Could Andrew Toles Bat Lead-off in 2017?

Andrew Toles

Andrew Toles was bagging groceries before the Dodgers reached out to him at the end of the 2015 season. The 24-year old outfielder had been jettisoned from the major leagues by the Tampa Bay Rays in March of 2015. The Dodgers signed him in September of that year as Andrew Friedman was familiar with the Georgia native after watching him play for his former club.

Toles made his MLB debut with the Dodgers on July 8th, recording a double in his first four at-bats against San Diego. Toles went on to gather hits in the next three games. Toles finished the season batting .314 (33 for 105) in 115 plate appearances. He appeared in 48 games and posted a .365 OBP. He collected 8 walks against 25 strikeouts and had an .870 OPS. Small sample size this may be, but Toles looked pretty athletic early on. With little to no power he seemed to be a contact hitter with decent on base skills. He ran the bases well and covered ground in the outfield. He spent most of his time in left field, but also saw time in center and in right. He did make a key mistake in the field during game 6 of the NLCS people may forget that he hit .462 for the Dodgers in those 6 games. Being a rookie there is some work that needs to be done defensively.

With Andre Ethier’s health and age in question it would seem prudent for the Dodgers to give Toles a good amount of playing time in left field next season. If Toles breaks camp with the big club should he also be given a chance at the lead-off spot?

The Dodgers have been sorely missing a true lead-off hitter since they traded Dee Gordon to the Marlins. Gordon wasn’t perfect by any means, but the Dodgers have been one of the worst clubs in the majors at the lead-off spot. On base skills and run production rank the Dodgers at the bottom of the league when their hitters bat at the top of the lineup.

While Chase Utley did an admirable job when batting lead-off, the Dodger’s lead-off hitters slashed  .259/.332/.398 ranking them 24th out of the 30 MLB clubs. They ranked 13th in walks, and 12th in runs scored. When a Dodger batter led off an inning they hit .238 and posted a .700 OPS.  A big indicator of trouble is that the Dodger lead-off bats collected just 176 hits which ranked 21st out of the 30 big league clubs.

The Dodgers could use a decent lead-off hitter. He doesn’t have to steal bases; I know how much the moneyballers dislike stolen bases in this new era. However the Dodgers must have a top of the order bat that can get on base consistently, run the bases well and draw walks. On-base skills and base running were severely lacking from this position in 2016.

When Utley wasn’t batting lead-off, .191 hitting extraordinaire Kike Hernandez was stinking up the top of the order for much of the season. Andrew Toles who batted .325 (8 for 20) in the lead-off spot looked to have potential. I would rather have the Dodgers acquire a reliable major league proven outfielder to play left field and bat lead-off, but if the choice is between Toles and or Kike Hernandez then Toles should get the nod.

With spring training just 6 weeks away, the Dodgers should consider Toles as a potential candidate to bat in the lead-off spot. Believe me you do not want a .190 hitter making outs in front of Justin Turner and Corey Seager anymore.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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81 thoughts on “Could Andrew Toles Bat Lead-off in 2017?

    1. I have proposed that myself quite a few times. Before Turner signed, I also suggested that Puig could play third. That would have thinned the outfield logjam and eliminated any need for Dozier.

      1. In baseball as in most businesses and institutions around the world, if the boss didn’t think of it, it’s not a good idea. I agree with you, these are highly talented young men, I’m sure they have more than enough ability to learn a new position. Look at Ian Desmond; year before last he was a shortstop; last year he effortlessly became a centerfielder, and now Colorado signed him to play first base. Find good hitters, then teach them to play the position they are best suited for. But it won’t happen here….

  1. We’ve needed a legit leadoff hitter for a few years now. I don’t believe it will be Toles, but I don’t see anyone else there so I’m willing to give him the shot. Maybe he will surprise me, but I don’t see any better than the .324 OBP posted by our leadoff spot last year. Maybe Dozier can do it. He’s projected to get on at .330. That would be a slight improvement.

      1. Bum

        We already saw Joc hit in the lead off position, and for quite a while.

        And that wasn’t best for the team, or Joc.

        If you look at the best place in the order that Joc hit last year, it was in the eighth position.

        Joc has a better chance of improving, by staying down in the order.

        If he is moved up to any place at the top of the order, he is going to be pitched differently.

        Joc has excelled in the eighth position.

        Joc does a better job, waiting for his pitch, when he is hitting lower in the order.

        And he has a better chance, to pick up a walk in the eighth position too.

        He is a better hitter right now, then Grandal, so I wouldn’t mind him hitting in front of Grandal.

        But Joc hits a lot better in the eighth position by a lot, if you look at his stats from last year.

        Maybe that is why Mark bats him eighth, in his line ups.

        And if there is two outs with the pitchers coming up after Joc, Joc can try to hit one out in that situation, if he gets the right pitch.

      2. Bum – you’re actually right. Joc has as good a shot at leading off as anyone else. And MJ is right too. The bottom line is – we still don’t really have a leadoff hitter. Let’s hope somebody steps up.

        1. Badger

          And hitting in the eighth position, is sometimes like hitting in the lead off position, even with the pitcher hitting behind the eighth hitter.

          And Joc has power, and if there is two outs when he comes up, he can take a shot at hitting one out.

          And he has a better chance of getting a walk even with two strikes, hitting in the eighth position, because pitchers might be afraid of Joc taking them deep.

          So a pitcher is always going to pitch the eighth hitter more carefully with the pitcher coming up next, but with Joc, there is the added chance, he might hit one out, so a pitcher will pitch him even more carefully.

          1. MJ, pitchers also want to make the pitcher the lead off hitter and therefore do not want to walk the #8 hitter. If there are a couple of runners on base do you really want the Dodgers hitter with the 3rd best OPS being pitched around to get to the pitcher? Pederson needs protection just like Agon does.

      1. Bluto

        That is would get him the most at bats.

        But I think sabers want there best hitter, to have more of a chance, to hit in runs, so hitting second, is there compromise.

      2. Bum

        317, 420, 715, and his OPS is a little over 1100.

        These above stats, say he hits best, when he is hitting eighth.

        And he had more at bats, in the eighth position too.

        Who would a pitcher rather pitch to, is the question?

  2. We will have to see how Toles handles leading off, to really know.

    He does like to swing at the first pitch if it is right for him, and that isn’t a bad thing, because most of the time, that is the best pitch a hitter gets.

    But I think he deserves a chance, because he did excell when he was given a chance last year.

    And he adds another dimension to the team with his speed, not only on the bases, but also on defense in the outfield, as well with his arm.

    It was nice to finally have someone in left, that played good defense, and runners couldn’t run on so easily.

    And he can steal bases, but he still will have to learn the pitchers moves, but who ever is hitting second, will get a lot of fastballs, if Toles can be that lead off hitter.

  3. BR has our system rated 5th now. It would be higher but we traded teonTier 1 and one Tier 2 prospects for Hill and that other guy.

    1. Badger

      The only prospect in BR that they estimate to reach the majors in 2017 is Calhoun, except Stewart, who already came up last year.

      And they also said that Calhoun’s bat, will play at any position.

      I think the arrival date and what they think about Calhoun’s bat, tells a lot.

      Because they don’t have Bellinger reaching the majors until 2018.

      And they also didn’t have Buhler as an elite prospect there either.

  4. The Dodgers have an outfield “glut” discussed by other blogs – 7 guys on the major league roster who will be looking for playing time: Puig, Pederson, Ethier, Toles, Thompson, Van Slyke and Hernandez. There aren’t enough at bats to go around. (and this doesn’t include the Phillies cast off Ruf.)

    If the Dodgers don’t make a move to reduce the number of outfielders, it’s possible that Toles won’t even make the 25 man roster out of spring training. I see a likely starting outfield of Ethier, Pederson and Puig right now. Van Slyke can platoon against lefties and back Gonzalez up at 1B; Hernandez also will get some platoon AB in the OF and will also serve as a utility INF if he doesn’t end up with the starting 2B gig.

    The Dodgers are already so heavily left-handed that I can see a scenario where Toles, who has options left, will start the season in AAA.

    Yeah, the Dodgers need a leadoff hitter. I’m not too sure that it will be Toles though.

    1. Rick

      You might be right about that, because of the options left on Toles.

      I hate when something like that, determines who makes a team!

      That is one of the reasons, that we have been stuck with Hatcher, this long.

      Toles might hit from the left side, but he would also be the only real speed the Dodgers have, at the major league level.

      And that can make a difference too.

      Puig does have speed, but he isn’t a base stealer.

      And these outfielders are going to have to produce, because our outfield, didn’t have much offensive production, before Toles came up last year.

      Joc did better once a came back, after being on the DL.

      And Trayce made a difference early, but Puig didn’t do much, after the first week of the season, until he started hitting later in the season.

      Ethier will produce if a gets consisitent at bats, and he will, because there are more right hand pitchers, then leftie pitchers.

  5. It all boils down to this. A. Can he play everyday? B. Can he consistently get on base and that includes increasing his base on balls percentage. C. Can he hit LHP consistently enough to be in that slot every day? I like that he is more a contact hitter than a power guy and his speed is intriguing. But as stated before, the Dodgers are heavily a LH hitting team. And there is the fact that this team needs a RH basher. So any assumption of anything at this point is useless until we see who is still around come opening day. We still have no clue what they are going to look like going into spring training. But the next couple of weeks should answer that question. Heading home to Colorado tomorrow. It has been a nice visit.

  6. One big difference between Dodgers and Cubs last year was the leadoff spot. Utley’s OBP over .340 first half, below .300 second half. How much worse can Toles be? Well, ask Kike about the sophmore jinx. I think if Toles could play the infield he would have played there already, but they certainly have too many outfielders at this point.

    1. Snider

      With Toles speed, and his arm, he is more of an asset in the outfield, so I think your right.

      I don’t see Toles having a sophmore jinx, because he hit his way, all the way up from A ball.

      And that wasn’t Kike’s sophmore year, at the major league level.

      Kike had been up in to the major league level twice before, he even joined the Dodgers.

    2. Snider

      The problem is what we talked about the other day.

      The Dodgers need to make sure they are getting prospects, and teaching there prospects, to hit pitchers, from both sides.

    1. Bluto

      Obviously the Dodger’s front office, is viewing him much differently, are there would be a deal by now.

      And I am glad they are not letting the Twins front office manipulating them, into a deal that doesn’t make sense.

      1. Hi MJ,

        Yeah, I’m not too worried about the Dodgers FO. I think they are doing just fine.

        I was posting that tweet to comment on the fans’ perspective.

    2. The Twins are wanting and expecting either 2 top prospects or 1 top and 2 other ‘minor’ prospects. They will get what they want eventually.

  7. The Dodgers have so much young depth and it would seem that they could use that depth to match up with a team that a trade of young prospects could benefit both teams.

          1. Where did you read that? Is that who Wondering was talking about? I thought he was speaking in the plural.

        1. Bluto

          The Rays were really upset when Maddon went to the Cubs, and that happened, because Friedman left.

          The Rays were thinking about trying to go after the Cubs, for poaching Maddon.

          I can’t think of the legal term right now, but poaching is close.

          And Friedman was suppose to be trying to make a deal with the Rays, and nothing happened there.

          But the Giants were able to make a deal with the Rays, and the Giants are biggest our biggest rival.

          1. Tampering. They accused the Cubs of tampering with Maddon, when Maddon opted out.

            But what does that have to do with Friedman, other than it was Friedman’s exit that triggered the opt-out?

            Our thinking is that the Rays don’t like Friedman because Maddon left, and the proof is that they did a deal with the Giants?!!??!?

            That’s sounds thin to say the least.

        1. Wording got me. Strike zone is NOT the hollow at bottom of the knees. I know it has said that for a few years but no ump calls that. Also, unless the batter is at the front of the box, and none are, only the front knee is in the strike zone and nearly all umps call mid knee. Also, a runner has to return immediately to first base after running by it? If that were the case every first baseman would follow the batter runner down the line and tag him out.

  8. I don’t know about the rest of you but I have developed negative feelings about him, I don’t want it to happen now. No way is that his fault or even my uninformed assessment of his ability, it is the way the Twins, and FAZ, I suppose, have handled it. It has just left a bad taste in my mouth. Solarte, Villears, our own players, whatever, I want to just get out of there…

  9. It’s funny to observe what people think is true and is not.

    1. Friedman is extremely well liked by most; and

    2. The Rays were very unhappy they lost Andrew and Maddon (and why not), but they couldn’t pay them like they can’t pay their players.

    I missed this article during the NLCS:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/ct-maddon-friedman-connection-cubs-haugh-spt-1015-20161014-column.html

    It tells you a lot!

    This will tell you a lot too:

    http://www.tbo.com/sports/rays/friedmans-impact-endures-with-rays-20160502/

    Matt Silverman (the Rays President) and Stuart Sternberg (Owner of the Rays) remain friends. Sternberg said, “Nothing lasts forever, but I can’t say I was shocked, but that’s what happens when you have somebody who’s good and other organizations know it. He could have been here forever if he wasn’t very good at his job.”

    Sternberg said there were no hard feelings when Friedman decided it was time for a change.

    “I’d prefer him to be here, but we all have our own paths to take as we go forward,” Sternberg said. “He was here for over a decade. His impact will be felt here for decades going forward.”

    There you go…

    1. In the second article….’….now the genius works for Los Angeles’ that alone tells me that the people commenting have the bar set about as low as it can go. Friedman left that organization in disarray. The last year he was there they lost 85 games, the following year lost 82 games and this past year they lost 94 games.
      His drafts were piss poor. In 9 years, had only 4 players become bona fide ML players and 2 of those were the 1st and 3rd overall picks. This Wall Street investor is so over rated. Genius, my ass. What does that make all the others that have actually won something?

      1. I’m really confused now.

        What are we talking about here?

        Friedman’s standing on this blog or in the MLB?

        I was asking about the former, but if it’s the latter then ignore my last two posts.

    2. Mark

      Like I said they won’t say it!

      They were furious that Maddon went to the Cubs, and they thought about brining legal charges against the Cubs.

      And when Friedman was down there trying to make a deal with the Rays, nothing happened.

      But the Rays made a deal with the Dodgers biggest rival almost right after that!

    1. Yeah….the Dodgers win totals continue to decline. The minor league rating is dropping and the payroll is still #1, and will be for the third straight year under ‘the over rated’ FO. Please tell me what is not true.

      1. Well, you might factor in Urias, Seager, Pederson and probably Stewart plus trade Holmes, Cotton, and Montas and the minor league pool is shallower and that has some affect on those ratings.

      2. Bluto

        I think Wondering was talking about Dozier.

        But the Rays were not happy when Friedman left, but they will never say that.

        And when Friedman left, that let Maddon out of his contract.

        And the Rays were very mad at the Cubs, for stealing Maddon.

        They thought about bringing legal charges against the Cubs, for poaching Maddon.

        And the last time Friedman was suppose to be trying to make a deal with the Rays, nothing happened.

        But right after that, our biggest rival the Giants, were able to trade with the Rays.

        And because of that, the Giants have a second leftie starting pitcher.

        And what is our team’s biggest weakness, leftie pitchers.

        If you think that is just a coincidence, I don’t know what to say.

        1. Wait.

          You actually think the Rays traded with the Giants because they were angry not that Friedman left, but because he also caused Maddon to opt-out?

          Really? You don’t think it was the fact that they stole Duffy from the Giants?

          1. Bluto

            Give me a break Duffy had only one season in the majors.

            Moore was much more established then Duffy!

            And if a guy left your team, wouldn’t you love to make a deal with there biggest rival?

          2. MJ,

            Please. This is bordering on the delusional. Duffy did only have one year in the majors. In that breakout season HE WAS RUNNER-UP for rookie of the year! Maybe in your world there are tons of 25 year olds coming off 5+ WAR seasons.

            On the other hand, Moore struggled in his past two seasons, and was the 4th starter for the Giants.

            The Rays also got Lucius Fox! I forgot about that.

            But you think Moore was more (no pun intended) established.

            By your logic, wouldn’t they have made a trade with the Cardinals to get back at the Cubs??!??!

            Here’s some views on the Moore-Duffy trade by people who know more about baseball. Oddly, not one mentions the Friedman revenge motif:

            http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-rays-make-a-smart-bet-on-matt-duffy/
            http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=30015
            http://www.espn.com/blog/keith-law/insider/post?id=5482

          3. MJ,

            Please. This is bordering on the delusional. Duffy did only have one year in the majors. In that breakout season HE WAS RUNNER-UP for rookie of the year! Maybe in your world there are tons of 25 year olds coming off 5+ WAR seasons.

            On the other hand, Moore struggled in his past two seasons, and was the 4th starter for the Giants.

            The Rays also got Lucius Fox! I forgot about that.

            But you think Moore was more (no pun intended) established.

            By your logic, wouldn’t they have made a trade with the Cardinals to get back at the Cubs??!??!

            There are tons of articles about the Moore-Duffy trade. I’ve not read one that didn’t think it was good for the Rays, nor one that mentioned their vendetta against Friedman.

        2. Both of the articles that Mark posted, are from last season, not right after Friedman left.

          And do you think the Rays owner and president, would say something different, three years later.

          I heard this on the MLB Channel, and they knew what was really going on.

          That trade with the Giants, says more then any polished words say.

          1. Bluto

            Do you actually think the Rays have a better front office then the Giants?

            The Giants have won three World Series, in the last six years.

            The Rays have never won a World Series!

            And I guess you don’t understand what drives people at the top.

          2. I’m not talking about comparing front offices. I’m not even talking about the Giants!

            I’m responding to Wondering who said people didn’t like Friedman.

            Then I’m discussing with you if the Rays dislike or have misgivings about Friedman.

            I’m completely unconvinced by your argument that the Rays are mad at Friedman especially because your reasoning, despite printed reports to the contrary, that they are angry that he triggered an out-clause in Maddon’s contract which may have coincided with tampering by the Cubs. You are then claiming that they traded for a young 5 WAR ROY runner-up to get back at the Dodgers.

            Correct me if I’m wrong with any of the above.

    2. It really is.

      Somebody asks if the league doesn’t like Friedman, and it turns into a tired discussion of fan’s dislike of Friedman.

      1. Bluto

        And I don’t dislike Friedman!

        I don’t like his signings, of Anderson, McCarthy, and
        Kazmir.

        I already told you that I was glad, that they didn’t let the Twins manipulate them.

        I am just telling you what I heard Baseball people say, when Friedman and Maddon left.

        Do you ever hear a baseball player, say anything bad about a team mate, or another baseball player?

        That owner and president, are not going to say three years later that they were upset.

        That would be giving away even more power.

        1. MJ,
          Isn’t it the least bit possible that the Rays said nice things about Friedman because, maybe, just maybe, they thought he was a good GM and that he left for a great opportunity which most people in his position would take?

          And isn’t it possible that they said nice things about Friedman because they don’t hate him?

          1. Bluto

            I don’t think they hate Friedman, especially after, three years later.

            But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want to make a deal with Friedman, that they got the advantage in the deal.

            And I know all teams want that, but this is a little different.

            They were upset when it happened, and they haven’t forgot either.

            Most people can forgive, but they don’t forget.

      2. Bluto

        That was only for one season!

        Duffy didn’t start off hitting that well, in his second year with the Giants.

        Don’t you think players love to hit the team that traded them, and do well against there former team?

        The same kind of thing.

        Of all the teams in the major leagues, the Rays made a deal with the Giants.

        And this came right after Friedman was said to be negotiating heavy with th Rays.

        1. MJ,

          They “gave” the Giants a 4th starter for the runner-up in the ROY balloting.

          That’s making a good trade, not getting back at Friedman.

          Again, by your convoluted language it doesn’t make sense. Wouldn’t they be seeking revenge on the CUBS!??!?!?!

      3. Bluto, sorry if it turned into a hassle, but this is what I said: Paranoid as in being afraid of him? How about they just don’t like him? That was in reference to something someone else said. I admit I don’t like him but my likes and dislikes have never carried much weight in the world, certainly not here. Relax, man. It’s not too important what someone else says, it’s what you think that counts for you. No use trying to change anyone else’s mind, say your piece and move on… Life’s tough enough without fighting any unnecessary battles.

        1. Oh my gosh.

          I was having fun!

          That wasn’t any skin off my back.

          But thank you Wondering. I thought you had read or knew that other GMs didn’t like Friedman, when I thought the contrary was true.

          Moving on, indeed.

  10. “He could have been here forever if he wasn’t very good at his job”.

    No wonder he left. He was surrounded by idiots.

    Chili makes good points.

    These guys were handed a Division Champion and actually spent more money on it. Hasn’t worked yet, but is ’17 the year?
    We still have holes to fill. We wait to see if Hill can pitch 32 starts, Puig can OPS .800, second base, bullpen, crowded outfield, Kazmir, McCarthy …. a lot yet to do.

    1. And yet you respond. With an insult of course.

      Moore for Duffy seemed like a good deal to me. Duffy had a decent year, but he didn’t rebound very well. Moore, 27, is a 200 inning pitcher that won 6 games down the stretch. I’d take either one of them in a heartbeat.

      1. Badger

        It is stupid now!

        But they were upset at the time.

        And three years later, does make a difference.

        But this is what Dodger fans saw, with these two deals, the Giants and the Dodgers made, at the trade deadline.

        They saw the Giants pick up a leftie pitcher, to exploit the Dodgers weakness, against lefties.

        And the Dodgers did get Hill to help the starting pitching rotation, but they also got Reddick too.

        But Reddick was no answer for the weakness, against lefties.

        And our front office got both of these players from the A’s, and the A’s GM, isn’t a slouch either.

        And I think the fact that Reddick was no help against lefties, and that Hill didn’t pitch right away, is why some Dodger fans, were so upset, that the front office gave up three prospects, in that deal.

          1. Badger

            The timing of that Giants Rays deal, is what looked bad, to me.

            Because the press had said for a few days, that Friedman was in deep talks with the Rays, to get a starting pitcher.

            And right after that, the Giants got Moore from the Rays.

            The difference in those two trades, are that the Giants got more then just a rental for Duffy.

            They have a pitcher that will continue to be a thorn in the Dodger’s side, until the Dodgers counter.

  11. I do think having to give up three of are top prospects, and having to take Reddick too, does seems like it was a lot, to get Hill, who was still on the DL, when we got him.

    And that is if Mark’s source was right, about having to take Reddick and his contract too, as part of the deal.

    1. Bluto

      I didn’t know that, so thanks!

      And I think Duffy had injury issues last year, too.

      But which deal do you think was better between the Giants and the Dodgers, at the trade deadline?

      And I am only talking about the Rays deal with the Giants.

      And A’s deal with the Dodgers.

      1. The Hill deal! And, for the record, I don’t think the Dodgers had to take Reddick. I think they thought he would improve the team. He didn’t.

        Hill’s a much better pitcher.

        Duffy succeeded at the major league level. Lucius Fox a highly sought after International FA.

        That said about Fox, prospects are, in Michael Norris’ wise words, just prospects. I’d trade three sub-optimal prospects for a pitcher like Hill every day of the season.

        You don’t get 3 WAR pitchers off the shelves these days. That’s what I think Hill is, and he’s the kind of pitcher you need in playoffs.

  12. And about Friedman and Theo, and what Mark said about the two, in the previous chat.

    Theo signing Heyward wasn’t a good deal, because they signed him, thinking they could help him gain more power, if they changed his swing.

    And most of Heyward’s WAR, is from his defense, and his base running skills.

    And when he gets older, his speed will diminish, and that will affect his defense, and his base running skills.

    But the Cardinals, offered Heyward, more then the Cubs did.

    But signing Anderson, McCarthy, and Kazmir, was not a good deals either.

    The point is all front office’s make mistakes.

    Friedman is not considered a better GM then Theo.

    They are already saying that Theo is a lock, for the Hall of Fame.

    Friedman won’t be in Theo’s class, until he brings a World Series to LA.

    And even then, it probably will take more.

    Because Theo took two teams, that hadn’t made it to the World Series, for many many years.

    And he not only got them to the Series, he helped them win it too.

    ‘This will be talked about, and it will become legend, just like the curses, that haunted these two teams.

    Friedman has done a good job, of building up the Dodger’s farm system.

    They are ranked fifth, which I don’t think is bad.

    He and his front office, are not use to running a big market team, and signing big free agents.

    And they are not use to having a fan base, that is passionate about there team.

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