Assuming Kemp is healthy, he’ll likely hit fifth in the lineup. Kemp is still recovering from two ankle and shoulder surgeries, with the possibility of missing the Opening Series in Australia a strong possibility. As of right now, the 29-year-old outfielder hasn’t started running on his surgically repaired ankle and in his absence, third baseman Juan Uribe is likely to hit in this spot.
Re-signed for two more years, Uribe rebounded in 2013 after two terrible seasons with the Dodgers. He hit .278 with 12 home runs and 50 RBI during the regular season, but hit the game winning two-run home run in Game 4 of the NLDS. Behind him is outfielder Andre Ethier, who’ll likely be the odd man out once Kemp returns from injury.
Ethier typically struggles against left-handed pitching, a career .236 hitter, and sticking to the theme of right-left in the batting order he finds himself in the sixth spot in the lineup. Once Kemp is deemed healthy, it’ll be interesting to see what Mattingly decides to do with all four healthy outfielders.
A.J. Ellis and Guerrero round up the seven and eight spots in the lineup. Ellis had a bit of a down season at the plate, but if he can manage to work counts, draw walks and drive-in timely runs, the Dodgers will take it. If Guerrero is able to start for the Dodgers on Opening Day, it’s likely Mattingly will let him ease into learning big league pitching.
Management raves that the 27-year-old infielder has a big league bat already and hopefully he’ll provide more offense than Mark Ellis from the second base position.
The team that eliminated the Dodgers in the NLCS, the St. Louis Cardinals, also has a formidable offense themselves. Although Carlos Beltran signed with the New York Yankees, the Cardinals added shortstop Jhonny Peralta and the rest of the offense remained intact. Allen Craig is back healthy and Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina make this lineup one of the best in the National League.
The American League has some impressive offensive lineups as well. The Texas Rangers play their home games in a hitters park, but they also added Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo in the off-season, adding to a lineup that includes Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre.
The defending World Series champions Boston Red Sox will also enter the 2014 season with high expectations. While they lost Jacoby Ellsbury to the Yankees, they still have David Ortiz, Shane Victorino, and Dustin Pedroia. Last year, Xander Bogaerts bursted onto the scene and he should be a consistent contributor this upcoming season.
ICYMI: The Dodgers and Justin Turner agreed to a minor league deal