Dodgers Offense Tops in the National League

Tim WilliamsContributor IMay 6, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 05:  Second baseman Orlando Hudson (L) #13 and right fielder Andre Ethier #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers can't make a catch on a ball hit by Conor Jackson of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on May 5, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

As of May 6, the Dodgers have the best record in baseball at 20-8, while being undefeated at home in Dodger Stadium, where they are 12-0 (which is tied for a modern major league record with the 1911 Detroit Tigers). Compared to other teams in the NL, the Dodgers are ranked first in runs scored (151), tied for first with the Mets in batting average (.282), and third in on base percentage + slugging percentage, or OPS, trailing the Cardinals and the Phillies.Keep in mind, the Dodgers play in pitching-friendly Dodger Stadium, where teams such as the Cardinals and Phillies play in notorious hitter’s parks (Busch Stadium and Citizen’s Bank Park, respectively).

This makes the Dodger lineup that much more potent compared to the rest of the league. Looking up and down the Dodger lineup, there are not any major weak spots which can be exploited, even though some hitters have been struggling. Here is the starting eight and current stats as of May 6 with batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage in that order. I will evaluate each player and give them a letter grade based on offensive stats.

  1. SS : Rafael Furcal - .248 / .325 / .314. Furcal has started off very slow, a complete 180 turn since last April, where he was an MVP frontrunner until he went down with a bad back. The main thing the Dodgers are looking at is Furcal’s health, which is good. Until he starts hitting however, Furcal is below average, so he gets a “D”.
  2. 2B : Orlando Hudson - .333 / .411 /.526. The O-Dog has been nothing short of spectacular with the glove, but his hitting has been even better. Concerns rose among fans and management about the health of his surgically repaired wrist, but those concerns have been tossed away after the first month, as fans and management have fallen in love with the energetic O-Dog the moment he hit for the cycle in his first day wearing blue at Dodger Stadium. Currently, he is the second best second basemen in the league, behind only Chase Utley. O-Dog deserves an “A”.
  3. LF : Manny Ramirez - .348 / .491 / .640. What needs to be said about the future Hall of Famer? After a slow start, Manny has finally come around and is doing what he does best…hitting home runs and driving in runs. It appears he is getting the “Bonds treatment” so far this year as he leads the league in walks with 25, but can you blame opposing pitchers? Manny gets an A-.
  4. RF : Andre Ethier - .327 / .439 / .574. Ethier, since last year, has been the most prominent player to suffer from the “Manny effect.” That is, he has been getting great pitches to hit and is taking advantage of Manny’s placement in the line-up. He has been just behind Albert Pujols in league leaders for RBI and it doesn’t looking if’s going to slow down. However, Ethier is also leading the league in grounding into double plays, killing rally innings. Ethier gets a B+.
  5. C : Russell Martin - .222 / .327 / .267. Only one word comes to mind about Martin’s hitting so far, Yikes! 2007 seems like 10 years ago the way Martin is batting right now. The two-time All-Star is not seeing the ball very well, as his strike-out ratio is much higher so far this year than it has been the last couple years. Martin gets a D-.
  6. 1B : James Loney - .270 / .368 / .340. James power numbers have been declining since 2007 when he was a rookie, which should not happen. Although James is a timely hitter who has good career numbers with men in scoring position, his tendency to ground into the double play and lack of power make him an average to below average first-basemen. C-.
  7. CF : Matt Kemp - .289 / .369 / .515. After a hot start at the plate, Matt Kemp has fallen back to earth over the past couple weeks. His high amount of strikeouts still plague him, but he is only 24, so there is much room for improvement. Matty gets a B, because he is an above average hitting center-fielder.
  8. 3B : Casey Blake - .230 / .317 / .437. Not doing too bad for a #8 hitter. 5 home-runs and 15 RBI does not make him an easy out, and there is still plenty of pop in his bat. The low batting average and on-base % is not pretty, but there are much worse elsewhere in the league for a #8 hitter. Casey gets a C.

To recap:

Furcal, D.

Hudson, A.

Manny, A-.

Ethier, B+.

Martin, D-.

Loney, C-.

Kemp, B.

Blake, C.