Sometimes, there are conflicting narratives around a team. During the historic regular season, the talk was all about how the Dodgers had eschewed a dependence on iPads in the dugout in favor of talking with each other about what they were seeing. Among their 111 wins were 48 come-from-behind victories, the most in baseball.
Now that the Dodgers lost in the NLDS, the narrative has changed. According to David Vassegh and Jerry Hairston Jr. on SNLA’s Access: SportsNet on Tuesday, the Dodgers don’t make in-game adjustments and everyone knows that.
Vassegh: “At Dodger Stadium in the month of September, you see the press box crowded with scouts from all these teams that you’re going to see in the postseason. They know these players’ tendencies inside and out because they’re following them every single day. And the one thing that a lot of them noticed was the Dodgers hitters don’t make in-game adjustments. They’re very married to the percentages that they see before the game.
“But here’s the trick, the other teams know the Dodgers are married to that and they flip the script on them, and the Dodgers have not had great fortune adjusting in game.
“We saw that during the 2019 NLDS when (Stephen) Strasburg and Patrick Corbin pitched backwards against them. We saw that with Blake Snell in this series where all he had was his fastball. Yet for some reason, Dodger hitters are taking strike three with a fastball. That’s the only pitch he had working for him. So they know their tendencies.”
Hairston: “I get text messages and calls a month before the start of the playoffs, they go, ‘You know, you guys aren’t gonna win the World Series, right? It’s well known. You guys don’t make in-game adjustments, especially offensively. We all know that.’ … It’s around baseball, that we don’t make offensive adjustments and they flip the script on us.”
For purposes of this conversation, we’ll pretend that Patrick Corbin didn’t go 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA in the 2019 NLDS, just to be nice to Vassegh. There’s no reason to believe JHair and DV are being dishonest; they really might have had those conversations with representatives from other teams. The timing seems odd — would a potential playoff opponent really tell Hairston, a month before the playoffs started, how they were going to beat the Dodgers?
More to the point, if it was so well-known throughout the league that the Dodgers don’t make in-game adjustments, and if those in-game adjustments are so important, how did the Dodgers win 111 games in the regular season? People like to talk about the playoffs like it’s a totally different sport, but the fact is, baseball is baseball. The Padres who beat the Dodgers in the NLDS are the very same Padres who lost 14 of 19 games to L.A. in the regular season.
Were the Padres playing possum in the regular season? Did they not learn the secret the rest of the league knew about the lack of adjustments until sometime between September 29 and October 12? Or could this possibly be another attempt by a couple analysts to identify The Big Thing, the One Reason a team underperformed when the actual truth is much more complicated?
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