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Dodgers: A.J. Pollock Should Not Leadoff

When the Los Angeles Dodgers announced the signing of A.J. Pollock, many fans assumed he would leadoff for the team. On the surface, it makes some sense, but the team would be better off with him in the middle of the order.

Pollock leading off makes sense because the Dodgers don’t currently have a traditional leadoff option on their roster and Pollock has 825 career plate appearances batting 1st in the lineup.

Last season, Manager Dave Roberts relied on Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson to hit 1st in the majority of games.

Taylor posted a .343 OBP and 118 wRC+ in 347 plate appearances batting 1st. Pederson posted a .300 OBP and 124 wRC+ in 261 plate appearances. Since a good leadoff hitter should have a high OBP, neither stood out as the options the team should stick with.

The problem is A.J. Pollock also has a low OBP. Last season, he was below league average with a .316 OBP; In 2017, he was right around the league average mark at .330. In his career, he’s posted a .338 OBP over 2507 plate appearances.


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The argument for Pollock leading off is a fair one. Over his career, he has been at his best when leading off. In those 825 plate appearances, he’s posted a .343 OBP and 113 wRC+. It’s possible he’s more comfortable leading off or changes his approach to work better batting 1st. But even .343 isn’t much higher than his career .338 mark and it’s still below what an ideal leadoff hitter should be at.

Pollock makes more sense hitting in the middle of the order where his right-handed bat can break up all the left-handers and provide some power from the ride side. The team still wouldn’t have a consistent leadoff hitter but putting him between Muncy and Bellinger would make the lineup deeper and give the Dodgers a tactical advantage late in games when left-handed relief specialists come in.

The Dodgers main problem when constructing their lineup is their best leadoff option is either Corey Seager or Max Muncy. If the Dodgers decided to use a more progressive lineup, Muncy would make a lot of sense batting 1st. He great on-base skills, he has some power in his bat, and he’s the sixth fastest player on the team according to Baseball Savant. I think it’s unlikely that they move Muncy out of the middle of the order but it’s a strong option for them. Seager also makes sense leading off but Roberts will likely slot him back into the second spot.

Instead, the team will likely return to their Pederson and Taylor platoon to fill the leadoff role. It isn’t the most ideal option but both of them can provide solid at-bats and above league production at the top of the order, even if they aren’t getting on-base at the ideal rate.

Projected Lineup:

L/R Joc Pederson / Chris Taylor LF (platoon)

L Corey Seager SS

R Justin Turner 3B

L Max Muncy 1B

R A.J. Pollock CF

L Cody Bellinger RF

R Enrique Hernandez 2B

R Austin Barnes C

Written by Blake Williams

I graduated with an Associate's Degree in Journalism from Los Angeles Pierce College and now I'm working towards my Bachelor's at Cal State University, Northridge. I'm currently the managing editor for the Roundup News and a writer for Dodgers Nation. Around the age of 12, I fell in love with baseball and in high school, I realized my best path to working in baseball was as a writer, so that's the path I followed. I also like to bring an analytics viewpoint to my work and I'm always willing to help someone understand them since so many people have done the same for me. Thanks for reading!

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  1. I’ve been on the Dodgers Facebook, arguing your point. If they a play for Harper which didn’t happen, why not Kimbrel. That makes a good bullpen into a fantastic bullpen. Which would be huge in the playoffs.

  2. Most projections I have seen has Taylor at 2B with Hernandez platooning with Pederson. I would also flip flop Bellinger and Muncy in your lineup, with Freese likely getting most 1B starts again LH starters. And don’t discount Verdugo forcing his way into RF, with Bellinger going to 1B and Muncy getting some starts at 2B.

  3. I think Verdugo would be a good leadoff guy but I’m not sure he begins the season in LA. There isn’t a spot for him in the lineup with Joc in LF and Bellinger in RF. He could still improve by working on his power numbers to begin the season at AAA. He makes contact but soft contact as of now.

  4. The reason you choose Pollock to lead instead of Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson IMO? It’s strikeouts………..the difference in the three players OBP is minimal……between .339 (Joc) and .381 (Taylor) and .338 (Pollock)……..but Taylor and Pederson really STRUGGLE to make contact, they strikeout somewhere around 25 to 30 percent of the time. That’s awful! AJ on the K rate? It’s about 16%…….AJ will also be able to steal more bases than either one of them….Pollock is the correct choice to leadoff………I agree with Friedman and Roberts……..Dodgers should bat him lead off.

      • Not in 2018. Joc had lowest strikeout rate of the three at 19.2%. A great improvement from his career numbers.

      • Lol look at dieselfarts again offering his approval as if you’re some baseball expert. Nobody needs it fool

    • Good day, bluz1st. I concur and the only reason this page says for Pollock being in middle of the order is to break up all those LH bats. Well, had Dodgers done some due diligence, they would get or HAVE a RHB other than Pollock for the middle of the order. and without a middle of the order RH bat, rest assured Dodgers will see plenty of LHP in the late innings.

    • I can agree with this.. but i would also love to see Verdugo in place of Joc for the platoon role down the road this season if Pullock isnt leadoff. Joc’s had noticeable struggles continue this spring and not unlikely he gets traded with the knowledge that he is still in conversations even post “Harper negotiations”.

  5. The lead off hitter essentially only leads off once unless the first nine are shut down then he leads off again in the fourth inning. The lead off hitter needs to be one who sees a lot of pitches. Obviously you’d like him to get on base via a hit or walk but he opens up the pitcher to enable those after him a better look at how the pitchers stuff is working. This is a quality of Taylor, not so much Joc and more of Kike over Joc and more of Pollock over Kike. However,when lead off hitters swing to hit homers, the whole idea is relatively moot.

  6. Let me put this out to posters. How about Alex Verdugo in the lead-off spot? I know that is asking a lot out of the rookie. I haven’t been following him closely in the minors, but I know his batting avg. last yr at AAA(Oklahoma City) was in the .300s. I thought the analytics of the game that the Dodgers FO has embraced has taken the “lead-off, 2nd, 3rd” etc. out of the game. Perhaps I’m wrong.

    • While reading the posts I was wondering if anyone would recommend Verdugo as lead off. We do not know yet but I think Verdugo has the best potential as a lead off hitter. He is calm at the plate, discerning of pitches, has good speed, and runs the bases well. Also with Muncy having good speed and having played some outfield with the A’s why not try Muncy in left field, Verdugo and his rocket arm in right, and put our best first baseman Bellinger at first.

    • Robin you are 100% correct. Verdugo is by far the most suited for the position. I believe we see him locked there before the year is up. However, it’s very rare, and understandably so, that you don’t put that much pressure on a rookie. I believe Roberts will bat him 6 or 7 for a month or 2 then and then we could see him at that top spot. Look for AJ to fill that spot until then.

    • I agree with that idea Robin. I would start Verdugo over Joc and see how it goes. Last year at Tulsa he had a .390 OBP.

      • Verdugo hasn’t played at Tulsa since 2016. His OBA at Oklahoma City in AAA has been .389 and .391 the last two years. I don’t mind the idea of Verdugo starting and leading off, but I’d put him and his arm in RF. Joc has been making great strides, so I still see him in LF in a platoon with Hernandez. This would mean Muncy platoons with Taylor at 2B. Not very excited about his defense and I’m not convinced he can repeat last years offensive production either. but, iw ill be thrilled if he does.

  7. I don’t know why Joc is even on the team, much less batting lead off. And yes, try Verdugo at lead off.

  8. It’s only ST and these games of course don’t count but don’t look now, as of this date the Dodgers are 3rd from the last in team HR’s so far. Only the Marlins and Dbacks have hit less…..

  9. Several months ago, I envisioned Toles at the top of the lineup due to his speed. That has fallen by the wayside. Presently, I do like the idea of Verdugo or Taylor at the 1-2 position, and Pollock in the middle somewhere. I like speed at the top of the lineup, and that is why Muncy bats lower down. I also feel that we have given up too much pop in our lineup by our poorly conceived trade of Puig and Kemp. We need to become better situational hitters if we are going to remove 75 plus homers from our lineup; and we need Kimbrel to reduce the number of home runs the opposition can launch against us. Friedman’s misplaced confidence in thinking he could acquire Harper for a short term deal may come back to haunt him and us this season. Verdugo has not proven anything as of yet. And judging by Joc’s batting average thus far in ST, we are headed to a power shortage of severe proportions. Go Blue!!!!!

    • The combination of Seager, Pollock and The catchers should replace maybe 60 of them and Bellinger should go back over 30. Also, hoping Turner can stay healthy and should hit a few more. Muncy will likely regress some. They probably won’t reach last year’s team total, but every position should produce double digit homers. A good chance of 5-6 players hitting 20+.

      • Well just as important is the Dodger pitching staff NOT serving up as many HR’s as they did last year and again especially in the WS.. I realize HR’s are up everywhere but in 2018, pitching half their games in “pitcher friendly’ Dodger Stadium, pitchers served up 179 of them and 8 other teams in the NL allowed fewer than Dodgers did. Again, Dodgers really don’t need to hit as many but then again the pitching needs to be better at not giving them up as well, especially if we get to the WS. In 12 games combined in these past 2 WS Dodger pitching served up 23 HR’s.

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