(Photo Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
Ever since the initial moment Josh Reddick arrived in Los Angeles as part of the deal that sent three quality prospects to Oakland, fans of the Dodgers have seemingly been viewing him under a microscope, and many have begun to wonder if rookie Andrew Toles is the better option to play every day in right field.
It’s probably unfair to analyze such a debate just one day after Toles hit a go-ahead grand slam in a miracle come-from-behind victory against the Rockies, but the 24-year old Georgia native continues to consistently produce. Whenever the Dodgers’ daily lineup is released through the many forms of social media, fans are instantly moved into an angry uproar whenever Reddick starts in right and Toles begins the contest on the pine.
And the entire situation might not be magnified as much if Reddick was dealt to a club who is out of contention, or even if he would have ended up somewhere like Chicago or Washington, two places where a series loss isn’t really enhanced, because both clubs are far enough out in front of their respective divisions to afford an experiment at the hands of defeat.
Instead, Reddick landed in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers, with only 29 games left on the regular season schedule appear to be clawing with every ounce of grit nightly to maintain the slim divisional lead.
Regardless, in all likelihood, Toles will cool off at some point while Reddick’s numbers continue to improve. Additionally, pundits will argue that there’s enough room in the Dodgers outfield for both to receive ample playing time while mixing and matching, noting also that the two are two different types of players; yet when looking at the overall dynamics of the pair, they both could be strikingly similar at the end of the day with Toles offering a little bit more in terms of a ceiling or overall potential.
(Photo Credit: mlb.com)
The problem with Toles is that he doesn’t have a track record to study for any types of patterns or tendencies at the big league level. What we do know is that Tolesy’s been on fire in his last 10 games, blasting three home runs with a .579 batting average before Friday’s game. Since being called up the first time in early July, he’s hitting a phenomenal .397/.463/.690 with 13 RBI in 67 plate appearances prior to the series against San Diego. No doubt a small sample size, but it’s pretty much all the data we have. As for his splits, he’s definitely better against right-handed pitching, but that’s really no different from Reddick.
Even after two singles and his first RBI Wednesday, Reddick is now hitting a paltry .161/.223/.172 in 94 plate appearances in the same time frame since arriving in Los Angeles. He’s a career .252/.314/.427 hitter, and outside of a decent year of production in 2012 where he hit 32 home runs and drove in 85, he’s always been right around his career slash line — certainly average numbers at best. In 149 games in 2015, Reddick hit .272/.333/.449, but his power number suffered a bit, having only slugged 20 home runs with 25 doubles. Outside of those two seasons, there wasn’t anything at all to even write home about.
Many fans jaws will probably drop in amazement or even tighten in frustration when mentioning that Yasiel Puig‘s best season produced a .319/.391/.534 line with 19 bombs, 21 doubles, 66 runs scored and 11 stolen bases in only 104 games back in 2013. Just some food for thought.
Over the past several weeks, many bloggers and a few reporters have been scorned or scolded for analyzing and eventually criticizing the early performances of Reddick. Even when he was batting cleanup for several consecutive weeks, the homers of the club almost constantly shushed the critics. The belief from above is that the investment to obtain him was expensive, yet the careful thought processes that went into making the deal will eventually prove worthy in the end. And the critics should be quiet in the interim.
All that may be true, but in the meantime, in the middle of a dogfight for the division title, it’s paramount to play Toles as much as possible during his current hot streak, whether it be in left field, center or right, and against both right-handed and left-handed pitching. Even when he’s not getting base hits, Toles is still a threat on the basepaths when he’s walked or hit by a pitch. Until he cools down a tick, it’s totally not worth letting him on the bench at the expense of hoping that a teammate will eventually fight his way out of a dreadful slump — just because his career numbers “suggest” he will.