Seriously. I'm freaked out. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Last night, the Dodgers lost their fourth straight game. They hung in there against Zack Greinke, the Brewers ace, and mounted a minor threat in the 9th against the Brewers bullpen. But A.J. Ellis
Ryan Hanigan grounded into a double play that dashed whatever slim chances the Dodgers Reds had at pulling even. In case you didn't know, Ellis Hanigan is having quite a season so far. In this, his age 31 season, the Dodgers Reds finally gave him a shot at the starting catcher job and he's taken full advantage of the opportunity. And this is a guy who has batted eighth for the Dodgers Reds for most of the season. But last night, manager Don Mattingly Dusty Baker slotted Ellis Hanigan in at 2nd in the order.
The grounding into double plays was one of the main concerns Mattingly
Baker had with moving Ellis Hanigan up in the lineup. But you see, Ellis' Hanigan's gorgeous .429 .369 OBP so far this season was just too sexy for Mattingly Baker to ignore any longer. Mattingly Baker had tried to spark the top of the lineup with speedsters like centerfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. Drew Stubbs and rookie shortstop Dee Gordon Zack Cozart over the first few months, but they combined for an OBP of under .265 .200 out of the lead-off spot. That's just not cutting it. Mattingly Baker needed tablesetters for his big boppers Andre Ethier Jay Bruce and Matt Kemp Joey Votto (who's now back on the DL) (who's healthy and great), and so he went the unconventional route and slotted his slow-footed, sure-batted catcher at the top of the lineup.
Who knows if this will really work out for the Dodgers
Reds. I mean, Ellis Hanigan is still kind of untested, as he's never had to manage this kind of playing time before. He's 31, and even though his career .388 .371 OBP is elite, he's never really hit for much power (career SLG of .395 .370). But he controls the strikezone well and, most importantly, doesn't make outs. So when you think about it, he's really an ideal candidate to hit at the top of the order. The whole point is to get guys on base for your run producers, right? And this guy gets on base, plain and simple.
So good on Mattingly
Baker for making the move. It's somewhat unconventional to have a slow catcher hitting at the top of your lineup, but this guy is a special kind of hitter. And quite frankly, it's not like the same old, same old has worked too well so far. So keep your eye on A.J. Ellis Ryan Hanigan. I have a feeling the Dodgers Reds offense is going to be better off with him in a key role.