LA Times Shohei Ohtani take proves to be horribly wrong yet again

Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

After Mookie Betts got hurt on June 16, there seemed to be a clear path forward for the Dodgers as to who would fill in at leadoff in his absence. Shohei Ohtani moved all the way up the lineup, followed by a little shuffle that sent Will Smith to second and kept Freddie Freeman third, with Teoscar Hernández hitting cleanup. This has been more or less the configuration for the Dodgers' last eight games, excepting a rest day for Smith and a couple days of personal leave for Hernández.

Ohtani at leadoff felt like a no-brainer, and the past eight games have confirmed that it was. He's batting .419 with a 1.525 OPS since he moved up, with five home runs, 16 RBI, and eight walks. He's also scored 10 of the Dodgers runs.

On Tuesday against the White Sox, he wasted no time in starting the run-scoring for LA, cranking a homer to center field in his first at-bat. It marked his ninth straight game with an RBI in a single season, making him the first Dodger to do so since Roy Campanella did it in 1955 for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

It also spit in the face of an LA Times newsletter published the day before, which made a stats-based argument for Freeman at leadoff and Ohtani batting second.

Shohei Ohtani's success at leadoff has him on the verge of setting a new Dodgers record

There were some questions as to how the Dodgers were going to handle lineup construction at the top after Ohtani signed with LA. When it looked like it would go Betts-Ohtani-Freeman for the foreseeable future, Freeman said he supported the move because Ohtani is often a baserunning threat, and he was happy to take any pitch Ohtani made a move to run on.

The Dodgers clearly carried that philosophy into the rework, which the LA Times didn't take into account. The newsletter did mention a "human factor," asking, "Did the player have an argument with his girlfriend and might not be 100% focused? Did the player’s dog just die? Did he and his wife just have a baby, costing him sleep at night?"

Um...okay, sure, but Ohtani ahead of Freeman has also just been the approach the Dodgers have taken throughout the entire season. There's no doubt that Freeman would've been effective at leadoff — he's batting .300 with a .939 OPS over his last eight games — but given Ohtani's success, it doesn't look like they need to change a single thing.

Ohtani is the midst of an 11-game on-base streak, eight of which have been at leadoff. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.