Among an outfield with four players whose combined salaries surpasses $400 million, Scott Van Slyke is often the forgotten one.
Van Slyke, in this third season with the team, but first full season, has been used at a variety of positions — left, center and right field, and some first base. Perhaps Van Slyke’s best contribution to the 2014 Los Angeles Dodgers has been his ability to hit left-handed pitching.
On a team with two left-handed outfielders, the option of starting Van Slyke when facing a lefty has been a valuable commodity for manager Don Mattingly. Van Slyke is hitting .300 off left-handers this season with six home runs, nine RBIs and holds a 1.242 OPS mark.
While Carl Crawford recently expressed his frustration over where he may fit in with Matt Kemp now playing in left field, Van Slyke simply continues to go about his business, via Everett Cook of the LA Times:
Do I deserve to be here, will they make a spot for me, and all that stuff — I really have never worried about it,” Van Slyke said with a shrug.
The comments echo a sentiment Van Slyke shared after a recent stretch during a road trip in which he hit well. Manager Don Mattingly acknowledged Van Slyke’s production would likely spike if given more opportunities, which under the Dodgers current roster, likely wouldn’t come.
Van Slyke was drafted by the Dodgers in the 14th round of the 2005 draft and has spent much of his career in the Minor League ranks. Van Slyke was given his first opportunity with the Dodgers Major League team in 2012, but batted just .167 in 27 games and was placed on waivers.
He returned with the Dodgers organization in 2013, spent the majority of his time in Triple-A and increased his batting average and on-base percentage when given another look with the Dodgers. While carving out a niche with the team, Van Slyke has increased the same averages this season.
As much of the focus is placed on appeasing Crawford, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, Van Slyke continues to stay the course, content with his role and ready when called upon.
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