While perusing the interwebs the other day, I was reading MSTI, and he linked to an interesting piece over at one of the Giants blogs. The Mccovey Chronicles Ugh yes I know, I read an article on a Giants blog. The blog is called Mccoveychronicles, and the article was about the Dodgers. The article was specifically about the Dodgers offseason moves. Apparently they are doing reviews of all the NL west team’s offseasons, and this article was reviewing the Dodgers off-season acquisitions. You might ask, so what right? Well, there was an interesting question within the article. The question was, who is the Dodger’s third best hitter?………
It’s a good question isn’t it? Matt Kemp is without a shadow of a doubt the best hitter on the Dodgers. Andre Ethier would be the second best all around hitter in the Dodger’s lineup (yes Ethier is the second best hitter in my opinion despite a down year power wise). Then who is the third best? This is tough to answer. To be honest with you, I still can’t figure it out. I seriously can’t. Is it Loney? Rivera? It can’t be Uribe right? I don’t know. Let’s take a look at who that third leader is based on a few telling stats: power, OBP, and plate discipline.
First let’s take a look at power. After Bison, it was actually Big Rod who was second on the Dodgers in home runs last season with 16. However he’s gone, so let’s move on. It was actually James Loney, of all people who was third on the Dodgers in home runs with 12, while Ethier hit 11 last year. Loney and Rivera project for similar power numbers, but let’s look at a different stat that I think is a bit more accurate. ISO.
ISO- Jerry Sands
Jerry Sands comes in with the third best ISO in 2011. He actually comes in at second now since Big Rod left. Then Ethier, Loney, and Rivera are all within a few points of each other. Those numbers are frightening. Lots of singles in that group. Remember ISO is a measure of a hitter’s true power. By subtracting all of the hitter’s singles, their true power is revealed. After subtracting their batting average from their slugging, this will give you a hitter’s ISO. The number will tell you how many bases each batter accumulates per at-bat. I’m surprised that Sands comes in as the third best, but the Dodgers were punch-less last season. I liked the Rivera signing, despite the 4.5 million dollars seeming to be a tad on the expensive side. Rivera was solid for the Dodgers in 2011, but we should probably be playing Sands, at least in a platoon. Sands has the pop, and his opposite field power is what impresses the most. At least we have the option, and a Rivera/Sands platoon is a million times better than the ill-fated Marcus Thames/Jay Gibbons platoon we started out with last year. Man that was a disaster.
Yeah that’s right, A.J. Ellis had the second best OBP on the Dodgers in 2011. Not the third best mind you, second best. A.J.’s .392 OBP only trailed Matt Kemp, and was better than Ethier’s .368 on-base percentage, although Ellis played in less games. A.J. might not hit for much power, but he is very adept at getting on-base. He had a .406 career OBP in the minor leagues. We’ve featured Ellis before, and his strengths are his tremendous pate discipline. I’ve previously suggested the Dodgers batting him at the top of the order to take advantage of his high on-base skills. I’m hoping they do that, but we all know they won’t. Gordon will bat leadoff, and either Loney or Mark Ellis will likely bat in the two spot, and they will bury A.J. Ellis at the bottom of the lineup. Such a waste.
Plate Discipline-A.J. Ellis/James Loney
Both Ellis and Loney kind of cancel each other out on this category. Ellis led the Dodgers with a 13.6% walk rate, although in fewer at-bats. Loney had the third most walks on the Dodgers. Kemp led with 74, Ethier was second, with 58, then Carroll was technically third with 47 walks. He is no longer with the Dodgers though, and we move down the line to Loney’s 42 walks, and after him no one else even comes close. While A.J. Ellis has a walk rate of 13.6% which is much better than Loney’s 9.2% rate. Honorable mention goes to Trent Oeltjen’s 14.6% walk rate, although in only 91 at-bats.
The Dodgers ranked 10th in the National League last season in walks with 498. There walk rate was 8.2%. They were middle to bottom of the pack in walks, walk rate, and OBP. Those are not good numbers. Those have to come up if the Dodgers want to compete in 2012.
If you want to use WAR as any kind of indicator to figure this question out, then let’s have a look. After Kemp and Ethier, Loney comes in third with a 2.3 WAR, (according to Fangraphs). Carroll had a 2.2 WAR, but alas he is gone. I guess Loney would be the big winner here in this category, since the rest of the guys are not very close to Loney. Tony Gwynn’s 1.6 would come in next, followed by Jerry Sands’ .9 WAR. Rivera’s WAR was a .08, and the rest aren’t even worth mentioning they’re so low. We still have no clear answer here.
Some questions just can’t be answered by looking at projections and WARs’. Trying to project a player’s performance is difficult anyways. I think we’ll have to wait and see to find out the answer.
Who is the Dodgers third best hitter? Is it Loney? Rivera? The talented Jerry Sands? A.J. Ellis? Juan Uribe? The Don’t Stop Believin’ guy? Pitchers and catchers report in nine days, so we won’t have to wait long to find out. Tell us what you think in the poll below. Who do you think is the third best hitter on the Dodgers?
Before I log off, I think it’s pretty humorous to read Giants fans poking fun at the Dodgers lack of offense. We’re all well aware of the Dodgers offensive short-comings, but reading the Giants fans talking about how the Dodgers have a weak lineup, is like a blind man calling another blind man blind. Or a midget calling a dwarf short. Just saying…..