Key to Dodgers’ offense lies in Grandal, Pederson and Puig

Folks are concerned about the Dodgers’ offense, and rightfully so. Despite a 106 weighted runs created plus (third-best in baseball), the Dodgers finished with 667 runs scored — 19th-most in baseball.

There was a bit of a disconnect. The Dodgers led the National League in home runs, but couldn’t turn a collective .326 on-base percentage into more runs scored.

Health was the biggest issue for the Dodgers. Yasiel Puig was more generally ineffective after June 22 (.224/.285/.404), Joc Pederson was a sub-.200 hitter after May 1 (but still posted a .328 on-base percentage) and Yasmani Grandal, after a torrid four months to start the season, finished with a .064/.226/.096 triple slash after Aug. 6.

Those are three productive offensive players — probably three of the best on the team — and to have them struggle or be out for the amount of time they all did in 2015, and the offensive numbers are going to look worse than they could have been.

The health of those three players is imperative to the Dodgers’ offensive success in 2015. You know what you’re going to get out of Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier should still be productive against right-handers and, as long as the surgery went well. Justin Turner should be one of the best hitters on the team. The second base situation is probably the biggest question mark, but as long as Chase Utley can hit near-league-average against righties, it should be a productive offensive position. And a full season of Corey Seager should be infinitely better than Jimmy Rollins.

Unless Seager goes full prime-Derek Jeter, those guys alone aren’t enough to make up for three good, young hitters not performing up to expectations (for whatever reason). As long as everyone pulls his own weight, the Dodger offense is going to be fine. It’s a big “if” whether Puig can be healthy and hit like he did his first two seasons, or if Pederson can be as productive as he was in the first half or if Grandal’s production was the exception or the rule. Odds are if Grandal is healthy, he’ll be productive again. He’s the best bet to regain his form, despite the offseason shoulder surgery.

I mean, look at this potential lineup against RHP:

Puig RF
Seager SS
Gonzalez 1B
Turner 3B
Ethier LF
Grandal C
Utley 2B
Pederson CF

And against LHP:

Puig RF
Seager SS
Turner 3B
Gonzalez 1B
Van Slyke LF
Grandal C
Hernandez 2B
Pederson CF

Honestly, not a lot of holes in either lineup. There’s a run on lefties in the first lineup, but it shouldn’t be an issues against righties.

A more consistent offense is something the Dodgers should strive for in 2016, and it could come without making any significant additions to the roster. Don’t expect a Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon or Justin Upton to be signed. Also expect the Dodgers to take advantage of platoon situations. Contrary to popular belief, platoons are not a bad thing.

There are still holes on this roster, but there aren’t many when it comes to offense — at least this season. I’m expecting a better run-scoring Dodger team in 2016.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.