Los Angeles Dodgers: Ranking Each Player's Offensive Performance So Far
It’s more than a month into the season and the much-hyped Los Angeles Dodgers are in last place in the NL West with a dismal 13-18 record.
Amid a handful of injuries to star players that have hampered the team’s success in the 2013 season, the Dodgers’ offense simply has been unable to manufacture runs, which has caused the team to lose many close games.
Although the Dodgers’ collective offensive effort has been lackluster, let’s take a look at each player's individual performance at the plate so far.
NOTE: Players must have played 20 or more games to qualifying for grading
Carl Crawford: A
Carl Crawford appears to have returned to his best form in the early stages of his first season with the Dodgers.
The 31-year-old left fielder, who was brought to L.A. in a blockbuster trade last season, not only filled the Blue Crew’s void in the leadoff spot but has exceeded all expectations for his recovery from an elbow injury.
Crawford is doing it all: Getting on base (.383 OBP), hitting for average (.311 BA), scoring runs (team-leading 21 R) and hitting for power (team-leading 4 HR).
On top of that, the speedy outfielder has been getting himself in scoring position with six stolen bases thus far and is also holding down the fort in left field.
Above all, he is a workhorse whose work ethic rubs off on his teammates.
Mark Ellis: A
With the massive paychecks being dished out to the Dodgers’ batting lineup, who would have thought that Mark Ellis would have the highest batting average (.342) of any Dodgers starter 30 games in?
At 35 years old, Mark Ellis is on pace to have one of the best seasons in his 11-year major-league career.
He has been an ideal follow-up to Crawford for the Dodgers, posting a .363 on-base percentage to complement his high batting average.
As per usual, Ellis has also been a terrific fielder at second base, avoiding an error in 80 total chances.
Matt Kemp: B
It took Matt Kemp a few weeks to find his groove in the 2013 season after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason, but his bat has finally warmed up the past few weeks.
In his last 15 games, the Dodgers’ franchise center fielder has hit an impressive .339 and has driven in eight runs for his team’s struggling offense.
However, even in his most recent stretch, Kemp has tallied 13 strikeouts to increase his total to 31, which rivals his hits total (30).
In his past six games, the 28-year-old homegrown Dodgers talent has recorded at least one strikeout, twice striking out twice or more.
Although his performance this season hasn’t quite reached his usual high standard, he’s on an upward trend.
Adrian Gonzalez: A
Although the Dodgers’ top two hitters, Crawford and Ellis, are getting on base, it means nothing unless someone can drive them in—and that’s exactly what Adrian Gonzalez has done as the team’s cleanup hitter.
The Blue Crew’s first baseman has given the team offensive consistency throughout the season despite its collective run-scoring woes.
Gonzalez leads the Dodgers in all major offensive stat categories, excluding home runs, in which Carl Crawford leads the team with four (Gonzalez has three).
Above his impressive .337 average, .398 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage, the former San Diego Padres stud has driven in more than one-fifth of the Dodgers’ runs this season with 22 runs batted in.
Although he recently admitted that his power may not ever reach the plateau he hit with the Padres in 2009 when he hit 40 homers, Gonzalez is consistently hitting the ball hard and knocking in runs for his team.
Andre Ethier: B-
There’s no denying that Andre Ethier has started the season with mediocrity, at least on a personal level.
However, while his .250 batting average may not impress anyone who’s witnessed the longtime Dodger hit .289 in his career, Ethier nevertheless boasts a .350 on-base percentage.
On an even brighter note, Ethier has made progression in facing left-handed pitchers.
After struggling against lefties in the 2012 season—posting an uninspiring .222 batting average versus southpaws—Ethier is hitting .256 against left-handed pitchers this year, which is higher than his success against righties (.246 BA).
A.J. Ellis: B
A.J. Ellis will always go under the radar, but he’s played an integral role in the Dodgers’ batting order this year.
In the No. 5 and 6 spots, Ellis has done an excellent job of jump-starting the second half of the Blue Crew's batting order.
With his .281 batting average and impressive .390 on-base percentage, Ellis has served as second leadoff man, and has done a fine job at it, exceeding the Dodgers' official leadoff batter Carl Crawford's on-base percentage (.383).
Moreover, Ellis has a good sense of the strike zone and has drawn a team-leading 16 walks in the 25 games he's played this season.
The 32-year-old catcher always works the count and often wears down the opposing pitcher.
Luis Cruz: F
After becoming a fan favorite in his first season wearing Dodger Blue, Luis Cruz's "Cruuuz" chants have switched to what they truly sound like—boos.
Cruz was somewhat of a hero for the Dodgers last season, always coming up with big hits, but he's experienced a very rough opening to the 2013 season.
In 66 at-bats, Cruz has tallied only six hits (.091 BA), which is almost as many as injured shortstop Hanley Ramirez accrued in four games.
Cruz simply doesn't look like he is seeing the ball well, as he is not getting on base period (.116), garnering only one walk and registering 12 strikeouts.
Justin Sellers: F
Justin Sellers was brought up to supplant Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez as a defensive replacement when he was sidelined with a thumb injury.
While he's done well to hold down the fort at short—alongside a mix of other middle infielders—while Ramirez is on the disabled list (now with a hamstring injury), Sellers isn't much of a hitter.
In the 68 at-bats he's received in 25 games, Sellers has 13 hits with 19 strikeouts, a total that is still not surpassed when factoring in his five walks.
In fact, the 27-year-old infielder has tallied more strikeouts in 68 at-bats than Dodgers leadoff hitter Carl Crawford has in 103 at-bats (16).
Sellers' fielding is solid but his hitting is atrocious.
Juan Uribe: C
Juan Uribe has made it clear through his performance the past two seasons in Los Angeles that he is no longer the player that attracted the Dodgers when he hit 24 home runs with 85 runs batted in and helped lead the Giants to the World Series in 2010.
Perhaps it's a result of his nagging wrist injury, which has sidelined him for more than half of his tenure with the Dodgers, but whatever it may be, he is struggling to get hits.
Nevertheless, Uribe has looked better at the plate in his last 10 games and has also registered a laudable .407 on-base percentage this season with 12 walks in 19 games.
There's still plenty of room for improvement, but Uribe has at least shown an encouraging trend as the Dodgers search for a permanent third baseman.
Jerry Hairston Jr.: B
Jerry Hairston Jr. is a very important asset to the Dodgers as they attempt to mesh a group of All-Star players.
As a 15-year veteran of the MLB, Hairston brings not only experience to the lineup, but also essential versatility in the field, which is especially helpful to a team that is missing its starting shortstop and constantly combating day-to-day injuries with other players.
His .255 average and .304 on-base percentage may not rouse the crowd, but Hairston has more of an offensive influence on the Dodgers than his numbers might suggest.
Hairston is constantly advancing runners with bunts and strategically placed hits to the right side of the infield.
The 36-year-old utility man, who has played everywhere from third base to right field this season, has demonstrated through his play that he's more concerned about the Dodgers winning than padding his own stats.
Nick Punto: A-
Nick Punto has made a splash in his first full season as a utility infielder with the Dodgers.
In the 22 games in which he has played, the 12-year veteran has posted a team-high .459 on-base percentage to complement his admirable .365 batting average.
As evidenced by his relatively low slugging percentage of .404, the bulk of Punto's hits have been singles, but the important thing is that he is getting on base wherever Dodgers manager Don Mattingly throws him in the lineup.
Skip Schumaker: C-
Skip Schumaker hasn't been a fraction of the player that he was in his eight years with the St. Louis Cardinals.
In his first season sporting a Dodgers uniform, the utility man is hitting .143 with a .288 on-base percentage and eight strikeouts in 49 at-bats.
Nonetheless, Schumaker has shown patience at the plate despite his early struggles in the 2013 season and he will likely snap out of his slump and trend toward his career numbers (.285 BA, .344 OBP) very soon.