Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hanley Ramirez should bat leadoff for the Dodgers in 2013 and beyond

Something was painfully obvious this season: the Dodgers lacked a legitimate leadoff man.

Dee Gordon, coming off a strong rookie campaign, faltered as the leadoff man and struggled with a wrist injury. The other players used in his place -- mainly Mark Ellis, Tony Gwynn and Shane Victorino -- didn't fare much better.

The Dodgers got below-average production out of the leadoff spot in 2012 (.226/.281/.302). That isn't going to cut it with a team that has Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez hitting in the middle of it.

So, it would seem the Dodgers are in need of a leadoff hitter. But they might have the perfect guy to plug into the leadoff spot right now. His name: Hanley Ramirez.

Ramirez was acquired to be a middle-of-the-order bat, but his talents might better utilized hitting atop the Dodgers' order.

Ramirez's best days came as a leadoff man, as he's hit .309/.385/.536 in his career (403 games). Conversely, he's hit .301/.372/.478 in the No. 3 spot in his career (416 games). With Kemp around, however, that isn't going to happen.

There are more numbers that backup the notion of Ramirez leading off.

In his career, he owns a .322/.381/.649 triple slash when leading off a game. The high slugging percentage is due to the 25 leadoff home runs Ramirez has hit in his career. Not Rickey Henderson, but not bad, either. He also owns a .320/.384/.561 triple slash when he's the first batter of an inning.

The man obviously knows what to do in the leadoff spot despite hitting there just 28 times since the start of the 2010 season.

And something else that's overlooked: Ramirez can still run. He's not going to steal 51 bases as he did in 2006 and 2007, but he could easily swipe 25 as the Dodger leadoff man (maybe more). While Gordon has the ability to steal 60 bases, he can't do it if he isn't getting on base.

There's no way of knowing whether Ramirez could replicate his production from his early days, but using guys like Gordon and Ellis in the leadoff spot isn't good enough for the Dodgers' lineup.

A 1-2-3-4 of Ramirez, Carl Crawford, Kemp, Gonzalez could be quite a sight. That doesn't even include Andre Ethier or any potential offseason additions (Chase Headley, please!).

And before you think Crawford could be a legitimate leadoff man, check out his numbers in the No. 1 spot and his numbers leading off the game or an inning. Not good, and nowhere near Ramirez's numbers.

We'll see if the Dodgers have the stones to hit Ramirez leadoff. To me, it's a no-brainer.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

1 comment:

  1. How big is the sample size for Crawford at lead off or Ramirez for that matter?