Morrison: Are the Dodgers targeting pitchers who rake?

From SABR member Ryan P. Morrison at Beyond the Box Score on April 17, 2014:

Among qualified hitters, the Royals‘ Alcides Escobar was the majors’ worst hitter with a 49 wRC+. One would think, then, that sporting a 33 wRC+ would be nothing to brag about. But what if it was a pitching staff with that 33 wRC+?

Last season, Dodgers pitchers did have a reason to brag. They led the majors in fWAR as position players, at 1.7, and also led the National League in hitting with that wRC+ mark. Only three NL teams’ pitching staffs had positive wRC+ and WAR marks.

It wasn’t a matter of getting lucky by connecting on home runs — the Dodgers staff had just one bomb last season, courtesy of Clayton Kershaw (the Cubs staff led in HR with 6, while the Braves and Padres tied with 3). The Dodgers staff’s offensive prowess was unusual, nonetheless. Only the 2010 Brewers staff posted a higher wRC+ in the last ten seasons (43 wRC+), and in most of those seasons, no staff had a mark above 20.

Coincidence? Perhaps. But there is some evidence to suggest that the Dodgers organization has targeted pitchers who rake, as five of their six starting pitchers this season were acquired via trade or free agent signing.

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Originally published: April 17, 2014. Last Updated: April 17, 2014.