With news that Matt Kemp is hoping to be back on the field for the home opener April 4, it got me thinking of what the best lineup would be with all the big dogs healthy. I'm not sure this team will ever be totally healthy, but let's pretend anyway.
I give to you my ultimate lineup, with a rationalization as to why I'm having which player hitting where.
1. Yasiel Puig, RF
Obviously not your prototypical leadoff hitter who will scrap his way on base. No, he's going to swing away full bore. But I think having him at leadoff simplifies things for him: see the ball, hit the ball. Plus, if the guys at the bottom of the order get on and there's two outs, Puig can drive them in with a big blast rather than relying on someone without the power.
2. Carl Crawford, LF
With the speed and fearlessness of Puig on base, Crawford can bunt him over a base, execute a hit-and-run, or swing away and line one into gap then use his own speed. I think he can handle any one of those roles better than Puig could, as they all call for adjusting to the situation.
3. Hanley Ramirez, SS
He's their best hitter, so it's pretty simple to put him here. That's a no-brainer.
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Last year marked the fourth straight season of at least 100 RBIs, and it would've been seven if he got one more to add to his 99 in 2009. Even without the power of old, he still gets the big hits, and gives a little more balance to the lineup with right-handed and left-handed hitters.
5. Matt Kemp, CF
Who knows if he'll ever be the same hitter as a few years back, but when he is back, I'm in favor of not placing too much on him at first. Let him hit #5 to start, as it lessens the pressure on him to deliver right away. If he does show the ability to stay on the field and play well, then he can start creeping up to the cleanup stop against left-handed pitchers.
6. Juan Uribe, 3B
Let's just hope he can repeat his 2013 performance, and not the previous two years before that. If he can, then he can provide a decent amount of pop down the order, as he's an all-or-nothing hacker.
7. A.J. Ellis, C
He'll never hit for a high average, but what he can do is make the pitcher work, draw walks, and get on base. Plus, he has hit double digits in homers the last two years (13 and 10), so he'll deliver the big blow every now and then, like he did in the division clincher in Arizona.
8. Dee Gordon, 2B
I'm actually pretty excited to see if this will happen, as I think Gordon can be very productive in this spot. If he can get on base more consistently, then he can distract the opposing pitcher with his stolen base ability, and hopefully turn the lineup back over to the top.
9. Pitcher's spot (obviously)
Don't forget, Zack Greinke won a Silver Slugger last year by hitting .328 with three doubles and four RBIs; and Clayton Kershaw had 10 RBIs, including his Opening Day home run to beat the Giants. So, don't you dare fall asleep on those Dodgers' pitchers!