Before arriving to the Majors, Alex Guerrero had played just nine games in left field, all of which came in Triple-A Albuquerque in 2014. Additionally, he had not played in the outfield over his professional career before last season.
Naturally, Guerrero’s adjustment to left field this season has come with its bumps. He currently has a defensive runs saved (DRS) of -4.0. For comparison, Carl Crawford has a career DRS of 68 and has never had a season where he had less than -2.0.
In the top of the eighth inning Thursday, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk hit a line-drive double over Guerrero’s head. While Grichuk hit the ball sharply, he benefitted from Guerrero misjudging it off the bat. Kolten Wong then dropped a double in left-center that fell between Guerrero and Joc Pederson, and the Cardinals scored two runs to extend their lead to 7-1.
While Wong’s hit was more of a true double, it’s plausible Guerrero could’ve tried for a diving catch with a better jump. Guerrero did drive in the Dodgers’ lone run of the night with a sacrifice fly that came in the sixth inning with one out and the bases loaded.
When asked about Guerrero’s misplay in left field, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly chalked it up to him needing to learn on the fly. “Those are tough reads,” Mattingly said. “That low one right at you is a tough read. Obviously, we’ve asked a lot of Alex to try and learn third, left field, second base, so all of that is trying to learn here.”
“We don’t have any other options with that so he has to try and learn while he’s here at the big league level,” he concluded. Defensively not the strongest of players, the issue is trying to keep Guerrero’s bat in the lineup.
Additionally, injuries have depleted the Dodgers’ outfield depth and with Juan Uribe now in Atlanta, Justin Turner has received the bulk of third-base starts. Guerrero is currently slashing .288/.321/.663 this season and has driven in 26 runs in 41 games.
Guerrero isn’t in Friday’s starting lineup as Scott Schebler was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City and makes his MLB debut in left field.