Let’s Talk About Platooning


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.


19 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Platooning

  1. Roberts may not call it platooning but he intends to give everyone at bats. Does it really matter who starts on Opening Day? Not with this team. Martin and Barnes will divide the time at catcher. Barring injury, Bellinger, Seager and Turner will be there everyday. Chrisiké Taynandez will each get 400+ PA’s doing what they do. Muncy will probably duplicate last year’s 480 PA’s, though he projects less at BR. If Pollock can stay on the field he’s the every day CF, but we know Roberts will give him extra days off because of his owie history. He projects 429 at bats so obviously the analysts believe that as well. Freese? 350 at bats at first and third. Verdugo? Pederson? Who knows. 250 and 380. Just a guess.

    No platooning though. Fans don’t want to hear that word this year.

  2. Thats the benefit of having a deep team. Players don’t have to play 162 games and get burned out or injured. So everyone is going to get their ab’s. My question is about Verdugo. Is he the real deal and can he hit lefties. I’ve given up on JOC. He will for sure be platooned. But Muncy and Belly need to be given the opportunity to hit lefties and not platooned

    1. Rich, how can you give up on a guy who improved across the board last year? That makes no sense. His BA improved, his K’s went down, he walked more, was in better shape, and was probably the most productive lead off hitter they had. He hit 8 HR’s hitting lead off. He does not hit lefty’s well because he does not play against them enough. They said the same thing about Kike and RHP, but when Roberts was forced to put him in there, he got better. Joc will never be that .300 hitting 30 SB guy he was in the minors. His OPS was over 800. He had 98 hits, and 55 of them were for extra bases. Give up if you want, but right now, he is an established MLB player with power. Verdugo is an untested kid with talent. He is going to have to outplay Joc and most of the other guys to prove himself. Sometimes you go with what you know.

  3. Well they assigned everyone their numbers. Except Stetson Allie. As Scoop predicted, no one got #66. Not yet anyway and again, nobody got Fernando’s #34. Shane Peterson got Kemp’s 27. Perkins got 36, and Paulie Orlando got #16 which means Geren got 8 back. Daniel Castro got Grandal’s 9. Van Scoyac got #6. Verdugo and Toles kept their high numbers. Ebel got 12. Kelly got 17..but we knew that. McCreery got 62, and saw a picture on twitter of him next to another guy, and is this man TALL! Schultz got 50. None of the prospects ended up with low numbers. A couple of the non roster guys did. Since I am talking about uni numbers, I would like to conduct a little poll. Nobody has worn #34 for a long time, and it is not retired. The Dodgers have retired 1 non HOFer’s number. Jr. Gilliam’s #19. The only way Fernando is going into the HOF is if the veterans committee selects him. My belief is that he will not make the hall. His numbers do not add up. And unfortunately for him, they do not base induction on social impact. The lone exception would be Robinson, but he was also a great player. So here is my question, should the Dodgers retire # 34 even though Valenzuela is not in the hall because of his contributions to the city and the team? Give your reasons for your vote…..I would like to know what other fans think.

      1. He is what? 33? I have underwear older than that…..wait, maybe that is not a good comparison….oh I know, my custom made Tony Lama boots are older than he is……whew……..dodged a bullet there……..

    1. Fernando’s numbers are not good enough for the HOF and even the vets committee shouldn’t vote him in. I’m not sure if I think his #34 should be officially retired (I’m thinking I would rather save that for actual HOFers, in spite of Jim Gilliam), but I don’t think the number should be used again. I guess that’s a technicality but I don’t think the number should be officially retired.

  4. bear I’m not giving up on Joc. I love him just not against lefties. He’s got to,play everyday against righties. As you said he made great strides last year and I’m excited to see what he’ll do this year!

  5. 70% of the league is RH. 395 at bats, 2.3 rWAR. Team controlled. He’s tradable.

    I don’t retire #34. I don’t hand it out either. Unless Charles Barkley wants it.

    I have an A2000 I’ve had since ‘85. That’s older than RVS.

    Kershaw said the free agent squeeze is bad for the game. Hmm. Seems to me the game, and everyone in it, are doing just fine.

  6. Platooning is not a new thing in the Dodger world. When Alston was manager, especially after the move from Brooklyn, he rarely used the same 8 starters every night. Oh, he had some stars that played almost everyday, but at positions that were not manned by guys like that, there were platoon players. 3rd base back in the day was a revolving door except when Gilliam was over there. But they had guys like Darryl Spencer and many others come through LA and play for a short time. SS was that way until Wills established himself in 59, but that was over after the 66 season. Again a revolving door was used at that spot. We were spoiled when Tommy was running the same guys out there every day. And when the 5 rookies of the year were playing together, you know Mondesi would be in RF, Piazza behind the dish, Karros at 1st. Heady days indeed. But the culture and the game has changed. And the Dodgers only have a few players now who fall into the category of we need their bat out there every day. Dennis made a great point about Joc not hitting lefty’s. He is right on the money. But why does he not hit them? Because he is rarely in the lineup when they are pitching. You have to get at bats against your weakness’s to have any chance of getting better. In his 5 years in the majors, Joc has had only 287 at bats against LHP. Thats a little over 50 a year. No way you get better with that few at bats.

    1. Joc is 27 in April. He’s role on this team is well defined. If he is to get at bats against LHP it would be somewhere else.

      Not much happening. Saw the interviews with Friedman and Roberts. No news, both brimming with confidence. Martin appears to be happy to be here. Jansen looks good. Can he throw? Probably. Urias also looks good.

      Kershaw working on a change. I’m surprised He doesn’t have one. Hasn’t needed it I guess.

    2. Joc is the perfect example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. They don’t think he can hit lefties so they don’t give him at bats against lefties so he doesn’t hit well against lefties.

      1. I’m still eager to see how most of the playing time in the outfield gets split up. If Bellinger’s in right most of the time like Roberts indicated, and Pollock is the regular center fielder, that leaves Joc and Verdugo to battle it out in LF, at least against RHP. If everybody’s healthy, Tolesy doesn’t have a snowball’s chance.

  7. I’d still rather have both JOC and Verdugo in the lineup against righties than Taylor most of the time. That puts Belly at first and Muncy at second. Muncy actually has decent fielding numbers at 2nd tho less range than Taylor.

    1. Not arguing your point about having Joc and Verdugo in the lineup against righties but Taylor has been remarkably consistent against both sides during his career. Almost identical numbers either way. If Toles is sent to OKC again this year, I would be very surprised if Farhan doesn’t try to work a deal for him.

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