Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

‘Weird’ lineup features youngest Dodger cleanup hitter in more than 50 years

Colorado Rockies vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Rockies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Austin Barnes, 2B
Chase Utley, 1B
Justin Ruggiano, LF
Corey Seager, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Alex Guerrero, 3B
Chris Heisey, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Alex Wood, P

By Jon Weisman

Even by the Dodgers’ ever-fluctuating standards, this is not the usual starting lineup.

Don Mattingly himself called it “weird,” and said he knew it would be that way by the time he left Dodger Stadium and the 16-inning marathon behind in the wee hours of the night. Among others, Mattingly was looking to rest Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner, who each played the entire game. And the Dodgers are still battling several injuries, including players not on the disabled list such as Scott Van Slyke and Jose Peraza.

Let’s take a look at tonight’s lineup, one through nine:

  • Austin Barnes, 2B: Taking it from the top, this is the 25-year-old catcher’s first MLB game batting leadoff or at second base. In the minors, Barnes has played 150 games at second base, though none since 2014. He is the first Dodger to play catcher, third base and second since Trent Hubbard in 1998-99, and the first to do it in the same season since Derrel Thomas in 1980. Barnes’ RBI single Tuesday lifted his on-base percentage as a Dodger to .375 in 25 plate appearances.
  • Chase Utley, 1B: In 13 seasons, the 36-year-old Utley has 31 career games (24 starts) at first base, most recently August 10 for the Phillies at Arizona. In 220 1/3 innings, he has been charged with one error.
  • Justin Ruggiano, LF: Ruggiano has become a familiar face in left field, and has a .393 OBP/.846 slugging percentage in 28 plate appearances as a Dodger, even after following his leadoff double Tuesday with six consecutive outs. But this is only his 11th career start as a No. 3 hitter, and first since April 9, 2014 for the Cubs against Pittsburgh.
  • Corey Seager, SS: Seager is batting cleanup in his 13th Major League game. Other Dodgers, most recently Yasiel Puig, Scott Van Slyke and even John Lindsey, have batted cleanup sooner, but the Dodgers haven’t had a starting cleanup hitter younger than Seager (21 years, 142 days) since Derrell Griffith (20 years, 294 days) in 1964. Before Griffith, there wasn’t a younger starting Dodger cleanup hitter since Duke Snider in 1947. With Jimmy Rollins still unable to play defense for several days, Seager will continue to see action.
  • A.J. Ellis, C: Ellis’ start in the No. 5 slot Tuesday was his first in nearly two years. He hasn’t started back-to-back days as a No. 5 hitter since May 14-15, 2013.
  • Alex Guerrero, 3B: Guerrero, who has a single, double and walk in seven plate appearances this month, is starting at third base for the 14th time this year and first time since August 8 at Pittsburgh.
  • Chris Heisey, RF: Ruggiano, Seager and Heisey (who had RBI in the seventh and 11th innings Monday) were the only three Dodgers to play all 16 innings. None was in the organization three weeks ago.
  • Joc Pederson, CF: Pederson, who had reached base in nine consecutive starts before going 0 for 2 Monday, has played 87 percent of the Dodgers’ innings in center field this year. Only Gonzalez (90 percent) has a higher percentage of the team’s innings at one position in 2015.
  • Alex Wood, P: In Wood’s Major League debut on May 30, 2013, he batted third, entering the game in Justin Upton’s slot in a ninth-inning double switch.


Dodgers played out in 16 innings


Wood’n it be nice for Dodgers


  1. The only other LA Dodgers to start a game at SS and batting fourth: Nomar Garciaparra (once), Hanley Ramirez (a lot), Justin Turner (once) and Corey Seager (tonight).

  2. “… since Trent Hubbard in 1998-99,” Didn’t we call him “Trenidad” at the time?

  3. I mean really how many starts is Heisey going to get? I don;t care about the two RBI’s he got yesterday, he cost them the game with his defense last night. I’d rather see Etheir hit against a lefty than Heisey ever again. The rest of the lineup I get, and have no qualms about.

  4. “Ruggiano, Seager and Heisey…None was in the organization 3 weeks ago.” Seager was in the organization 3 weeks ago but not with the big league club.

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