With each passing winter, it seems as if the Dodgers have a hole in their roster regarding a primary second baseman. In 2018, fans saw eight different players garner starts at the keystone, and by the time the playoffs rolled around, team management still didn’t have a overwhelming choice for a solution. As it stands now, there will be quite a bit of personnel movement this offseason—including the coaching staff—and once again, fans will wonder if the front office will go shopping for a second baseman or try to utilize its resources from within the organization.
Followers of the team need to look back to 2016 to find any solidarity surrounding second base, the year Chase Utley played his first full year in Los Angeles, slashing .252/.319/.396 with 14 long balls over 138 games. That particular season was the last the Dodgers had any type of consistency relating to playing time at second base. 2017 saw the arrival of Logan Forsythe, and despite a few flashes of strong production, never really got things going with the lumber. Before Utley, there was Howie Kendrick and Dee Gordon, both of whom never cemented themselves as the primary starter at second for more than one full season. One would need to drift back to a stretch during 2012-13 to find Mark Ellis, who held down the fort for two seasons, in spite of slugging just 13 homers and 79 RBI in nearly 1000 AB while wearing Dodger Blue.
Utility man Enrique Hernandez seemingly emerged as the clear-cut starter for Los Angeles ahead of the 2018 playoffs, and some pundits believed that the Dodgers finally filled the role which was in question for a few years. However, Hernandez went just 5-for-41 last postseason, forcing the coaching staff to turn to Chris Taylor for the bulk of the World Series reps.
Should the Dodgers not make any moves on the outside, Hernandez and Taylor could be the front-runners for the 2019 job, although both would likely be used in other spots around the diamond. Hernandez is brilliant defensively; but aside from 2015 when he hit .307 in a role mainly as a lefty killer, never really put it all together at the plate. Taylor hit .254/.331/.444 last year with 17 home runs and 35 doubles, but still led the entire squad with 178 punchouts. Taylor is often criticized by pundits for his inability to shorten up his swing, and he’s frequently denounced for his emphasized launch angle, regardless of the pitch count or if there are runners on base.
Max Muncy is also a reasonable option, despite his limited range and questionable glovework in the field—things that are sometimes innate and often impossible to fix. Still, a .973 OPS and 35 homers mandate his presence in the daily lineup in some shape or form.
In the minors, there are players like Tim Locastro, Drew Jackson, Gavin Lux and Errol Robinson, but nobody, aside from maybe Locastro, has yet to make enough noise to warrant an extended look in the big leagues.
As far as free agents go, 30-year-old DJ LeMahieu seems to be the most intriguing. He won his second consecutive Gold Glove last year, which fits the Dodgers’ defensive philosophy perfectly. LeMahieu also hit .276/.321/.428 with 15 long balls and 32 doubles, but he’s a right-handed hitter, something the team already has in Hernandez and Taylor.
Of course, a trade is always possible, but with the current priorities being catcher and bullpen help, it’s hard to say if Andrew Friedman will indeed make a splash to upgrade his second base resources. A lot can happen over the winter, but my best guess right now is that Muncy and Taylor might be given every opportunity to play their way out of contention during the first month of the 2019 season, allowing Hernandez to continue his super-utility expertise.