One of the questions surrounding the Dodgers has been whether manager Don Mattingly would shake his preference—learned at the feet of late-period Joe Torre—for veterans, and put his best players on the field. For most of the season Jimmy Rollins was the starting shortstop and by far L.A.'s worst regular, hitting just .224/.285/.358, getting caught on 8 of 20 stolen base attempts and showing the defensive range you would expect from a 36-year-old. When Rollins suffered a righthand injury on Sept. 6 against the Padres, it created an opportunity for top prospect Corey Seager, 21, and the lefthanded-hitting rookie seized it. Seager has put up a .337/.425/.561 line since his call-up, reaching base in all but one of his 25 starts. Rollins's hand has healed, but he hasn't reclaimed his starting spot; Mattingly has put him in the lineup just five times since his injury. The massive offensive gap between the players dwarfs whatever fielding edge the sure-handed Rollins may have on Seager, who gets to more balls but also makes more mistakes. Because the Dodgers' high-strikeout rotation doesn't especially depend on defense—their starters had the lowest contact rate (76.9%) and second highest swinging strike rate (10.8%) in the majors this season—Mattingly can choose the superior hitter. His best lineup includes Seager at shortstop, especially against the Mets' righthanded power arms.
This is an article from the Oct. 12, 2015 issue