While many fans of the Dodgers continue to express their disappointment over the team’s spending this winter, skipper Dave Roberts remains upbeat, especially after the acquisition of center fielder A.J. Pollock last week.
Roberts replied by stating, “All I know is we’re pretty set in the outfield.”
Of course, Roberts didn’t give us a clue as to what the team has in mind as far as specific positional duties or potential platoons go, but he did sound extremely excited about the resources that are available to him.
“We got a lot of depth; we got a lot of good players,” Roberts said. “I think that right now, where we’re at, we’re ready to compete for a championship.”
We’ve been speculating for months about how the lineups will conceivably be structured for the upcoming season. Many pundits initially envisioned the outfield as one giant platoon. Yet, as it stands now, things aren’t any clearer, aside from the assumption that Pollock will see the lion’s share of reps in center.
At one point, many felt that Cody Bellinger would be seeing most of his action in center field; however, with Pollock in the picture, it is believed that No. 35 could be shifted to right field, at least against righty pitching, as Max Muncy would handle the duties at first base.
Last season, Bellinger played 78 games in center while appearing five times in right field. During his rookie campaign in 2017, he logged 39 games in left field, four games in center and five games in right field. Nevertheless, despite his versatility, many still believe that Bellinger’s true position is first base.
Whether or not Muncy is an everyday player in 2019 remains to be seen, but it’s hard to imagine team management leaving him out of the lineup to begin the year after he produced a .973 OPS and a 4.8 oWAR last year. Some feel that Muncy could possibly sit against southpaws, but in reality, his splits aren’t all that bad. Against left-handed pitching last year, he hit .255/.361/.529 with eight long balls in 119 PA. Against righty pitching, he slashed .266/.401/.501 with 27 long balls over 362 PA.
In terms of the entire 2018 team, Muncy’s impressive .391 overall OBP trailed only the .406 mark registered by third baseman Justin Turner.
Also before the arrival of Pollock, speculation was that Alex Verdugo may finally get his shot at playing every day in right field, but with Bellinger being pushed to right—at least part-time—it’s hard to say what’s in store for Verdugo. We know Joc Pederson will see most of the action against righty pitching in left field, which constitutes roughly 66% of the total playing time.
Some fans believe that the signing of Pollock opens the door for Pederson to be traded.
At the end of the day, the 2019 starting outfield crew may boil down to whomever produces during the upcoming Cactus League schedule—aside from Pollock, who will be the Opening Day center fielder.
Obviously, injuries always play a part in the daily lineups. For all we know, there may be a surprise or two in store, much like we saw from Muncy last year and Taylor in 2017.