Dodgers Lineups: The Dreaded Batting Order Post

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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?

 

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16 thoughts on “Dodgers Lineups: The Dreaded Batting Order Post

  1. I like this a lot better than what Doc has been putting out there. Only change I might make is to flip flop Kike and Muncy against a righty pitcher and move Joc to 7th or 8th against a lefty. Once Seager becomes Seager again, move him to third and move everyone down one. But of course the purpose for this exercise was to build an every day lineup, so I’ve probably defeated that purpose.

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    1. Initially, I had Seager third and Joc fifth, but I don’t think hitting Joc cleanup is necessarily a bad thing, at least until Seager finds his groove. Roberts and Friedman have seemingly tried everything else, why not give it a shot?

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    1. Was just a matter of time once he was on the IL. The slow start did not help his position on the team. The Reds site said that Kemp was just not a good fit. Meaning of course that they have a ton of young fleet footed kids to plug in out there who cost a lot less than 19 million. Matt is a good fit as a DH for someone in the AL if he can get past the idea that he is a good fielder anymore. The rate at which teams are DFA’ing players this year is unreal. I wish him the best. He has always been a favorite. As for Joe Kelly, he needs to catch some mysterious illness and wind up on the IL until he can figure out how to get hitters out again. Whatever he is doing is not working. When he comes into a game, Roberts should already have someone soft tossing in the pen and ready to let it fly.

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      1. Very doubtful there Steve. If they wanted him they never would have sent him away in a salary dump as they did. I think Matt should consider playing in the AL as a DH. He still can hit, but his diminished skills as an outfielder have been evident for a while. I love the guy and he is a pretty clutch hitter, but even last year I was surprised he lasted the entire season as a Dodger. Friedman was trying to unload him almost immediately after the trade. He forced his way onto the roster with his great spring and blistering start. That did not happen in Cincinnati.

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      1. Dave Roberts said Cody Bellinger is available to pinch-hit today but still sore from diving on his right shoulder yesterday. “He was a little disappointed he wasn’t in there tonight. But I think the best thing is to give him an extra day.” Expected back in lineup Sunday

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  2. The more I see of Verdugo, the more I think that he is very baseball savvy for his age. According to his post game interview, he went to the plate in the 9th inning knowing that Yates likes to use his splitter low in the zone to get batters to chase it. Verdugo hardly ever walks (4 times in 85 PA) yet he was patient enough to draw a walk and that wound up as the winning run. He needs to play every day. He deserves to play every day.

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    1. I agree with that take Jefe. One concern I have is the possibility the Dodgers organizational all or nothing hitting approach will ultimately result in more strikeouts. He and Turner are the two guys I see that make consistent contact and hit the ball where it’s pitched. I don’t want to see Verdugo going Taylor on us.

      Kelly. wtf? This is the reliever they chose for 3 years?

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      1. I think the new hitting guys will know enough to leave Dugo alone and let him retain his approach to batting. If not, they need to be replaced. If every one of your guys takes the same approach to hitting, it’s far easier for the opposition to game plan. At least Verdugo and, as you point out, JT are outliers and that makes the lineup more difficult to pitch to. Now if we can just teach a couple of our guys to lay down bunts against the shift once in awhile. Bellinger has done it on occasion and I would like to see Max and Joc do it also.

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