in

Dodgers: Quiet Contributors are Key to Success

Everyday players like the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger may be making all the headlines, but fans mustn’t forget the platoon players making an impact as well.

Dodgers
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 02: Alex Verdugo #27 and David Freese #25 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their runs from a Chris Taylor #3 bunt single and throwing error, for a 5-0 lead, during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium on June 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Dodgers are off to their best 60-game start since 1974 and have a 42-19 record. They currently stand firmly atop of the National League West division with a 9.5-game lead on the Colorado Rockies.

They have the best record in the National League by 7.5 games, and the second best record in all of baseball. This team is good. So good, they just swept the NL East leading Philadelphia Phillies, had accusations of cheating by the New York Mets last week, and have been able to carry a very poor performing bullpen. While it is easy to acknowledge the star players’ impact on the Dodgers success, much praise must be given to the role players, the quiet contributors.

Let’s face it, if you are on this Dodger’s team, you can’t really be a “quiet contributor” –They’re all “stars.” After all, it’s Los Angeles, it’s Hollywood. So while the role players may be “stars” in their own right, the following 3 players don’t necessarily start every game for one reason or another. In fact, they’ve all started just 40 games or less of the 61, but they’ve all made significant contributions nonetheless.

Alex Verdugo

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Starting this 2019 season it was unclear how much playing time Alex Verdugo would get, but injury to centerfielder A.J. Pollock has given Verdugo ample playing time. He has not disappointed. Going into tonight’s game the early Rookie of the Year candidate is slashing .310/.362/.494 with 4 home runs, 28 RBI, and the Dodgers’ 4th best WAR of 2.0.

Despite only having 177 plate appearances he has the 5th most hits on the Dodgers. Furthermore his hitting approach reflects maturity well beyond his 23 years. He has the team’s lowest strikeout percentage, only getting punched out 10.2% of the time, and he also leads the team in sacrifice flies with 4. Defensively, he has only committed 1 error, has a .989 Fielding Percentage, and a .7 dWAR.

Verdugo is a baseball player through and through, combine his skill with his infectious energy and you’ve got an impact player that can change the game any time he’s in it.

David Freese

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers veteran replacement for Chase Utley has been David Freese.  He is having fun being in Dodger blue and its showing in his offensive numbers. Freese was picked up by the Dodgers via trade late last August. He is currently slashing .294/.423/.576 with 6 homers, 17 RBI, and has the team’s 3rd best OPS of 1.000 in just 104 plate appearances.

Primarily brought on as a clutch veteran hitter to platoon first base with Max Muncy, he has not disappointed. So far in 2019, his “High Leverage” situation slash line is .667/.778/1.417 with 2 of his 6 home runs and 11 of his 17 RBI coming from those situations. His age may be catching up to him, but the Dodgers are putting him in situations to succeed and of course, he’s rising to the occasions.

Joc Pederson

(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

The righty-killer, Joc Pederson has absolutely lived up to that designation. Currently, Joc is slashing .272/.374/.667 with 18 home runs, 33 RBIs, 1.040 OPS, and 2.1 WAR. With just 190 plate appearances, that’s 2nd best in slugging, home runs, and OPS.  It’s also 3rd best in RBI, and WAR.

Ahead of him in those 2nd place categories is Cody Bellinger with 59 more plate appearances. The 3rd place categories also has Max Muncy ahead of him with 49 more plate appearances. Joc Pederson may only be a right-handed pitching specialist, but he is surgical with that bat.

Depth

These three players are examples of what makes the Dodgers so good, depth. Yes, the Dodgers may currently lack bullpen depth, but their starting rotation and position player depth is second to none. n fact, its organization wide. The call-ups of Matt Beaty and Will Smith are evidence that even when injuries strike, help is waiting in the wings.  This Dodgers team is no doubt special and its this depth, this endless supply of quiet contributors that make them so.

Written by Jason McClure

Technically a Dodgers bandwagon fan. At 5 years old, I decided they were my favorite team after hearing they won the World Series on my mom’s car radio in 1988. My father (technically my stepfather) watered that seed, teaching me the game and introducing me to the beauty of Dodger Stadium. We got to know each other and bonded over games. Even when we couldn’t get along during my teenage years, we could come together over Vin Scully’s voice and a game. Dodger baseball is, and will always be, so much more than just a game.

6 Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. ROY 2019 : Alex Verdugo. I like his game, especially his situational hitting. He plays good defense, has some speed, and is mentally in the game for 9 innings. No immaturity on Alex’ part. A real team man who hustles. Go Blue!!!

    • LOU! Glad to see your post here and Verdugo has more than held his own. it was a busy morning for me….car service at the dealership in Medford,Trader Joe’s, the Mall, and finally Lincare for updating Medicare Insurance Info. it’s not known when Pollock returns but it will be interesting to see what happens as far as Verdugo’s playing time if and when he does return. Unfortunately Dodgers will be facing quite a few LHP coming up, which meansd Joc will ride the pine to start these games. Dodgers have been so productive against most of the RHP they see that eventually teams will start to find every LHP possible to go against them and to get Joc’s 18 HR’s to sit on the bench.

  2. I’d really like to see AV leading off.He just seems perfect for that spot.If the pen wasn’t this bad and around average they’d be sitting around 46 or 47 wins.I think I’d put Baez in there as the 4th guy.Joc seems to tomahawk everything as opposed to swinging.I love watching him hit a ball.

  3. As PaulDodgerFan1965 stated it is so easy to neutralize Pederson’s presence in the line-up, start a LHP, then bring in a LH-reliever. In the National League, when the Dodgers face the Cubs, it will be Lester, Hamels, Quintana; the Brewers will have Gio Gonzalez and ofcourse Josh Hader. If the Dodgers are fortunate to get to the World Series, the Yankees will have Sabathia, Paxton: the Astros will have Miley(last year w/the Brewers who gave fits to the Dodgers). The Rays will have Blake Snell. Even if there a RHP, Pederson doesn’t hit a homerun everytime or get a hit. Houston has Verlander and Cole.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Dodgers News: Julio Urias Won’t Face Charges In Domestic Violence Case

Dodgers: Andre Ethier Takes Batting Practice With Team In Arizona