Shawn Green's Adjustment
Power Hitter Pulls the Plug
Early last season Dodgers rightfielder Shawn Green broke out of a slump by belting four home runs in one game, and the two-time All-Star went on to hit 42 for the year. This season Green, who's hitting .274, has yet to hit four homers in one month and, with 12 home runs through Sunday, is in danger of having one of the most dramatic power drop-offs in decades.
Not since Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox hit 15 homers in 1971 has a player coming off back-to-back 40-homer seasons (Green hit 49 in 2001) played 100 games and finished the year with 15 or less.
And don't expect a sudden power surge from Green in the final month of the season. Los Angeles was within striking distance in the National League wild-card race (three games behind Philadelphia) at week's end, and Green realizes that trying to hit home runs isn't the best way to help his team. By shortening his swing, he raised his batting average 13 points in August in helping to rectify one of the Dodgers' most glaring problems: getting on base. L.A.'s .302 on-base percentage is 21 points lower than any other team's in the league.
Says Dodgers third-year manager Jim Tracy, "I think the fact that [ Green] does not feel compelled to hit home runs to make this club successful has helped put him more at ease."