Ranking the Los Angeles Dodgers' 5 Most Likely 2013 Batting Orders

Ian CasselberryMLB Lead WriterJanuary 15, 2013

Ranking the Los Angeles Dodgers' 5 Most Likely 2013 Batting Orders

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    Last season, the Los Angeles Dodgers scored 637 runs, ranking 25th out of 30 MLB teams.

    For the Dodgers to live up to expectations, compete for the NL West and contend for a World Series championship this season, they have to score more runs and give their outstanding pitching staff some support. 

    But with Adrian Gonzalez for a full season, rather than one month, the Dodgers will have another big bat to join Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the middle of the lineup. Hanley Ramirez will also be in Dodger Blue all year, providing another run-producing bat. 

    The team will also benefit from having Carl Crawford, who will likely bat near the top of the batting order and provide more production than any Dodgers left fielder did last year. 

    What is the ideal lineup for the Dodgers' new collection of offensive talent? How should manager Don Mattingly fill out his lineup card one through eight? Here are five suggestions for the best lineups the Dodgers could try during this upcoming season. 

1. A.J. Ellis Bats Leadoff

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    1. A.J. Ellis, C

    2. Carl Crawford, LF

    3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

    4. Matt Kemp, CF

    5. Andre Ethier, RF

    6. Hanley Ramirez, SS

    7. Mark Ellis, 2B

    8. Luis Cruz, 3B

    9. Clayton Kershaw, P

     

    A.J. Ellis led the Dodgers with a .373 on-base percentage. That OBP also tied for the seventh-best in the National League.

    If the chief objective of a leadoff batter is to get on base, the Dodgers catcher is the best man for the job. Of course, it's likely that Ellis' OBP was so high because he frequently batted eighth. But why not see if he can set the table in front of the big bats in the Dodgers lineup?

    This would allow Carl Crawford to bat second, since he doesn't like batting leadoff and can be more of a run producer. Having Matt Kemp bat behind him should make sure he sees plenty of strikes, which could help turn him around. 

    The Dodgers would also have a left-right-left-right progression through the middle of their batting order, which makes it more difficult for opposing managers to find the right matchups with their relievers.

2. Carl Crawford Bats Leadoff

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    1. Carl Crawford, LF 

    2. Luis Cruz, 3B 

    3. Matt Kemp, CF

    4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

    5. Hanley Ramirez, SS

    6. Andre Ethier, RF

    7. Mark Ellis, 2B

    8. A.J. Ellis, C

    9. Clayton Kershaw, P

     

    Carl Crawford may not like batting leadoff, but he's probably the best guy for the job in the Dodgers lineup.

    He can get on base, has speed and brings some power to the top spot in the lineup. In other words, Crawford is everything the Dodgers didn't have in the leadoff role last season. This may be the primary reason general manager Ned Colletti acquired him.

    (Well, the Red Sox also wanted to unload Crawford's contract.)

    Luis Cruz had the highest batting average on the Dodgers roster besides Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez. But those two have to hit in the middle of the lineup, where they can produce more runs.

    Cruz can move Crawford along the bases by making contact, helping put him in scoring position when the Dodgers' sluggers come to bat. 

3. Hanley Ramirez Bats Second

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    1. Carl Crawford, LF 

    2. Hanley Ramirez, SS 

    3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

    4. Matt Kemp, CF

    5. Andre Ethier, RF

    6. Luis Cruz, 3B 

    7. Mark Ellis, 2B

    8. A.J. Ellis, C

    9. Clayton Kershaw, P

     

    Having a contact hitter in the No. 2 spot would help put leadoff hitter Carl Crawford in scoring position or drive him in. But why not just go right to the "drive him in" part?

    Batting Hanley Ramirez second would provide some power at the top of the order and could result in the Dodgers putting runs on the board quickly. Ramirez might strike out too much to be an ideal No. 2 hitter, but at least he would hit into fewer double plays. 

    Following Ramirez with Gonzalez, Kemp and Ethier could put the opposing pitcher on his heels right away. At the very least, that progression of hitters should make the pitcher work and possibly chase him from the game earlier than the opponent would like. 

    The lineup would also alternate between left-handed and right-handed hitters through the first six spots in the batting order, presenting a tougher matchup for a pitcher and making it more difficult for an opposing manager to utilize his bullpen late in the game. 

4. Last Year's Lineup

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    1. Mark Ellis, 2B

    2. Andre Ethier, RF

    3. Matt Kemp, CF

    4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

    5. Hanley Ramirez, SS 

    6. Luis Cruz, 3B 

    7. Carl Crawford, LF 

    8. A.J. Ellis, C

    9. Clayton Kershaw, P

     

    This is pretty much the same lineup the Dodgers went with last season, with Mark Ellis batting leadoff. 

    Ellis was a decent on-base threat, with a .333 OBP, and doesn't strike out very much. But he only batted .258, and didn't show much speed or power. 

    However, Ethier batting second gave the Dodgers a hitter who could put the ball in play, get on base and supply some home run power near the top of the lineup. 

    Following Ethier with Kemp, Gonzalez and Ramirez gave manager Don Mattingly the left-right-left progression that teams like in the middle of the order. 

    Batting Crawford seventh is probably too low in the order. He would basically take the spot that most Dodgers left fielders, such as Juan Rivera, batted in last season.

    But if Mattingly chose to use Crawford there, he would give the Dodgers a good bat in the lower third of the lineup. That would make a deeper batting order for an opposing pitcher to go through. But with A.J. Ellis and the pitcher batting behind Crawford, how often would he be driven in?

5. Andre Ethier Bats Leadoff

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    1. Andre Ethier, RF

    2. Hanley Ramirez, SS 

    3. Carl Crawford, LF 

    4. Matt Kemp, CF

    5. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

    6. Luis Cruz, 3B 

    7. A.J. Ellis, C

    8. Mark Ellis, 2B

    9. Clayton Kershaw, P

     

    Don Mattingly is unlikely to fill out his lineup card with this batting order. But why not try something a little different? 

    Andre Ethier is a threat to get on base or hit a home run from the leadoff spot. No, that doesn't make him Rickey Henderson, especially because Ethier doesn't have anything close to Henderson's speed. But he could put the Dodgers on top, 1-0, very early in a ballgame. 

    The pressure on the opposing pitcher would continue right away by having Hanley Ramirez as a home-run threat in the No. 2 spot. Follow him with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, and that's five consecutive hitters that have to be pitched to carefully. 

    Luis Cruz, A.J. Ellis and Mark Ellis could also drive in some runs with the first five hitters able to get on base regularly. By the time the pitcher comes up to bat, the Dodgers could already have a decent lead. The Dodgers pitcher could pitch deeper into the game as a result. 

     

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