The Los Angeles Dodgers have a glut of outfielders, plenty of people who you could count on in some capacity to give you production and innings out there while the team tries to win their first championship since 1988. However, do they really have that much depth in the outfield? Or is it a mirage?
As the team goes into the new season, it appears that Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig have their positions already guaranteed in center field and right field, respectively. That leaves plenty of other options out there for the team as far as left field is concerned, but even those options come with problems themselves.
Every single one of those outfielders comes with some sort of question attached, the biggest being the ability of Puig and Crawford to remain healthy. Lots of options, little certainty.
There are definitely questions attached to all of them, as Dilbeck notes. Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford are definitely injury risks, Joc Pederson had a terrible second half of 2015, and Andre Ethier is going on 34 years old and can’t hit left-handed pitching. And those are just the well-known guys.
Scott Van Slyke watched his OPS drop by 200 points last season compared to 2014, Trayce Thompson is still a young player who also regressed towards the end of 2015 as he hit just .203 over his last 20 games, and Kike Hernandez is a bit of a wild card that only played 76 games last year.
The team has a ton of outfielders, but very little answers to the questions:
Any combination of these seven could receive plenty of playing time, depending on the health and production of the others. Ethier, Crawford and Pederson bat left-handed; the others hit from the right side. There could be platoons galore, impacting the lineup on a daily basis.
As the season gets underway on April 4th, we still don’t know who the starting left fielder will be. The team definitely has the depth to survive a down season here or there from outfielders, but they can’t afford multiple players out there struggling or getting injured. It’s still a volatile situation that’ll be interesting to watch in Spring Training.