Dodgers: The Lineup is Lacking a True Leadoff Hitter

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PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 03: Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on May 3, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 5-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 03: Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on May 3, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 5-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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The Dodgers are in the midst of one of their worst starts in recent memory.  After dropping two straight games to the worst team in the National League, the Dodgers’ offense is searching for answers.

One issue that the Dodgers’ offense is experiencing, is that they are lacking a true leadoff hitter. Last season Chris Taylor manned the leadoff spot, but he is currently battling major regression.  This season Taylor has a measly .230 average with an OBP under 300.  The signs were there for a regression, such as his .361 BABIP a year ago.  This season CT3’s BABIP is nearly 100 points lower at .281.

Chris Taylor is also striking out more than any other Dodger which is making it hard to justify leaving him at the top of the order.  Taylor leads the Dodgers in strikeouts with 43; That is six more strikeouts than Cody Bellinger who is second on the team.  On Friday night, Dave Roberts finally made the switch to move Taylor to sixth in the lineup.  The switch needed to be made and Roberts finally made the change.

With Chris Taylor no longer hitting leadoff at the moment, who do the Dodgers have as possible leadoff candidates?  Chase Utley and Joc Pederson are probably two of the better options at the moment.  Utley has a .370 OBP and Joc has a .366 OBP.  While Chase Utley is a nice lead-off hitter due to his magnet-like attraction to get hit by pitches, he is not able to play every day given his age.  Joc Pederson is known as an all or nothing type hitter, but Joc currently has the lowest strikeout rate on the team which helps his case.

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Austin Barnes has the ability to get on-base given his high on-base rate but his average and slugging percentage leave a lot to be desired.  Barnes currently has a .395 OBP despite a low .193 batting average.  While the Dodgers have no clear favorite to man the leadoff spot in the lineup, they will keep searching for answers in an attempt to spark an anemic offense.

The other option the Dodgers have for the leadoff spot is top prospect, Alex Verdugo.  Verdugo was on the active roster for a little more than a week before being optioned back down.  What makes Alex Verdugo the perfect leadoff hitter is his speed, contact rate, and the fact that he is very hard to strike out.  Whether the front office gives Alex Verdugo a long look is up in the air but right now they don’t have much to lose.

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In an ideal world, Chris Taylor will break his slump and start tearing the cover off the ball like last season.  Unfortunately, that is not a given, and there’s a chance that last season may have been a fluke for Chris Taylor.  It will be interesting to see how the rest of Taylor’s season plays out.  The Dodger offense needs a spark at the top of the lineup and right now they are just not getting that from anyone.  As a team, the Dodgers’ leadoff spot is hitting .248 this season and that is not how you spark a struggling offense.

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