by far over the last month and there are several reasons for the dramatic shift in what otherwise looked like a lost cause when they were 9.5 games back.

Here is the major reasons for the complete turnaround:

Hanley Ramirez/Offense-

G GS R H AB HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
26 25 24 40 100 8 23 0.400 0.459 0.760

Ramirez has been the catalyst of a Dodgers offense that has come alive in the past month. In the 26 games the team as a whole is hitting .284 and has scored 134 runs (5.15/game). After spending 52 of the team’s first 56 games on the DL he has proved to be an important piece of winning and the team is 27-16 when he plays. The offense has been so good that the Dodgers have outscored opponents 134-82.

Bullpen-

Month W-L ERA WHIP
April 5-5 4.66 1.45
May 3-8 3.73 1.34
June 7-4 4.78 1.48
July 3-0 1.45 0.97

As the numbers above show, the bullpen has been dominant in July. Since June 22nd the group is 6-0 with a 2.76 ERA and it’s even lower when you include just the current guys. Brandon League has been seldom used and only in blowout games recently. Peter Moylan (AAA) and Matt Guerrier (Cubs) are no longer with the Dodgers. If you exclude League’s 9.53 ERA the active bullpen has a 1.04 ERA in the last 26 games.

Starting Pitching-

The starters have been good all year long but have been really good over this stretch. Starters are 15-5 with a 2.87 ERA with four of the five losses coming in four of the five times in this stretch of games which the Dodgers have failed to score at least three runs. Zack Greinke has been great with a 5-0 record and 2.36 ERA. Meanwhile Clayton Kershaw is 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA.

Honorable Mention-

Yasiel Puig- Even though he is only hitting .250 in July there is no denying his impact was felt when the club called him up June 3rd. In that time the team is 28-15 but Puig just hasn’t been hot enough during this stretch for this post.