Being that the San Francisco Giants have resided in the cellar of the National League West for almost the entirety of the season, coupled with the fact that they are only a few games away from the Philadelphia Phillies for having the worst record in all of baseball, one would have presumed that a three-game series at AT&T Park was just what the doctor ordered to ease the Los Angeles Dodgers out of perhaps one of their worst team slumps in decades.
Granted, there were indeed some unique circumstances surrounding the opener on Monday night. There was nearly a three-hour delay which could have ripped away the focus from any club. Then there’s the whole philosophy of the rivalry between the two clubs, which, in turn, leads to the most competitive of contests regardless of the circumstances or the squads’ records.
Then there was the lineup card of the Dodgers. Curtis Granderson leading off. Adrian Gonzalez, who has recently been feeling the effects of an ailing back, batting sixth and playing first base. Yasmani Grandal hitting right behind Gonzalez, which surely doesn’t help the fluidity of movement on the basepaths. No Chris Taylor. And no Andre Ethier, who has a career .326/.401/.466 slash line over 73 games in San Francisco.
Resting players is totally understandable, but there’s still at least three full weeks remaining in the regular season. And with the way the Dodgers have been starving for a win, there’s still enough time for them to run their best lineup on the field for four or five consecutive days, then rotate rest periods for a week after that, followed by another week-long tuneup for all the regulars. Instead, followers of the team are still seeing experimental situations, such as Granderson leading off, Grandal hitting cleanup, or Joc Pederson manning left field with yet another batting stance—something that should surely be reserved for the depths of the minor league system. On a bright note, however, at least the team has turned up the urgency knob just a tad by abandoning the desire to give Alex Verdugo and O’Koyea Dickson starting nods in the outfield, or hitting Enrique Hernandez, he of the .215 batting average, third or fourth in the lineup.
And this isn’t the first time that we’ve discussed the idea of a lopsided batting order. Many followers of the team thought the lineups would become more solidified with a healthy Corey Seager returning, however, the daily variations are still consistently present.
From a fan’s perspective, it’s tough to tell if most of the daily lineups are spontaneously devised or if there’s a detailed plan involved. For all we know, there could be some type of spreadsheet or master chart handed down from the front office outlining orders of a resting scheme for all of the regulars during the stretch run of the regular season. And while it’s understandable that there are at least a handful of ongoing competitions for prospective spots on the playoff roster, one would think that the possibility of home field advantage throughout the playoffs would weigh heavily on some of the decision making.
So outside of all the “team meetings,” the motivational speeches, and the extra time in the batting cages, perhaps it’s about time for the Dodgers to bite the bullet and run out their absolute best lineup for about a week straight—just to get a win under their belts and establish a bit of momentum.
After that, we can then move along to the pitching side of things.
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4 thoughts on “Some of These Starting Lineups Are Downright Ugly”
I’m not sure if a manager/front office that could bat Granderson leadoff last night, let alone playing him instead of Ethier, is capable of understanding what their best lineup is. Maybe there is a health reason that Ethier didn’t start last night but to bat Granderson leadoff is just unbelievable. If they are going to start Grandal at catcher then it’s time to start Barnes at second. He needs to be in the lineup. Taylor (CF), Seager (SS), Turner (3B), Bellinger (1B), Puig (RF), Barnes (2B), Ethier (LF), Grandal (C), Kershaw/Hill/Wood/Darvish or Ryu (P).
I think their reasoning for giving Granderson so much playing time is twofold. First, they want to give him every opportunity to break out of his slump, and secondly, they want to see if he’s worthy of a playoff roster spot. And there are several other similar instances, for example, Gonzo, Joc, Ethier, Enrique, etc. That said, by trying to accomplish these types of things, they should expect lesser production and plenty of losses. Thus the losing streak. Personally, as I stated in the story, my hope is to temporarily abandon all the alternate lineups and get a few wins under their belts before things spin too far out of control. And, I think the lineup you posted above is about as good as it gets.
Let me start by saying that, as a human being, Granderson gets the highest possible marks. They absolutely don’t come any better. But as a ball player in 2017, I just don’t get why he seems to be the chosen one. In 400 at bats this year (Mets/Dodgers) he is batting .208, so when you say they want to see if he can break out of his slump, I’m just not sure what they are shooting for. Isn’t 400 at bats enough to tell them something? Yes, his slugging numbers are good, but so are Ethier’s in very limited at bats, and Ethier has proven through the years that he can really contribute when healthy. It may be that playing Granderson in the playoffs will actually make more sense than Ethier, Joc or Kike but at least give Ethier some regular at bats instead of the guy who is hitting .111 as a Dodger and hoping that if he breaks out of his slump he can get all the way up to .208. I guess my real frustration isn’t that they are playing Granderson because at some point he will start hitting some homers again, but rather it’s why they seem to be going out of their way not to give Ethier any regular at bats. And while we’re at it, I wonder if all of this is making the front office carefully consider whether they might want to go after a major outfielder for 2018, or if they figure that Puig/Taylor/Verdugo/Toles will be enough (assuming that Taylor doesn’t become the regular second baseman next year).
Totally agree with you about Ethier. And I’m also optimistically curious to see what Tolesy can deliver in a full season.