Can Justin Turner, Logan Forsythe provide Dodgers with infusion of ‘professional’ at-bats?

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Dodgers’ hot-hitting Corey Seager leaves game with back injury Dodgers’ Justin Turner looking rejuvenated on defense Dodgers’ Dave Roberts says baseball’s unwritten rules ‘have changed, should change’ Whicker: Dustin May yet another example of the Dodgers’ eye for pitching Dodgers bench slumping Cody Bellinger for a day center_img Perhaps Roberts didn’t overstate Turner’s potential impact because he didn’t have to. Turner can elevate the Dodgers’ lineup simply by showing up.As for Forsythe, he once shot up through the San Diego Padres’ system as a high-average hitter capable of fouling off pitches to prolong an at-bat. He hasn’t lost that trait at age 31. When he was placed on the disabled list in April with shoulder inflammation, Forsythe had a higher contact rate than any Dodger besides Chase Utley. Now he and Utley figure to split time at second base.A high-contact, low-strikeout approach isn’t sexy. But it is the perfect balm for a team that has watched too many strikes go by, as if biding time for better hitters to do them justice.Staff Writer Bill Plunkett contributed to this report. It doesn’t take a 19-person research and development team to root out these problems, but the Dodgers have one just in case. What they might need are better hitters.Few were better in 2017 than Turner. He set career highs in on-base percentage (.415) and slugging percentage (.530) and finished eighth in National League MVP voting.Turner hasn’t played this season while he recovers from a fractured wrist. In his absence, the Dodgers have gotten less offense from the third base position than any team in baseball. Max Muncy, Kyle Farmer and Forsythe (in 12 games, before he hurt his shoulder) are collectively batting .216 with a .293 on-base percentage and a .340 slugging percentage.Related Articles “Professional at-bat” is a time-honored baseball redundancy, one whose literal definition is detached from its implied meaning. Anyone with a contract can give a major league team a professional at-bat. A college baseball team that receives a professional at-bat would be subject to an NCAA investigation.The concept seems too basic to bear repeating, yet it’s held in special regard. Eric Wedge once singled out Tony Graffanino for his ability to provide the Cleveland Indians with a “professional at-bat.” Lou Piniella did the same with So Taguchi, Frank Wren with Reed Johnson, Fredi Gonzalez with Jorge Cantu. From Kottaras to Markakis to Youkilis, professional at-bats are everywhere.Simple and abundant, the “professional at-bat” connotes something fundamental, and the Dodgers’ at-bats have lacked a very fundamental quality this season. No team swings less often, according to the website Fangraphs.com. No team sees more pitches in the strike zone either. (Fangraphs combines data from Sports Info Solutions and Pitch F/X to determine pitch location.) So, not surprisingly, o team has taken more called strikes than the Dodgers in 2018 – 1,210, or 19 percent of all pitches they’ve seen as a team.During the Dodgers’ descent, Roberts has criticized his team for overlooking such granular details. It’s the kind of basic shortcoming that leads a manager to covet better at-bats.Sign up for our Inside the Dodgers newsletter. Be the best Dodger fan you can be by getting daily intel on your favorite team. Subscribe here.“Logan’s not going to come in here and slug. But he’ll stay in the strike zone,” Roberts said. “He’s a guy that can hit behind a runner and give you that professional at-bat. And obviously JT, there’s slug there. There’s big hits there. There’s a consistent approach. That’s the one thing that I’d probably say we’re not doing as a group offensively with any consistency.” LOS ANGELES — Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe are expected to be activated from the disabled list Tuesday. The veteran infielders will rejoin the Dodgers in Miami at a delicate time.This season has fast become a sinking ship. The Cincinnati Reds just swept a four-game series in Los Angeles for the first time since 1976. Overall, the Dodgers have lost seven of their last eight games, falling eight games below .500. What can two men do to help?Manager Dave Roberts fielded that very question Saturday.“It’s two guys that will give you that professional at-bat,” he said.last_img

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