Dodgers 2018 Roster: Putting Together a Working Outfield

joc-toles
(Mandatory Credit: Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Even though we’re still outside the 30-day window for players reporting to spring camp, we still can’t help speculating what the regular season roster may look like for the Dodgers, especially when we try to layout any type of prospective lineup on paper.

As it stands right now, our 25-man roster projections have a whopping eight players who can handle outfield duties in some capacity, with three of those players being regulated to only the outfield, and five having the ability to field spots both in the infield and the outfield.

With all the available defensive options that the Dodgers have, it’s tough to say at this precise moment how the landscape of the daily outfield will shape up. For all we know, the position battles could conceivably last deep into Cactus League play, or the management crew of the club could surprise everybody by orchestrating another deal which would change the entire complexion of the roster (insert more Yasiel Puig rumors here).

And despite all the versatility the team has at its disposal, most of the daily duties could hinge on how the club views second baseman Logan Forsythe. For the entirety of the 2017 regular season, Forsythe hit just .190/.315/.262 in 286 plate appearances against right-handed pitching—a scary thought when considering that roughly two-thirds of the starting pitchers in the majors throw from the right side. Career-wise, his numbers are a little better, but not stellar by any means, as he has a .236/.317/.344 lifetime mark against right-handers. In the greater scope of things, a .344 career slugging percentage for a player hitting in the middle of a lineup is not appealing in the least. Yet because the club picked up Forsythe’s 2018 team option for $9 million, it certainly seems like the team has solid plans for the Memphis native moving forward.

When considering potential platoon partners for Forsythe, the acquisition of young utility man Jake Peter may indeed pay dividends early, however, one idea we have been discussing frequently—the concept of floating Chris Taylor between the keystone and the outfield—continues to become more logical by the day. Taylor’s career splits are nearly equal, as his hitting percentages against right-handers are just a few mere ticks lower than that of southpaws. It makes a lot of sense, but what is even more intriguing is turning Forsythe into a super-utility type of player, giving his right-handed bat a part-time spot in the outfield, third base or even first base—something similar to what we saw from Howie Kendrick in 2016. Even with his dismal success rate against righty pitching, to say that Forsythe should see time against southpaws only could limit him to approximately 200 plate appearances all year, in theory.

Looking at it from another angle, it’s a bit easier to put together a working lineup against lefty pitching. Forsythe would be the second baseman, with Taylor in center, Puig in right and Enrique Hernandez in left. From an analytical standpoint, as compelling as Matt Kemp‘s bat is, there’s just too many better options that exist regardless of the offensive splits to warrant his spot on the roster.

Against right-handers, we’d see Forsythe on the pine, with Taylor at second, Puig in right, and Andrew Toles and Joc Pederson in left and center, in some shape or form. If Forsythe were to be moved into the utility role like we mentioned, it could hinder Rob Segedin‘s chance of making the 25-man, giving the club the flexibility to use an extra reliever or even add some speed to the squad by bringing in somebody like Tim Locastro.

Having the luxury of mixing and matching on both offense and defense between many different talented players has been paramount in the Dodgers’ recent string of success, and there’s absolutely no sign of that trend changing anytime soon. And while the thought of shifting Taylor between second base and the outfield may sound like the best option right now, a lot can still happen, and the perspective on that particular option could change completely before the arrival of Opening Day on March 29.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

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24 thoughts on “Dodgers 2018 Roster: Putting Together a Working Outfield

  1. Dennis, I don’t think they picked up Forsythe’s contract to have him play a strict platoon, I’m probably wrong, but if not, then how does the outfield stack up. I doubt they sit CT unless they just want to rest him, so who would you give the nod to if there is only one spot in the OF for a lefty bat, on RHP days, Joc, or a healthy Toles?

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    1. If Forsythe is the everyday second baseman, it’s gonna be because of his defense. And if that’s indeed the case, I think they’ve found their 8-hole hitter, at least against RHP. A 7-year career .344 slugging% and a .626 OPS against righties is downright horrible, especially for a club with very high playoff aspirations. As for Joc or Toles, I think it’s a tough call. If Joc’s in shape, and he has one of his 10 different swings working, and if he doesn’t deviate the mechanics of such swing, I think you go with Joc as the primary guy, excluding when a LHP is throwing. And I think Joc has the slight upper-hand only because of Tolesy’s short track record. Toles may very well be the man by season’s end.

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  2. I didn’t realize his career ops against LHP was only .626 hard to make my case against numbers like that. Lets hope joc, and Andrew, are both doing great enough to make doc’s decisions really tough. The Dodgers may be the only team, where the play of the second baseman could effect who is playing in the outfield, or vice versa.

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    1. I started this site up in November of 2015, however, I’ve been writing on and off about the Dodgers since 2009. Andy started writing regularly here in the spring of 2016, and Sarah since the summer of 2017. Sarah will be off to college this year sometime, but hopefully she’ll continue on with her weekly column. Many thanks for your loyal following, man.

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  3. Thanks for the link, tells me a lot about you guys, except how do you guys become dodger fans in the middle of Pirate , and Phillies land?

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  4. Just in case you’re curious, my first vivid memory of the Dodgers was the 74 World Series, when joe Ferguson, playing left field, stepped in front of jimmy Winn, who was playing center, to catch a fly ball, and throw a perfect strike to Steve Yeager, who tagged the runner out at home. I think it was sal bando. Can’t remember if we won or lost the game but never forget the play.

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    1. Hey Keith. If I recall correctly, Feguson and Yeager shared catching duties that year and Ferguson also played the outfield. If memory serves me, I think Ferguson was playing right field on that play you mentioned. What a throw. Great play!

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  5. I’ve been advocating making Taylor the full time 2B and Forsythe a utility man since his option was picked up. Unless, Kemp is actually traded, I don’t think you can disregard his offense, at least against lefties. As the roster stands now, I would platoon Kemp and Toles in LF and Pederson and Hernandez in CF. Verdugo gets another year at AAA and my God they should not trade Puig! When Kemp starts against a lefty, he can always be substituted late in the game for D or if the starter is replaced by a righty.

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    1. I could live with that also, but I just can’t believe Kemp will be on the opening day Dodger roster. It would sure be nice to see him hit a few dingers out of Dodger Stadium in a Dodger uniform again. Kemp has gotten himself a reputation for being a negative clubhouse presence and for playing out of shape. Apparently he’s corrected the latter problem this winter as reports have him being in great shape. Maybe that means the attitude is better also. I happen to think that if given the chance he would absolutely love to prove everyone wrong, especially in Dodger blue.

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      1. Maybe the reason they are/were shopping Puig was because of his lack of maturity. And maybe that’s why Joc was in the doghouse. Guys like Seager, Bellinger and CT3 will soon be the model Dodger characters. Perhaps the age of professionalism in baseball is finally at its peak,

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      2. I don’t know about all of baseball but it sure seems like the Dodger F.O. is paying attention to that stuff. Even though they’re considered at the forefront of stats-oriented baseball, they give a lot of weight to behavior/makeup, etc. On the other hand, if you had a whole clubhouse of Seagers, Bellingers and Taylors it might get kind of boring. Good to have personalities like Kike and Turner to liven things up a little. I think they view Puig like they would an alcoholic. He’s been more or less on the wagon for the past season, but they’re always afraid he might go on a bender.

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      3. I think he’d love to have him. He loves a project, although Puig has evolved beyond a project at this point. So if you’re Friedman, what do you ask for in return? Although now that I think of it, I’m not sure they would want someone with only 2 years of control left.

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      4. I really wouldn’t mind having Nola or Eickhoff, especially while Honeycutt’s still around to mentor them. Come to think of it, though, I have a hard time seeing Puig blend with that Phila crowd. If there ever was a player who truly had rabbit ears, it’s gotta be Puig.

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  6. By the way, I don’t think I ever saw an answer to Keith’s question from the other day as to how you and Andy became Dodger fans in PA.

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    1. As for me, my entire family was trying to breed me into a Phila fan right out of the womb. From as early as I can remember, I was going to tons of Phillies games. For some reason, though, I never felt the spark. When I was six years old, by chance, the Dodgers were in town for a series, and I fell in love with the infield at first sight, and I never looked back. Needless to say, my family wasn’t too happy about it, and they hated driving me all over the east coast whenever the Dodgers were around for a series. I was reading newspapers, Baseball Weekly, and Baseball Digest at a very young age—long before the Internet was around.

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