AJ Pollock is a guy that doesn’t get a lot of coverage. After signing as a free agent with the Dodgers in the off-season, he played about a month’s worth games before an elbow issue, and subsequent surgery robbed him of more than 2 months. A poor start (.617 OPS in 28 games), plus the exceptional play of rookie outfielder Alex Verdugo buried Pollock into the back of the minds of fans.
However, since returning from the injured list, Pollock has become a model of consistency for Los Angeles. In 55 games since the All-Star break, the veteran is trailing only Justin Turner in OPS (.971>.907). His bat was playing for sure. Now the primary knock on the outfielder was… his outfield play.
After lining up exclusively in center field for most of the season, Pollock was asked to shift to left field early in September. At the time, manager Dave Roberts attributed the move to wanting “better range” in center.
Now, Pedro Moura of the Athletic offers an inside look at “Pollo’s” move to left.
"That’s why I signed here. I wanted to be a part of this."
After a difficult start, A.J. Pollock is healthy and productive for the Dodgers, even while adjusting to a new position. @pedromoura talked to Pollock about coming back strong from injury.https://t.co/IQqpkWoFdx
— The Athletic LA (@TheAthleticLA) September 25, 2019
After being called into the manager’s office and being informed of the change, Pollock didn’t hang his head.
I wasn’t that thrown back when [Roberts] asked me to play left field. Obviously I played center field for a long time. But I like being out there. I’m playing. I like being able to contribute. That’s why I signed here. I wanted to be a part of this. It’s not my job to tell me where I’m playing.
Up until September 2nd this season, center field was all that Pollock had really known. Doc Roberts understands that with change comes a learning curve.
It’s still a work in progress, as far as getting familiar with left field, the jumps on the baseball. The thing I’m most encouraged about is his body is moving really well, better than I’ve seen it move for quite some time.
By The Numbers
Again, the move was necessitated by the numbers. Plain and simple, the outfielder was not good in center in 2019. In 510 innings up the middle, the former Gold Glove winner was worth -9 defensive runs saved. Since moving to left, his DRS is a more respectable -1 in 131 innings.
At his peak in 2015, he posted 14 defensive runs saved. For his part, Pollock feels he can get there once again, but he’s focused now on doing whatever the team needs to win.
I can make plays for the team playing left field. There might be a couple things I’m trying to learn, but if there’s a play in the World Series I’ve gotta make, I feel like I’ve got all of the tools to make it.
One step at a time, AJ… just make sure it’s a good first step.