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To Play for Dodgers, a Ballplayer Is Asked to Make Sacrifices

May 18, 1985

Once again, The Times' Dodger writers are wondering about the Dodgers' mysterious lack of homers with men on base. They cite the recent performances of Ron Cey and Dusty Baker with envy, as if these ex-Dodgers not only went to other teams, but dragged some of our base runners with them.

There's no mystery about any of this. The Dodgers of 1984 and 1985 lead the major leagues in sacrifice bunts and bunt attempts; they also are a pretty low percentage base-stealing club. In a recent 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh, blamed on a wild bullpen, Tommy Lasorda called for three steals (all were caught) and four sacrifice bunts. That means seven outs were taken away from the Dodger offense; seven fewer batters swung with men on base. Actually, it is more than seven since a caught-stealing is not only an out, it also removes a base runner.

Lasorda sacrifices up and down the lineup, from the first inning to the ninth, so the Dodgers seldom get three swings with men on base. Incidentally, the Pirates had zero outs lost to caught-stealing and bunts in the three games. They got 27 outs, we got 20. This game is too competitive to give away that much and expect to win, let alone hit jackpot homers.

Another mystery The Times remarked on lately is the Dodgers' lack of ability to score in the first inning. Again, no big mystery. The three Dodgers from last season with the lowest on-base percentage (over 220 at-bats) are Sax, Landreaux and Reynolds. The three batters Tommy leads off with are . . .

JONATHAN KUNTZ

Santa Monica

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