Daily batting orders always seem to be an extremely popular topic among fans of the Dodgers everywhere. Overall, I would probably say there are more fans who express criticism than those who do not. Despite all the grumbling, the Dodgers, as a team, find themselves atop most of the offensive categories in the National League.
I’m not one of those people who complain much about the Los Angeles batting orders. My biggest pet peeve, however, is sending a player to the pine when they are in the middle of a torrid streak, only to cool off and eventually return to their mean numbers. Other than that, I really can’t argue; although sometimes I don’t see any logic at all in the way the coaching staff builds their lineups.
Currently, the Dodgers are first in the NL with 179 runs scored. In my opinion, that’s the statistic that matters most, any way you look at it. The next most important stat is OBP. Entering Saturday’s game, Los Angeles is third in the NL with a .342 team mark, trailing only the Braves and the Cubs who both have a .350 mark.
I’ve always believed in hitting players with the best OBP high in the lineup. It makes sense, because those players will ultimately receive the most AB and give the squad a better chance to score more runs. Team RBI are also important, but it doesn’t matter which players are driving them in as long as the runs are scoring. When players get on base consistently, they should score—unless the bats freeze up with runners in scoring position, which is a whole other topic.
Anyway, there was some fallout from a few fantasy-minded fans when they saw Cody Bellinger hit in the two-hole in Friday’s series opener against the Padres. Their beef was that Bellinger would lose the opportunity to drive in runs. They are indeed correct—I think I read somewhere that the average two-hole hitter would lose 7-8 RBI if he bat second all year long.
That doesn’t make much of a difference to me, as long as there are players hitting behind Bellinger who can drive him in. But, as much as the Dodgers try to launch for the fences, some of the OBPs are suffering. As a result, it may clog the order a bit when you have somebody like Max Muncy with a .336 OBP (sixth on the team) hitting in the three-hole.
With a ,240 batting average, fans commonly criticize the team for hitting Joc Pederson first. In reality, he has a .351 OBP, which is good enough for third on the team, believe it or not. Justin Turner—perhaps the best contact hitter on the squad—is second with a .379 mark.
Of course, Bellinger leads the world with a ridiculous .489 mark. Interestingly, Alex Verdugo is fourth with a .350 mark, despite there not being a huge separation between his OBP and his .325 batting average. The good thing about Verdugo, though, it that he never strikes out. In fact, he’s right up there with Turner when it comes to making contact.
Enrique Hernandez is fifth on the team with a .345 OBP.
Additionally, I really can’t say I’m a big fan of all the matchup-based decisions when it comes to lineup creation, but I think I mentioned the other week that it does give Roberts a logical approach for evening out playing time. There’s nothing like rolling out an all lefty lineup only to have the opposing squad bring in a righty pitcher in the third or fourth inning—see Craig Counsel in the 2018 NLCS.
I feel that some variation is good, but a nice, consistent lineup can grow roots and carry a club far—see the 2018 Boston Red Sox.
Anyway, taking all that into consideration, I wanted to build my own lineup based on the players’ trends for 2018. I also wanted to devise an order that would work against both lefty and righty opposing pitchers, although I’m still a fan of sitting Pederson against leftys when there are right-handed hitters available on the bench. Still, I like Bellinger hitting strictly in the three or four-holes right now, because there’s nobody behind him that can drive in runs better. Keep in mind, as we venture into the 3-5 holes, OPS takes on a critical role.
And, aside from some pop towards the bottom, this lineup gives Corey Seager some breathing room until he’s able to return to his normal self.
Here’s my result:
- Verdugo CF
- Turner 3B
- Bellinger RF
- Pederson LF
- Hernandez 2B
- Muncy 1B
- Seager SS
- Barnes C
What do you say, Skip? Why not give it a shot?