While there are just a few days until Opening Day, the Los Angeles Dodgers are still toying with Joc Pederson in the lead-off spot. Now, it’s no secret that I love Joc Pederson; and he can be a completely useful ballplayer when not mis-cast. However, as a lead-off hitter; he is exactly that.
Obviously, I’m going to tell you why that is right now.
The Case Against Lead-Off Joc Pederson
Pederson hit lead-off 59 times last season for Los Angeles. In those performances, he got on base at a .300 clip and hit .239 for the year. What saved Joc in the eyes of any stat was his OPS of .834 in the spot. The reason for this is 18 of his 25 homers on the season came in that spot. While it’s nice to have a guy who can put you up 1-0 Rickey Henderson-style, the purpose of a player in the one spot in a lineup is to get on base. That is the name of the game in baseball in the year 2019. You’re hitting lead-off, don’t make an out. Put some pressure on the opposition from the jump.
Pederson displayed this ability in 2015 and 2016, with on-base percentages of .346 and .352 respectively. Alas, it’s been two long years-plus since 2016 ended. What has manifested is a new Pederson who can make some adjustments and still bring thunder against right-handers. However, he’s much better suited in the six or eight spot in the lineup.
Right now, Pederson is leading off against right-handed pitching because the Dodgers don’t have a player who fits the bill. Or do they?
What Should the Dodgers’ Lineup Look Like?
Recently, our own Blake Williams painted a picture of a lineup that I wouldn’t mind seeing. Actually, Blake simply tweeted it. In any event, I like what he has working here. See what you think:
I have a feeling we see this lineup a lot this season:
— Blake (@BlakeW47) March 24, 2019
Now, I like the idea of Muncy in the lead-off spot quite a bit. First, the Dodgers aren’t going to steal a ton of bases to begin with. They simply aren’t an organization that subscribes to the philosophy of wasting outs by swiping bags. So if your idea of Muncy in the lead-off role is slanted because he can’t steal bases; try to let go of that. And, Pederson isn’t a guy who will steal 15 or 20 to begin with.
Moreover, it’s just about getting on base. Muncy did that last season at a .391 clip, and until he proves he can’t anymore; it’s worth a shot. From there, it allows the entire lineup to flow in a more organic manner with everyone sliding up one spot. Equally important, it’s going to give players like Justin Turner and Corey Seager the chance to hit with runners on. This should provide those two with more fastballs, thus more pressure on the opposition. The concept really is that simple.
What is your Ideal Dodgers’ Lineup? Who Hits leadoff?
In your opinion, who would you have in the Dodgers lead-off spot against right-handed pitching to begin the season? It’s fair to guess that if Pederson doesn’t produce, the Dodgers will make a change. When and if they do – who is the best candidate and why? We leave it up to you to decide in the comment section!
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