It’s funny how a few quotes from the first day of spring camp can stir up an abundance of reactions from the Dodgers‘ fan base.
And there’s nobody more guilty than me.
Among all the info that skipper Dave Roberts shared with the media on Tuesday, one particular bit of information stood out. Roberts confirmed that A.J. Pollock would indeed be the everyday center fielder, leaving Cody Bellinger to splitting time between right field and first base.
Most of us who follow the team closely knew this would be the case, but it was nice to have some credible direction instead of remaining speculative until a few Cactus League lineups are finally revealed.
We already knew that management plans to utilize Max Muncy as an everyday player, so putting two and two together leaves us with a better idea of a regular lineup.
“We expect Max to get a ton of at-bats next year and at first base and at second base,” Roberts clarified in December.
Moreover, Roberts also confirmed on Tuesday that fans are likely to see less platooning in 2019, a concept which the team thrived on during their entire 2018 campaign. He credited the addition of Pollock and the return of Corey Seager as the key reasons to establishing such regularity.
And, according to the manager, Seager is tracking just fine to be the Opening Day shortstop.
Being my typical self and considering the way I process information, I couldn’t help but begin to draw out imaginary lineups in my head not long after the team packed it in on Day 1.
Knowing that the team would be facing right-handed pitching about two-thirds of the time, I came up with a few credible ideas.
If Pollock’s in center field, then Bellinger’s definitely in right field when Muncy’s manning first base. Justin Turner will be at third. Barring any setbacks, Seager will be starting at short. My guess is that Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez will be battling for the starting spot at the keystone, at least when Muncy’s not there. Consequently, the Cactus League battles for starting jobs may happen in left field between Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo, and believe it or not, at catcher between Austin Barnes and Russell Martin.
Bill Plunkett confirmed that the starting spot behind the plate is an open competition. He cited Roberts as saying, “We’re betting on an uptick from both guys offensively.”
I planned on putting together a few hypothetical lineups for this post, but then I thought about how much different they may look against opposing right-handed and lefty pitchers. As will the batting orders against power pitchers and finesse pitchers. And we all know that Kiké will certainly be starting and hitting cleanup whenever Madison Bumgarner is on the mound. Turner may be on a set routine in terms of having days off. David Freese is guaranteed to start against the Mets because he hit an impressive .409/.519/.864 against them last year. Pederson must start against both the Brewers and the Pirates because he has posted a 1.511 and a 1.129 combined OPS against them over the past three seasons, respectively. Barnes typically destroys St. Louis pitching. Taylor is hitting over .700 during his career against the Tigers.
You get the idea.
So much for not platooning.