Monday, February 26, 2007

Six Slots Down, Two To Go...

Russell Martin just grabbed the sixth spot in the Dodgers' lineup. Grady Little made the announcement from Vero Beach today, leaving Andre Ethier and Wilson Betemit to battle it out for the final two spots in the order:

Martin will bat sixth, Little said Monday, leaving Ethier to bat either seventh or eighth despite his team-leading .308 batting average as a rookie last season.

Ethier also had a higher on-base percentage and slugging percentage than Martin, who hit .282 with 10 home runs, 65 runs batted in and 10 stolen bases as a rookie.

"We want Russell hitting more often than he would batting eighth," Little said. "He moves the ball around and he moves it with authority. I wouldn't be surprised to see this kid hit 15 to 20 home runs."

Little had already established that Rafael Furcal, Juan Pierre, Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez would be the first five in the batting order. With Martin sixth, that leaves third baseman Wilson Betemit and Ethier to bat ahead of the pitcher in some order.

We could certainly use 15 to 20 home runs from Russell. After all the off-season speculation about Martin potentially in the 2 slot, I'm glad Little has opted instead to put him further down the order. Relative to Betemit and Ethier, who have potential replacements chomping at the bit, this should put Martin a bit more at ease, allowing him to focus on avoiding a sophomore slump (and potentially catching Gonzalez if he indeed turns out to be nothing more than a doubles hitter, as feared by his decline in power numbers).


Orel said...

Martin has enough responsibility; he doesn't need the additional pressure of batting second.

Lasorda said...

Is it just me, or is it sort of odd to make these public announcements about batting order and pitching rotation before the first Grapefruit League game even starts? I understand Grady wants to head off these sorts of questions, but it just seems a wee bit premature to cast these things in stone.