Dodgers: Biggest Position Battles to Watch This Spring
Last year the Dodgers relied on Chase Utley for the most of the season to be the table setter for the lineup. Now with Utley looking at limited playing time, Roberts needs to find a replacement at the top of the order.
Toles’ playing time is in question, let alone his place in the lineup. That being said, Toles really made a name for himself in the limited sample size with the Dodgers. He hit .314 with 19 runs scored in 115 plate appearances.
Those are decent numbers for a leadoff hitter. What makes Toles an interesting option is his minor league sample size. Since his first stint with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012, Toles has a career slash line of .314/.365/.505.
Perhaps what’s more appealing at the top of the order is his speed. Although he didn’t steal many bases in his first season, he has 123 career stolen bases in the minors. The Dodgers haven’t had speed like that at the top of their lineup since Dee Gordon. Toles could be a real deal if he’s able to solidify an outfield spot.
The consensus answer to this question is Logan Forsythe. The Dodgers brought in Forsythe as a full upgrade for Utley. Forsythe hit leadoff for the Tampa Bay Ray last year. He produced 52 RBI and scored 76 runs as the leadoff hitter.
While Forsythe seems like the logical answer, his lack of stolen base upside doesn’t sell me on the move. I think this is the most likely outcome, I just think Forsythe fits better hitting in the number two or six spot.
The Dodgers tried this experiment back in 2015 in Pederson’s rookie year. The reason this experiment failed was because Pederson strikes out too much. In 2015, Pederson hit .216 with only 34 runs scored and 91 strikeouts in 69 games batting leadoff. The reason why I consider Pederson an option is because he’s developed an eye for the ball. Sure, Pederson still strikes out at a team-high 27%. But his on-base-percentage was second to only Corey Seager (.352) last year.
Pederson also has some decent speed. He only stole 6 bases last season, but Pederson was known as a 25-25 guy with 87 stolen bases his last three years in the minors. I know production in the minors doesn’t always lead to production in the majors, but Pederson has shown the ability to steal bases at some point in his career. We’ve already seen the power translate to the majors, now it’s time for the speed.
Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig