Saturday, April 12, 2003
Quality Quality Starts
Okay, I do have to add this:
As Jim Tracy and the media keep pointing out, the Dodgers have had only two games in which they did not have a quality start.
However, if the Dodgers keeping focusing on how many quality starts they've been getting, they're not going to go anywhere.
Somehow, someone years ago defined a "quality start" as allowing three runs or less while pitching six innings or more.
A quality start happens to be exactly what Odalis Perez did Friday night against the Giants: six innings, three runs.
That's a 4.50 ERA. That's not good enough against the Giants in their home stadium, a pitcher's paradise.
Perez is a fine pitcher, but allowing three runs in six innings is no better than a 1-for-4 at the plate. And when Perez gave up a two-run single to fortysomething Andres Gallaraga with the score tied, 1-1, in the bottom of the sixth, that's just like a hitter striking out with runners in scoring position.
The Dodgers spent time in first place last season because Perez, and Hideo Nomo, and even Omar Daal, stepped up and gave more than a quality start. They gave what you might call a quality quality start - they would go out there, pitch seven or more innings and allow one run or fewer.
This year, Perez, Kazuhisa Ishii and Darren Dreifort have been mediocre starting pitchers. They have been better than most of the Dodger hitters, but their losses can be attributed to their own pitching as well as the lack of run support.
Twice this week, the Dodger pitching staff was given three-run leads by its hitters. That's enough for a win. Both times, the staff blew the leads.
Pitching is clearly the Dodger strength. But let's not allow some phony measuring device like quality starts to give the pitchers more credit than they deserve or excuse them from trying to do better.
Look Down on Thy Neighbor
Time to feel better, everyone. Let's talk about the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers.
ESPN has a strange feature on its site which takes the RPI used to rate college basketball teams and applies it to baseball. By this measure, the Dodgers are 28th out of 30 teams - ahead, only, of the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks.
So let's talk about them.
The Diamondbacks are 2-7, 7 1/2 games behind San Francisco. Randy Johnson of the 2-7 Diamondbacks is 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA. (Fact is, he still is striking out many and walking few, so he's mostly he's probably been unlucky, but ain't that about time.) Curt Schilling is 0-1 with a 6.57 ERA.
The Tigers are 0-9, 8 1/2 games behind Kansas City. They are batting .140 this season with an OPS of .399. In nine games, they have 14 runs. In nine games, they have two home runs, complemented nicely by their one stolen base. In nine games, they have had two leads all season.
There - isn't that better?
Oh - and against lefthander Kirk Reuter, Mike Kinkade should have started Friday night instead of Fred McGriff.
Friday, April 11, 2003
Subj: Fans can't Wait Till Next Year. Take it to 'em NOW!
Got this e-mail - quite an e-mail, I'd say - on the eve of the Giants series:
Jon, I just clicked to your thoughts from BB Primer. As I read your posts It game me in a clear image, the difference between a Giant fan and a Dodger fan these days.
Giant fans are effusive, gregarious, sharing every this and that from Barry's stroll to the plate, how he scratches his nose between pitches. They share the tough times,( more than you care to know)and are already getting indignate towards newcomers who want on board the Borry Train, when they, the original masochists, have suffered all those cold and windy nights at the Stick, just to get to daBell for a Cepeda Barby and a Micro Brew, and think of themselves interesting, chic' and now have become winners. But I lived up there, know a little bitof the Bayo psychology, expecially of the Bay Giant Fan;. Very distrusting and cynical, feel abused and are suspicious about good things coming to them, so as they move forward with these new feelings about winning, they kinda huddle together, like a group of teenageers going through a spooky cemetary, exhilarated, but just waiting for something horrible to happen to them
You seem to typify the current Dodger fan. Complaining and whining about why doesn't Tracy do this or that. How come the Front Office brings us these old farts, those walking wounded, those cast-offs. Why did they blow all that money on Brown, Dreifort, and of course the champ rip-off Carlos Perez. Then of course, after the first two games had come and gone and that ole scoring with men on talking Dodgers Blues, cropped up again, already it's, "I knew this would happen. That got no power. Can't take a walk. Don't get men over. Can't hit clutch, and now they're tired." They look up north to the Giants, who are laughing, eating their Giarrdeli's chocolate and sipping latte as a Borry ball spashes down amongst the inflatable floatiing fans, and go "How come they are getting to have all the fun.?"
Well I grew up in LA, first saw the Dodgers in 59 at the Roman Coliseum, sat in that spanking new stadium in 62, saw Koufax's wonderful delivery and Will's scampering down to 2nd, getting closer to scoring their only run. To donw the road and seeing Fernando for the first time as the peyote was beginning to tingled in my body and I was trying to talk my new wife, who was German, into watching the Dodgers on TV with me instead of hiking in these beautful volcanic rock meas behind our house in sky blue New Mexico. But, much to my amazement, she agreed watched it with me,knowing next to nothing of the game, yet caught my excited spirit for my team, and still talks about me introducing her to BB and the Dodgers to this day, even though we have been divorced for 10 years! I live in Costa Rica, can only imagine what the traffic to the Stadium is like, but if I ever get there for a few days, I will be going, and I will be totally into it, regardless of what the team is supposed to guarantee me as a Dodger fan. It takes the fans getting into it, for the players to feel some of that fire, and they will put out more than they already do. Just like you telling that wonderful story of you and your daughter, Brownie on the mound, and your lady, Dad on either side. I can never have that, you are lucky, but if the Dodgers are to have a prayer, and I do think their is some bright spots in the lineup and on the mound, they are going to have to feel that the fans are with them, and not looking at their watches, trying to beat the traffic in the 7th, and writing those ridiculously petty Dodger bits like one TJ Simers, who may be funny, but he seems like a passive-aggressive who may secretly be a Giant, or worse yet, Yankee fan.
I wrote back. I'm worried that I sounded defensive. Maybe I was. Anyway, I just disagreed with some - not all - of what Thomcat wrote. Here's my reply:
Thanks for your wild and interesting - Kerouacesque, maybe? - e-mail - a lot to ponder. I don't think there's as big a difference between a Giant fan and a Dodger fan these days, as there is between the Giants and the Dodgers. One team is playing very well, the other a little less so. That matters. I've mainly lived in Los Angeles, but spent four years in the Bay Area and, not insignificantly, also have a father who grew up in Chicago and is a lifelong baseball fan. Los Angeles has known more good times in baseball than San Francisco or Chicago over the past 45 years, but the last several years have been frustrating. I don't think any city has cornered the market on being suspicious of success, or being susceptible to depression when things go bad.
I don't know if I'm a typical Dodger fan, but I can tell you that I don't spend all my time complaining and whining - either as I walk down the street or on Dodger Thoughts. (And I sure as hell hope you don't think of me as a poor man's T.J. Simers.) I've found plenty to be excited about - past, present and future. What I do try is not to get too excited by false highs or too crushed by false lows. I get emotional about the Dodgers, but I also am trying to find the truth about them, understand them, have perspective. I might wish the Dodgers were more fun today, but that doesn't mean I don't think they won't be fun tomorrow. I think it's less black-and-white than your letter intimates to me. I think there can be such a thing as a cynical optimist.
The thing you write that I agree with the most is this: I do think that it can only help the Dodgers if the support of their fans were less reactive and more proactive. I'd like to see more cheers before the run crosses the plate, and fewer boos when it doesn't. I'd like to see more patience and understanding. Again, I don't think that means you give up the right to wish for something better, but it does mean that you recognize the bigger picture - that vocalizing your disapproval isn't as valuable as vocalizing your encouragement. I tell you one thing - if it were me, the support would only help and the booing would only hurt.
Bottom line: traffic aside, you bet I feel lucky to get to go with my family to a Dodger game.
What do you think?
"It's amazing. I can't remember a game where there have been so many first-pitch strikes. The Dodgers have been behind all night."
- Vinny, in the ninth inning.
The Dodgers sent 32 batters to the plate in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Giants. Six batters got first-pitch balls. Six swung at the first pitch. Twenty fell behind in the count, 0-1.
Well, as we learned, Game 2 of a series is when the Dodgers are supposed to shine.
Thursday, April 10, 2003
In Other Debates ...
Everything I'd like to say about The Great Bullpen Controversy of 2003, and much more, can be found in the latest edition of Steven Goldman's clever Pinstriped Bible.
The Hall of Fame vs. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins
I have gone out of my way to keep references to the war from this site - and not because I don't care about what is happening over there. I think you can understand.
I do invite you to read the many responses on Baseball Primer to the decision by Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey to cancel a celebration of Bull Durham.
I will limit the print version of my many thoughts to this. Displaying tolerance of different opinions - displaying our humanity - can only encourage the positive treatment of the United States of America and its citizens.
Last year, the Dodgers were:
24-28 in the first game of a series
16-8 when they won the first game
21-7 when they lost the first game
7-9 when they won the first two games
17-11 when they split the first two games
3-2 when they lost the first two games
0-2 when they won the first three games
2-2 when they won two of the first three games
1-1 when they won one of the first three games
1-0 when they lost the first three games
37-15 in the second game of a series
27-22 in the third game of a series
4-5 in the fourth game of a series
After losing their season opener in 2002, the Dodgers won the first game of a series seven consecutive times. However, the Dodgers ultimately lost more first games than they won.
Win or lose, however, the Dodgers were awesome in the second game of a series, playing .712 ball.
I’ve read in some places that the Dodgers weren’t very good at going for the kill – i.e., a sweep. Considering the law of averages, though, I don’t think a 7-9 record in third games after winning the first two games of a series is all that bad. And though they were 0-2 when going for four-game sweeps, obviously, they were one win away from being respectable in that category.
Here’s the Dodger record for 2001:
23-30 in the first game of a series
15-7 when they won the first game
17-13 when they lost the first game
6-8 when they won the first two games
14-9 when they split the first two games
8-5 when they lost the first two games
1-2 when they won the first three games
1-3 when they won two of the first three games
0-0 when they won one of the first three games
0-0 when they lost the first three games
32-20 in the second game of a series
28-22 in the third game of a series
2-5 in the fourth game of a series
Hmm … 2001 is pretty damn similar to 2002. Still losing more of their first games; still playing over .600 ball in second games. And look at the resemblance in third games. Eerie...
Is there any value to be taken from this other than the trivial kind? Maybe not. I do think that the improvement in results from Game 1 of a series to Game 2 is interesting, and so I would like to know what’s happening in Game 2 that isn’t happening in Game 1. But that’s assuming there’s anything to be found.
Look Who Else Says They’re Tired
The 8-1 Giants are happy but their bullpen is weary. The San Francisco Chronicle reports, "Last year, the starters went seven innings seven times in the first nine games. This year, it's happened once."
San Francisco pitching has given up 20 runs in its past two games, to San Diego, in baseball’s toughest park in which to hit. In Wednesday’s 15-11 victory over the Padres, relievers were needed for seven innings.
At the same time, only Joe Nathan has pitched on consecutive days heading into the four-game series beginning tonight with the Dodgers, and only Jim Brower went more than two innings Wednesday. So it doesn’t look like the Giants have that much to worry about from down here.
I do think the Dodgers have reason to be optimistic about the pitching matchups for the series (although they had the same reason to be optimistic last weekend in San Diego).
Thursday, 7:15 p.m. – Hideo Nomo (1-1, 1.69 ERA) vs. Kurt Ainsworth (1-0, 4.50 ERA).
Friday, 7:15 p.m. – Odalis Perez (0-0, 4.05) vs. Kirk Rueter (1-0, 1.64).
Saturday, 1 p.m. – Kevin Brown (1-0, 0.73) vs. Jason Schmidt (1-0, 1.35).
Sunday, 5 p.m. – Kazuhisa Ishii (0-1, 7.45) vs. Damian Moss (1-0, 4.22).
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Where'd I Put That Warranty?
It only took until Day 2 for both new Dodger Stadium scoreboards in right field to malfunction - not quite like the video boards at NORAD in the climactic moments of War Games, but still not too great. They had streaks of lights flickering on and off, sort of like those sound meters my old tape deck.
The Antelope Becomes the Gazelle
Daryle Ward - or as my wife called him after seeing his name and stats on the scoreboard for the first time, "Who's that new triple-zero guy?" - has not done much to impress in his Dodger debut. But moments after grounding into an inning-ending double play with two on in the fifth and the score tied, 2-2, the 230-pound Ward made as graceful a catch in left field as you could imagine - we're talking Greg Louganis style points for the dive.
Everyone's Tired ... of Mediocrity
Having decided that it's perhaps best that Tom Martin not blow out his arm until at least May, the Dodgers brought up a seventh relief pitcher Tuesday, Troy Brohawn.
They're saying this is because the Dodger bullpen is tired from back-to-back extra inning games, but are you telling me Andy Ashby is exhausted from pitching two innings Monday on three days rest?
It's more because of how little confidence the Dodgers have that Ishii and Ashby can pitch effectively for any decent stretch.
Is This What You Want Company to See?
Kazuhisa Ishii pitches like my childhood bedroom looked.
All was forgiven for Ishii amid Tuesday night's Dodger victory over Arizona, even though he pitched almost identically to his dreary first start April 3.
Once again, Ishii threw three shutout innings and struggled mightily in the fourth. The two differences were that 1) in his second start, he avoided the knockout blow that came in the form of a bases-loaded triple in his first start, making it through six innings, and 2) instead of pitching for a 2-1, red-hot Dodger team, he was pitching for a 3-5, ice-cold Dodger team. It's all about perspective.
Nevertheless, Ishii remains a slopfest on the mound - pitches strewn about everywhere like clothes and toys all over the floor.
Because L.A. Must Know Where Roy Williams Will Coach
Stories on the front page of the Los Angeles Times sports section today:
Lakers beat the Mavericks
Lakers would like to face the Mavericks in the playoffs
Tiger Woods remains silent about Augusta National
Mighty Ducks preparing for playoffs
Connecticut wins NCAA women's basketball title
College basketball coaching changes are coming
Tuesday, April 08, 2003
The freaking, streaking Giants have won 15 regular-season games in a row. No one else seems to notice this. Anyway, the Dodgers are 4 1/2 games back after eight days.
In attending to our daughter and our stomachs, my wife and I didn’t pay attention to every pitch much better than we paid attention to the first one. But we were fortunate to see what was almost the play of the year for the Dodgers - a backhanded stab of a grounder up the middle by second baseman Alex Cora, who made a backhand flip in the same motion to shortstop Cesar Izturis, who wheeled and fired to first baseman Fred McGriff for ... a near out.
And so went the game.
Two key decisions in this game, as far as I’m concerned - one by each manager. Kevin Brown pitched well but was losing his edge in the sixth inning, and barely got out of the inning unscored upon. No doubt tempted by the fact that Brown’s spot was due up third in the bottom of the seventh, Jim Tracy sent Brown out to pitch the top of the seventh. Brown gave up a home run to Chad Moeller, and then was replaced anyway. This isn’t a hindsight criticism - even though he was facing the bottom of the Arizona order, it was hard to imagine that Brown wouldn’t get into trouble in the seventh inning, necessitating a call to the bullpen anyway.
The second move came moments later, when Bob Brenly had Matt Williams pinch-hit for Tony Womack. I’m no big Matt Williams fan - and even less of a Bob Brenly fan, but I am someone who believes that Womack doesn’t belong in the starting lineup, and Brenly picked as good a time as any to realize it, even for a moment. Williams singled and scored the second Arizona run.
Our heralded 25th man, Ron Coomer, came up for his first at-bat of the season with a chance to win the game for the Dodgers in the 11th inning. I couldn’t help wondering who would win in this high-profile moment - my instincts about Coomer’s lack of value, or my tendency to have to eat crow.
Turns out, just hot dog, pretzel, peanuts and Krispy Kreme on Monday - but no crow.
Wouldn’t it be funny - even as a joke - if they had crow on the concession stand menu?
The Pomp. And ... the Circumstance too.
The pregame was entertaining. The white doves of baseball were back - I always like them. Fly, doves of baseball, fly...
Ron Cey, Steve Garvey and Bill Russell were honored in the first-pitch ceremony. (Davey Lopes participated via videotape.) I found this sort of melancholy - I feel somehow that all of these members of That 70s Infield are somehow estranged from the team. Russell’s firing, Garvey’s number being reissued after it had been held back for so long ... I don’t know. I guess when it comes down to it, my favorite player from that era is still Reggie Smith. So maybe it’s just me.
The parachutists were very cool. They come in super-fast - it absolutely looks like their legs will snap seconds before they land. However, they were all able to maneuver themselves into a glide of a landing, and only one of the bunch even stumbled.
The flyover wasn’t the best - our intrepid armed forces aircraft kept an unusually safe altitude over the stadium. But later, the plane that originally ferreted the parachutists came out of nowhere and emerged inches above the right-field stadium lights like Jaws.
For a home opener, as opposed to a true season opener, it was a good show.
The Dodgers made their first significant change to the right-field scoreboard at Dodger Stadium in my lifetime of going to games. Underneath the clock, the old board had lineups across the top half - player numbers and positions for both teams, but no names. Across the bottom half, above the numbers of the umpires, ran the score by innings. A column on the right side provided Ball/Strike/Out counts, announced whom an error was on, and in recent years, for some reason counted what number stolen base a player had.
The new board serves the same functions but is a much more flexible version of what existed previously. Instead of numbered lineups for both teams, you are given names with the numbers and positions - alternating for whichever team is up. In addition, a batter’s updated season totals are provided, protecting you from the whims of the left-field scoreboard department, which always seemed more interested in telling us where a player went to junior high school than what he had done in the current game or season.
The new board also offers some low-level animation, such as player signatures appearing with each different batter, which I find unpretentiously enjoyable.
The biggest change with the new right-field scoreboard ... well, I hate to make a big deal out of this, but the lights are orange. Which for me, makes me think immediately of the scoreboard at an old place a certain rival played ... Candlestick Park. Am I wrong about this? Did anyone else go to the game Monday and have the same feeling?
As you may already have heard, the Dodgers have also added two scoreboards along the outfield fences for out-of-town scores. They also feature the orange tint, but otherwise blend in rather nicely. I do wonder how both player and scoreboard are going to react when one goes crashing into the other in pursuit of a fly ball. I’d like to think they’ve taken safety precautions on both ends, but given the complaints about the rubberized warning track that was installed a few years ago, I can’t be so sure.
They’re not monkeying around with security anymore. Approaching the ticket-takers offers everything you see at the airport except the x-ray machines and Geiger-counter-like devices.
If you have no carry-ons (maybe someday we’ll be able to check our luggage before we leave for the ballpark), you can zip through an express lane. Otherwise, there are inspection stations you have to pass through. Every bag is inspected, and the security people even have ... rulers. Not Napoleon and King Tut, but actual rulers, 24 inches long. This is to make sure that no edge of your bag is longer than 14 inches. I don’t know why this is the number, but it is.
Our diaper bag, as it happens, was exactly 14 inches at its longest edge. The kind security person then took the time to measure the shorter edge. Imagine our relief when we found that this, too, did not exceed the 14-inch limit.
My father, however, was sent back to his car with his backpack.
In a better day, when there are overhead compartments in the Loge level, perhaps Dad’s backpack will make it back into the game.
As a native of Los Angeles and someone who has always lived there except for school, and as someone who has been driving to himself Dodger games for nearly 20 years, you’ll understand that it pains me on multiple levels to confront the rising difficulty of getting to Dodger Stadium.
The best news about Los Angeles in my lifetime is the improvement in air quality. No, it’s still no great shakes, but compared to the 1970s, when on any given day recess might be canceled because of a smog alert, we’re in much better shape.
This improvement has someone come despite what seems to be an exponential rise in traffic. As a child, I lived in Woodland Hills, about 25 miles from Dodger Stadium, and it would take about 45 minutes to get to the game if there were traffic. Now, I live closer - and it takes longer. In fact, even if I leave from where I work - less than 10 miles away from the park - I can’t guarantee that I’ll make it to the Stadium in under half an hour. From home, 18 miles away, I now budget an hour and hope.
This is the case despite the development over two decades of principal routes, alternate routes, backup routes, soft underbelly routes, every possible path to the stadium you can imagine. Believe me, we are not neophytes when it comes to the trip to Dodger Stadium. But it almost never ceases to challenge.
Two Sunday mornings ago, in the spirit of never giving up the hunt, I left my house at 7 a.m. and drove to Chavez Ravine to see if I could uncover any more secret routes. (This was inspired by the fact that last season, stuck in traffic near Sunset and Elysian Park, we passed Kobe Bryant in his Ferrari - us going 5 mph, him going 4 mph - and yet when we parked, Kobe’s Ferrari was safely parked and he was safely inside the stadium . To this day, I still wonder if there is a Holy Grail pathway into the park.)
There are just so many damn cars. It’s incredible.
There is no reasonable public transportation alternative to Dodger Stadium. Yes, there are buses and now shuttles, but those buses and shuttles don’t get to bypass the traffic. I can barely imagine I’d be home from one game by bus before I had to be at work the next morning.
I mean to write a column sometime about the tired criticism of Dodger fans who arrive late and leave early. I’ll get into the topic more deeply, but let me just say this about the late arrivals. We’re trying to get there. We really are.
Monday, leaving at 11:30 a.m. for the game, it took us 10 minutes to go the first nine miles, and 35 minutes to go the last nine.
I was most frustrated by the fact that, after taking 15 minutes to cover 8,000 feet of the Santa Monica/Harbor Freeway interchange, I was able to make my way on the 110 northbound to the Academy Road entrance. This is officially the least accessed Dodger Stadium entryway.
Unfortunately, gridlock in the roadways inside Dodger Stadium backed up the right two lanes of the inbound Academy Road traffic. By the time I could get up the hill and into our parking lot, another 15 minutes had passed.
Leaving the game, I found that bollards and barricades had been set up that block the path out of the stadium we have been using for nearly 20 years. These are set up in a manner that would seem to ensure that traffic flow not out of the stadium parking lots, but back into them. I absolutely can’t understand it. I wound around the barricades this time to go the way I wanted to go, but I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to get away with that.
I like to drive. I like being in my car. But I will tell you, nothing - not steroids, not Bud Selig - can ruin my experience with baseball more than how hard it is to get to a game. To have Dodger Stadium be so close and yet so far away - it’s almost too real a metaphor for me to handle.
A Real Opening Day
As Kevin Brown threw his first pitch Monday, my 6 1/2-month-old daughter was sitting on my lap for her first baseball game.
I don’t remember what the pitch was - and yet, it’s a pitch I’ll never forget. I have the image of my daughter bouncing on my lap, facing the field, each of her arms in my arms. A blurred image of Brown is in the background, but the focus is on the moment, not the result. I don’t think I even followed the ball to home plate - not for any conscious reasons, but just because I was so caught up in the fact that I, who was fortunate enough to get season tickets to the Dodgers just after my 13th birthday, could be taking a child to a baseball game. My own child.
In fact, I almost didn’t do it. I was going to have her debut be at a game with less circumstance and pomp, less of a crowd, easier negotiations of the traffic and the lines. It was my wife who convinced me to take a vacation day from work and make this our daughter’s first game. I’m really glad we did. My wife on one side of me, my father on the other side, and my daughter in my lap (and my brother and his relatives behind us). And a beautiful ballfield in front of us on a beautiful day.
Monday, April 07, 2003
The Leadoff Nit
With nitpicking opportunities galore from the Padres series, I'm gonna go with Dave Roberts.
Roberts has one walk through six games, to go with his five hits. Batting slumps will always come, for individuals as well as teams, but you can mitigate them with the ability to draw a free pass.
As the leadoff hitter, it is more important for Roberts than for anyone else to maintain that skill.
The home run and triple Roberts hit against Arizona should have only helped him do this. Instead, Roberts staggered through San Diego, rarely making good contact, nor giving the Padre pitchers any reason to be scared of him. And to those pitchers' credit, they executed. They did not walk a slumping hitter.
Here’s Roberts’ first at-bat Sunday:
Pitch 1: ball 1
Pitch 2: ball 2
Pitch 3: strike 1 (looking)
Pitch 4: in play
D. Roberts grounded out to pitcher.
The good news is that Roberts took three pitches, so I suppose that it’s no sin that he swung. But with the count and selectivity in his favor, Roberts has to do better than hit a comebacker. And frankly, when both he and the team are slumping, Roberts should consider taking even more pitches.
Coming off the successful series against Arizona, Roberts saw seven pitches in each of his first two at-bats against the Padres, walking in the second plate appearance. After that, the Padres took the lead off Kazuhisa Ishii, and Roberts immediately became less patient.
In his next three plate appearances, Roberts saw five, five and four pitches. Then, in each game in the rest of the series, he had exactly one plate appearance of more than four pitches.
In basketball, they say that the best way to revive a slumping offense is to play good defense that will generate opportunities. The same approach might help Roberts and the Dodgers.
The hope here is not that Roberts does not become a defensive hitter. But he needs to continue to work proactively on drawing walks, rather than depending on an opposing pitcher’s wildness. Walks need to be a fundamental part of his game, not a byproduct of his game.