As a result of their offseason makeover, the Los Angeles Dodgers have on paper, traded in prolific offense for much-improved defense. The new collection of players are certainly capable of performing well offensively, it just may look different.
Howie Kendrick won’t steal 64 bases a la Dee Gordon, but he’ll put the ball in play and make pitchers work to get him out. Jimmy Rollins may not replace the bat Hanley Ramirez is capable of swinging, but it’s not beyond reason to believe he’ll be more consistent.
Along with needing to replace production from Gordon, Matt Kemp and Ramirez, manager Don Mattingly essentially needs to rework the batting order. Gordon solidified himself as the leadoff hitter last season and with his departure, the Dodgers don’t necessarily have an obvious answer.
One candidate is Rollins, though Mattingly wouldn’t yet commit to him, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports:
Interesting: Don Mattingly would not commit completely to Jimmy Rollins in leadoff spot when asked about it this morning. #Dodgers
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 25, 2015
Last season, Rollins only hit from the leadoff spot in 21 games. The lion’s share of his at-bats came from the two-hole, where he was for 111 games. However for his 15-year career, the majority or Rollins’ games came with him batting leadoff (1,459 games of 2,090).
Should Mattingly not decide to go with Rollins, Kendrick or Yasiel Puig could be other options to bat leadoff. Though it should be noted during Kendrick’s career with the Los Angeles of Anaheim, he primarily hit second, fifth and sixth.
Kendrick’s best slash last season came in 39 games (161 plate appearances) as the cleanup hitter — .320/.366/.513 with four home runs and 28 RBIs, both of which were his best totals among the various spots in the order he hit from.
In just 252 career-games with the Dodgers, Puig has been moved throughout the order by Mattingly; in 140 of those games, Mattingly penciled Puig in at the second spot. Puig’s next highest games played with respect to batting order is as a leadoff hitter — 39 games, hitting .301/.386/.527 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs.
As Mattingly has so often stated when questioned how other roster issues would iron out, he’ll have six weeks to tinker with the lineup before needing to put pen to paper for meaningful games.
Howie Kendrick Compares Angeles And Dodgers Fan Bases