(Photo Credit: mlb.com)
Granted, it’s much easier said then done to arrive in Chicago at 3:30 a.m. after an adrenaline-draining victory in New York, show up to Wrigley Field about eight hours later, then expect to find any type of rhythm with the lumber. But despite the hectic scheduling, the Dodgers have found themselves in similar situations one too many times already over the course of the 2016 campaign, and need to show more consistency on offense in order to make up ground in the NL West.
There have been several instances of stability in the batting order, however. Chase Utley has been nothing short of phenomenal, and has exceeded all expectations up to this point in the season. It remains to be seen if he can maintain his current slashline of .286/.373/.435, but moving deeper into the summer, it’s difficult to keep him out of the lineup, even for an occasional day of rest.
Although he’s seen a bit of a power shortage, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez leads the Dodgers in RBI and is hitting a respectable .296/.376/.419 on the year. Aside from a random dry spell, Gonzo has been a model of consistency for the club since arriving in 2012.
Rookie shortstop Corey Seager has also seen his share of hot and cold streaks, but for the most part has been a key contributor on offense. He leads the squad in doubles with 12, while his eight home runs are tied for the team lead. There’s no reason to believe that he can’t improve upon his .270/.327/.456 moving forward.
Except for a slightly higher batting average, center fielder Joc Pederson‘s production has been almost a mirror image from his offensive totals last year. He’s come through in the clutch quite often, and has seen decent power numbers despite only batting .241. The Dodgers were hoping that adjustments in his swing would lead to a higher average and OBP, but at this point Pederson’s production at the dish has been better than most on the team.
Utley, Gonzo, Seager and Pederson (1.6, 1.0, 1.4, and 1.1, respectively) are the only four players on the Dodgers who have tallied an OWAR above the 1.0 level. Many of the rest fall somewhere within the 0.0 – 1.0 range, while Yasiel Puig, Enrique Hernandez, Howie Kendrick and Yasmani Grandal are all currently lurking in the negatives.
Outfielder Trayce Thompson has been a pleasant surprise so far this season hitting a productive .274/.336/.528, but is currently fighting a lower back ailment and could be the odd man out when either Scott Van Slyke or Andre Ethier return from the disabled list sometime in June.
At .236/.337/.345, third baseman Justin Turner has yet to find a steady tempo with his bat, but continues to hold respect from Dodgers’ management by maintaining his presence in the wheelhouse of the batting order. Yet with the aforementioned big four already settling into their respective spots in the lineup, it’s tough to see anyone else putting up better numbers out of the three hole.
Kendrick has been digging himself out of a dreadful slump from the first quarter of the season, but until he, Puig and Grandal can find some type of regular flow on offense, the Dodgers could conceivably continue to sputter along with a record hovering around the .500 range.
There’s still plenty of games remaining on the schedule, but with the Giants already beginning to settle into a comfortable lead in the division, the Dodgers can ill afford to allow that margin to grow much larger.