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Dodgers: Will AJ Pollock’s Early Struggles Open More Opportunity for Zach McKinstry

The veteran outfielder was an offensive force in 2020, but will his early 2021 struggles affect his playing time this summer?



Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock absolutely raked during the 2020 season. A former All-Star and Gold Glove winner, Pollock tied Mookie Betts for most home runs on the team (16) en route to the best OPS of his career (.881).

Unfortunately, Pollock has not yet carried that momentum into this season. The veteran outfielder is slashing .208/.269/.208 in 24 at-bats thus far. He’s currently owns a 38.1% strikeout rate while collecting just two walks. All five of his hits have been singles.

We know it’s early, but how long of a leash will Pollock have? And will youngster Zach McKinstry’s hot start affect Pollock’s playing time moving forward?

Zach McKinstry

Manager Dave Roberts has taken notice of McKinstry’s early success.

“He’s a pro. A guy that has a great story. He’s a grinder. He’s a baseball player. He’s getting an opportunity. He earned this opportunity to make this club and he’s taken advantage of it. I feel comfortable moving him anywhere on the diamond. He’s getting those opportunities and it’s good to see him come through.”

McKinstry has three doubles and an exhilarating inside-the-park homer in six games. Although McKinstry primarily played second and third in the minors and in college, he’s already picked up time in left field. Pollock’s primary position.

Considering McKinstry’s hot first week and LA’s penchant for playing matchups, Pollock could be destined for another season of platoon work.

Earlier this week, Doc noted that Pollock is still trying to find his groove this year while adding that he’s optimistic about the outfielder moving forward.

“I think that right now, he’s still trying to figure some things out. AJ’s an aggressive hitter but if he can use the big part of the field, that’s a good thing for all hitter. It was good to see him take a walk tonight. He’ll get on track, AJ will be just fine.”

Final Thoughts

To be fair to Pollock, he’s suffered freak injuries during his Dodgers tenure and a tumultuous family situation following the premature birth of his daughter last year. His 2021 sample size is six games.

That being said, McKinstry’s performance and Pollock’s struggles could seriously threaten the latter’s status as the everyday left fielder.

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Written by Eric Eulau

Born and raised in Ventura, not "Ven-CH-ura", California. Favorite Dodger Stadium food is the old school chocolate malt with the wooden spoon. Host of The Series Sweep Podcast (@EEulau).

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