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Dodgers: Bellinger, Verdugo, Pederson, and More, Assessing the 2020 Outfield

A quick preview of the Dodgers outfield position group.



The Los Angeles Dodgers take the field for their first Spring Training game in less than a month. Much like the infield, the outfield will continue to be an ever changing cast depending on the day’s matchup – apart from Mr. Bellinger of course.

Let’s take a look at the Dodgers 2020 outfield.

What should be expected?

A more disciplined Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger accomplished something in 2019 that not even Mike Trout has done in his illustrious career – winning Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, and MVP trophies in the same year. Bellinger’s out-of-this-world 2019 will be difficult to duplicate, but another year older and wiser should positively impact Bellinger’s plate discipline.

Cody Bellinger Walks/Strikeouts/Walk Rate (Baseball-Reference.com)

  • 2017: 64 BB/146 SO/11.7 BB%
  • 2018: 69 BB/151 SO/10.9 BB%
  • 2019: 95 BB/108 SO/14.4 BB%

Much improved pitch selection fueled Bellinger’s prolific offensive performance this past season. After recording at least 20 or more strikeouts every month in 2018, Bellinger had three months with fewer than 20 punch outs in 2019. The Dodgers lineup offers plenty of protection, Bellinger just can’t get too swing happy.

Expect the best all-around player in the National League to continue to improve his walk rate.

Maximum Dugie

Alex Verdugo could finish 2020 as the second-best outfielder on the roster. Reverse split contact left-handed hitters with plus gloves who can play all three outfield positions are difficult to find. After spot starting in April and May last year, Verdugo made the first pitch lineup card 89% of the time May through July and hit .283. Not too shabby for a 23-year-old.

Back issues derailed the second half of his season, but if he can stay healthy, the future looks bright for the versatile Verdugo.

Expect at least 100 games started for Verdugo and plenty of “Volver, Volver .

A better AJ Pollock

AJ Pollock punctuated his lackluster first season with Los Angeles by striking out 11 times in 13 postseason at-bats. During the series, Pollock never looked comfortable in the box and continued to flail at poor pitches outside the zone.

After struggling through a horrid April where he hit .186, Pollock admitted to feeling the pressure of the Dodgers championship aspirations as well as living up to his contract.

Pollock played on competitive teams in Arizona, but had never experienced the stress of having to produce on a bonafide title contender. The added stress, combined with missing the entirety of May and June with an elbow infection, severely affected Pollock’s offense and defense.

Expect a more relaxed, significantly more productive, heavily scrutinized, veteran outfielder to have a bounce back year.

Ceteris paribus Pederson-us

The beauty of Joc Pederson lies in simplicity. Most position players for the Dodgers are shuffled between multiple defensive and batting positions throughout the season. These challenges simply do not apply to Pederson. He’ll only hit against righties, bat leadoff, and play either corner outfield spot.

Pederson 2019 Stats:

    • 89% of at-bats were against RHP
    • 85% of at-bats were in the leadoff sport
    • 77% of his defensive appearances were in left or right field
    • 0% of his brief time at first base needs to be discussed…ever

In a game whose stats are difficult to project year to year, Pederson’s consistency in hitting .250 with 25-35 homer runs while striking out too much is oddly refreshing.

All other things being equal, you already know what to expect with Joc Pederson with awkward interviews to boot.

Plenty of backup

When your regular season is sixth months, injuries are going to happen. Year after year, the Dodgers seem to have the answers when players go down or growth plates get infected. 2020 should be no different in the outfield.

Between Chris Taylor, Kike Hernandez, Matt Beaty, Kyle Garlick, and apparently Gavin Lux per Dave Roberts, the Dodgers have a host of outfielders with big league experience who can produce in spots if called upon. Throw in intriguing prospect DJ Peters and the Dodgers might have the deepest outfield in the National League.

Expect the Dodgers trademark versatility and depth to be on full display in the outfield.

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Written by Eric Eulau

Born and raised in Ventura, not "Ven-CH-ura", California. Number one fear in life is dying without ever seeing a Dodgers Championship. Host of The Series Sweep Podcast - link on my Twitter (@EEulau).

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  1. Personally, I’d prefer Bellinger at 1B, Peters in RF, Verdugo in CF, and Betts in LF (Betts and Peters could switch). With Pederson in rotation and Pollock sent to Boston along with C Ruiz, RHP Santana, and 2B/SS Estevez for Betts.

    When the Dodgers face a RHP, Bellinger replaces Peters, and Muncy plays 1B. However, having Peters bat 5th, behind Bellinger, provides another big RH bat in this lineup and protection for Bellinger so that a team just can’t IW him every at-bat.

    • I think Bellinger’s days at 1B are over. You just can’t waste that speed, athleticism, and arm at 1B. He’s gotta be in the outfield, for good. Without his defensive performance in the outfield to complement his hitting, he never would have got the MVP. If Betts joined him, you would have two gold glove, MVP caliber outfielders. It would easily be the best outfield in baseball no matter how you platooned at the third spot (left field). I would agree with unloading Pollack, but it’s going to be hard to move him, after a miserable 2019. Joe Kelley is even more immoveable. Way too much money to unload him. No team in their right mind would take him. But I’d like to see both of these 2019 bust moves undone somehow. I don’t t care if you get nobody in return. At least you would free up money and roster spots.

  2. The following is what bothers me somewhat:
    “Much like the infield, the outfield will continue to be an ever changing cast depending on the day’s matchup – apart from Mr. Bellinger of course.”
    Again, that game of shuffle board and that does not go too well upon reaching October .

    • 90 homers and 250 RBI’s from Bellinger, Verdugo and Peterson every year for the next decade. All play exceptional defense. All are young. There are plenty of minor league players in the wing if one of these guys goes down for an extended time. There is no need to lose a verifiable up and coming minor league player like Jeter Downs for a one year rental like Betts. Save that money for pitching.

  3. 90 homers and 250 RBI’s from Bellinger, Verdugo and Peterson every year for the next decade. All play exceptional defense. All are young. There are plenty of minor league players in the wing if one of these guys goes down for an extended time. There is no need to lose a verifiable up and coming minor league player like Jeter Downs for a one year rental like Betts. Save that money for pitching.

  4. Best case to free up the outfield is to unload Pollock even if it is an outright release. Too manypennant race good young ball players being blocked by him. If the Dodgers need some evidence they ought to offer up availability of both Beatty snd Pollock no strings attached, make an offer and see who is grabbed. Eleven strike outs in 23 at bats says it all. Couldn’t handle the pressure for a team in a pennant race? Bah humbug he is supposed to be a major league ball player

  5. I think the biggest question will be AJ Pollock since he does in fact, eat up a decent chunk of salary. He’ll burn up $12M this year and $15M next year. Someone that expensive should at least have a WAR greater than 0.21, which he produced last year.

    In 2017 with the Dbacks he had a WAR of 3.1 and in 2018 a WAR of 2.5, according to baseball-reference. The opportunity cost of that $12M+ quickly starts to seem larger than his actual production if last year’s performance is to be repeated. And you can bet that at least one other team will get a better return on their money…and beat us in the post-season…again. AJ needs to produce or other teams with better returns on their salary might be in better positions than we are.

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