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2018 Dodgers Position Player Grades

Dodgers
Apr 22, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Chris Taylor (3) and shortstop Corey Seager (5) are greeted after scoring by Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Joc Pederson (31) in the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Here I am going to give out grades for the Dodgers’ regular-season position players. The criteria I based it on was expectations and numbers. Cody Bellinger’s expectations coming in this year were far different than say, Max Muncy’s. The rest was based on my own judgment. I did not include Tim Locastro or Kyle Farmer as unfortunately, they did not have enough at-bats to really warrant a grade. For WAR statistics, I used Fangraphs.

Catchers

Austin Barnes: 205 BA, 619 OPS, 4 HR’s, .3 WAR

Grade= D

Boy oh boy, who remembers 2017 playoff Barnes? 2018 certainly didn’t remember. After a 2.5 WAR season in 2017, the .3 WAR is only mercifully above 0 because of his excellent defense. At the plate, well he was abysmal. I don’t want to continue being cruel to him, but every Dodger fan knows he was painful to watch at the plate. That said, his pitch framing and overall defense behind the plate was stellar. He called a game well and had a good rapport with his pitchers. A catcher doesn’t need to put Mike Piazza numbers up behind the plate, but his offensive numbers were definitely not acceptable.

 

Yasmani Grandal: 241 BA, 815 OPS, 24 HR’s, 3.6 WAR

Grade= B

Yasmani is a perfect example of numbers not telling the full story. Most people reading this will probably groan at the sight of his name. His playoff performance all but guaranteed the sour taste in everyone’s mouths. As a catcher, his regular season numbers are pretty solid. 24 home runs from your starting catcher is very good. .815 OPS from your starting catcher is very good. Despite the apparent hole in his glove through much of the playoffs and other parts of the year, his WAR of 3.6 is pretty even on offense and defense–the numbers say he was a great catcher this year. I’m not grading based on the playoffs, because in truth most of our players wouldn’t get a good grade. In the regular season, Yaz was one of our best.

 

Infielders

Cody Bellinger: 260 BA, 814 OPS, 25 HR’s, 3.6 WAR

Grade= B

We all knew replicating his freshman year in the big leagues was unrealistic, and unfair to the kid. Last year he hit 39 home runs in 132 games. This year the numbers were down, and I suppose they qualify as a sophomore slump, but only compared to last year. 25 home runs is still a good year for dingers–but maybe not what many expected. Personally, the regression was as inevitable, but I’m not entirely sure I expected the ups and downs of his year. I could do an entire article on the absurdity that was Cody Bellinger’s swing. At times it resembled a tennis swing, and other times it resembled the posture of a boy at an 8th grade couple’s dance. Regardless, his production at the plate was good enough to rank 4th among 1st baseman in the NL in home runs. He also lead the Dodgers in total hits.

 

Brian Dozier: 182 BA, 650 OPS, 5 HR’s, -0.2 WAR

Grade= D+

Curtis Grand–I’m sorry, Brian Dozier was a late season acquisition for the Dodgers. The Dodgers front office couldn’t quite get the arms they wanted, so they decided to put their bets on shoring up the offense. Fans didn’t love this trade at first because Dozier wasn’t having a great year–but history was a good bet as he tends to have a hot last 2 months of the season. Other than some flashy plays with the glove, his WAR doesn’t hold his defense in high regard. His offense for the Dodgers was abysmal. There’s no other way to say it. in 47 games he hit .182 with 5 home runs. His hits were few and far between, and in the postseason he also didn’t deliver. I have a D+ grade merely for his flashy plays on defense, and for his enthusiasm and team player attitude.

 

David Freese: .385 BA, 1.130 OPS, 2 HR’s, .8 WAR

Grade= A

I almost didn’t include David Freese. He only played 19 games for us, which inflates those absurd numbers a little bit. His hits were very timely, however, and just like not shining a light on playoff struggles–it’s fair to highlight good performances in those playoffs. He really had some big hits and has always played pretty good defense on 1st. A .8 plus WAR in 19 games is a pretty impressive cumulative state. I think it’s safe to say (fair or not) that Dodger fans would love to have David Freese back. If we don’t, well there’s still Bellinger and Muncy at that possibly crowded spot.

 

Manny Machado: .273 BA, .825 OPS, 13 HR’s, 2.4 WAR

Grade= C+

In 66 games we thought we might get a return of “Mannywood.” Manny Ramirez was red hot during that summer. With Machado what we got was more of a parboil. .273 with 13 home runs isn’t a bad stretch–but it was bad compared to his first half, and bad when you watched his approach at times at the plate. He overreached, was overly aggressive early in counts when he shouldn’t have been, and often left runners on base during a poor at-bat. Everybody was worried about his defense, but his defense (based on the numbers) was very impressive. His attitude left a bit to be desired, and with all the hype before his arrival–most Dodger fans were left wanting more. He’ll definitely get paid this offseason, but likely not be the Dodgers.

 

Max Muncy: .263 BA, .973 OPS, 35 HR’s, 5.2 WAR

Grade= A+

“Who the heck is Max Muncy?” – almost every Dodger fan earlier this year. Through the clown car of injuries this year, Max Muncy found himself a starting job. He rewarded Dodger fans with a flurry of home runs. By mid-year (game 82) he had 17 dingers. With Corey Seager going out injured, and Justin Turner being injured early in the year, Max Muncy’s contributions kept us in the hunt. Looking for a position for him was difficult, especially early on. He didn’t do too well at 2nd base initially, Cody Bellinger was still the primary 1st baseman, and Max Muncy is not a 3rd baseman. Max played so well that Cody Bellinger transitioned into the outfield almost permanently. We got more from him than we ever would have dreamed. Can Max Muncy repeat this in 2019? We shall see.

Chris Taylor: .254 BA, .775 OPS, 17 HR’s, 3.1 WAR

Grade= B-

Chris Taylor was 2017 Max Muncy. He came out of nowhere and went from nobody to playoff hero in the blink of an eye. Expectations of a CT3 regression were apparent if unspoken by many. That said, his numbers aren’t as glossy as last years, but he did post a 3.1 WAR rating, and 17 home runs. Most of the regression had to do with the insane amount of strikeouts. He struck out a lot last year (142) but this year he lead the NL with a whopping 178, in less at-bats than last year. What’s more disturbing was the manner in which these strikeouts came about. The amount of pitches middle of the plate that Chris Taylor looped, er, swung through were maddening. Still, he lead the team in doubles and did a serviceable job playing any position asked of him.

 

Justin Turner: .312 BA, .924 OPS, 14 HR’s, 4.2 WAR

Grade= B+

JT managed to crank out a 4.2 WAR in 103 games. I remember the 5 hit game vs. Miami right after he returned. We looked like a team that had been rejuvenated. He had his down parts of the year, but this man is just a hitting machine. In 103 games he hit 30 doubles. I keep talking about doubles because we needed more of them. He posted an absurd 154 WRC+. His OBP was over .400, and his stellar defense at 3rd would earn him a gold glove were it not for Nolan Arenado. Still, his leadership and veteran presence are what make JT a fan favorite and a valuable Dodger.

 

Chase Utley: .213 BA, .610 OPS, 1 HR, 0.1 WAR

Grade= C-

Maybe grading a (should be but probably won’t) Hall of Fame player in his last year is cruel and pointless. Still, he had 164 at-bats and appeared in 87 games. Chase Utley has been at the decline and the mercy of Father Time. His bat speed is gone, and his foot speed (though he’s in incredible shape) isn’t what it used to be. I’m almost required to talk about his veteran leadership, his influence on his son Enrique, and what he gives to the clubhouse. I just did. Chase is a beast, and we’ll miss him. On the field though, he just couldn’t quite give us any more.

 

Outfielders

Kiké Hernandez: .256 BA, .806 OPS, 21 HR’s, 3.3 WAR

Grade= B

Mr. utility man, and one of everybody’s leading Dodger personalities, Kiké put up numbers in a mostly full time role that most of us did not expect. His last 2 weeks he was on fire, which help bring up his final average a bit–as he was definitely one of the many Dodgers susceptible to very cold streaks during the season. Still, 21 HR’s while playing every position except catcher is a value not many can offer–and a 3.3 WAR actually surprised me a bit. Despite his abysmal playoff performance this year, Kiké proved he has more in the tank than previously thought. He gave the Dodgers excellent output.

 

Matt Kemp: .290 BA, .818 OPS, 21 HR’s, 1.6 WAR

Grade= B+

All star Matt Kemp. Didn’t think those words would be included in an article this year. Matt Kemp managed to find the fountain of youth (for at least the first half) this year and really carried the Dodger offense when not a lot of production was happening. When we traded for Matt Kemp–the question was “which AL team are we going to trade him to, and for what in return?” Nobody really thought he’d play a game in a Dodger uniform in the same way everybody knew Adrian Gonzalez wouldn’t play a game for the Braves. He had a great spring training, and he was batting somewhere above .350 near to the all-star break. The inevitable regression came, but when you expect literally NOTHING from a player, and get an all-star, you get a great grade.

 

Joc Pederson: .248 BA, .843 OPS, 25 HR’s, 2.7 WAR

Grade= B-

Joc had an interesting performance this year. For a while he was trying to hit more for average, and the power regressed. Then we started with his current swing, which is more akin to shoveling out dirt. Surprisingly, it was effective. 25 home runs while also batting almost .250 is impressive for Joc, considering he struck out less than 100 times. He’s still completely useless against left handed pitchers, but he also still is a valuable outfielder. Our ‘large adult son’ appears to be growing up.

 

Yasiel Puig: .267 BA, .820 OPS, 23 HR’s, 1.8 WAR

Grade= B-

The Wild Horse has a fairly consistent year this year compared to last. His walks went down quite a bit, but in slightly less playing time he still put up almost the same average, only 5 less home runs, and good defense in the field. His defense wasn’t quite the same as last years either however. It’d be unfair to call any of that a ‘regression’ as it didn’t go down dramatically enough. I would have liked to have seen a few more walks in place of the ground-outs, but overall, Yasiel Puig had a solid season.

 

Alex Verdugo: .260 BA, .706 OPS, 1 HR, 0.2 WAR

Grade= B-

I almost didn’t include Alex Verdugo. He didn’t have too many at-bats (Toles had less, hence not including him) but I decided he was worth a grade. For a rookie, this kid has a lot of poise at the plate. He didn’t chase outside of the zone very often, and his contact was solid. In the outfield, he could use a little more of a quick step to the ball, but his development should get him there. I see him fighting for a role in 2019.

 

Conclusion

The Dodgers 2018 performance left some to be desired in terms of consistency, but the overall production was there. We certainly had some surprises, regressions, and frustrations. Overall though, I give the entire team a grade of a B+. We were lambasted with injuries and bad luck, and we made it to another World Series.

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Written by AJ Gonzalez

AJ is a lifelong Dodgers fan who grew up in California. His whole family are also lifelong Dodgers fans. He lives in Tennessee with his wife, daughter, beagle, and strat.

5 Comments

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  1. Stats do not provide an accurate picture of Grandal’s defense as it does not include the numerous misplays that do not show up on stat lines like being crossed up, failing to block pitches in dirt, failing to hold on to balls when attempting to tag out runners, not catching throws from infield and OF, losing sight of balls, etc. And his offense is so streaky that he vanishes for lengthy periods during the season. No better than a “C” for me.

  2. No Major quibbles, although I would drop Grandal to a C. A hitter that is either hot or cold and has seemingly weeks when he can do nothing but ground into double plays or strike out with men on base deserves no higher grade. I would like to see an upgrade at this position. His defense, especially post season was nothing to write home about. Also think the Dodgers should have someone work with Muncy at playing 2nd. He needs to be in there every day.

  3. I would also drop Grandal to a C- and for the pitching, I would give a C+ grade. No higher because of the many many HR’s served up during the year and PS that costs the Dodgers close, tight games. the BP decisions made by DR and FO speak for themselves and was a huge factor in Dodgers losing the WS for the 2nd straight year AT HOME. Of course the one dimensional offense throughout the year ultimately was not the type of offense to get a WS ring.

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