4 games into the 2008 season, the Dodgers are a solid 3-1 after last night's shellacking of the San Diego Padres. While they did put up a 7 spot, their offense has yet to really get going. They can thank their great pitching for the record they have thus far.
Some interesting numbers pop up when looking at team stats. They are 9th in AVG (.267) and 4th in OBP (.364) in the entire majors, which are great numbers. But, they only have 1 HR, 4 2B, and 0 3B, leading to a 21st ranking in runs scored (16). The lack of clutch, power hitting has shown. A closer look at their numbers shows that they are hitting only .221 in innings 1-6, but to their credit, have hit much higher at .356 in innings 7+.
Here's what I believe to be their best lineup to give them a chance to consistently score runs:
1) Rafael Furcal - SS
Raffy looks like a new man this year, thanks in large part to being knick knack injury free. He's getting on base, has a couple of doubles, and is patient enough to draw walks. Opposing teams would much rather see Juan Pierre to start the game than Furcal. He is their leader.
2) Andre Ethier - LF
Maybe it's just the Tony LaRussa in me, but I like the idea of seeing a power hitter in the 2-hole. Ethier is not the type of person that will lay down a bunt to move a runner along (maybe he could, but that's not his game). But, he can drive the ball all over the park to get Furcal in.
3) James Loney - 1B
I was a little hesitant to put a young guy like Loney in such an important spot, but he's a good enough hitter to handle it. He won't be a huge power threat, but the guy can just flat out hit. In my mind, it doesn't matter what kinds of hits he's getting - if he hits, all the better.
4) Jeff Kent - 2B
The old-timer is still Mr. Consistency at the plate. He's patient, will wait for his pitch to drive, and won't give away too many at-bats. He'll have his share of injury problems, but when he's in there, he's still feared.
5) Andruw Jones - CF
Jones has yet to get going, and still looks like he's trying to find his swing, much like last year with Atlanta. If he does get going, he's an instant switch with Kent. Out of all of the players in this lineup, he is the biggest home run threat.
6) Matt Kemp - RF
Another guy who looks a little lost at the plate right now, he could easily move up when he's hitting. Once he takes the Loney approach and stops acting like every pitch can be hit out of the park, he'll pick up his play. Still, he's a great guy in this spot of the order to either keep rallies going or to start new ones.
7) Russell Martin - C
He could just as easily be the 2-hitter, but I think he's better lower. To me, he looks like all of the praise heaped on him is starting to mess with his head to start the year. Put him lower and take the pressure off of him. Let him worry about catching instead of hitting so high in the order.
8) Blake DeWitt - 3B
It's been great watching this kid play. He's definitely making the most of his opportunity. He can hit and show the patience to take a walk, which is great for a young player. Even when Nomar and LaRoche come back, he's putting himself in a position to be a factor all throughout the year.