The focus of this article is on the position players. Given that 13 roster spots will be taken up by pitchers, we’ll look at the 12 position player spots if the season were to start today. We don’t know if or when the Dodgers will make another move to bolster the roster.
The 12 Position Players
|Player||Age||Position||B/T||2019 Salary||2018 WAR||AVG/OBP/SLG|
|Austin Barnes||29||C, 2B||R/R||.57 M||0.5||.205/.329/.290|
|Rocky Gale/Will Smith||31/24||C||R/R||.555 M||N/A||N/A|
|Max Muncy||28||1B,2B,3B||L/R||.57 M||4.2||.263/.391/.582|
|David Freese||36||1B,3B||R/R||4.5 M||2.1||.296/.359/.471|
|Kiké Hernandez||27||IF/OF||R/R||2.8 M||2.8||.256/.336/.470|
|Corey Seager||25||SS||L/R||2.6 M||0.4||.267/.348/.396|
|Justin Turner||34||3B||R/R||16 M||4.5||.312/.406/.518|
|Chris Taylor||28||IF/OF||R/R||3.2 M||4.1||.254/.331/.444|
|Joc Pederson||27||LF||L/L||4.3 M||2.3||.248/.321/.522|
|Cody Bellinger||23||CF/1B||L/L||.57 M||4.2||.260/.343/.470|
|Alex Verdugo||23||OF||L/L||.555 M||0.4||.260/.329/.377|
|Andrew Toles||27||OF||L/R||.56 M||0.1||.233/.281/.300|
- 2019 Salaries are based on the luxury tax calculation and some are estimated
- 2018 WAR is Baseball Reference WAR
Advanced Defensive Metrics
As with many of the advanced metrics, there are a ton of which to learn. I keep it simple by finding a few key metrics and stick to those until I find better ones. The ultimate source for defensive metrics is FanGraphs and I am getting my information from them. The metrics I will be using are:
- Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) – from FanGraphs
“…players are measured in “runs” above or below average, and Baseball Info Solutions data is used as an input.”
- Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) – from FanGraphs
“UZR puts a run value to defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess (or lack thereof).”
- Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF) – from FanGraphs
“Defense (Def) is the combination of two important factors of defensive performance: value relative to positional average (fielding runs) and positional value relative to other positions (positional adjustment).”
All defensive statistics below, unless otherwise noted, are from FanGraphs.
The focus in the next few sections if on the defense and the positions various players can play. The Dodgers defense took a big drop off in 2018 from 2017.
As can be seen, in every statistics above the Dodgers went backward on defense. Defensive issues cause more opportunities for the other team to score and causes pitchers to throw more pitches to get the needed outs.
Austin Barnes lines up to be the starting catcher. He is solid on defense but must bounce back on offense for the catching spot to be solidified. It would be interesting to see Rocky Gale get an opportunity but he seems to be organizational depth at the moment. Will Smith, although not on the 40 man roster, is next in line. He was promoted to AAA at the end of the 2018 season and struggled on offense. However, don’t be surprised if Smith is called up at some point in 2019.
Asked #Dodgers Andrew Friedman about likely big-league arrivals for Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz. Said he expects Smith to "help us win games at some point in 2019." For Ruiz, 2020 is a good bet but that doesn't mean it can't happen sooner.
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) December 11, 2018
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Selected Defensive Statistics for Catchers
|Yasmani Grandal (for reference)||1037.1||52||20||9||31||15.7||17.7|
Credits and Abbreviations
SB – Stolen bases against the catcher
CS – number of runners caught stealing
PB – number of passed balls against the catcher
WP – number of wild pitches thrown by the pitcher while catching
FR – number of runs saved by pitch framing (Framing Runs)
FRAA – total number of runs saved by factoring in framing, blocking and throwing along with other adjustments (Fielding Runs Above Average)
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There are a lot of candidates to play the infield. Even further, some of those candidates play multiple positions which give Manager Dave Roberts a lot of options. Justin Turner and Corey Seager are locks at third base and shortstop, respectively. By the end of the season Kiké Hernandez played the most at second base and Doc indicated that Max Muncy will start the season as a full-time player. I would expect Muncy to get most of his work at first base.
When a left-hander is pitching I still expect David Freese to get plenty of at-bats and he plays both first and third base. Hernandez and Taylor can play all over the infield and the best defensive first baseman is Cody Bellinger. However, it looks like Bellinger will be playing center field going into the season. The only real question is, will Corey Seager be ready? If he’s not then I expect Chris Taylor to play there until Seager is ready.
Again, just like the infield, there is a lot of versatility. The Dodgers should feel comfortable almost all of the outfielders playing any of the three positions, other than Pederson, who should stay in left field. With the big outfields in both San Francisco and Denver, the Dodgers need outfielders that can run down the balls in the gaps.
Possible Lineup vs Righties
- Pederson – LF
- Seager – SS
- Turner – 3B
- Bellinger – CF
- Muncy – 1B
- Hernandez/Taylor – 2B
- Verdugo – RF
- Barnes – C
Possible Lineup vs Lefties
- Taylor – LF
- Seager – SS
- Turner – 3B
- Freese/Muncy – 1B
- Bellinger – CF
- Hernandez – 2B
- Verudgo – RF
- Barnes – C
I know of the concerns about a lack right-handed threats and the offense at catcher. These are legitimate concerns but if Barnes and Taylor can rebound closer to their 2017 productivity then the team is well rounded. Verdugo has hit lefties in the minors, Bellinger did much better in 2017 and Muncy was decent against them in 2018. My wish is that the hitters will become less specialized and hit better against all pitching.
“It should be important enough to get on base to be able to manipulate the bat and hit the ball the other way or to lay a bunt down,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We’re going to get better at that. When you see one player on the left side of the infield and you’re down a run — we’re going to challenge our guys to find a way to hit it over there. But you’ve got to do that by practicing. It’s going to be a priority for us to get better at that.” – Alden Gonzalez, The shift, 100 mph heat, near impossible odds: How hitters are fighting back
I am hopeful that the new hitting staff can bring more success to an already good lineup. Looking at how much the total position player roster makes (approximately $37M) they will get a ton of value. Anytime a team can get a lot of production out of a player making around the minimum it leaves room for improvements elsewhere. Of course, most of us expect more player movement before the season, so this is a snapshot in time.
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