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GM Mondays: Taking A Look At The Dodgers’ Outfield Depth

It is Monday, and you know what that means: GM Mondays! In this series we are going to play the role of GM and analyze players, positions, etc. We will take an in-depth look at the team and diagnose whether something is a strength or not. If it is a weak area, we will also look at possible ways to improve that part of the team. Today we are looking at the Dodgers’ outfield depth.

One thing to note about today’s GM Monday analysis is this: because so many players can play the OF, we will focus on players that are likely to have full-time gigs there. We will also only differentiate between left-field, center-field, and right-field on our initial depth charts. There will be duplicate listings as some of these players can effectively play multiple outfield positions. Also note that some players will may be listed higher than another in one outfield position, but lower in another. This is due to the fact that some of these players are more likely to play one position over another.

So, with all that, let us jump right into looking at the outfield!

Previous GM Mondays: Catcher, First-Base, Second-Base, Shortstop, Third-Base

The Depth Chart

Left-Field

  1. Joc Pederson
  2. Andrew Toles
  3. Chris Taylor
  4. Alex Verdugo
  5. Trayce Thompson
  6. Yusniel Diaz
  7. DJ Peters
  8. Jeren Kendall

Center-Field

  1. Chris Taylor
  2. Joc Pederson
  3. Yasiel Puig
  4. Andrew Toles
  5. Trayce Thompson
  6. Alex Verdugo
  7. Yusniel Diaz
  8. Jeren Kendall
  9. DJ Peters

Right-Field

  1. Yasiel Puig
  2. Andrew Toles
  3. Alex Verdugo
  4. Trayce Thompson
  5. Yusniel Diaz
  6. DJ Peters
  7. Jeren Kendall

The Major Leaguers

The Dodgers are set in the outfield. Except for left-field, which remains to be determined. Chris Taylor is the starting center-fielder going into 2018 after posting a 4.7 fWAR and 4.8 bWAR. Both of which were third on the Dodgers. Though he posted better defense in left-field, and he has the ability to play second-base and shorstop, he will be our centerfielder in 2018.

Right-field is Yasiel Puig’s until at least 2019. But going into 2017 Puig was coming off his worst year yet. Understandably, fans were calling for him to be traded the entire 2016 off-season. Well, the front office’s patience with him was rewarded with his best season since 2014. Though his triple-slash of .263/.346/.487 wasn’t especially spectacular, it represented a 93 point jump in his OPS from 2016. He also had career bests in home runs, walk and strikeout rates, and games played.  Additionally he played absolutely phenomenal defense in right-field, and was honestly robbed of a Gold Glove.

Left-field is a different story from CF and RF. Especially once Chris Taylor cemented himself as the everyday center-fielder. Between the injuries to Andrew Toles, to underperformance by Joc Pederson, left-field was a bit of a void for the Dodgers. Fortunately, as has been covered numerous times on Dodgers Nation, there are options for left-field in 2018.

Firstly, Joc Pederson. During the playoffs Joc began to go back to the style of hitting that made him so successful: hitting more fly-balls. And it seemed to work for him. He will have the first crack at the left-field job in Spring Training. Secondly, behind Joc, is Andrew Toles. A torn ACL derailed a rather promising start to 2017 for Toles. He will have an almost equal chance at the job as well. Beyond these two are numerous platoon options.

The Prospects

The Dodgers actually have a solid core of prospects down in the Minor Leagues ready to contribute as early as 2018. Certainly it all starts with top prospect Alex Verdugo. Verdugo has consistently risen through the ranks of our system since being drafted in 2015. And 2018 will be no different. After spending the entire season at AAA in 2017, Verdugo could possibly be the everyday left-fielder in 2018. If Joc flops, and Toles dissapoints, Verdugo may be given that chance Bellinger had last year. And if that experience tells us anything, one shot may be all Verdugo needs to force his way into the picture.

In addition to Verdugo, the Dodgers have 3 solid outfield prospects in Jeren Kendall, Yusniel Diaz, and DJ Peters. All 3 outfielders can play all 3 positions effectively. However, as seen with the above depth chart lists, each one leans towards one position over another. For Diaz, he would probably fit best in LF down the road, though he certainly could easily play CF or RF with his defensive skills. Jeren Kendall’s pure speed plays best in CF, and he has the arm for it too. DJ Peters has the strongest arm of the group, but is the slowest. Even then, Peters is pretty quick comparitively speaking.

From an offensive capability each offers something different as well. For Diaz his calling card will be his bat-to-ball skills. Meaning he should be able to hit for high batting averages. His power will likely be average at best. Peters offers some of the best raw, and in-game, power in our system. Though that power does come with a swing and miss element to it. Kendall could become a 5-tool player. But his swing and miss elements, and lack of outstanding raw power, could hurt his value.

The Verdict

Top to bottom we have a solid roster when it comes to the outfield. Save for only left-field our roster is rock solid for 2018. Even then left-field has many solid options. And when it comes to the farm system, there is no shortage of talent waiting in the wings. Dodger fans can rest assured knowing that our outfield is going to excel this year, and in years to come.

Written by Blake Coble

Born and raised in SoCal and bled Blue my whole life. Absolutely love baseball and absolutely love the Boys in Blue! I have a fascination with analyzing the statistics and trends that drive player performance, and I love following our minor league prospects as well! Active duty Air Force currently stationed in Central California! Follow me on Twitter @yarritsblake

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