Once Dee Gordon secured his spot as the every day second baseman, the Los Angeles Dodgers also had their leadoff man. With the base-stealing leadoff hitter now in the Miami, the Dodgers were left with a hole at the top of the batting order.
Although the club occasionally placed Yasiel Puig atop the lineup card last season, he proved more useful in the second spot. With Puig not the preferred leadoff man, the main player of the revamped Dodgers’ roster who has been considered to assume the role is Jimmy Rollins.
As of five days ago, Don Mattingly was unable to commit to anyone for the spot. However, by Tuesday, Mattingly came to a decision, via Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com:
Mattingly said Rollins will leadoff this year.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) March 3, 2015
Mattingly explained the Dodgers’ lack of leadoff options led to him selecting Rollins, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA:
Don Mattingly said Jimmy Rollins would bat leadoff this year. "We don't truly have anyone else who fits in that role."
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) March 3, 2015
Despite the fact that the former Phillies shortstop only played 21 games batting leadoff last season, he is highly comfortable in the role. In his 15 years in the Majors, Rollins has spent a majority of this time as their leadoff man.
Mattingly could have also toyed around with Howie Kendrick in the leadoff spot although the second baseman has spent most of his career batting second, fifth or sixth. Kendrick has stated he feels comfortable batting anywhere, which is important considering the holes that need to be filled in the lineup with the departures of Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez.
What the Dodgers lose in speed with Gordon as their leadoff man, they have gained tenfold in experience and consistency. The absence of major players from last year’s lineup seem less severe when taking into account the considerable moves the team made this season not only for offensive consistency but also for defensive improvement.
Assigning Rollins to the leadoff spot is just one of many adjustments made this offseason for the betterment of the team.
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