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Dodgers: The One Big Difference Dave Roberts is Seeing in AJ Pollock This Year

AJ is literally carrying the team at times this year.



It’s tough to say where the Dodgers would be without the production of AJ Pollock in 2021. When they were going through the height of their injury issues, Pollock was in there every day and hitting just like he is now. 

The past month and a half have been no different for AJ, even with the addition of all of the big names back in the lineup. The Dodgers outfielder is 12-for-27 in the month of August, including 5 extra-base hits and 8 runs driven in. 

When asked what he believes is different for Pollock in 2021, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pointed to one thing. And the numbers for Pollock would certainly back that up this year. 

I think for me, it’s very clear. He’s controlling the zone as well as we’ve seen him consistently. And the result is a byproduct of that. 

Pollock struck out in 21.4 percent of his plate appearances in 2020. That’s right about where his career average is at 22 percent. And although he hasn’t lowered it by a wide margin in 2021, Pollock is swinging at better pitches for the Dodgers this year. 

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That has resulted in him barreling up more balls and getting a higher average exit velocity than most years. Pollock’s 141 wRC+ this year is by far the best number that he has put up with the Dodgers, and it eclipses his best year ever. 

Whatever he’s doing to better command the zone, it’s working. And a reminder that AJ is only making a $15 million base salary this year. What a steal. 

Dodgers Expected to Throw a Bullpen Game on Thursday in Philadelphia

Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. The real key is that Pollack has remained healthy. Pollack has a real injury history that began in Arizona. And extended into 2019 with the elbow infection. He had a weak, injury plagued 2019, and a terrible 2019 postseason. But he had a great comeback season in 2020, and is even better in 2021. DR continues to bat him low in the order behind Bellinger, which is insane, since he is the only 300 hitter the Dodgers have outside of newly acquired Trea Turner. And Pollack has plenty of power leading the Dodgers in home runs in 2021. Pollack should be in left field every day, ahead of Bellinger in the order every day. His newfound resistance to injury makes him a guy you definitely want to re-sign.

    • AJ is hitting both lefties and righties this year. He needs to play as much as possible, in LF. He bats behind Cody to provide protection. So far that is working like a charm. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

      • I disagree completely on Pollack and Bellinger in the batting order. I don’t believe that you put a 180 hitter in front of a 310 hitter in the order. Especially when that 310 hitter has power too. It is broken and needs to be fixed. Bellinger has struggled all year long, although he hit 2 HR’s today, and may be coming out of his season long funk. I don’t know what providing protection means. I just want hitters who can hit. A 310 hitter with power in the 8 spot of the order, as Pollack was today, also makes no sense.

        • 8th in the order(for Pollock) is ridiculous as he can be pitched around to get to the pitcher. Often the 8th hitter will not see decent pitches in key situations with the pitcher on deck.
          The only thing about hitting behind Bellinger is to HOPE Belli will see better pitches. The issue with that is Belli hasn’t beena able to hit hittable fastballs with any consistency. No worries…Dave loves to tinker with the batting order. The 3 outfielders batted 6th, 7th and 8th one game against the Phils..

          • so you all are missing something – it’s working!! Belli is hitting over .300 the last 8 games. so there you go. think of AJ as the 2nd clean-up hitter!!

    • Good post as AJ continues to be underrated. He is signed through 2023 which will be his age 35 season. And I assume you meant he led the team in HR in 2020 which he shared with Mookie at 16. This year JT leads with 20 to AJ’s 14 (actually Trea has 22 but none with the Dodgers.)

  2. Dodgers get the win tonight, allowing just 2 runs total in the 1st 2 games against the red hot Phils.
    BP has been nails so far on this road trip.
    Bellinger with 2 HR’s and a nice catch at the CF wall. He’s starting to turn it around.
    Offense was very good and it’s good to see the Dodgers score a run or two late in games.
    Maybe the best thing about the game tonight is that bad collision between Muncy and T. Turner on the foul pop, did not result in injury to either. It was ugly and with the ridiculous injury situation this year, it’s a great sign that Turner (and Max) shook it off–let’s hope avoiding injuries is the trend we see the remainder of the season.

    • Bellinger’s first home run was the best at bat of the year for the Dodgers. He fouled off a lot pitches to get the one he wanted. Then took number 13 deep. He showed much more patience today, waiting for a pitch to drive. I hope this helps get him turned around.

      • He did that against a lesser pitcher.

        When does that against a good pitcher. Then I will believe he is back.

  3. What was good about tonight’s win was how the team can put it together to win against a hot team even w/ two of your key players out. Also, Trae didn’t have a good game offensively and defensively but Seager picked him up; CT3 was a 0’er w/ RISP, but Belli picked it up offensively and defensively. Additionally, after a rain delay for the 2nd day, the much maligned BP did their job and shut the potent Phillies down to ineptness. The Dodgers are showing signs in fighting adversity and playing for each other. The team is good enough to where if one or two are having a bad day, there are others that can cover. BTW, poor Chris Taylor, I know he’s not comfortable playing 3rd which might affect him offensively, but what a real trouper.

    • I agree. Good analysis. JT and Mookie were both sidelined. But they got it done. The bullpen has been outstanding lately. Graterol pitched 2 innings and retired everyone in order with 2 Ks in his second inning. He’s getting better at missing bats and is inducing groundouts. They need to keep working him. Treinen struck out the side in his inning. He is lights out lately. The rain delay, as well as Price only going short innings will cause a problem for a bullpen game tomorrow though. The bullpen is stressed. Sherzer was also cut short by a rain delay in game 1. We are going to the bullpen well too often in a short time.

    • Were standing tall in Mendocino County! Time to move back on top of the giants so many injurys yet were about to be back in 1st.

  4. I’d like to thank Doofy Dave (DD) for pinch-hitting Pollack earlier in the week, with MLB’s LONGEST HITTING STREAK, AND, MLB’s LONGEST ON-BASE STREAK on the line, to extend in only 1 AB! Up 3 in the bottom of the 8th, DD pinch hits Pollack. First, Why’s your hottest hitter on the bench, and second, the move is classless. I hate to say it, but please don’t win the World Series this year, So DD can get fired, and we can bring in a real manager and start a dynasty. If Craig Counsell was our manager, we’d be in first by 7 games. 1-11 in extra innings, I believe 12-17 in 1 run games, falls right on the manager. And dating back earlier in the year, Kershaw had to pinch hit twice with the bases loaded in 9th and extra innings. I’ve coached 30 years, trust me, he’s a game day idiot!!!!!

    • Right on! Why Pollock was pinch hit for the other day is beyond me. BTW Kershaw had to pinch hit in those instances ya mentioned was because Roberts likes having 14 pitchers and only 12 position players and I believe he thus ran out of bench players. This is mainly a by product of not having a DH in the NL.

      • paul, its a byproduct of having the best hitting pitchers in NL, AND the need for extra arms in the pen, while down 2 defenders on average all year!

    • sorry coach you may have coached 30 years, but you are wrong on this! doc is a great coach and has the division championships, and world series ring to prove it.

  5. He has two-player options at salary cap hit of $13,000,00 and $12,000,000. It is possible he might opt out and seek a better deal elsewhere after the World Series this year. If he chooses to stay and can stay healthy, he takes care of left field for those next two years and he can back up in center field sometimes. Power, good defense, good speed. Staying healthy is the key for him. But he could walk, on the grounds that he should not be pinch-hit for.

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