On the surface, the Los Angeles Dodgers have traded in offense to improve defensively this winter. Gone are Dee Gordon and his MLB-best 12 triples and 64 stolen bases; Matt Kemp’s power and post All-Star Game .971 OPS; and Hanley Ramirez’s .369 on-base percentage, .448 slugging percentage and .817 OPS — categories in which he led all shortstops.
While Howie Kendrick, a new face to the Dodgers, doesn’t have Gordon’s speed or Kemp’s power, he’s a competent batter who will be counted on to fill the offensive void that’s been left. Given that the Dodgers lost multiple bats in the order, it isn’t yet clear where manager Don Mattingly will insert Kendrick into the lineup.
That isn’t a concern of Kendrick’s, however. “I don’t get offended by being one, eight, nine,” he said Friday while also mentioning he finished last season batting cleanup. “As long as you’re playing, that’s all that matters.”
Throughout his nine-year career with the Angels, Kendrick has hit at least .304 when batting sixth, seventh or eighth. A breakdown of his career splits is provided below, with Kendrick’s stats when batting ninth omitted due to his moving to the National League.
|Batting Order||Games||PA||Batting Avg.||OBP||SLG||OPS||OPS+||Home Runs||RBIs|
Last season, Kendrick hit first, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh in the Angels’ order. His best slash came in 39 games (161 plate appearances) as the cleanup hitter — .320/.366/.513 with four home runs and 28 RBIs, both of which were his best totals among the spots in the lineup he hit from.
Where Kendrick spent the most time in Mike Scioscia’s lineup was batting fifth (57 games, 243 PA). In those instances, Kendrick slashed .308/.358/.406 to go with two home runs and 21 RBIs. Given Jimmy Rollins’ and Yasiel Puig’s presence on the team, Kendrick doesn’t figure to bat first or second in the order for the Dodgers.
A more likely scenario has the 31-year-old second baseman batting cleanup behind Adrian Gonzalez, which will give the Dodgers alternating left and right-handed hitters through the first four spots in the order; Rollins being the wild card as a switch hitter and potential leadoff man.
Dodgers Introduce Howie Kendrick — Part 1