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Dodgers

Daily Dodger in review: Scott Van Slyke carves an unexpected role

Scott Van Slyke
Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke is congratulated by first base coach Davey Lopes after delivering a run-scoring single against the Colorado Rockies last season.
(Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

SCOTT VAN SLYKE, 28, outfielder.

Final 2014 stats: .297 batting average, 11 home runs, 29 RBI, 32 runs, and .386 on-base and .524 slugging percentages.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: His home run total was actually fifth on the team, even though he received only 246 plate appearances. Hit .315 with a .630 slugging percentage against left-handers. Was a particularly strong weapon on the road (.314 batting, .657 slugging). Hit .358 (39 for 109) against division opponents. Played first and all three outfield positions.

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The bad: Not much to complain about. He was no defensive wiz, but played well enough that Manager Don Mattingly felt comfortable moving him all around. Never has a major slump, though he hit only .154 (four for 26) during a May stretch.

What’s next: Seems firmly in team’s plans as a backup outfielder, and figures to see continued starts against left-handed pitchers. He started 50 games last season.

The take: Van Slyke turned his career around in 2013, going from a player designated for assignment that every team in the majors passed on, to a strong bench presence for the Dodgers. Turns out, he was only getting started.

He played better than anyone had right to expect last season, working himself into a starting role against left-handed pitchers. And when he started, that typically meant high-priced outfielders Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier were sitting, so no small thing.

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Van Slyke should just be reaching his prime, but the team outfield could be growing even more crowded with Joc Pederson having done about all he can to at triple-A. Pederson, however, is another left-handed hitter, so even if Ethier or Crawford are moved, it may not impact Van Slyke’s role on the team.

Mattingly said Van Slyke’s job was to crush left-handed pitchers and he can’t be unhappy with the results. Unless you feel obligated to count the brief Dodger career of Roger Bernadina (seven at-bats), he led the team last season in slugging percentage.


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