Sunday, June 28, 2015

Move Joc out, and move Puig into the leadoff spot

There's a lot to love about Joc Pederson.  From his mammoth home runs to tracking down fly balls all over the outfield, he's certainly an exciting guy to watch play.

I just happen to not like watching him strikeout to start every game.  I doubt I'm the only one.

As good as Joc is and will continue to be, hitting him in the leadoff spot needs to stop.  Now.

Let's check out the numbers.  He's started 46 games in the leadoff spot, and is putting together this line: .231 AVG, .357 OBP, 14 HR, 24 RBI, 30 BB, 60 K.  If you're someone who can live with the strikeouts in exchange for all of the longballs, then he's your guy.

But a deeper look into his stats leading off tells a different story.  When he's leading off an inning, as in only the at-bats when he's up first no matter what inning the game is in, here's how he looks: 14-for-83, .169 AVG, .296 OBP, 4 HR, 4 RBI, 13 BB, 38 K.

Not nearly as impressive.

The last three games in Miami (two wins), Joc has done the following leading off the game: struck out looking, struck out swinging, and struck out swinging.  The Dodgers scored seven runs on Friday, then put up two runs apiece the next two games.  I'm not at all saying that Joc is solely responsible for the offense flattening out over the weekend, but he's not helping it either.  When you're starting each game with the leadoff hitter walking back to the dugout after strike three, it's not exactly setting the right tone.

So what's my solution?  Well, it's definitely not putting Jimmy Rollins back in the leadoff spot, as he barely deserves to even be starting anymore.  I'm not that crazy.

However, I would suggest putting another "power" guy in that slot: Yasiel Puig.

Here's the thing with Puig - we're still waiting for more power from him.  (That's why I just referred to him as being a "power" guy in quotes.)  In 30 games this year, he has three homers.  After the All-Star break last year (and after he pulled an O'fer in the Home Run Derby), he hit four homers in 215 at-bats.

Maybe he'll be a big home run hitter someday, but that day isn't right now.

I would put Puig in the first spot, where he's not nearly as susceptible to striking out (20 in 29 games) as Joc is (89 in 75).  Plus, Puig is hitting .360 (9-for-25) when leading off an inning, so the Dodgers will gladly take that.

Joc can then slide down to hit somewhere in the heart of the order, which can be anywhere from 3-5.  Maybe he'll be more comfortable there, as he clearly hasn't looked good swinging and missing over and over leading off.

The offense as a whole is still not scoring much, as it seems like the second they have a good couple of games or so, they go right back to barely scoring a thing right after.  Tweaking the lineup a bit can only help, and this is where I would begin.

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