The Los Angeles Dodgers have made major efforts to bolster their lineup since opening day with the high-profile acquisitions of Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Adrian Gonzalez.
The Dodgers' offense has languished for stretches of the season, due in part to the injury of slugger Matt Kemp, but with Kemp back in the lineup and the additions of Ramirez, Victorino and Gonzalez, the Dodgers continue to struggle to score runs.
What's the reason for the Dodgers' lack of production?
The Dodgers have not been a quality hitting team for several seasons, which is likely due to being in a division that play in pitcher-friendly parks and clubs that emphasizing pitching, with the exception of the Colorado Rockies.
But this is a particularly bad season for L.A., as the Dodgers are 26th in runs. In the past 12 full seasons, the Dodgers' best offensive showing was 10th best in 2006, a season in which they won the National League wild card spot with 88 wins. In 2003, L.A. finished dead last. In 2010 and 2011, the Dodgers finished 21st.
This season was supposed to be different following the reinforcements after the All-Star break, and things were supposed to pick up in September. The middle of the order has been frustrating, to say the least.
Kemp has failed to be productive in his last 10 games, which is likely the result of shoulder problems. In the 10-game span, Kemp is batting .111 with just two RBI.
Things are not much better for Gonzalez. In 70 at-bats, the first baseman who replaced soft-hitting James Loney has just one home run and is batting .229 with a paltry .286 on-base percentage. The middle-of-the-order combination of right-hand hitting Kemp and left-hand hitting Gonzalez has failed to be the productive tandem that manager Don Mattingly expected.
The top of the order isn't exactly tearing it up either. Victorino, a career .276 hitter, is batting just .245 with L.A., and has only scored 17 runs in 151 at-bats.
Ramirez has provided the Dodgers with some much-needed power. He has 10 homers since joining L.A. on July 25, but his .260 batting average is far below his career average of .298.
Andre Ethier has three homers in September, but is batting just .250 for the month, and has failed to provide the Dodgers with the power production he showed prior to his knee problems in 2011.
There have been bright spots for the Dodgers. Catcher A.J. Ellis has exceeded expectations this season with 11 home runs and a .278 batting average. Infielder Luiz Cruz has also given the Dodgers a lift with four homers and a .303 batting average in 208 at-bats.
The Dodgers are second-to-last in the majors in home runs, but a major problem has been the team's slugging percentage, which is also 29th. This lineup simply struggles to get extra base hits, and it may cost them a spot in the playoffs.
There is no player in the current starting lineup with a batting average below .250 on the season. With such depth, it's almost baffling that this squad can't get clutch hits to put runs on the board. The Dodgers have failed to score six runs in a game in over 12 games, and it has led them to a record of 4-8 in that span.
There isn't much Mattingly can do other than wait out this cold streak. When the Dodgers face the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium this week, the bats will face four starting pitchers with earned-run averages of below 3.50. There might not be a better time to break out of the hitting funk than now.
The following series will be on the road against the Washington Nationals, who boast the best pitching staff in the National League.
While the Dodgers have no other choice than to be patient as stars like Kemp and Gonzalez look to bounce back from slumps, it would be surprising if the club doesn't get an uptick in scoring soon.
This lineup has enough talent to recover and make a late surge with 19 games remaining in the regular season.