With the losses of Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp, the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup seems to have lost some of the pop that helped the team take home consecutive NL West titles.
While the team was able to construct an overall better lineup, the middle of the order still seems to be lacking in power. One player that could find himself in the cleanup spot this season is new second baseman Howie Kendrick, who has a career-high of 18 home runs. The nine-year veteran spent some time in the fourth spot for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and he could again fill that void for the Dodgers.
According to Bill Dwyre of the LA Times, the former All-Star is comfortable no matter where he hits:
You know, I batted one through nine with the Angels over the years,” Kendrick said. “It never really mattered to me. I think I have figured out what I am as a hitter.”
In 39 games batting cleanup in 2014, Kendrick hit .320 with 28 RBI and an OPS of .880. That’s the type of production the Dodgers will need if they plan to put runs on the board and the type of production that could prompt manager Don Mattingly to use his second baseman in that spot.
Kendrick said that batting in the middle of the order was something that he may not have handled at a younger age:
Had [Manager] Mike [Scioscia] hit me at cleanup when I was younger, I might have had trouble with it. But last year, I think he knew me and knew I could handle it.”
Mattingly has played with the lineups in the spring, but Kendrick has consistently found himself in the fourth or fifth spot, something that may be indicative of the lineup plans.
Wherever Kendrick hits, the Dodgers will be able to expect consistent, smart at-bats from their second baseman.
Dodgers 2015 Spring Training – Clayton Kershaw