Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and we are six days away from opening day for the Dodgers.
Comparing the teams
Continuing each weekday until conclusion, I will take a look at all five NL West teams, comparing them at each position, the rotation and the bullpen. Every team will be ranked at each position, so we can get a better idea of where the Dodgers stand as they try to win their first World Series since the Reagan administration. If you see a stat you don’t recognize, such as WAR or FRAA, just click on it and you will be taken to the explainer. All stats are courtesy of baseball-reference.com.
Today we move on to left field. Left field is a mess. There are a lot of guys with potential, or guys who have huge flaws in their game. There is no real standout. You could pull the names out of a hat and rank them that way. The No. 1 guy isn’t nearly as good as the No. 1 guy at the other positions. But, here’s one opinion:
1. Yasmany Tomas, Arizona
Last two seasons: .272 AVG/.309 OB%/.462 SLG%/1.4 Offensive WAR/-4.2 Defensive WAR
Tomas had a power surge last season, hitting 31 homers after hitting nine the season before. He doesn’t walk much and is brutal defensively, but as long as he keeps hitting homers he will find a spot in the lineup. He ranks No. 1 because of his power and because he shows signs of improving his other skills.
2. Andrew Toles and Franklin Gutierrez, Dodgers
Toles last season: .314/.365/.505/0.9/0.4
Gutierrez last two seasons: .265/.339/.520/3.2/-1.1
It is hard to judge Toles. It is unlikely he is going to hit as well as he did at the end of last season. He’s fast, but wasn’t a particularly good base stealer (24 steals, 12 caught stealing last season, including the minors). But he has continued to hit well in spring training this season. Gutierrez is supposed to be a lefty masher (he slugged .511 against them last season), but he can’t hit righties at all (.145 average last season).
3. Jarrett Parker, San Francisco
Last two seasons: .267/.371/.494/1.3/-0.8
Which Parker is the real one, the one who hit .347/.407/.755 in 2015 or the one who hit .236/.358/.394 last season? Judging by his minor-league stats, the guy from last season. Parker is just an average player who is best suited as a fourth outfielder.
4. Travis Janikowski, San Diego
Last three seasons: .238/.315/.320/0.3/1.0
The Padres’ outfield is in flux because of injuries. With Alex Dickerson out for at least a month with a back injury, Janikowski will probably get the bulk of at bats in left. He can fly, with 30 stolen bases last season in less than 400 plate appearances. He has no power to speak of, and can’t hit lefties at all. This is the world the Padres live in right now. Lots of guys with potential just waiting to develop.
5. Gerardo Parra, Colorado
Last three seasons: .270/.307/.408/0.4/-4.0
David Dahl was supposed to start in left for the Rockies, but he is injured and could miss all of April. It looks like Parra will get the nod. In 381 plate appearances last season, Parra walked nine times. Nine. The only thing he excels at is striking out.
This concludes the look at left field. If we assign points based on where a player ranks at each position, giving seven points for first place, five for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth, then the NL West stacks up like this so far, with center, right, rotation and bullpen left to look at:
Arizona, 7 points
Dodgers, 5 points
San Francisco, 3 points
San Diego, 2 points
Colorado, 1 point
That brings the grand total after six positions to:
Dodgers, 30 points
San Francisco, 24 points
Arizona, 22 points
Colorado, 22 points
San Diego, 10 points
Shortstop Corey Seager, who has been bothered by a strained oblique, will probably stay in Arizona and not play in the Freeway Series so he can get more at bats and be ready for the season opener.
“That’s certainly an option,” Manager Dave Roberts told Times Dodgers reporter Andy McCullough. “I think to get him in a major league ballpark is not a priority. It’s more about if he can accrue more at-bats down here, that’s what makes the most sense.”
Ryu is the No. 4 starter
In welcome news, Roberts said that Hyun-jin Ryu will be a part of the starting rotation when the season opens. Ryu has missed almost all of the last two seasons because of a shoulder injury. But he pitched well this spring, and if he pitches anything like he did before he got hurt, he will be a huge boost for the team.
The No. 5 spot comes down to Brandon McCarthy and Alex Wood. Roberts said both will make the team, with one heading for the bullpen.
Ask Ross Porter
Once again, former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter will be answering select reader questions. Email me a question for Ross, and I will pass it on. The answers will begin once the season starts, but send the questions in now!
Scott Kazmir is headed for the disabled list. There is no truth to the rumor that a butterfly landed on the ball mid-flight after one of Kazmir’s pitches last week.