The Curious Case of A.J. Pollock

It is an inherent want of talking heads to rank players against each other. Just like with the Top Players of the Decade, MLB Network is currently doing Top 10 Players right now, unveiling the top 10 athletes at any one position.

The caveat put forward before every broadcast is that this would be a ranking for the upcoming year. So I found it interesting that they have placed Cody Bellinger in the center field category.

Of course, we know that Bellinger slid over to center from his previous spot in right field in the beginning of September to take over the duties of A.J. Pollock. Bellinger stayed at this position through the NLDS. Eventually, Belli went on to win the Gold Glove for his play in right field.

Other than the big contracts the Dodgers front office took on when they first asumed the team to try to bridge the gap, the Dodgers have mostly stuck to low-risk, high-reward signings. They don’t seem to be looking to spend money at much overall.

Which makes the case of Pollock interesting. The Dodgers knew that Pollock has a history of being oft-injured. That did not stop them from signing him to a four-year, $55 million contract. Along with reliever Joe Kelly, he was the only big signing of the 2018-19 off-season. It was not so much the amount of money spent on the 30-year-old outfielder that was surprising, but rather the amount of years.

Pollock only appeared in 86 games last season, missing six weeks to heal from an infection in the elbow that he had previously had surgery on. He hit home runs in three straight games after his stint on the IL, but never quite got back to what the Dodgers were paying him to be. He played 62 games in center and 18 games in left field, which was almost all of September. During that time, he batted .266 with 15 home runs.

While only coming off his third season, in which he won NL MVP, there is little doubt that Bellinger could become a generational talent. A veteran losing his position to a younger player is hardly anything new.

So if Bellinger is to take over the position Pollock was signed to play, where does that leave him? A break down of the outfield could look a little like this, if the current roster construction stays the same—Bellinger in CF, a platoon in left field of Pollock against lefties and Joc Pederson against righties. Right field will be manned by Alex Verdugo, should he regain his health and form, with some help from Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez.

If Pollock never quite gets completely healthy again, this system could work. It gives him lots of rest and less chances to injure himself again. President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said that Pollock has been working on his flexibility. Whether that means in the literal sense or moving around the yard positionally, I am not sure.

But, if Pollock stays healthy, will he be willing to be relegated to just a platoon role? Surely, he understands his past history of injuries, and his age among the youth of this team. But that would be a happy problem, should the Dodgers have to deal with a healthy and productive Pollock. That would be high reward of his contract. If not, as always, the Dodgers have the depth in the outfield to weather any potential storm again.

 

Assembling a Functioning Outfield for 2020

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(Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports)

If you’re one of those folks who follows every major rumor surrounding the Dodgers during the offseason, it wouldn’t be difficult to find yourself spinning in circles after just a few minutes of internet surfing.

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What Lies Ahead for Alex Verdugo?

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(Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

Since the moment the Dodgers made A.J. Pollock a part of their everyday outfield picture, there has been plenty of speculation regarding exactly how the club plans to set up the outfield for the 2019 season.

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Dodgers Roster: Dave Roberts Believes 2019 Outfield Is ‘Set’

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(Mandatory Credit: Keith Birmingham/SCNG)

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.

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Dodgers 2019 Outfield: A Closer Look at Shane Peterson

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While we first heard news about it on New Year’s Eve, and even though the Dodgers themselves still haven’t announced the signing of Shane Peterson, on Wednesday Ken Rosenthal tweeted a report, which makes the addition at least a little more official.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Yusniel Diaz Is Rising Quickly

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(Mandatory Credit: Ben Sandstrom/MiLB.com)

Unlike several of his predecessors, Dodgers‘ boss Andrew Friedman is developing a reputation for giving his younger players opportunities to show their value on the highest stages. This spring, for example, the Los Angeles management crew invited a whopping 22 players who were not on the 40-man to take part in major league workouts at Camelback Ranch, elevating the number of participants on the big league side of camp to well over 60 players.

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Dodgers 25-Man Roster: Putting Together a Functioning Outfield

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(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The 2018 Cactus League schedule hasn’t even started yet and already I’ve changed my mind at least twice about which players will make up the Dodgers‘ 2018 Opening Day roster.

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5 Things to Look for at Dodgers Spring Training

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After one of the saddest and longest winters ever for Dodgers fans, the end is finally here. Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow to Camelback Ranch. Although many of us are still hungover from what might have been, most of us can’t help but get excited about what might be waiting for us during the upcoming season.

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Dodgers Roster: What Lies Ahead for Trayce Thompson?

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(Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

While there’s been quite a few discussions lately surrounding the prospective big league outfield picture of the Dodgers, there hasn’t been much chatter about Trayce Thompson. As a matter of fact, if veteran Matt Kemp somehow squeezes his way onto the Opening Day 25-man roster, it will likely create a logjam for a handful of other players, resulting in Thompson’s chances of making the big league squad extremely slim.

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Dodgers Roster: Several Pros and Cons of Moving Matt Kemp

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(CBS Sports Photo)

Picture this—it’s Saturday, October 4th, 2014. The Dodgers are tied with the St. Louis Cardinals 2-2 heading into the bottom of the 8th, in the second game of the National League Division Series. Matt Kemp, one of the most well-known Dodgers of this century, is walking to the plate. J.P. Howell is in the dugout, well aware of the two runs he’s given up, simultaneously reducing the Dodgers lead to 0. On a 2-1 count, three pitches into Pat Neshek’s appearance in the game, Kemp launches a monster home run to deep left field, right next to the Dodgers’ bullpen.

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