Number 5: There is a Small Hole in The Dodger Lineup

The Dodgers have one of the best offensive units in MLB. They score a lot of runs and that’s a big reason why they are on pace to break the franchise record for regular season wins. A huge part of the reason they are producing such historically great run production is because the top four hitters in their lineup (Chris Taylor, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Cody Bellinger) are among the top run producers in baseball.

While the 1-4 guys are some of the best hitters in baseball the Dodgers have a hole in their lineup that has been a problem since the beginning of the 2017 season. The Number 5 spot (behind Bellinger) has been one of the weakest spots in the Dodger lineup. This spot has been primarily occupied by two players this season, Joc Pederson and Logan Forsythe.

Both hitters have struggled this season for various reasons. For Joc early season injuries have derailed him offensively and defensively. Joc has battled a strained groin and a massive collision with Yasiel Puig which caused him to miss time earlier in the season.

Joc has been struggling. There is no denying that. Over his last 28 days Pederson has slashed a remarkably unproductive .121/.227/.276 (7 for 58). He’s had just two extra-base hits in that time frame and has reached base just 11 times on a hit or a walk. He’s done poorly against left handers too, posting a .586 OPS and a .191 batting average in 53 plate appearances. Overall Joc is slashing .216/.330/.420 (53 for 245) with 11 home runs and 33 walks over 288 plate appearances.

Granted that is a small sample size, but it’s all we have to go on for him this season. If we delve a little deeper into his problems this year we see that his BABIP (average on batted balls in play) is at .243. That could mean he’s hit into some poor batted ball luck, but there are other issues that raise some more concerns.

For instance his BB% has decreased from 13.2% in 2016 to 11.5% in 2017. While his swinging strike percentage has decreased from 27.5% in 2016 to 21.5% this season, His line drive percentages (20.6% in 2016, and 18.5% in 2017) have also decreased from last year to this year as well. His ground ball rates have also increased from 39.7% in 2016 to 48.4% this season. He seems to be pulling off the ball more this year evidenced by his 49.5% pull percentage. He only hits to the opposite field 20.7% of the time.

So Joc is hitting less line drives than ever before. He’s hitting the ball on the ground much more often than in the air and he’s getting on base at the worst clip of his career. Not good.

Joc isn’t the only number five guy that is having a hard time this year. Second baseman Logan Forsythe is having issues too. Forsythe is batting just .236 (59 for 250) with 3 home runs and 24 RBI in 306 plate appearances. He’s posted a .675 OPS and his lack of power has been astonishing. Considering he hit 20 home runs with Tampa Bay just a year ago.

Forsythe does get on base a lot thanks to one of the best plate discipline skill sets in the National League. Forsythe has drawn 49 walks and has a .363 OBP. His 16.1% BB rate is awesome. But he’s had just 13 of his 59 base knocks go for extra-bases this year. That comes out to a laughably low .076 ISO power mark and just a 92 wRC+

Basically Forsythe has been punch-less while still being able to see a lot of pitches and draw walks. How have both men done in the fifth spot?

Pederson is batting just .178 (8 for 45) with 2 home runs in the number 5 spot in the order. Forsythe has fared a little better slashing .266/.385/.316 in the five spot. However he’s done that with little power. He’s posted a .702 OPS and just 4 (no home runs) extra-base hits.

The number five spot in the Dodger’s batting order is very important because that’s the guy who hits behind Cody Bellinger. These are the guys that are providing lineup protection for young Cody and it seems to be a big hole. Of course it hasn’t stopped the Dodgers from producing a lot of runs overall, but it could lead to problems down the road when opposing clubs figure out that they can simply walk or pitch around Bellinger to get to lesser bats I.E. Pederson or Forsythe.

It seems as though the Dodgers have figured this out somewhat, announcing that Joc will be dropped in the order to the number seven position. I am assuming Forsythe will continue to bat fifth for now. While that is a bit better, it’s still not great.

What the Dodgers should consider doing in order to fine tune the lineup and make sure Bellinger has proper lineup protection is to put Yasiel Puig, or Yasmani Grandal in that five spot. I know Puig has performed very well in the eighth hole, but I think he would perform well batting in any slot considering his immense talent. In the meantime let’s hope that opposing clubs don’t figure this out and continue to pitch to Bellinger.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

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

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23 thoughts on “Number 5: There is a Small Hole in The Dodger Lineup

  1. Just what my eye test has told me all along about these two. However, I totally am against Puig leaving the 8 spot, he performs well there and usually performs terribly when moved up in the order, don’t get greedy Scott.

    1. TrueBlue

      We are so far ahead, it isn’t a big deal to try Puig in the fifth position, because Roberts can always stick Puig down to the eighth position, if he gets anxious and over swings, in RBI situations.

      Roberts must have heard what most Dodger fans are thinking, on the day the team was idle.

      He has Forsythe hitting seventh today, and Joc hitting eighth.

      Grandal is hitting fifth, and Puig is hitting sixth.

      This White Sox pitcher was the pitcher we only scored one run on.

      We ended up winning the game, because Kershaw was pitching that day.

        1. Good question. My understanding about the pool limits is we blew past them and are paying 100% penalty. I did read this:

          “By exceeding their pool limit, the Dodgers will pay a 100% penalty on all money paid above their allotment, and their pool for the next two seasons will be limited to $300,000.”

          Sounds like we picked up an additional half million. Not sure how that helps considering how much we paid for the guys we got. I Alvarez alone cost $16 million.

    1. This is an excerpt from the EastBay Times:

      A’s manager Bob Melvin was unsure where Hatcher, 32, would end up once he arrives to Oakland but said the club is looking forward to adding a reliever with postseason experience.

      “I’m still kind of doing some research on him right now but a guy that’s had some success in years past and our people like him,” Melvin said. “We could see him here at some point.”

      ———-/

      I have no inside sources (well maybe I do but I’m not going to brag about it), but this is one of of those cases where Faidi calls up Melvin and says “Remember Reddick? You owe me one. Don’t worry this won’t hurt.”

  2. This is all a prelude to Joc getting sent to AAA. If Joc can’t produce at the 8th spot (where Puig has thrived) then there is no more excuses for him when AGon returns.

    As I wrote this, Joc pops out ….

  3. Ok, so they walk Puig to get to Forsythe …. the league is on to both of our weak links in the chain… and he grounds weakly to third, buy Joc gets a HBP!

    (Roberts has a charmed life Bu please don’t bat Joc and Forsythe back to back …. )

    1. This is just incredibly hilarious! Just like how Roberts drew it up!! (But please don’t bat Forsythe and Joc back to back again…)

      1. we haven’t won on a hit batter with the bases loaded this year, so we’re due.

        Next will be a win on a balk (although we did do in 2015 or 2016)

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