Mark Ellis is a solid defender and adequate lead-off hitter. Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Who Should Lead-Off For the Dodgers?

The question of who should be the lead-off hitter for the Dodgers has been a constant conundrum throughout this 2012 season. Out of Spring Training, we were hopeful that Dee Gordon would be our lightning bolt atop of the lineup. Alas, Gordon did not pan out as a productive lead-off hitter before he was sidelined in July with a torn ligament in his thumb. We had glimpses of greatness from Gordon in the top spot when he was able to get on base and utilize his speed to fluster the opposition and manufacture treasured runs. He just wasn’t able to get on base enough to showcase his speedy talent.

Don Mattingly had to try something else. Since the Dodgers really did not have a true lead-off hitter, he slotted Mark Ellis into the role intermittently this season. Mark Ellis has been the most consistent lead-off man this season, although he doesn’t have the speed desired by most to be an ideal lead-off candidate.


Mark Ellis- leading off (26 games ) .280/.325/.421

14 runs, 30 hits, 3 HR, 7 BB, 0 SB

As you can see, Ellis is more suited to hit in the second slot where he can use his strong baseball fundamentals to help advance the lead-off runner into scoring position. Yet he is still one of the best options the Dodgers have right now until Dee Gordon can develop more.




Dee Gordon-leading off (62 games) .217/.269/.271

Dee Gordon’s speed is a game-changer. Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

31 runs, 56 hits, 1 HR, 16 BB, 28 SB

We all watched Dee struggle to get on base through the majority of the season before his tragic slide forced him to the disabled list. Gordon struck out 52 times in the lead-off spot. His atrocious on base percentage did not make him a viable option to lead-off. Batting lower in the order, in the eighth spot, Dee actually thrived. His much better line of .308/.341/.333 in 12 games in the eight spot was a refreshing outcome which reflects his lack of readiness as a big league lead-off hitter at this early point of his career.


Shane Victorino has been dissapointing as a Dodger. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Shane Victorino- leading off (25 games) .245/.304/.349

15 runs, 26 hits, 1 HR, 8 BB, 6 SB

The Dodgers went out and attempted to acquire a true lead-off hitter in Shane Victorino. His performance so far in that role has been disappointing to say the least. Much like Dee’s early season failure to get on base, Victorino hasn’t been that more successful at the job. Mattingly was forced to put Victorino in the second spot behind Mark Ellis after his bat never came around after joining the Dodgers. I was very skeptical of this trade with the Phillies when it happened. Now with just nine games remaining on the calendar, I can say that Victorino has added nothing but an improved glove in left field going down the stretch for this team. His future with the Dodgers remains to be determined this winter since Carl Crawford is expected to man left field for the Dodgers when he returns healthy.

Elian Herrera- leading off (6 games ) .333/.333/.500

Elian Herrera could add extra oomph to a stale Dodger lineup in this final push. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

2 hits

Even though Elian Herrera has only lead-off in six games this season, you can’t help but notice his numbers. Albeit, it is a small sample size, yet at this point the Dodgers need to directly inject themselves with any energy and momentum they can. Herrera was a spark plug during many games in the first half of the season, and who is to say he cannot bring that fire to these last few precious games? I will go out on a limb and suggest that Mattingly should have Herrera start in left field and lead-off during this final push. Juan Rivera is stagnate in left field, and he is even more vegetative on the base path.

Carl Crawford may be the Dodgers’ future lead-off hitter and left fielder, but until he is healthy to return to the game we must weigh our other options. Dee Gordon could also be a bright lead-off hitter in the future, but his plate discipline needs to improve greatly before he can be cemented into that important role. Mark Ellis and Elian Herrera are our best current options to lead the Dodgers to victory for the remainder of 2012.

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Tags: Dee Gordon Elian Herrera Los Angeles Dodgers Mark Ellis Shane Victorino

  • Ron Ramos

    Just for the stretch run I’d like to see Hanley leadoff. He’s got some power and speed. Ellis second Etheir third Kemp 4th and if Gonzo shows that his two homer game was more than just an isolated incident fourth or I’d bat Cruz there. They need to rattle the cage but player friendly (player coddling ) Donnie won’t shake anything but a rattle for these guys.

    • nicolebramstedt

      I like the Hanley option. See what he can do.
      I also think that the article’s analysis on Dee is incomplete. It fails to highlight his blazing speed, which is very important for a lead off hitter, in particular his effect speed has on opposing pitchers when he is on the base paths. The argument may be made that if he can’t get on base, his speed does not matter. However, when he left as lead off hitter, he was leading the Dodgers in runs so he seemingly was getting on base.

      • Stacie Wheeler

        Well if you look at Dee’s awful OBP you can see he wasn’t getting on base, so his speed wasn’t a factor as much as we would like it to have been. The only concern I have with leading off with Hanley is that he does have 24 HRs, and as you know the Dodgers are desperate for runs. It’s better to get him up there with men on base IMO.

        • Stacie Wheeler

          Also, the reason Dee is leading in runs is because the Dodgers do not score runs. Lol

          • nicolebramstedt

            The Dodgers scored tons of runs in the first half when Dee was in the lineup. It was in the second half of the lineup (when Dee coincidentally was not in the lineup) when they did not score runs.

          • LasordasLair

            Well I wouldn’t say they scored tons of runs. The Dodgers ranked 26th in the big leagues in runs scored.

        • Ron Ramos

          thats true but if we have people from the bottom of the lineup getting on like cruz or A.J. which has been the case here and there here and there we will be able to bunt them over with the pitcher (hopefully) and Hanley will have the chance to drive them in. Also keep in mind nobody is getting on base in the top of the lineup. If we have the most consistent hitter up there maybe he can spark the rest of the lineup. At this point all take the lead off homerun. I’ll take anything right now. Get Hanley on base. Have Mark Ellis move him over and there’s Kemp who has been better with RISP. Hes won a few games for us even in his slump. In the beginning of the year when we were scoring this was the formula. Lead off hit. Ellis gives himself up. Kemp and Ethier drive them in.

        • Ron Ramos

          I totally agree when it comes to Dee. I really like him but he is very raw. I am concerned that he has developed a serious case of the yips. If I had to pick from the three I totally agree with Herrera. He can do very well there. I don’t understand why Mattingly stuck with everyone else while they were struggling but Herrera seemed to have a very short leash. I don’t think its his age because if Dee was healthy he’d still be out there and Cruz would be on the bench. Imagine that.

      • LasordasLair

        I like Gordon, but you know what they say, You can’t steal first base.