Los Angeles Dodgers: Can A.J. Ellis Continue Lighting It Up in Second Half?

Richard LeivenbergContributor IIIJune 29, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 07:  A.J. Ellis #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a fly ball to deep right field for a double to drive in Bobby Abreu #23 (not in photo) in the sixth inning during the MLB game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on May 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The easiest answer to the question regarding catcher A.J. Ellis and his ability to continue lighting it up for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second half is that he has to.

That is, with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier sidelined with injuries and with his wanton team putting up historically bad numbers, it is up to the veteran catcher to shore things up.

But, can Ellis, who is batting .293 with 26 RBI and only six home runs, pick up the mantle and run with it?

Ellis spent seven years in the minors before being called up to the big leagues. It may have been something the 31-year-old never thought would happen.

Now it is up to him to make things happen.

For a team that has lost ten of its last eleven games, including a monumental drop-off in the Bay Area where it was swept by both the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, Ellis's numbers are looking almost Ruthian.

The Dodgers have hit only six home runs during the entire month of June, and Ellis looks like the best hitter on the team.

He does have a history as a solid hitter, but with a career average of .273, his current numbers may be over his head.

Sometimes those years in the minors make a guy tougher and more prepared for the majors. Ellis doesn't play like a wide-eyed kid confused and scared by the bright lights of the big leagues.

In that way, he brings needed stability to a team that is on a downward spiral.  Why, only a few weeks ago the Dodgers led the entire major leagues in winning percentage and were seven-and-a-half games ahead of their archrival Giants.

As the team makes its way towards the mid-way point of the season looking for ways to create offense, Ellis appears to be the person they have to look to in order for them to survive until the big boys return or until management makes a trade or two.

With an excellent pitching staff that continues to hold opponents to low scores and currently holds the second-best ERA in the majors at 3.29, the Dodgers really don't have to score that much.

That means manager Don Mattingly has to figure out a way to manufacture runs. With a solid contact hitter like Ellis, he may be able to just that by playing small ball—get Dee Gordon on base, steal second and have Ellis knock him in.

Sounds good on paper.  Now, let's see what A.J. can do about it.