Our very own Brian Robitaille penned a great article about the “6 Dodgers Lead-Off Options” about six days ago. Nothing has changed since then, though, since the team has zero idea who is going to be the leadoff hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers by the time Opening Day rolls around.
Leadoff hitters are important, but the era of baseball has shifted from having a speedy leadoff hitter — someone like Dee Gordon, whom the Dodgers traded away prior to last season — to having someone who just gets on-base at a good-to-great clip that can set the table for those behind him.
“I think that nowadays, it’s just another spot in the order,” [manager Dave] Roberts said. “Whereas a typical leadoff hitter doesn’t have to be Brett Butler, hitting every day at the top.”
In essence, this is pretty much true. All you have to do is go look at the FanGraphs Leaderboard from last season in regards to the most plate appearances by players who batted first in their team’s respective order. Sure, some stole bases at a high clip, but quite a few didn’t. It’s a mix-and-match era now.
So, as the season inches ever closer, the team still has no idea who they’re going to trot out there for the first at-bat every night. They did want it to be Joc Pederson, but his second half struggles in 2015 might take him out of the running until he can prove they’re just a thing of the past.
Among the other candidates are rookie shortstop Corey Seager, who could do the job but, like Pederson, needs to prove he can do it elsewhere first. Then there’s Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig. While Puig is an interesting choice, he’s probably slated as more of a number two or number four hitter right now.
Crawford doesn’t play enough to generate real buzz surrounding the position outside of when he gets spot duty. However, the real choice might be Howie Kendrick. He did start as the leadoff hitter in three of the team’s five postseason games last season, so maybe it’s him.
Either way, the team has a huge choice to make this offseason. No one knows who is going to leadoff each game, but they might do it as a leadoff-hitter-by-committee basis where it all depends on who they’re facing that day or that series. We’ll just have to see. Still, it’s a big decision.