Dodgers-Braves NLDS Preview: Who Has The Better Offense, Bench?

Another sparkplug in the lineup has been rookie Yasiel Puig. The Cuban slugger finished the season with a .319 batting average, a .391 on-base percentage and 19 home runs. The offense will be without Matt Kemp and also could be without Andre Ethier in the starting lineup. That leaves an outfield to include Carl Crawford and either Skip Schumaker or Scott Van Slyke.

Crawford was a pleasant surprise in left field for the Dodgers coming off Tommy John surgery and a couple of bad seasons in Boston. Crawford finished with a .283 batting average and hit 30 doubles. Between Schumaker and Van Slyke, manager Don Mattingly must choose between two different players. Van Slyke provides a power bat that hit seven home runs and eight doubles in 129 at-bats, but is not the most graceful out in the field. Schumaker provides a slight upgrade in the outfield over Van Slyke, but is more of a situational hitter with a good eye.

In the infield, the Dodgers have a few role players that have done their job well this season. After beginning the season behind Luis Cruz at third base, Juan Uribe has been the most surprising Dodger of the season with a consistent bat and great defense. Uribe finished the season on a hot streak hitting .308 in September with five home runs.

At second base, Mark Ellis has been moved up and down the lineup, but has produced well in all spots. He ended the season at .270 and was mostly used in the second spot of the lineup to sacrifice and move runners around. The Dodgers have another Ellis in their lineup, A.J., the catcher. Ellis had an up-and-down season but finished with decent numbers for a batter usually found in the eighth spot. Ellis had 10 home runs and 17 doubles, but has carved a small niche for hitting in the clutch highlighted by his go ahead home run to clinch the division in Arizona.


The Braves bench could contain a $75 million man, depending upon what Gonzalez chooses to do in the outfield. B.J. Upton could find himself used as a defensive replacement or pinch-hitter in favor of Gattis. Backup catcher Gerald Laird hit a decent .281 backing up McCann and/or Gattis.

Providing speed off the bench, outfielder Jordan Schafer had good numbers coming in as a pinch-hitter, hitting .280 with a home run in 25 at-bats and 22 stolen bases. The Braves have another outfielder with good numbers as a pinch-hitter in Reed Johnson. The former Dodger had 38 at-bats as a pinch-hitter and hit .289 with a home run and six RBI. The last player expected to be on the bench is backup infielder Paul Janish and the shortstop is known more for defense and only played in 52 games this season.

The bench for the Dodgers contains many players that have had significant playing time due to injuries this season. All signs seem to point to Schumaker being used if Ethier can’t start. This leaves the Dodgers with a power bat off the bench in Van Slyke, who had four hits in 10 at-bats as a pinch-hitter.

If Ethier is used as a pinch-hitter, that provides a left-handed power bat off the bench. Ethier had a pinch-hit home run earlier this season. Behind the plate, Tim Federowicz provides a solid backup that has some power. Veteran utility player Nick Punto can play any spot in the infield and gives the Dodgers a switch-hitter to use. Michael Young is similar to Punto, in the fact that he can play any position in the infield. Young provides a solid bat off the bench that can start in certain matchups, as he hit .314 since joining the Dodgers.

Depending on how many pitchers the Dodgers take, the Dodgers may choose Jerry Hairston, Jr. or Dee Gordon as the 25th player. Hairston has struggled in the second half of the season and would be more of a defensive player at this point, while Gordon would be used primarily as a pinch-runner.

So what do you think, who has the better offense and bench?


In case you missed it, here’s the latest on Andre Ethier’s injured ankle.


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