(Photo Credit: Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports)
Although there’s been many cases where the formula for the Dodgers‘ batting order has worked brilliantly this season, many fans are currently chattering about what could happen if the club did some minor shifting in the lineup, especially with the cleanup spot and newcomer Josh Reddick.
In the earlier part of the season, a huge dilemma with the Dodgers’ run production was the fact that the squad had a horrible success rate at the dish with runners in scoring position. However, as the year progressed and certain players began to heat up offensively, the overall performance of the club commenced to soar, hence a very solid standing in the early playoff scenarios.
Yet, along with analyzing certain hot and cold streaks, fans are wondering what might occur if the lineup was tweaked a bit further, outside of the few daily adjustments made to accommodate certain pitching matchups.
Take Reddick, for example. Since arriving from Oakland at the trade deadline, the 29-year-old outfielder has often been the topic of much criticism, largely after the games when the squad doesn’t produce offensively. Friday night’s game was the perfect illustration, as the Dodgers outhit the Pirates 12-7, but went 2-for-8 with RISP and left a total of 17 runners on base.
Just before the trade, Reddick was accustomed to hitting in the three hole with the Athletics, and was batting .296/.368/.449 on the season, including .341/.408/.547 against right-handed pitching. Since arriving in Los Angeles, although it’s still a small sample size, he’s slashing .111/.158/.111 over nine games and 38 plate appearances against all pitching, dropping his season totals to .272/.342/.405. The argument here, obviously, isn’t to yank Reddick out of the lineup altogether, but rather to slot him into a spot where there’s less pressure and where he could develop a groove of his own, rather than clogging the middle of the Dodgers order, which before the trade was just beginning to click on all cylinders.
Joc Pederson has appeared to have reinvent himself since returning from the disabled list last month. Despite being a steady feature in the seven and eight holes in the lineup as of late, the 24-year-old outfielder is hitting .340/.456/.660 over 17 games and 57 plate appearances since July 23.
Howie Kendrick, who has hit out of almost every conceivable spot in the lineup, also has been a steady presence in the bottom of the order recently, and has been hitting .300/.368/.466 with seven home runs and 25 extra-base hits in 67 games since May 22.
While it’s understandable that the lineup needs to fluctuate based on functionality and the prospective pitching matchups, it just doesn’t seem sensible to hit Reddick in the middle of the order while Pederson and Kendrick are producing mightily towards the bottom of the lineup. The best thought process here reveals that the eight hole may be more beneficial for Reddick until he begins to produce steadily.
One potentially effective lineup model discussed against right-handed pitching had Chase Utley leading off followed by Kendrick batting second, then Corey Seager hitting third followed by Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez, with Pederson, Yasmani Grandal and Reddick manning the lower half, respectively.
And while the Dodgers have been dedicatedly playing the platoon splits for the majority of the season, rarely do they apply to Reddick. Over 82 plate appearances this season, he’s slashing .173/.244/.173 against opposing southpaws, yet he’s still in the Dodgers lineup just about every time out against left-handed pitching. Granted, there are few platoon options, especially with Scott Van Slyke‘s recent injury, however, there is a five-tool player named Yasiel Puig lurking at Oklahoma City, who had four RBI and was just a double shy of the cycle on Friday night, upping his Triple-A average to .438 for the year.
While there are several areas of the teams dynamics that need to be addressed for peak production during the stretch run, optimizing the batting order to its highest potential may provide a few extra wins right now which could be the difference in a very tight divisional race four weeks down the road.