The Los Angeles Dodgers have the talent to be one of the best lineups in all of baseball, but injuries and inconsistency wouldn’t allow them to fully hit their stride last season. They struggled to score runs in the postseason after Hanley Ramirez fractured one of his ribs and Yasiel Puig struggled mightily against St. Louis Cardinals.
Coming into last season, the Dodgers were without Puig, who started the year in the minors and Ramirez was sidelined with a thumb injury he suffered during the World Baseball Classic. It was a rough start for the Dodgers last year, but the emergence of Puig really gave this club a boost. While Puig received most of the credit for the Dodgers’ resurgence, Ramirez was equally as impressive.
Going into the 2014 season, the Dodgers lineup will look very similar to last year’s batting order. The team will no longer have Mark Ellis after he opted to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals and he’ll be replaced by Cuban infielder Alex Guerrero. The 27-year-old is said to have a plus bat and will hopefully lengthen the order with his production. Questions remain about his ability to transition to second base, but all indications are he should be productive at the plate.
The biggest question about the Dodgers lineup will be Matt Kemp. He’s a difference maker, but has been unable to stay on the field due to injuries the last two seasons. If Kemp can fully recover from his ankle and shoulder injuries and remain healthy all season long, that could push the Dodgers offense over the top. Kemp is capable of being one of the better offensive players in baseball, which he proved in 2011 when he came in second for the NL MVP award.
As for the construction of the lineup, Puig seems to be the favorite to leadoff for the Dodgers. By moving Puig atop the lineup, it gives manager Don Mattingly the ability to stagger the right and left handed hitters in the lineup. While Puig still needs to learn to be more patient at the plate, his .391 on-base percentage was impressive last season. In 28 games hitting first, he sported a .333 average and eight of his 19 home runs came atop the Dodgers lineup.
Carl Crawford would slide into the number two spot as he’d had some success hitting from that spot in the lineup, hitting .300/.342/.458 in 753 plate appearances. Ramirez would hit third, a spot he was familiar with last season and will be counted on to drive runners in.
In just 86 games last season, Ramirez had 57 RBI and if he didn’t deal with so many injuries, he was sure to be an NL MVP candidate. The righty-lefty balance continues with Adrian Gonzalez batting clean-up for the Dodgers. He was the most consistent hitter last season, leading the team in batting average, RBIs, home runs and hits.