A Few Thoughts on the Daily Batting Order Fluctuation

Corey Seager
(AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

Daily batting orders always seem to be quite the volatile 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.

The most critical team category as far as offense goes is runs scored. The math is pretty simple. Teams win games by scoring more runs than their opposition. Offenses, pitching and defenses are independent of one another (obviously), so the job of the offense is to score as many runs as possible by whatever means possible. As it stands now, the Dodgers are third in the National League with 492 runs scored as a team. The Braves are first with 503, and the Rockies are second with 502. However, we might as well put an asterisk besides Colorado’s ranking because we all know how the ball behaves in Denver.

The second-most important team stat on offense—at least in my opinion—is on-base percentage. Teams need runners to get on base (by whatever means possible) to score runs (to win games). Currently, the Dodgers are first in the NL with a .342 OBP. Primarily, this means there are a few other squads out there who are better than the Dodgers when it comes to production with runners on base. The Rockies, for example, are sixth in the league in OBP, but they are second in runs scored. We knew for years that the Dodgers had this periodic, subconscious dilemma when it comes to driving runners home, and this is a great example. Nonetheless, overall success is not just about offense. Because Los Angeles is a much more well-rounded squad, the Dodgers have the best record in the majors and the Rockies are under .500.

Anyway, in the first game back from the All-Star break, fans saw Corey Seager hitting first and Alex Verdugo hitting much lower than his recent promotion to the two-hole. Coincidentally, Verdugo was responsible for the team’s only run on Friday as the rest of the club went quiet. On Saturday night, Verdugo did not start, yet the team erupted for eleven runs. Both starting pitchers for Boston were lefties.

As far as logic goes, I really don’t think there’s much to apply to the performance of the Los Angeles offense, primarily because it’s tremendously streaky—as seen in the difference between the first two games of the Boston series. Regardless, I’ve always believed in hitting players with the best OBP high in the lineup, specifically for the sake of optimization.

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.

That’s the main reason I don’t like hitting Joc Pederson leadoff. His season OBP is .331—which is probably in the window of “average” around the MLB. But, Chris Taylor has increased his OBP to .334 while Verdugo is holding steady at .352. Even Seager (.348) has a higher OBP than Pederson, which could have been part of the logic for his positioning in the lineup on Friday night and Taylor leading off on Saturday.

Perhaps the most disconcerting thing is that there are three everyday players right at or below the .300 OBP mark—A.J. Pollock, Enrique Hernandez and Austin Barnes. There’s definitely logic in having Barnes in the daily lineup (for his superb game-calling and his ability to block balls), but to have all three players in the same, exact lineup could prove to be detrimental (see Friday night). Pollock’s career numbers suggest he might turn things around, but Hernandez already has 290 AB and his OBP levels seem to be at a standstill.

Once the postseason begins, fans will mostly see consistent lineups that really don’t fluctuate, especially against righty pitchers. That’s been a playoff staple of Dave Roberts and Andrew Friedman over the last several years. Still, in the regular season, any conceivable batting order fair game, as some days there isn’t much logic visible at all.

At the end of the day, though, maybe all the variation and diversification in the daily lineups is a big reason behind the Dodgers having the best record in the majors,

Or, perhaps it’s simply talent.

 

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32 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts on the Daily Batting Order Fluctuation

  1. This teams modus operandi since AF took over. Nothing new. Frustrating as hell to some of the fans and those of us who remember Tommy running the same starting 9 out there every night. Probably will not happen again in our lifetime.

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  2. Unbelievable that we get bombed friday and the player who got 2 of our 5 hits including a homer for our only run sits out the next game while 4 players hitting less than 240 get to play. Someone explain this. I’m pretty sure Roberts couldn’t.

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    1. All the guys who hit homers yesterday are in the lineup tonight, so I would like to know who you are thinking of. Only Seager and Barnes are sitting out this game. Verdugo who is left handed sat against the Red Sox best lefty. Roberts used the RH lineup and he is trying to get Pollock back in the groove. Verdugo will get his chances. Especially when they get to Philly on Monday. Roberts does pretty much what the FO dictates. It is working most of the time, 28 games above .500, a 13.5 game lead, no time to cry now.

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    2. Gordon, I was pretty much mumbling the same thing as you before the game yesterday but you’re asking for an explanation for yesterday’s starting lineup? I think the explanation is in the final score. Maybe Doc and AF know better than we do (and I’m including myself in that “we”). It worked. As they say, “Scoreboard!”

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    1. I’d just like to go on record as saying that of the three positions Muncy plays for us, I like him at 3rd base the least. Too many bad throws, as far as I’m concerned. Considering the 9 guys starting today, this is probably still the most logical because I don’t think Freese is a better third baseman than Muncy and is probably better at first. Just thought I’d put in my two cents worth and my “told you so” when you see Muncy’s first bad throw tonight.

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      1. Agree about Muncy Jefe. I’ve been clear about what I’d do with him. Roberts must like him better than Freese at third. So far he hasn’t had much action there.

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      2. It has to be very hard to move from second to third. Throws are totally different. I don’t blame him. I just would rather they not play him there.

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    1. Good thought Rich. Then we can package Bailey, Downs and Gray and send them to Cincinnati for ……………………oh, never mind.

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  3. Jefe, it the Pirates keep losing the way they are right now, Vazquez might become available, but, he would not come cheap. Taylor removed from the game after getting hit on the wrist. No report on his condition yet. Pollock 4, rest of the Dodger team 3. Plus he got an important hit in the 12th. Kelly gets the save and Floro the win……Baez robs Ryu of win #11.

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  4. Don’t look now, but Quackenbush is pitching lights out at OKC 7-7 in saves, a 2-2 record with 63 K’s and only 9 walks in 42 innings. Ferguson has a 0.00 Era in 10 games with 1 save and 20 K;s against only 5 walks. Bye bye Rosscup.

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      1. Quackenbush may be used as a sub for Shaggy or Floro but he won’t work for Rosscup because he’s a righty. Other than a trade, Ferguson would be the logical sub for Rosscup as Dennis mentioned above.

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      2. Frankly I think the matchup thing is often overrated. I’d rather have the better stuff in there. Not only that, we got a guy named Quackenbush. He should pitch just because of that.

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  5. I’m sorry but Rosscup, Floro, Chargois and Garcia are not playoff guality bullpen pieces. We have to do better. And Baez is not the eighth inning answer. He is not a high leverage reliever. He’s a sixth inning guy

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    1. For the most part I would agree with you Rich. But Floro, when he is right has some nasty stuff. And he showed that for a large portion of last year and the beginning of this year. He was the set up guy when Kelly was floundering. Has had some issues lately, like they all have, but I trust Honey to get the best out of him. Rosscup is no more than a roster filler. He has been very mediocre since he was called up. Ferguson, or some sort of LH trade will be made soon. Bank on it. Garcia has nasty stuff, his problem has always been location. And it seems he has not fixed that yet. I love reading MLB trade rumors. They always have a lot of great information on there. Royals are shopping Billy Hamilton right now. They mentioned that the Orioles closer is getting a lot of attention too. Taylor’s wrist is extremely sore. He has limited mobility in it. X-rays showed no broken bones, but it is going to be examined again in Philly. Roberts did not rule out a roster move…hello Gavin Lux???

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  6. Pantone 294 is on their way to Philly, so expect a lot of Dodger Blue in the stands this evening. ESPN has the broadcast again. Their Sunday night crew is down right unlistenable. The lead announcer is such a boring voice and Alex and the girl who does the games with them were obviously AL fans and kept talking up the Sox. Plus they kept showing J. Lo. Who cares who Rodriguez is dating? Ryu got screwed by his bullpen again. Actually just Baez, who is sometimes the most frustrating guy on the staff. He had given up 2 homers all year and then boom, 2 in 2 minutes and there goes the lead.

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    1. That’s interesting Rich because I remember Doc coming out to the mound and talking with Baez and Martin, without actually pulling Baez. I only wish I could remember if the visit was after the second homer and before Baez started looking unhittable. If so, the tipping of pitches might actually have been happening. Baez has come a long way over the last couple of years. He’s not going to be the closer and maybe shouldn’t be the 8th inning guy but I’m no longer sorry he’s on the roster.

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      1. I like Baez. Always have. He’s got the physical stuff. Does he have the mental strength? Hope so. Right now he’s the closest thing we have to a bridge. That said, I believe Friedman is looking for that 8th inning sure thing and just might be willing to overpay for it.

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