According to the numbers, Mark Ellis shoudl bat eighth for the Dodgers in 2013- Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Who Should The Dodgers Bat Eighth?

All throughout the winter, everyone has been asking who should bat lead-off for the Dodgers? While it is a good valid question, I think we should be also asking another similar question. Why is there nobody asking who should bat eighth? Think about it for a moment. Have you been wondering that as well? Today we will take a look and ask, who should bat eighth for the 2013 Dodgers?

Some of the stat kids will have you believe that the batting order doesn’t matter much in the end. But it does matter. You hear a lot of other managers talk about turnover, or lineup turnover. So you may ask yourself, what is turnover? Lineup turnover is when the number eight hitter gets on base during an inning, allowing the pitcher to hit, and thereby getting the pitcher’s spot out of the way. That’s lineup turnover. Generally speaking you want someone who can get on base to bat in the eighth spot, but at the same time you don’t want to bury anyone there like A.J. Ellis was buried there for much of the 2012 season.

We’ve been advocating for Don Mattingly to swap the Ellis’s in the lineup for a long time now. Mattingly didn’t subscribe to this notion, and instead insisted on Batting A.J. eighth, and Mark Ellis second all throughout last season. Is that what’s best for the team? Did batting A.J. eighth help the team in run creation? Well let’s take a look at the numbers. Dodger eighth place hitters ranked 20 in Baseball last season. The Dodger number eight hitters posted a triple slash line of .236/.320/.342 with eight home runs, 46 RBI, and a .662 OPS. Those numbers ranked them at the bottom or near the bottom of the league all season. Although the Dodger eighth place hitters drew 61 walks, which ranked them third highest in all of Baseball.

Despite all of the walks, batting A.J. in the eight spot just didn’t help the Dodgers score more runs. As a matter of fact, it made no difference, since the Dodgers still ranked near the bottom half in number eight hitters. They ranked near the bottom in OBP, slugging, and runs batted in. The thing is, it’s kind of a catch-22. You want the number eight hitter to be someone who can get on base, but it can’t be anyone too productive, because otherwise they are buried at the bottom of the lineup. The fact is the top three hitters in a lineup receive more at-bats than the rest of the lineup. The one universal truth of building a great flexible batting lineup, is that the top three hitters at getting on base should bat 1-2-3, or at least the top two. Then who should bat eighth?

Take a look at the numbers below. I have included all eight Dodger regulars, and their career numbers batting eighth. Note, that I included the 2012 numbers for A.J. Ellis. As you can see, A.J. still did very well batting number 8. He batted .277 and drew 40 walks in the 8 hole. Check out how poor, Luis Cruz has done while batting number eight. So who has put up the best numbers batting in the eight spot? Why it’s Mark Ellis of course. (Matt Kemp actually put up the best numbers batting eighth, but of course the Dodgers aren’t going to bat Bison eighth. Obviously, but I digress.) Looking even further, the Dodgers only collected 181 total bases from their number eight hitters, with a WRC+ of only 91 all season. This should give you a better idea of how the 2013 Dodger lineup should be created.

Carl Crawford  .238/.77/.347 7 BB 1 HR

A.J. Ellis .273/.363/.384 55 BB 8HR-2012-.277/.376/.417 40 BB 7 HR

Matt Kemp .368/.437/.640 16 BB 8 HR

Adrian Gonzalez .233/.294/.367

Hanley Ramirez (3 for 4)

Andre Ethier .301/.381/.441 17 BB 2 HR

Luis Cruz .180/.244/.221

Mark Ellis .306/.368/.450 45 BB 11 HR

Yes, Mark Ellis is batting over .300 in the eight hole. And look at his on base percentage as a number eight hitter. He’s drawn 45 walks, and even smacked 11 home runs from the bottom of the lineup. The numbers don’t lie. The best number eight hitter the Dodgers have is Mark Ellis. This means, as we have said many times, Mark and A.J. should swap places in the lineup.

Where will A.J. bat in the Dodgers lineup in 2013?-Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Who do you think the Dodgers should bat eighth? Should the eighth place hitter be someone who can draw walks? Let us know what you think, and participate in the poll below. Walks at times can be just as good as a hit, but hits are always better. That’s why it doesn’t matter much how many walks you draw in that eight spot. As you can see form the numbers above, if you aren’t getting hits from your number eight hitter, then it won’t make much of a difference.

Who do you think should bat Eighth for the Dodgers in 2013?

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Run creation is made much easier when the right players are placed in the right spots in the lineup. Having the right players in the right spots in the lineup also helps with the team chemistry. Obviously Mark Ellis is the perfect eighth place hitter. Let’s just hope that this is something that manager Don Mattingly and the Dodgers have already looked into. Because if last year’s offensive numbers, and run production is any indicator, then the Dodgers are going to need all the help they can get.

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Tags: A.J. Ellis Adrian Gonzalez Andre Ethier Carl Crawford Don Mattingly Hanley Ramirez Los Angeles Dodgers Luis Cruz Mark Ellis Matt Kemp

  • Quasimodo

    Great thinking Scott. At least through the lens I’m viewing it. Though its not as much as who should bat 8th., its more A.J. Ellis should not be in the 8th hole. Last year I didn’t start as a big fan of A.J. but by the end of the season it was so frustrating seeing him stranded so many times. I’ve tossed the idea of A.J. Ellis in the lead spot to a few people and none agreed. The general feedback was A.J. belongs in the 8 hole. I’m fine with him in the 2 hole (A.J.) Better than being in front of the pitchers.

    • LasordasLair

      I agree. And batting A.J. in the two hole would allow him to see better pitches to hit, and he can use his on base skills in front of the big boys. Mark Ellis is pretty good at getting on base to, not as good as A.J., but still well enough to bat in the eighth spot, and give the Dodgers that lineup turnover they need. It makes sesne to me.

  • Kevin Pyle

    I could not disagree more. A.J. Ellis hits 8th period. Mark Ellis hits second against lefties and Skip hits second against righties.

    • LasordasLair

      Why not swap them? Why waste A.J.’s ability to get on base all the way down at the bottom of the lineup? Mark Ellis is batting over .300 in th eighth spot. A.J. actually has a higher OBP against lefties than Mark does.

    • Quasimodo

      Kevin, you seem pretty firm theres no other slot besides 8th. for A.J. Ellis. But just saying “period” won’t get me on that page. If Crawford is the lead the 8th may be a fit for A.J., but even then I’d rather see pitchers hit the 8 hole and A.J. batting 9th. The reason I see the 8 hole as not the spot for A.J. is he is too often stranded. But most don’t agree with me. Please tell me your reasons you feel 8th. is the only place for him-I’m open.

  • AaronKnuckleCurve

    AJ is slow. you want him on base after Crawford strikes out? Time and Time again running his arse off? he’ll blow out his knee by the all star break. Also, Mark has a whole career in which he’s proven his abilities. AJ has never had to hit second on in the MLB for months at a time. he’ll ware out that way. I love AJ. He;s a nice boy remember! but he has to hit 8.

    • Quasimodo

      OK, will the next one that says A.J. has to hit in the 8 hole please give their reason as to why its the only slot for him? It was surely the worse for him last year.

    • LasordasLair

      The problem is, in my opinion is that A.J. is a better hitter, and better at getting on base than Mark is. AJ’s OBP is about 30 points higher, except for when Mark hits in the eighth spot. Mark is a better number 8 hitter than AJ. You always want your high OBP guys hitting at the top of the lineup regardless of speed. The more guys on base for the big boys, the better. The Dodgers just dont have a lot of speed in the lineup anyways. I think if Mattingly gives AJ regular rest he will make it through the season alright.

      • AaronKnuckleCurve

        i completely respect your take…however, i feel that it’s much much harder to get good numbers hitting second. most of the time, last year, Mark was asked to move over the runner and sacrifice himself. Also, Mark is a lot more durable. AJ had to have surgery after his FIRST major league season. batting second would compound his body concerns. I love both Ellis’. They are hard working, no ego guys. Im sure mattingly wont bat AJ second. but i like the debate!

        • LasordasLair

          You make a good point. But I think if A.J. can get regular rest he should be able to get through the season unscathed. I used to dislike the idea of resting AJ once per week, but now I am more open to it, after seeing AJ requiring knee surgery. Also Fedex is a much better catcher than the no-bat Treanor. Now the whole bunting thing is a discussion for another day, but you know how I feel about the bunting crap. He has got to cut down his bunt attempts by at least 25%. I like the debate too!

          • AaronKnuckleCurve

            Well Lasorda’s Layer, if you ever want to hear a funny Lasorda Tale, i was part of one and it’s documented on episode 129 of Sklarbro Country. At the end. Besides, that…i gots nuthin

          • LasordasLair

            Realy? Please do tell, I would love to hear about it. Can you link me? What’s Sklarbro Country?

  • Quasimodo

    We’re not really getting anywhere with this. Who should bat the 8 hole?-I don’t know. Who shouldn’t bat the 8 hole? Def not A.J. Ellis!