As Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is known to do, he’s said little this spring pertaining to the batting order he anticipates to use during the regular season, which relievers will make the Opening Day roster, and who the starting center fielder will be.
The furthest extent to which Mattingly has gone is naming Jimmy Rollins the leadoff hitter, which didn’t come as much of a surprise. While he’s yet to determine where in the order they’ll bat, the Dodger manager also intends to keep Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig paired together in the lineup, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
Mattingly said he wants Puig and Gonzalez to be paired, either in the second and third spots or the third and fourth.
Gonzalez supports Mattingly’s idea of keeping the duo together, but added Puig will still need to be responsible for his own success:
With him, if he gets on base, he creates a threat to the pitcher, the pitcher worries about him a little more, may make more mistakes to me,” the first baseman said. “And I’m protecting him a little bit. He’s still got to do his thing. I’m not going to be a factor in whether he does well or not,” Gonzalez said. “He’s still got to swing at strikes and he’s still got to lay off balls. If he’s able to do that, his numbers will be there.”
Last season, the majority of Puig’s at-bats came from the second spot in the lineup. Over 89 games batting second in the order, he hit .314/.399/.540 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs. His next highest number of games were spent batting third in the order. In 33 games where Puig batted third, his slash line was .289/.370/.405 with one home run and eight RBIs.
Gonzalez spent 71 games batting third in 2014 and 75 batting fourth. In the former, he hit .307/.361/.544 with 14 home runs and 64 RBIs; all superior the 13 home runs, 50 RBIs and .257/.316/.455 averages when batting fourth.
Considering Puig’s success when batting second and Gonzalez’s as the No. 3 hitter, that would appear to be the most logical placement for the two this season. However, that decision could also be impacted by which catcher is behind the plate for the Dodgers and where Howie Kendrick best slots in.
Dodgers Utility Man Justin Turner