Irving would serve as the primary ball handler on a young, talented team with Ricky Rubio out of the picture after being traded to the Jazz. Rubio’s departure is also a cause for alarm, though, as he was a terrific pass-first point guard. Irving has yet to prove he is capable of creating for others at that level.
And that’s without mentioning the huge defensive gap between Irving and Rubio. Irving was one of the worst point guards in the league in terms of ESPN’s real defensive plus-minus (-2.30), whereas Rubio finished just outside of the top 10 at the position (0.76).
While the Dodgers were among the best in baseball last season, their offense was just 16th in scoring with 4.47 runs per game. Adding first baseman Cody Bellinger to the mix has made a distinct difference, as the lineup has produced 5.26 runs per game since his call-up on April 25. The rookie also became the first player in MLB history to hit 21 home runs in his first 51 games.
Overall, the offense remains prolific with a league-high plus-174 run differential, and a .340 wOBA, third-best in MLB. That’s going to be key to surviving ace Clayton Kershaw’s four- to six-week absence.
“One through eight, our guys grind and wear pitchers down,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “There aren’t easy outs. When you see pitchers tax after four or five innings, it’s because of the length of our lineup. It’s a luxury that we have. Even when we plug in other guys (Enrique Hernández or Austin Barnes), we just grind you.”
Indeed, the Dodgers hitters are tied for sixth in pitches seen per plate appearance (3.93). While that category doesn’t automatically generate an offensive powerhouse, the team saw 3.85 pitches per plate Real Madrid Cheap Jerseys appearances a season ago, tied for 13th in baseball.
“Every time I get up there and find a way to get on base, with the lineup behind me, I’m in The Best Cheap Jerseys scoring position at first base,” third baseman Justin Turner said.