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Dodgers: Analyzing the Second Base Problem

Outside of the bullpen, second base remains an unsolved issue for the team.

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 17: Enrique Hernandez #14 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws out a runner after diving for a ground ball in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 17, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Dodgers won 6-0. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Dodgers have a lackluster bullpen that will not get any better without some sort of dramatic change. The club also appears to have a similar issue on their hands with their current second basemen corps.

The current plan of action is to run Max Muncy, Kiké Hernandez, and Chris Taylor out to second base for their shares of playing time. Muncy has enjoyed a fantastic year, Kiké Hernandez has been well below-average, and Chris Taylor has picked things up of late, but still is about league-average.

Let us take a look at where the Dodgers’ second basemen rank amongst the MLB in some key statistics:

AVG: .215 (27th)

OBP: .282 (27th)

OPS: .674 (19th)

wRC+: 79 (19th)

WAR: 0.5 (t-17th)

K%: 22.7% (21st)

WPA: -0.46 (17th)

Lackluster to say the least. Now let’s look at the contributions from the three main sharers of the playing time when they play second base:

Max Muncy: .196/.288/.471 and 1 DRS

Kiké Hernandez: .239/.306/.411 and 5 DRS

Chris Taylor: .275/.333/.431 and 0 DRS

Muncy has been pretty poor offensively at second base for some reason, Hernandez has been pretty solid defensively but lacks the offensive ability, and Chris Taylor has been the best of the bunch at the plate.

This is a serious problem and quite possibly as serious as the bullpen problem. Although the offense is a strong suit of the club, second base is a real liability. Luckily, there are some options available on the trade market this year — guys like Scooter Gennett and Whit Merrifield.

Merrifield has excelled this year with a .293/.342/.476 slash line to go with 7 homers and 9 steals. Gennett has yet to accrue an at-bat this year for the Cincinnati Reds due to injury.

Gavin Lux, currently at Tulsa, could find time eventually, especially considering Corey Seager will miss over a month due to injury.

The problem needs fixing and soon.

Written by Daniel Preciado

My name is Daniel Preciado and I am 18 years old. I am a sophomore Sport Analytics major and Cognitive Science and Economics dual minor at Syracuse University. When I am not in New York, I live in Whittier, California --- not too far from Chavez Ravine. I am pretty old-school for being an analytics guy and I will always embrace debate. Also, Chase Utley did absolutely nothing wrong.

23 Comments

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  1. I wouldn’t rule out a reunion with our old pal Howie Kendrick. He’s having his usual .300 BA with more pop than when he was here. He’d be a rental so he shouldn’t cost too much and he only makes about $4 million I believe. We need to be proactive and not let any weakness rear their ugly heads come October.

  2. Two words to solve this problem……….Gavin Lux………and why don’t you talk about Austin Barnes? That IS another problem…….I am comfortable with Russell Martin……..I am comfortable with Will Smith…….but Barnes has been a failure offensively and it’s time to admit it.

    • Correct ya are on all counts here, bluz1st.. I posted on the Seager to IL page that my biggest concern is putting Kike or CT3 batting 5th behind Bellinger. THAT IS EXACTLY ZERO protection for him and he will perhaps continue his slide as a result because opposing pitchers will not have to pitch to Cody at all with either of those guys behind him and Beaty is NOT the answer to bat 5th either. Gavin Lux won’t be called up just yet because Dodgers most likely want him to get AB’s at the AAA level first in any event.

      • Paul, I responded to your post from yesterday, and sent it from my phone while attending my grands band concert. When I checked this morning, only half of it was sent. For that, I am sorry. At present, we need a right handed bat, and one QUALITY BP pitcher. Second base will pose another issue. I agree with you about Lux. Muncy, I feel, can handle it. In a real pinch, Barnes has played second base for us. Whit Merrifeld might be the answer if our FO wishes to spend some cash!!!! I have no clue what they will do. An artilce on today’s Dodgers Nation speaks about the Blue obtaining BP depth; and then, they sign Zac Rosscup to a contract. This makes no sense to me!!!! I need to talk to PD Jr about this conundrum!!!!! Go Blue!!!

      • Couldn’t agree more! There were several games where Seager was batting behind Belli and I think the key game was in SF when batting behind Belli, Seager went 4-5 2 doubles and 4 ribi, the very next game they put Kike between Seager and Belli with Seager going 1-3 and Belli 0-4.

  3. For the next 4-6 weeks this will be mostly a 2-man problem as either Hernandez or Taylor will get the starts a SS to replace Seager. Roberts gave as much playing time as possible to Taylor to have him work out of his slump. I don’t think the recent match-ups have allowed him to be as kind to Kike, who started off hot and has long since cooled this season. All 3 have proved to be excellent on defense. I don’t think we need to bring in another problem rental.

  4. The truth will be told over the next 6 weeks whether Kiki Hernandez and Chris Taylor have the ability to step up or are next in line to the designated assignment list. Hernandez has been woeful offensively since the early part of the season and Roberts hope that Taylor will come around are the key pieces of the puzzle. Please don’t trade and of the prospects for another Dozier, but rather promote from within – Gavin Lux.

  5. The present Dodger roster is constructed to finish first in a weak National League West,not to winning the World Series. Andrew has lots of work to do before July 31 with decisions on the bullpen an everyday catcher and a more balanced lineup with quality right hand hitting..Barnes ,Taylor and Hernandez are not the answer.Gavin Lux is needed to fill the roster at 2nd base while Seager is on the IL or promote him to Oaklahoma City to get more experience before he’s promoted to the majors.

    • Andy, I couldn’t agree with ya more, especially about the lack of any real impact RH hitting. JT is great for batting 3rd in front of Bellinger but JT is not going to hit 25+ HR’s or drive in 90+ runs anymore.

      • I’m not sure either of those are impossible, we have to remember JT has been dealing with some hamstring issues of his own lately, which makes you wonder why he hasn’t been put on the IL yet? Get that hamstring taken care of now in June instead of letting it linger around and take the chance of coming up lame when it really gets hot in July or August.

  6. musical chairs are not solving the issues at hand…,,we need fresh bodies…..and buying retread players don’t solve the problems, only bandaid the situation…..management shows that things are out of control and after the years, same problems with less results…..where is the super minor league program and the same reply, not ready yet…..look at the holes we have….LF, CF, C, 2nd, 1st, relief pitchers and manager……look at the ERAs and runners left on base…….team chemistry is shot

    • Not sure where you see a hole in LF and CF? Joc has only hit 18 home runs in anywhere from 20-60 fewer AB’s then those who have hit more home runs. Yes, a .240 avg. isn’t the best but he has a good OBP and OPS, oh, and he’s 4th in All Star voting. Same can be said about Verdugo in CF, he’s batting over .300, solid defense and is also in the top 10 in All Star voting.

      For some reason, Muncy doesn’t hit well when he plays 2b, but, him and Freese have been platooning just fine at 1st, with Muncy at 2b when Freese plays 1b. Maybe you think these positions are holes since there isn’t a regular like JT at 3b, or Belli in RF.

  7. Taylor and Hernandez are not everyday starters. Along with their .215 average, they have the most strikeouts on the team, besides Muncy, who has a much higher average and more walks. I also agree with previous poster that Barnes is a liability, offensively. I would like to give Will Smith a chance.

  8. The Dodgers have some great pitching coaches and should have them work on Kelly and Alexander asap. Both are capable of outstanding pitching and need to work on their mechanics. They could do this in the Minors after an “injury,” or where they are. As far as 2nd base and catcher, all the names mentioned above are valuable defensively and in the clubhouse. The Dodgers are the best offensive team in the NL and, possibly, the best defensively as well. Replacing Hernandez, Taylor, or Barnes with .250 bat will not make such a difference to risk everything else they contribute.

  9. My civilian take: C: Barnes should go; Martin should stay and Smith should return and stay.
    2B: Lux to AAA then a shot in September; Taylor in the meantime, which leaves SS!!!
    Maybe Taylor as SS but we still need a stick at 2B then (if only Lux was ready) Hernandez can stay as a Super Util. Still, we need a stick is the reality and a RH is best….so Howie idea i8s probably necessary and least demanding in a trade. Nothing really is happy making BUT…(1) move quickly leads to (2) everybody has slumps and down streaks so enough of the “Doom’n’Gloom bandwagon.

  10. A guy like Merrifield is ehat wr need but he just signed a long term, team friendly contract snd it looks like KC plans to build their future around him. Gennett has been injured all season so he’s not a safe option yet. Lux is just to far away to say he’s the answer this year.
    I agree we need improvement offensively at 2nd and catcher, and a quality bullpen arm. That will cost us but filling those needs would be going all in plus planning for the future.

  11. I think 2b and catcher are both double edged swords in the fact that both positions already have guys penciled in to take over in a year or 2. It’s been long said that Lux profiles better at 2b than SS and seeing his .940 fielding at SS that may be true. He hasn’t commited an error at 2b but, that’s too small a sample size to give an opinion. But, if you go back to 2017 his fielding percentage was 40 points higher at 2b than SS. Since he’s in AA with a bump to AAA not far off, 2020 could be the year he breaks into the Show at 2b, so with this possibility, did the Dodgers want to go out and spend for a 2b or trade mulitiple prospects for Merrifield? I think they should have signed DJ LeMahieu considering he signed for 2/24 million.

    Same dilema at catcher, Will Smith performed nicely during his brief stint, so there’s really no reason why he won’t be the starter next year, so, everybody hoped Grandal would have accepted the QA and we wouldn’t be worrying about the catcher position right now.

    Taylor and Kike’s defense isn’t the problem, it’s their offense. With Seager out and both of them figuring to get playing time at SS as well as still platooning in the outfield with Joc, there is now a good probability that on any given night Dodgers will have 3 guys in the lineup who are struggling to hit .220 and there’s no way the other 5 guys can hide that. You can hide one, 2 is hard but 3? No way…

  12. I would call-up Gavin Lux and catcher Will Smith. Make sure Pollock is healthy for the rest of the seasonl. Then, I would put out feelers for Austin Barnes and Joc Pederson to see what they would bring back to the Dodgers. If all else fails, Verdugo should bring back a decent trade. Posters would probably disagree with trading Verdugo though.

  13. I think that our only trade targets should be in the relief corps. We have enough talent on the 40 man to put together a championship offense. Let’s give Lux a solid shot to see if he’s ready, make a spot for Will Smith, and win this thing.

  14. I was really hoping they’d sign DJ from Col this past winter.He woulda been perfect.Id really love to see Gennett hurry up and get back to see what he’s got.I never did think Kike was the everyday guy.Hes just like Joc.We coulda took Pollocks money and got DJ.I can see Kendrick coming back too.I didn’t think it was that bad but those are some ugly numbers.The BP and 2B has def gotta get some help.I think Will Smith solves the C problem.When ur dealing w Hou and NYY and now Min you can’t hv big holes.Id go for Howie and focus big time on the pen.Maybe a Howie and Doolittle trade together.

  15. It’s not like they haven’t tried. Howie had to play LF to stay with the dodgers. By the end he ends up playing 2nd base. Forsythe was great defensively, still end up getting Dozier but he didnt hit. I think for now its CT3 at SS, Muncy and keke at 2B. These 3 guys cover 1B,2B,SS,3B,LF,CF,RF. Amazing depth.

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