Remember when I wrote that article asking about whether Corey Seager should lead-off? I wrote another one pondering who the Dodgers will bat at the top spot in the lineup? Coming into this season the Dodgers don’t have a typical lead-off hitter. Of course times have changed since the old days when a lead-off guy was generally a gritty speedster who got on base and caused havoc on the base paths.
Nowadays lead-off hitters encompass different types of players. Anyone can bat lead-off as long as they get on base. So you see more and more clubs using guys with more power and less speed. As long as they have a high on base percentage then that is ok. I agree with this strategy 100%. As I have said before, the saber kids are spot on with this argument. The lead-off guy has to be able to get on base consistently.
So manager Dave Roberts recently made a statement that the Dodgers will rotate different players in and out of the lead-off spot. That’s fine, but now he is revealing something very intriguing. What about Andre Ethier batting lead-0ff?
Roberts has said that Ethier will bat lead-off from time to time. Why would he bat the long tenured Dodger veteran in the lead-off spot?
“He gets on base”……
Of course of course.
Getting on base is something Ethier has always been able to do at a good clip. He’s at the least been above league average every season. Ethier has averaged 59 walks per season (43 in 2015) and has a career .359 on base percentage. Ethier posted a .366 OBP in 2015. There has only been one season where Ethier’s OBP has dipped below .350.
Now Ethier can’t bat lead-off every game because of his massive platoon split. He can bat lead-off against right handers, and be moved lower in the lineup against lefties. He still crushes right handers like a bat out of hell. Somebody else can lead-off when there is a southpaw on the hill.
In case you were wondering, Andre Ethier has batted lead-off in just seven games in his entire career. In those games he is 2 for 6 in 8 plate appearances. However when Ethier leads off an inning, he is slashing .277/.340/.465 with 32 home runs and an .805 OPS in 1,069 plate appearances. When hitting second in the lineup, Ethier is hitting .291 with 27 career home runs.
So Roberts tested his hypothesis by batting Ethier in the lead-off spot during the Dodger’s Wednesday afternoon game against the Rockies. What do you know, Ethier was 1 for 2 with a walk and a run scored. Oh and by the way, he’s hitting .429 this spring. The Dodgers defeated Colorado 7-3.
Ethier has been around for so long he truly has done everything. Now it appears he might be able to add one more task to that list. Who would have ever thought the Dodgers would be even thinking about batting Ethier at the top of the lineup? Baseball is a trip.