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Here We Go
2003-01-06 14:27
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Here we go - it's time for Dodger Thoughts, 2003. Allow me to skip the preamble and just start churning content!

The Dodgers open the season in March for the first time, I believe, with a road game in Arizona on Monday, March 31 at 12:05 p.m. Pacific Time. The Dodger home opener is also against the Diamondbacks, one week later at 1:10 p.m.

I'm going to start off this week/month/year by going over the Dodger roster and lineup.

Here are the projected starters: (Note: OPS is on-base average plus slugging percentage. This is a handy figure to measure a batter's overall production, incorporating hits, extra-base hits, and walks. Anything above 1.000 is superb; anything below .700 is poor.)

1. L Dave Roberts, CF .718 OPS
----Solid, and did well enough against LHP to deserve full-time chance
2. R Paul Lo Duca, C .731 OPS
----Had a more demanding, less productive year than in 2002.
3. L Shawn Green, RF .944 OPS
----So streaky: Barry Bonds one day, Barry Williams the next
4. R Brian Jordan, LF .807 OPS
----His whole season was in September: 30 RBI, .967 OPS
5. L Fred McGriff, 1B .858 OPS
----Had .946 OPS, 28 HR vs. RHP; .620 OPS, 2 HR vs. LHP in 2002
6. R Adrian Beltre, 3B .729 OPS
----Most promising Dodger since Mondesi Ð can he avoid being bigger disappointment?
7. L Joe Thurston, 2B .967 OPS
----196 hits in minors last year, but will he get half that in majors this year?
8. S Alex Cora, SS .805 OPS
----Surprisingly useful at plate, but Dodgers may still go with Cesar Izturis (.556)

The best thing about this lineup is the mix of lefties and righties - it's a really good balance. I do think first base will be an improvement over last year, if the Dodgers platoon McGriff with Mike Kinkade (1.083 OPS, 1.219 OPS vs. LHP).

But Green is still the only hitter in this lineup that scares you, and he only scares you during his hot streaks. Similarly, Jordan and Beltre are each good for a couple of streaks of their own each year, but have been inconsistent. The other five players, even at their best, aren't going to kill you. There is room for improvement across-the-board - no one in this lineup exceeded their potential last year - but with the exception of Beltre and Green, it would be more likely that the players would see a dropoff. That's what's scary.

The biggest question mark is Thurston, who has only 15 career plate appearances. There's nothing to suggest he won't have some struggles - unless you think the Dodgers are due for some luck.

Next: The bench.

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