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Dodger Infielder Projections: Baseball Reference

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 31: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers congratulates Justin Turner #10 on his eighth inning home run against the Arizona Diamondbacksat Dodger Stadium on August 31, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

In this article series I’ll be breaking down the projections for the 2019 Dodgers. I’ll breaking it down into sections, and this is the infield. For projections, I used Baseball Reference.

Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger’s sophomore year was inevitably going to be heavily scrutinized. His dip in power was very much expected, as repeating his pace from his rookie year would be pretty unfair to expect. What was surprising, were the cold spells he had, and the drastic changes in his batting stance. He reached Joc Pederson levels of tinkering. His batting stance stood somewhere between ‘tennis swing after Sunday brunch’ to ‘8th grade dance with your rear out’ levels of ugly. That’s okay, though. After hitting 39 home runs in an abbreviated season in his rookie year, it’s understandable that one might over adjust next year when the results aren’t similar. He still played great defense in multiple places, hit 25 dingers, and had an OPS over .800. Here are his BREF projections for 2019.

BREF 2019 Projections:

Tm Age PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Proj. 23 571 503 80 133 26 5 28 80 11 2 63 138 0.264 0.348 0.503 0.851

They project Cody is still going to hit 28 home runs and they predict he’s going to slug over .500, and post an .850 ops.

My thoughts/projection: I think this is a solid projection, but I think he’s going to hit closer to 33 home runs. I see Cody finding a more consistent swing and approach at the plate, and he’s going to be an all star. You can book it Ask @brookme3 to brook it. @Diamondhoggers might have Cody Bellinger hitting 45 home runs, though.

David Freese

Here’s BREF’s 2019 projection for David Freese.

Year Tm Age PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2019 Proj. 36 406 356 44 93 16 1 11 48 1 1 38 102 0.261 0.343 0.404 0.748

BREF is astoundingly good at taking player projections from year to year. They take his age into account and the fact that he’ll be heavily platooned due to the fact that the Dodgers technically have 3 first basemen. Mostly, he’ll compete with Max Muncy for 1st base playing time.

BREF predicts he’ll repeat his 11 home run output, which I think is probably accurate. The only real place I see a possibly deviance on these projections is the batting average.

My thoughts/projection: I know batting average has fallen out of favor in terms of how it’s weighted, but it still speaks to something. With the way the Dodgers use platoons, I think David Freese may get on base or get hits more often. He’ll see more lefty pitchers as a Dodger, which I think means he’ll hit closer to .290. He’ll hit more doubles too, so his SLG percentage will be higher than their projected .404, too.

 

Max Muncy

Here’s the one I was most curious about. How do you predict the statistics for a guy who didn’t have a job last spring, but then hit 35 home runs in 395 at bats? BREF’s answer is to reach for moderation, which is probably the right call.

Year Tm Age PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2019 Proj. 28 441 372 60 92 16 2 23 60 3 1 61 111 0.247 0.358 0.487 0.844

23 dingers in roughly the same amount of at-bats is actually pretty nice. I sincerely hope nobody is expecting Max Muncy to crush 35 home runs in under 400 at bats again? We’d all welcome it, but let’s temper our expectations or we’re bound to be let down. That’s asking a lot.

My thoughts/projection: With all that said, I could see Max figuring out the holes and hitting somewhere closer to 28 home runs. He has great power on all pitches, hits lefties fairly well, and should still be able to muscle a few out. That would bring his SLG percentage over .500, where I believe he’ll wind up. I do see his BA predicted accurately, and his OBP prediction looks good. He had a 2018 OBP of .391, which is incredibly impressive–and likely unsustainable. .358 is probably much more likely.

 

Corey Seager

Dodger fans everywhere were heartbroken last year when Corey went down for the year. His 2019 is obviously 100% reliant on his health. BREF seems to think Corey Seager won’t have a full season.

Year Tm Age PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2019 Proj. 25 319 284 44 83 17 1 11 37 2 1 30 64 0.292 0.364 0.475 0.839

Well those weren’t the numbers we expected to see, eh? 319 plate appearances means he misses a good portion of the season, about half. So far all things point to a healthy Corey Seager, so I’m going BIG with my 2019 projection for Corey.

My thoughts/projection: He’s going to hit around 292 the way BREF predicts, but I think he’ll play closer to a full year, and he’s going to hit 30 home runs. He has tremendous power to all fields, and I think he’s going to have a comeback year. 30 dingers, SLG over .500, and that OPS should be closer to .900.

[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/list-of-2018-dodgers-player-reviews/2019/01/03/” type=”big” color=”red”] All 2018 Season Player Reviews[/button]

Chris Taylor

CT3’s 2018 tends to look better on paper than Dodger fans seem to believe. CT3 sure did strike out a lot in 2018, yes, but his production was still solid overall. Here’s BREF’s 2019 projection for Christopher Armand Taylor.

Year Tm Age PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2019 Proj. 28 559 500 77 130 31 6 17 63 11 4 49 150 0.260 0.332 0.448 0.78

So if you look closely at those numbers, they bear a striking resemblance to 2018’s numbers. Same HR and RBI totals, even his OBP projection is almost exactly the same. BREF also sees CT3 striking out about 30 less times this year though. His projected strike out totals are closer to what he posted in 2017. Overall BREF projects CT3 will have a better year in 2019.

My thoughts/projection: His 2017 performance isn’t going to happen again, folks. OK — it’s not likely to happen again. His 2017 OPS of .850 is not something we’re likely to see again. I predict we’re going to get what BREF is guessing, but I think he’ll hit a few more home runs. I see CT3 hitting around 20-23 dingers this year, and he could possibly post an .800 OPS. If he can cut down his strikeouts to around 140 again, he’s going to be an extremely valuable player. Calling it: 21 home runs, .800 ops, 135 K’s.

 

Justin Turner

I remember 100% when JT got hit in the wrist at the end of spring training last year. I was so devastated. Despite missing 59 games, JT still posted a 4.5 (BREF of course) WAR and still posted an OBP over .400 for the 2nd year in a row. Let’s see what BREF projects for his 2019 season.

Year Tm Age PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2019 Proj. 34 467 405 60 116 27 1 17 58 4 1 45 71 0.286 0.370 0.484 0.854

Not a terrible projection. An OBP of .370 is fantastic, 17 dingers is good. They’re low-balling him on SLG and OPS, considering over 2 years in a row he slugged over .500 and posted an ops over .900. I see better things (provided JT is healthy.)

My thoughts/projection: I understand JT is now 34, so age is a factor. I understand health can also be a factor. That said, I don’t care. JT is going to hit over .300 again, and his OBP will be around .400 for the 3rd year in a row. JT is going to slug 20 home runs, hit over 30 doubles, and post a SLG percentage and OPS over .500 and .900, respectively.

HR: 20, BA: 315, OBP: 401, 2B: 31, SLG: 525, OPS: 926.

 

Final Thoughts:

I’ll be doing the outfielders, catchers, and pitching staffs soon. The Dodgers have a lot of holes to plug in terms of the production they lost this offseason. Personally, I think they’re going to make up for them in the aggregate places they didn’t get them all last year. I’m predicting most of our players are going to perform slightly better than they did last year. That’s where the Dodgers plug the missing production. Book it.

Do you think these infielders transcend their predictions? Or miss them?

[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/dave-roberts-sheds-some-light-on-the-dodgers-plan/2019/01/22/” type=”big” color=”red”] Dave Roberts Sheds Some Light on the Dodgers’ Plan[/button]

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.

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  1. A lot of stuff to cover, but I will keep it short. Cody belong in your OF assessment. Unless Muncy is traded, injured, or tanks early in the season, Cody is an OF’er. Look for Freese on average to play 3b once a week; likely 30+ times in 2019 season to keep Turner fresh. Muncy? I think the new hitting coach and Dodgers change in hitting approach will be great for Muncy who is a patient hitter and when hitting to the opposite field stays on pitches extremely well. I believe the numbers predicted for Seager are significantly understated — Roberts said that Seager will be 100% at the start of spring training. Chris Taylor batted ball in play % were .361 in 2017 and .345 last season. If he reduces his K’s to 2017 level (from 30% to 25%) he will put up a slash line similar to 2017. If coaches can help him get his K rate down to 20% Chris Taylor can put up legit All Star stats for second basemen. I agree with your projections for Turner.

  2. Well written and thanks for the numbers. Completely agree w SoCal that CB should not have been listed here. He’s stated he wants to play CF and with what we saw last year he absolutely should be. IMO all of the stats predict accurately with exception to Muncy. I just don’t see that big of a drop off for him. His patience, keen eye, and professional approach to every AB will keep him above .260 with 28 plus HRs with 40 not being unrealistic. Hopefully his glove will improve a bit this year and they don’t try forcing him to play out of position as much in 2019.

  3. Thanks for these articles on the positions for the Dodgers. I still am curious on how much time Muncy gets at 2nd base. His fielding percentage is actually quite good. I agree as usual with SoCalBum and dieselguy19 on Muncy. I am very curious how the outfield and infield play out as far as playing time. The Dodgers need to keep Muncy in the line up if he continues his plate discipline as the entire FO and coaching staff mentioned more consistent at bats across the line up. If they can continue to grind out at bats and get pitch counts up they will be successful.
    But like Nomar Garciaparra says if you see a good pitch be ready to swing. Several of the guys watched fastball strikes right across the middle of the plate last year and had two strike on them it seemed every at bat. That is how you strike out so many times. They should all learn two strike approach from JT as he has consistently had one of the top averages with two strikes in the league.

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