With just one day until the NLDS begins for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, excitement is growing as one team is looking to get over the playoff hump and the other is in the postseason for the first time since 2006.
We took a look and compared stats, the managers and the bench before and now we break down the starting lineups position by position in anticipation of the best three-of-five series:
Lucas Duda will be at first base and in the middle of the order for the NL East champs. Duda is a low-average, power hitter and that was confirmed this season as he hit .244 with 27 home runs and 73 RBIs. He struck out 138 times in 135 games. The left-handed slugger provides solid defense. One surprising thing about Duda is that he hit better against left-handers this season (.285 against LHP vs .230 against RHP); however, this season was an outlier as he has normal splits throughout his career.
For the Dodgers, Adrian Gonzalez aka Mr. Consistency mans first base. Coming off a year in which he led the league in RBIs and won a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove, the veteran first baseman enjoyed another strong season. He ended the year slashing .275/.350/.480 with 28 home runs and 90 RBIs in 156 games. You’re going to get competitive at-bats and outstanding defense from Gonzalez. He’s a career .294 hitter in the postseason, but did struggle against the St. Louis Cardinals last season (3-for-16).
Advantage:Dodgers (Duda brings a big bat and splits that should help against the left-handed heavy rotation of the Dodgers; however, Gonzalez has consistently delivered for years now.)
Daniel Murphy will be the Mets second baseman in his seventh year with the Mets. The 30-year-old enjoyed a fine season, hitting .281 with 14 HR and 73 RBI in 130 games. He set a career-high in home runs and came close to doing the same with RBIs. Murphy made just six errors all season, although defensive metrics don’t rate him too high (negative-six Defensive Runs Saved). He’s a solid second baseman and hit .333 against the Dodgers this season.
The Dodgers will counter with veteran Howie Kendrick. A model of consistency, Kendrick finished with a .295 batting average this year and was tied for third on the Dodgers with 54 RBIs despite missing over a month with a hamstring strain. He was still dealing with the hamstring towards the end of the season, but with the rest and adrenaline in the postseason, he should be fine. The 32-year-old makes all the plays at second base, even though he was also in the red in DRS. He’s struggled in the postseason to the tune of .186 in 16 games.
Advantage:Push (Normally, Kendrick would get the nod here; however, he is still dealing with the lingering effects of a hamstring strain and didn’t walk once in his return from the DL.)
It’s sort of a two-headed tandem at shortstop for the Mets with Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores available. Flores lost 10 pounds recently due to strep throat and could still be dealing with that; however, Tejada likely gets the nod in Game 1 because he’s 5-for-14 against Clayton Kershaw. He’s better defensively, but Flores is a better hitter. Flores hit 16 home runs and 22 doubles this season. The Mets can go either way at shortstop though.
All signs point to rookie sensation Corey Seager to be the Dodgers starting shortstop this October. He took advantage of a Jimmy Rollins finger injury to take the spot from the veteran in September. Seager slashed .337/.425/.561 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 27 games. He struggled a bit on defense, racking up five errors; however, he’s made some nice defensive plays as well. Seager has shown a poise at the plate in his short time, but only time will tell if he brings that into the postseason. Rollins will be ready if needed.
Advantage:Dodgers (This can easily go the other way if Seager crumbles under the postseason pressure, but he’s shown himself to be above that so far.)
Third base is one of the few spots where the Mets have a true star and it also happens to be the face of their franchise, David Wright. He missed most of the season with a back issue, but returned in time to help lead the Mets to the postseason. In 38 games, Wright hit .289 with five home runs and 17 RBIs, but he’s been a leader in the clubhouse. The 32-year-old was around for the last time New York was in the playoffs, but that was back in 2006. Wright is a leader on the field and the Mets will count on him to produce as well.
The Mets may have some regret with the Dodgers third baseman, as they let him go two years ago and he became an offensive threat in Los Angeles. Justin Turner went from a minor-league deal before the 2014 season to the team’s everyday third baseman and middle of the order hitter in 2015. Turner ended the year at .294/.370/.491 with 16 home runs and 60 RBIs. He missed some time with a MRSA infection, but has since recovered. The former Met struggles a bit on defense when he gets sloppy with his throws to first base, but otherwise is a decent defender.
Advantage:Mets (Turner has been a savior for the Dodgers the past two seasons, but Wright has been the face of the Mets for years now.)
CONTINUE READING: Check out the catchers and outfielders.