I just glanced at the lineup for tonight's rubber match between the Dodgers and Giants, and there's one big change: Jimmy Rollins will not be leading off for the first time in his brief Dodger tenure. Joc Pederson will be, as Rollins slides down a spot.
Don Mattingly may have been a bit stubborn about this, but it's a move that needed to be made.
Rollins was brought into the Dodgers for his veteran leadership and championship experience. He also brings a great glove at short, even in his advanced age, and pop from the leadoff spot. That was on full display on Opening Day, as his three-run home run in the eighth inning broke a tie and helped lead the Dodgers to victory #1.
Since then? Well... it's been a whole lot of nothing. He hasn't homered since and only has four more RBIs. He's not getting much of any hits in fact, which explains his .182 AVG and .281 OBP. I don't care who it is - those are some flat out ugly numbers for the guy at the top of the order.
Now Pederson and his .296 AVG and .458 OBP gets a shot at setting the table. He's already an early candidate for NL Rookie of the Year based on his big bat (five doubles, three homers) and awesome defense in center. He leads the team in walks with 16, so he's not afraid to be patient and take first when given the chance.
What's a downside to each guy? Pederson has 21 strikeouts, and Rollins 17, both by far the team leaders. Pederson looks like he'll do one of three things: get a big hit, walk, or strikeout. Rollins is second with 11 walks, but has no big hits and definitely strikes out. So Pederson is the better choice right now.
Ideally, Rollins will work himself out of his slump, return to the leadoff spot, allowing Pederson to drive in runs lower in the order. But for now, I applaud Donny for making the switch. It had to happen sooner rather than later.