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.


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.


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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