The 2019 Dodgers are team so deep and dominant, you’d think they were fairly consistent in their regular lineups because of it. Yet recently, the team has been effectively spinning the wheel with many players. And it’s high time they stopped it.
I'd honestly like to see the Dodgers stop dicking around with roles and moving pieces around.
Let May start. Let Joc play left field. We don't need to see what Kolarek can do 1B. I don't care what Baez can also do at 3B or if Seager can catch.
Let them play their positions.
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) August 18, 2019
First, there’s Joc Pederson at first base, a Frankenstein baseball experiment that should never have been foisted upon the public — especially during the middle of a season. Pederson is a solid left fielder, and should be allowed to stay in that position especially to build on the defensive acumen he displayed last season. There are enough everyday and utility players who have better 1B acumen.
Having Adam Kolarek play first late in games is even more egregious in how superfluous it is. He’s a lefty reliever, not a position player, and especially with Julio Urias’ ongoing troubles he needs to be protected all the more as one of the team’s few viable lefty options. If Kolarek were to sustain a massive injury during a frivolous defensive replacement inning, it would cripple an already suspect bullpen.
The most debatable is Dustin May. After his rough relief outing in Atlanta this past weekend, it makes sense to just want him to start from here on out. On the other hand, adjusting to relief takes some getting used to, so this could just be a learning curve. In my eyes, though, he’s the likely number 4 playoff starter, with Rich Hill and Tony Gonsolin as the surplus relievers waiting in the pen. It would be best to pick one role either way for Big Red and stick with it.
Roberts’ free-wheeling approach to putting players in seemingly random positions almost feels like a Moneyball strategy. But when the Oakland A’s do it (think Josh Donaldson’s conversion from catcher to 3B) it’s out of absolute necessity, as their limited budgets have forced them to improvise. The Dodgers are not in a similar situation, no matter how much they emulate other Oakland/Tampa Bay tenets.
It also vaguely resembles the platooning that defined the 2018 team. Except it isn’t. That team was such a dirge (with plenty of injuries, granted) that Dave Roberts had no choice but to platoon constantly to get the best possible results. They wouldn’t have made the playoffs, or World Series, without it. The same could be said of his first year in 2016, a team whose record-setting spate of injuries forced Roberts to use whatever he could to grind out a run to the NLCS.
This isn’t 2016 or 2018. Quite the opposite, I believe this is shaping up to be the best team in Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodger history. Whether Roberts is doing this position musical chairs out of his own volition, or via an edict from the front office, it’s time to stop it and let everyone settle into their roles for the stretch run. The best team in baseball should play its best possible iteration every day, no exceptions.