Prediction: @yungjoc650 starts in seven different spots in the batting order during the 2015 regular season.
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) March 25, 2015
By Jon Weisman
Five weeks ago, I tweeted out the above prediction about Joc Pederson roaming the Dodger batting order. With more than five months to go in the season, I’m nearly halfway there.
Frankly, I was tempted to bet Pederson would go nine for nine, figuring it wasn’t out of the question that he might bat ninth in an American League park, but the Dodgers don’t play a road interleague game until June 15 at Texas, and I figured Pederson’s days at the bottom of the order would be over by then.
Pederson enters tonight sixth in the National League in weighted on-base average (wOBA, .428) and fourth in OPS (1.014). As noted Sunday, his stats would be impressive even accounting for the walks he has drawn batting eighth with the pitcher on deck.
Will he ever reach the in-between spots of the order? Based on the Dodgers’ ever-changing roster and needs, and whether he gets increased playing time against southpaws, I wouldn’t rule it out.
Five other players tonight – Jimmy Rollins (second), Howie Kendrick (third), Adrian Gonzalez (fourth), Yasmani Grandal (seventh) and Juan Uribe (eighth) – are also in new lineup slots for 2015. Don Mattingly commented to reporters this afternoon that there has been input from the front office toward the Dodgers’ efforts to come up with an ideal lineup configuration. (Mattingly added that he feels Grandal has been pressing.)
Mattingly said he informed Rollins of drop from leadoff by text. Rollins responded "OK. Cool". No emojis, Mattingly said. #Dodgers
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) April 29, 2015
Despite its difficulties against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, the Dodger offense is hardly in crisis, ranking first in the NL in wOBA and weighted runs created (wRC+) by a wide margin. But it is an oddly stratified offense through 20 games, with none of tonight’s starters offering an OPS between .680 and .880.
In short, as far as 2015 is concerned, there isn’t really an average player in that lineup.
The reality, however, is that these extreme differences will smooth out over time, and the lineup changes don’t make that much of a difference as you might believe. In fact, this gives me a chance to offer a sneak preview of an article examining batting orders in the May edition of Dodger Insider magazine, written by Mike Petriello of Dodgers Digest. (Click each image below to enlarge.)
The May issue of Dodger Insider magazine, which features many more great pieces like this one, will be on sale at all Dodger Stadium stores beginning Friday. You can subscribe at dodgers.com/magazine. Subscription orders taken in the next two weeks will begin with the June issue.