Dodgers: Time for Dave Roberts to Shake up the Lineup a Tad
Angel Fans have been dazzled by rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani, who has impressed with the bat and on the mound. Yankee fans have been delighted by the arrival of the powerful Giancarlo Stanton, who occupies the third spot in their lineup.
Meanwhile, Dodger fans have been regularly subjected to watching Yasiel Puig and Kike Hernandez flounder in the 3 and 4 spots in the Dodger order. Why?
The season hasn’t been underway long, but many Dodger fans (this writer included) have already begun scratching their heads at Dave Robert’s early lineup configurations. Being that the team has lost six of their first 10 games, it’s easy to see where this frustration is coming from. Before their series started with Oakland, the Dodgers had batted .213 as a team, which was the worst in the NL.
While the team has been hitting the ball hard, they haven’t been finding any holes. They have been finding even less success when it comes to Yasiel Puig and Kike Hernandez. They both remain important parts of the team, but in no way do those two deserve to be regularly hitting in the middle of the Dodger lineup.
I suppose I see some rationale for Kike Hernandez to occasionally hit 4th against lefties. With Justin Turner still out, the Dodgers have again found themselves exposed against left-handed pitching. However, Hernandez has occupied the 4th spot in the lineup more times than any other spot he has hit in thus far.
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The team had hoped for a hot start and possible break out year for Hernandez after a strong showing in the playoffs and Spring Training. However, the weight of hitting cleanup may be too much for Kike; he has hit just .077 there so far this season. In his career, Kike has hit .217 with a .748 OPS in the 4th spot in the lineup. While Kike could still have his breakout year many had hoped for, continually letting him flounder in the 4th spot in the lineup doesn’t make much sense.
What makes even less sense is Yasiel Puig routinely batting third for the Dodgers. He has hit there exclusively this year, to the tune of a .209 average and .511 OPS. Puig is a good player that most teams would love to have. But he has consistently proven he can’t handle himself while hitting in the middle of the lineup.
Puig hit a career-high 28 homers last year but did the majority of his damage while hitting in the 8th spot in the lineup. His career OPS is less than .700 while hitting third, and has seemingly shined when facing less pressure, hitting lower in the order.
It’s certainly not the end of the world when considering the Dodger’s slow offensive start. Many teams come out of the gates in a bit of an offensive funk. Corey Seager and Chris Taylor won’t continue to hit around the Mendoza line forever, and Justin Turner’s return will be much welcomed.
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However, I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more hits out of the middle of the Dodger order in the meantime. Especially considering that Matt Kemp is heating up, and full-blown Beast Mode may be just around the corner. All things considered, it’s time to move Kike and Puig down in the Dodger order. Now that I’ve written this article, I fully expect Kike and Puig to go on an offensive tear. You’re welcome Dodger fans.