It doesn’t take a scientist or a forensic expert to figure out that three Dodger batters are stinking up the lineup. Three Dodgers are terrible hitters and having them in the lineup at the same time let alone hitting back-to-back-to-back is dooming the Dodgers to certain defeat over the last couple of weeks. Can you guess which three Dodgers I am talking about?
If you guessed Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez, and Austin Barnes, then you are correct. You’ve been paying attention to the lack of runs scored over the last two weeks or so. Good job. Now let’s get into what the Dodgers can do to mitigate the damage that these three horrendous hitters are doing to the lineup.
Before I get into it, let’s get a couple of things out of the way first. Number one, I understand that Corey Seager is out with a strained hamstring. He’ll be out for the next 6 weeks or so at least, maybe longer. I understand that the options at shortstop behind Seager are limited. Taylor and Hernandez are the primary backups if Seager can’t play shortstop. I get it.
I also understand that Taylor and Hernandez are both good defensive players. They’re both good gloves and they can play a number of positions while also providing power. If they’re used properly than they are just fine, as late inning defensive replacements and occasional pinch-hitters. However if they are in the lineup every day then there’s trouble.
For those of you about to argue with me about the three of them not being terrible hitters then don’t even start. The numbers and results speak otherwise. Let’s start with Taylor. I think he’s probably the best of the three, which doesn’t say much. I really like him, and I think his problems could be due to mechanical flaws in his swing and not getting enough playing time earlier in the season. That doesn’t matter however because he’s playing every day now and not figuring it out.
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As for Enrique Hernandez, well I’ve been telling everyone what a terrible hitter he’s been for years for as long as people will listen. Him becoming the favorite whipping boy of this site is a different story. Last year was a bit of a rebound for him, but this year he’s right back to his 2016 putrid .190 hitting ways. He might be even more useless at the plate in 2019. Surely he does have some power and prone to flashes of brilliance like his three home runs in the 2017 NLCS. But right now and for most of this season and the majority of his Dodger career he’s been an atrocious hitter. His batting and on base skills makes his presence in the Dodger lineup a liability.
Enrique Hernandez – .201/.276/.376 (48 for 229) OPS+ 70 10 HR 33 RBI
Then there is Austin Barnes. Being one half of the catching duo means he has to play half the time. I get that. That doesn’t diminish the fact that Barnes has been one of the worst hitting catchers in baseball over the last two seasons. He’s had one good year in 2017, but otherwise he’s about as punch-less at the plate as an elderly woman.
Austin Barnes – .206/.314/.346 (28 for 136) OPS+ 75 4 HR 15 RBI
So what’s the solution you might ask? It may be a bit unorthodox, but it’s the only thing that can prevent these three guys from killing the Dodger’s offense. Here are my thoughts on the possible solutions. The best thing at this point is to either play Max Muncy at third, Justin Turner at short, and David Freese at second. Or you can put Freese at third, Turner at short, Muncy at second and Matt Beaty at first. On the days Joc doesn’t play left field you can have Taylor in left, but only on the days that Russell Martin catches. Otherwise you play Joc in left. Or if you don’t want Turner playing short, (he can) then put Taylor there and Muncy can play second with either Freese or Beaty at first. Keep Hernandez on the bench, and never play all three at once. Certainly don’t ever put those three consecutively in the Dodger order. Oh and for god’s sake stop batting Hernandez lead-off! He’s posted a .280 OBP! He doesn’t get on base.
Of the Dodger’s 15 games so far in the month of June, they’ve scored 3 runs or less in 10 of those 15 contests. In six of those games they’ve failed to score more than two runs. It’s not a coincidence that this happens to coincide with the above three mentioned being in the lineup all at once every game. It’s such a simple thing. You won’t score many runs if you put multiple automatic outs in your lineup. Stop putting terrible hitters in your lineup every day. Replace terrible hitters with good hitters. Rinse and repeat.