Friday, May 18, 2012
Leadoff issues not limited to one guy
By Tony Jackson
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon was out early on Friday, well before batting practice, and spent a lot of that time working on his bunting while bench coach Trey Hillman fed balls into a pitching machine. Will it help him become a better leadoff man instead of the guy who has gone 2-for-26 over his past six games and appears to be utterly lost at the plate? Who knows? But in fairness to Gordon, this should be pointed out:
There is something about batting first in the Dodgers order this season that is virtual kryptonite to a guy's offensive numbers, and it isn't limited to Gordon.
Three guys have hit leadoff for the Dodgers this year: Gordon, Tony Gwynn and Justin Sellers. Sellers has done it just once, such a small sample size that we're going to throw him out of this equation and look solely at Gordon and Gwynn.
In games in which they have hit leadoff, Gordon and Gwynn are hitting a combined .204 with a .253 on-base percentage -- far below the level of acceptability. And while it's true that Gordon screws up the math because he has hit there in all but six games this season -- he has hit .204 with a .245 OBP -- Gwynn has hit just .200 in the leadoff spot, with a .304 OBP. Compare that to Gwynn's perfectly acceptable overall marks of .282 and .346, and you have to wonder what it is about the leadoff spot.
Those numbers are also somewhat skewed by the fact they include games in which Gwynn might have been slotted first after entering a game defensively in the late innings, but they still give you a general idea.
For now, in the eyes of manager Don Mattingly at least, Gordon still is the best option for hitting leadoff, so he will hit there again on Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Bobby Abreu, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Adam Kennedy, 3B
James Loney, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Tony Gwynn, CF
Ted Lilly, LH