After my previous article about who should play where in the field for LA, we now need to focus on something that Mattingly didn’t do very well last year, the lineup card, especially in the leadoff position. A few candidates pop up for the top of the lineup; from 1 to about 4 and with the departure of Jimmy Rollins last year and then the failed experiment of Joc Pederson we should see some changes for this upcoming season.
1.Carl Crawford (LF)
Although not assured to start on April 4, Carl and his speed is the biggest asset to the top of the lineup with Joc moving down as a result of his many, many K’s in the top spot. Although last year his OBP was just over .300, he only played in 60 odd games and never got his chance to get hot with injuries plaguing what would have been an alright season for the now 33 year old. The only man to get more stolen bases in 2015 was Jimmy Rollins but seeing as he is now gone, and Corey Seager is taking his spot in shortstop it would seem the speed will have to come from Carl. This may be one of the only things that keep him in the lineup and he may need it. As a leadoff that is all Dave Roberts should be looking for to try manufacture runs for an offense that will go cold during the year for little patches.
2.Yasiel Puig (RF)
The usual combination of Yasiel followed by A-Gon should be seen again in 2016 with the right fielder being ready for opening day following another cold year for Puig’s standards. In 79 games played he hit only .255 but that number should rise for the season with his pre season not being altered by any police charges or injuries and the spot in the lineup assured. Yasiel isn’t the slowest man on the side either with his 11 stolen bases in his first 2 years of his career that will be something that may need to come up again if Carl doesn’t fire and it is left to the others near the top.
3.Adrian Gonzalez (1B)
That start to the 2015 season from Adrian with his 5 home runs in the first 3 games would be a luxury for LA to have again, but so would another stellar season from one of the best first basemen to hit the ball in all of baseball. Adrian should be treated to some more RBIs and will benefit from the top of the order, again with Puig being in front of him, a key to most of the 90 RBIs that Adrian could come up with, although he did help his own cause with 28 home runs.
Moving Adrian down from 3 to 4 in the line up would be a bad move for Roberts, like Mattingly did last year where many people went left stranded on base with the result of Howie Kendrick going and occupying number 3 and many key at bats.
4. Justin Turner (3B)
Justin was key to the Dodgers success down the stretch with him coming hot in August and September and providing some key hits to drive runs in and win games for LA. Turner has proven he can do this again with his hitting and his ability to turn games around with one at bat. His 16 homeruns from the 4 and 5 hole last year should also improve with his hot bat and should provide some serious pop to the middle order.
5.Howie Kendrick (2B)
There isn’t much LA would want out of their newly resigned infielder other than another solid year, hitting for the average and cleaning up the bases whenever he’s up to the plate. A solid signing for the Dodgers this year, Howie can play anywhere in the order with his high .OBP and consistent average every year. Over the past 5 years his average has never dropped below .285, another sign this man can be key in a premiership winning season.
6. Corey Seager (SS)
Dave Roberts cannot afford to bat Corey too high up the order this year, like Mattingly did with Pederson, as this man is the key to the LA organisation for many years to come. There was definitely too much expected of Joc up the top of the order, leading off and his strikeout numbers being far too high. For Corey however if Roberts can work his way up the order slowly and according to performances it will hold his potential up and keep him progressing at the rate LA need, Seager doesn’t need to be the key number 3 hitter this year, in 2 or 3 years then maybe but for now keep him low and work it up.
7. Joc Pederson (CF)
Joc had his whole career laid out on a platter for him at the start of last year, he was to be LA’s lead off man for the whole season and starting centre fielder day in, day out. However this plan did not follow the expected route with his average a disappointing .210 and with his strikeouts being the 3rd highest in the NL, this isn’t the recipe for the leadoff man. He could however stay in centre field every day with the occasional leadoff but for now stay down the bottom, knock in Seager and Turner for some confidence again and then get back up when he can work out some pitchers moves and steal some more bases. This right now however is where someone of his skill level right now is at and should be for a majority of 2016.
8. Yasmani Grandal (C)
Yasmani was a great inclusion for LA in the Matt Kemp trade and has been staying consistent, as the Dodgers would hope for. Although his average isn’t there with the bat (hence he is batting 8) Yasmani’s defense is what the Dodgers were after and the way he controls the staff and bullpen is amazing for a man of his quality. Grandal should see about the same amount of games and innings as last year, and should be expected to hit around .230 again but watch for his defense and little things that makes him so valuable like pitch selection and framing for every pitcher on the roster.
9.Clayton Kershaw (P)
As much as Clayton would like he is the number 9 hitter, he won’t be apart of Joe Maddon’s crazy ‘pitcher batting 8’ scheme’ as has been LA’s lineup for the most part of ever. There wouldn’t be a good candidate for the 9 hole other than the pitcher in LA’s line up either as the ‘second leadoff spot’ would be way too unreliable and not worth wasting an out for.