Pondering left field
2017 LF is going to be interesting.
From the Left Side:
Toles – keeps showing skills, looks like he could be a promising leadoff hitter. Has the speed, showed good OBP skills, had some pop. His arm plays well in LF. I’d think he’d rank very high defensively over a full season in LF. We have to see more but right now Toles ranks as a steal by the LAD FO.
Ethier – I’m hopeful a winter of workouts should get him back to where he was before he got hurt as long as we remember he’s a year older and on the wrong side of 30.
Do you go with the young man with promise or the veteran who missed most of the year? I expect Andre to be the starting LF against RHP unless his health is an issue or the Dodgers move him between now and opening day. Toles will get his chance.
From the Right Side:
Trayce Thompson – showed some interesting skills, his defense certainly plays in LF, power plays, kind of a right handed Joc to me. Because of injuries, he got most of his at-bats against RHP and actually hit them better than the few at-bats he got against LHP. In 2015 he tore up LHP. He could be a Randall Grichuk type of player if things go right but I do expect him to be playing CF against LHP so maybe I should not include him here.
Scott Van Slyke – Roberts showed no faith in SVS when he came back from injuries so hard for me to imagine a scenario where he gets much burn in 2017. I don’t expect him to be on the team come opening day if Darin Ruf makes the team.
Darin Ruf – was acquired in the Howie Kendrick deal and like SVS can play 1st or LF. He would be the most defensive challenged of the outfield options. Like SVS, it was not long ago that Ruf was hitting left handing pitching at a good clip. Ruf had a sore shoulder to start 2016 and never got in a groove at the major league level. He did tear up AAA and came back in Sept. In 2015, Ruf crushed LHP to the tune of a 1.107 OPS. He had a walk rate about 10% and a K rate of 15%. He did this damage in limited at bats so still a huge question mark as to how productive he can be against LHP. I like Ruf, and I hope the FO acquired him for a reason. Others think he will be DFA’d and was simply a player in the Howie trade, not someone the FO actually coveted.
Kiké Hernandez – in everyone’s dog house and certainly not someone I’d want in LF. If Hernandez is not an infielder I don’t see the point. I’m sure he’s not as good as he was in 2015 nor as bad as he was in 2016. Can you carry someone like Hernandez who can only hit LHP and that is up in the air?
Cody Bellinger or Willie Calhoun – If Howie Kendrick can learn to play LF in an emergency in the major leagues, I’m sure WIllie Calhoun could do it an emergency. That emergency would be that no one is hitting and they want his bat in the lineup. We know Bellinger can play the corner outfield spots. Both these guys are left handed so I’d think the only way they get a shot is if both Toles/Andre go down via injury or poor production. Both these players could be gone in big trades by opening day. If the Dodgers do trade for Dozier it certainly makes sense to move Calhoun.
Even though there had been talk of Ryan Braun that seems to have cooled, so I’m expecting Puig in RF and with Toles/Andre/Thompson/SVS or Ruf they seemed to have left field covered against both sides of the plate. Course Thompson is probably going to be covering for Joc in center field against LHP. Unless it is Enrique Hernandez.