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Review of 2022 LAD Outfield and 2023 Outlook

My first attempt at looking at position results for 2022 and what it may mean for 2023, will be the outfield.  Last year there was consistency in CF and RF, but there was a revolving door in LF.

Cody Bellinger was the primary CF and Mookie Betts was the primary RF.  LF consisted of Chris Taylor, Trayce Thompson, Joey Gallo, Jake Lamb, Kevin Pillar, Miguel Vargas and James Outman.  We will go from RF to LF.

 

Mookie Betts (RF) – Will be 30 in 2023:

142 G, 639 PA, 572 AB – .269/.340/.533/.873, 117 Runs (#1 in NL), 104 K and 55 BB, OPS+ 136, bWAR 6.4, fWAR 6.6, Outs Above Average (OAA) 5.0, Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) 15.0.

He led the team with 35 HRs.

His OAA was 2nd in the NL to Daulton Varsho and 4th in MLB.  He was best in MLB in DRS.

Mookie is a 6 X All Star, 5 X Gold Glove, 4 X Silver Slugger, MVP (2018).

It was his second lowest BABIP in his career.  For comparison, his BABIP in his 2018 MVP season it was .368.  His career BABIP is .304.  The majority of his balls in play were through the middle.

Mookie had 8 assists in RF.  He had 2 errors in 308 chances.

Mookie has 10 years remaining on his contract with an AAV of $29.0MM.

Mookie is an elite baseball player.  He does everything well.  Mookie figures to be a mainstay in the LAD lineup for many years.  Will he hold up until he is 39?  Doubtful, but he should earn his salary over the course of his career.  For the three years he has been a LAD, his salary has been $55.0MM while his fWAR value has been $104.4MM.  It will certainly go the other direction in the latter years of his deal, which is why the Dodgers should not waste his talent as they seemingly have done with Kershaw.

 

Cody Bellinger (CF) – Will be 27 in 2023:

144 G, 550 PA, 504 AB – .210/.265/.389/.654, 70 Runs, 150 K and 38 BB, OPS+ 78, bWAR 1.2, fWAR 1.7, OAA 6.0, DRS 0.

He is a 2X All Star, 1 X Silver Slugger, 1 X Gold Glove, ROY (2017), MVP (2019).

Among 172 hitters with 800+ plate appearances over the past two seasons, Bellinger ranked dead last with a .256 on-base percentage. His .355 slugging mark is in the bottom ten. Bellinger’s 7.7% walk rate and 27.1% strikeout percentage are each worse than average, and his hard contact rate is down notably from its 2019 peak. He was left out of Game 4 starting lineup with RHSP Joe Musgrove on the bump, and he was not at all happy about it.

His defense pursuant to his OAA and DRS is nothing special.  I am not convinced that Belli makes the catch that Trayce Thompson did in Game 4.  Belli has been playing a whole host of batted balls into singles.  However, he goes back on a ball as well as anyone playing.

In his last 3 years combined he is 23/5 in SB/CS.  That is just not enough to sway the decision makers that his base speed is elite.

His BABIP was .255 which is well above his batting average.

His defense is good, but not really elite anymore.  He had 3 errors and 2 assists in 2022.  Is he still injured?  There are plenty of Belli supporters who believe this to be true.

Belli’s arbitration projection is $18.1MM.  I think the Dodgers make a calculated business and baseball decision, and non-tender him.  He may go on to have an MVP season, but he would go on to FA after 2023 regardless..  So can the Dodgers find a CF with better production in 2023 than what Bellinger has done over the last three years?  I believe they can, and for far less $$$.  I doubt that it will be a FA CF.  It could come via trade.  I wouldn’t at all mind a look at any of the Arizona CF.  Maybe Bryan Reynolds.  Maybe a lesser expensive non-tender.  Or it may come internally; James Outman.  Outman is a huge strikeout risk, but he has the defensive chops and the power to be a ML OF.

 

Left Fielders (in order of games played):

 

Chris Taylor (80 Games LF and 118 Games in total) – Will be 32 in 2023.

454 PA, 402 AB – .221/.304/.373/.677, 45 Runs, 167 K and 63 BB, OPS+ 86, bWAR 0.5, fWAR 1.9, OAA 1.0, DRS -2.0.

CT3 was a 1 X All Star

CT3 does not possess the defensive skills or have the power to be an everyday LF.  What he is, is an exceptional Swiss Army Knife.  He played all 3 OF positions, 2B, 3B, SS, and DH.

His strikeout percentage was 35.2% while his BB rate was 9.7%.  That strikeout rate is really unacceptable, especially for an everyday player.

CT3 has 3 years remaining at $45MM ($15MM AAV).  While that may seem high, his fWAR value equates to slightly better than his AAV.  He has always been a strikeout hitter, but this year was by far his worst baseball year since becoming a LAD.

As long as he remains a Swiss Army Knife, his value to the Dodgers is very good.  However, I have read that because of the dearth of decent ML CF, CT3 may be in demand as a CF as was Kike’ Hernandez.

 

Trayce Thompson – (35 Games LF and 71 Games in total) – Will be 32 in 2023.

454 PA, 402 AB – .221/.304/.373/.677, 45 Runs, 167 K and 63 BB, OPS+ 86, bWAR 0.5, fWAR 1.9, OAA 3.0, DRS 2.0.

Trayce had 1 assist and zero errors in the OF.    He was prolific against RHP – .308/.409/.602/1.010, while not very good with LHP – .174/.260/.361/.621.

Trayce was a fantastic story when he returned to LAD.  He slumped at the end of the season, and that carried into a subpar playoffs.

Trayce is expected to receive $1.7MM in his 1st year of arbitration.  The Dodgers have 3 years control.  Trayce would be a very competent #4 OF as he can play all 3 OF positions.  He can and did play above average defense in all three OF positions.

 

Joey Gallo – (32 Games LF and 71 Games in total) – Will be 29 in 2023.

137 PA, 117 AB – .162/.277/.393/.671, 16 Runs, 57 K and 16 BB, OPS+ 83, bWAR 0.2, fWAR 0.6, OAA -3.0, DRS 4.0.

Joey Gallo was a deadline pickup and was acquired principally because of what his light tower power could do for the Dodgers down the stretch and into the playoffs. Unfortunately his strikeouts were just too much.  His OBP historically has been good, but it was depressingly down in 2022.  He may have been acquired for the playoffs, but he did not get an AB in the NLDS.  He did get 1.0 inning defensively in LF.

Joey is a free agent, and I do not expect AF/BG to make a serious offer (if any at all).  He could end up back in Texas.  He has been mentioned as a potential by any number of teams.  He is an intriguing player, but not one the Dodgers will bring back.

 

Miguel Vargas(18 Games LF and 7 Games in total) – Will be 23 in 2023.

50 PA, 47 AB – .170/.200/.255/.455, 4 Runs, 13 K and 2 BB, OPS+ 25, bWAR -0.4, fWAR -0.5.

Miguel Vargas was listed as a 1B in the MLB stats.  He primarily played 3B at AAA, but only paid 1 game at 3B with LAD.  As he was tapped for the NLDS roster over others (principally Hanser Alberto), Miggy was labeled as a “hitman” by Doc Roberts.  Although he was not allotted a single PA in the NLDS, even though CT3 struck out 5 of 7 PA.

Miggy obviously will not be the LAD 1B.  Just like this year, he will probably be a back up 3B.   Does he have the requisite power to be a corner OF?  Vargas has excellent bat to ball skills.  In 113 AAA games and 520 PA at OKC, Vargas hit .304/.404/.511/.915.  His K/BB ratio was 76/71.

He has nothing left to prove at AAA, so he should be considered as a favorite to make the 26 man.  At what position, we will have to wait it out.  LF is not considered a plus defensive position, but it is also not necessarily for a big bat to ball skills player.  Kyle Schwarber is the new prototype LF.

While many may not want to consider it, Vargas could be a good trade target by some teams.

 

James Outman(3 Games LF and 4 Games in total) – Will be 26 in 2023.

Since his 14 MLB PA is way too small a sample size, I will report his MiLB stats.

559 PA, 473 AB – .294/.393/.586/.978, 31 HRs, 31 Doubles, 7 Triples, 106 RBIs, 152 K and 70 BB.  K  ratio is 27.1%. BB ratio 12.5%.  He hit for the cycle twice at OKC in 2022, and in 4 games.

Outman is an exceptional athlete and a superb defensive CF, RF, or LF.  He does strike out a lot, and I do not expect those ratios to decrease at the MLB level.  He is going to get a long look as the LAD CF in 2023.  If the Dodgers can trade for a suitable CF, he has the requisite power to make an exceptional LF.

Other players who played LF for LAD in 2022.

I like Mookie, James Outman, Trayce Thompson, as the LAD OF with CT3 and Miggy Vargas as INF/OF/DH.  They could use a big bat OF (or 2) to compliment/replace Thompson and/or Outman.  For the right return, Vargas and Outman may also be desirable from other teams.  AF will spend considerable thought as to how to increase the offensive production from LAD LF and CF while keeping the defensive metrics at a plus level.

 

 

 

 

 

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Badger

I look for a winter trade to add a young athletic outfielder to this roster. I think Friedman knows a shakeup is necessary. If not that, I’ll take Outman. Not sure about Thompson. He looked overmatched when the lights got brighter.

I also think a lot of the roster construction has to wait until Trea makes his decision. Hopefully he knows what he wants to do and will announce it early.

I would like to see youth injected into our lineup. I look for Vargas, Outman, Rios to have good Springs and push the door open. I also look for Miller next year. I know others aren’t as high on him as I am but he finished strong and our rotation will need to get younger and get younger fast. We don’t have anybody that will do what Kershaw and Buehler usta did. May, Urias, Miller, Anderson could be a terrific starting 4.

If this doesn’t work there’s always the deadline. Friedman didn’t use it this year, but he could next.

I know Plaschke isn’t a popular writer with many but it’s my opinion he’s nailed it on the Dodgers flop this year. Read his column this morning. It’s spot on.

saw this projected lineup at BR:

Mookie
Nimmo
Freddie
Will Smith
Muncy
Dansby Swanson
Lux
Vargas
Taylor

No rotation listed.

Bumsrap

Good morning Badger. I would like a rotation of Urias, Gonsolin, Miller, Stone, and Pepiot. If Anderson re-signs, then he can take Pepiot’s spot.

Kershaw is going to retire one of these days. He will have a place in the rotation until he does.

There is a 2022 All Star free agent available. He has proven to excel when the lights get brighter. His line last year: .274.353.521.874 Just saying.

Badger

Good morning Bum. We’re old so we are both up early.

I saw Joc’s name on the best free agent list. He was 35th on that list. TA was on it too, not much higher than Joc. Most of the more interesting names on that list will get QO’s, and we know how AF feels about that. The Rams have a “F them picks” philosophy and it’s looking like they could use a few of them now. I don’t know what to say about that other than I’d rather a good starting player today than compensation pick tomorrow.

This already feels like a long off season and nothing is going to happen until the World Series is over.

Bumsrap

It certainly felt like that ship had sailed but maybe it has circled the globe and is heading back to port. I watched a lot of Joc the last two years by taping Extra Innings games and doing a lot of fast forwarding. Bounced back and forth between Dodger and Joc’s teams when watching live.

Joc now seems to have more of Freeman’s approach to hitting than the younger Joc’s approach. He has done well against lefties except when he hasn’t and when he hasn’t, he looks terrible. His fielding metrics are not good and yet I see him make every play he can get to and consistently throw to the right base.

So if Joc comes back, where will the team get younger?

2023: Outman in CF. Vargas at 3rd base. Lux at second. Miller, Stone, and May in the rotation.

2024: add Cartaya to the MLB roster.

Trade Candidates: Taylor, Muncy, Busch, Pepiot, and possibly Vargas if Dodgers can get a better 3rd baseman.

Bellinger, Justin, Trea, and possibly Kershaw would be gone.

Free agent signing: Carrera.

2B Lux
RF Betts
1B Freeman
SS Carrera
LF Pederson
C Smith
CF Outman
3B Vargas
DH Thompson/?

Badger

I agree on most of that and knowing how AF feels about draft picks I don’t think he will pursue QO FAs. So, if not that, we’re left to guess. And until moves are made, we will be guessing.

Regarding Miller, I haven’t seen him pitch, I only have what’s written about him and his stats. He threw 112 innings between AA and AAA with a K/9 over 11 and a WHIP of 1.175. He’s our 2nd rated prospect behind Cartaya with an ETA of 2022. We need starters. I say put him out there.

Singing the Blue

Good Morning all,

A few comments on what has been written earlier this morning:

I’m more than ready to wave good-bye to Gallo and Belli at this point

Farhan has already stated he’d like to find a way to bring back Joc, and I think Joc is liking the idea of playing at home (his wife is also from NoCal).

I was really saddened by CT3’s season this year, but I’m certainly willing to give him a pass and a new beginning in 2023. If, however, he continues to strike out at the increased rate he had this year, I think AF would have to consider moving him next winter. I agree with most of the others here who feel he is more valuable to us as a Swiss army knife than as our starting left fielder, 2nd baseman or shortstop.

Jeff, you mentioned the possibility of looking into a trade for one of the D’back outfielders. I was very impressed with them in our late season games with Az, but when I looked at their stats, they weren’t nearly as good as I thought they would be. That said, I think the asking price for any of them would probably be more than what Andrew would be willing to pay, especially since he has the chance to move Outman into center field without making a trade.

Bums, when you listed your preferred rotation you left out May. Was that an oversight or done on purpose? I just don’t see AF beginning the season with 3 of his 5 starters having a combined number of MLB starts totaling 7 (and those are all from Pepiot).

I’d like to see them bring back Anderson, if the price isn’t crazy. I’m going to assume Kersh is coming back.
My opening day rotation: Urias, Kershaw, Anderson, Gonsolin, May.
I’d then take Pepiot, Miller and Stone and see who impressed most in ST. That guy (assuming he was really impressive) would be the 6th starter and long relief guy. The other two would begin the year at OKC and be available when injuries strike.

Totally agree with Badger, that many of the roster decisions will have to wait for Trea’s decision and that may be quite a while in coming. It may get down to the point where Andrew sets a deadline and if Trea can’t commit, he moves on. If TT does not return, I’d be fine with Bogaerts or Swanson, although I expect Swanson to stay in Atlanta.

I feel somewhat the same about Correa as I do about Machado, except for the fact that Machado hasn’t been caught cheating (and that is a major difference). I don’t like their personalities but have tremendous admiration for their skills. They are both obviously leaders in their clubhouse as well (I think Manny has definitely found maturity since his move to SD). If the guys in the Dodger clubhouse would be OK with Correa, I would grudgingly be too, but I’m not at all sure they’d be happy to have him.

I’m fine with giving JT another year although I’d prefer it to be for less than the option amount. People have been focusing on his first half and last couple of weeks (including the poor series against the Pads) but for Aug/Sept he was one of the best hitters in baseball.

We have spoken about the roster crunch with regard to the Rule 5 and 40-man roster this winter. I think that situation will result in Andrew’s trading more prospects than usual, either grouping them for a starter (pitcher or position player) or taking back guys in the lower minors who aren’t going to be Rule 5 ready for a few years.

Bumsrap

Jefe’, yes I forgot May but then I struggled solving WORDLE this morning as well. I like your rotation and rotation plan if Kershaw returns. Anderson would be more than welcome if it can work out.

I’ll take Reynolds in CF of course. I wonder if Betts could play third? That would provide space for Joc, Reynolds, and Outman in the outfield and a Freeman, Lux, Betts, Carrera infield.

Bumsrap

We are just playing around with this stuff aren’t we?

Singing the Blue

Playing around? Hell no! We have to have the final draft on Andrew’s desk and then he’ll put it into action the day after the WS. 🙂

Last edited 1 month ago by Singing the Blue
Bumsrap

Oh shit! I might have to think a little more about this, million$ are in the balance as is Doc’s job.

Singing the Blue

Carroll looks like he’s going to be really something. I think he’s already considered the fastest guy in MLB and he can field and hit. He’s definitely not going anywhere.

Thomas, McCarthy and Varsho are all interesting and I don’t agree that Az wouldn’t trade with us. Why wouldn’t they if they could improve their team by doing so?

I realize this is the exact opposite of a fleet footed, young outfielder but I’d love to sign Michael Brantley. Always been a big fan and he can still produce………………..when he isn’t injured.

Singing the Blue

Damn the hitting philosophy. Full speed ahead!

I firmly believe this team needs a couple of guys in the lineup who hit completely contrary to the LAD hitting philosophy.

Badger

Mookie, Freddie, Trea. Lux maybe. Vargas hopefully.

OhioDodger

Good riddance Gallo. Non tender Belli. Bring up the kids. Trayce is a good 4th outfielder. Taylor is a super utility player, not a starter.

Michael Norris

Interesting stuff there Jeff. I do think Bellinger gets non tendered. Can Freddie play LF? Just kidding. I like Outman a lot, and my personal opinion is that you need solid defenders out there, so Vargas is a no. I see few on the free agent list that intrigue me at all. But. there have been multiple reports, well rumors really, that the Dodgers are going to make a serious push for Judge and not even worry about Turner and the SS position. Interesting. Mookie would move over to CF.

Singing the Blue

I don’t see any way the Yankees or Giants let Judge sign here. They both have enough payroll available to outbid us if they want to and if one of them doesn’t, the other will. We don’t need Judge as badly as they do.

I see the logic in paying Judge the money they would have paid a shortstop and then using Amaya at short, practically for free, but the PR hits those other teams would take would be horrific.

The Yanks, letting Judge leave after the year he had for them?
The Giants, who haven’t spent any real money since Farhan got there, letting their biggest rival sign the guy who grew up rooting for them when they desperately need to improve their outfield and hitting situations?

I think whatever rumors are out there are just AF driving up the price for whomever ultimately signs him.

Last edited 1 month ago by Singing the Blue
Bumsrap

Can Freddie play LF? Creates a better spot for Muncy. Cepeda made that move. But then Max is no Willie McCovey.

Bumsrap

But then George ain’t there anymore.

Michael Norris

Great points. The Yanks would take a huge PR hit letting him be plucked by some other team. How much is NY willing to go? 300 mil plus does not seem out of the question. I was kidding about Freddie playing LF, but it would open up a bunch of possibilities. Oh yeah, Yasiel Puig will be available. He hit a little over .270 with 21 bombs this year in the KBO plus he seems to have matured some. He hit a long bomb the other day in the KBO playoffs to help his team win and his bat flip was epic. Oh, and he had 10 outfield assists this season. Still has a gun for an arm.

Bluto

So, Jeff’s point is that Bellinger will be non-tendered because his production last year does not merit his arb price.

This is 1000000000% right.

But I wonder if we are under-valuing how upside oriented Friedman seems to be in making decisions. He went after Gallo not because of Gallo’s immediate past performance, but because of his upside with “our guys”.

I’m not saying Belli will be tendered, I’m just saying this decision-making framework may not be on point.

Bluto

I mean the ONLY way the Dodgers tender him is if they think there’s a chance (say 25%?) that he returns to 2019 level.

Sidenote, mostly for Badger:

Fangraphs has these great heatmaps where you can see a player’s performance by pitch location. Here’s Bellinger’s SLG/Pitch from 2022 on 4-seam fastballs. You can see he really struggled on anything up and away. He basically couldn’t hit that this year and that’s where pitchers were throwing him fastballs all year to get him out.
https://www.fangraphs.com/players/cody-bellinger/15998/heat-maps?position=1B/OF&ss=2022-04-08&se=2022-10-05&hand=all&count=all&pitch=FA&season=all&view=bat&data=&grid=10&blur=1&type=5
While here is 2018. He actually did pretty well on pitches up. He had trouble with pitches up/in and low/away which has been his struggles his whole career.
https://www.fangraphs.com/players/cody-bellinger/15998/heat-maps?position=1B/OF&ss=&se=&type=5&hand=all&count=all&blur=1&grid=10&view=bat&pitch=FA&season=2018&data=pi
Here’s 2019 for fun. He crushed just about everything (except way up/in and way low/away). But it just shows how he was actually crushing pitches up/away that year.
https://www.fangraphs.com/players/cody-bellinger/15998/heat-maps?position=1B/OF&ss=&se=&type=5&hand=all&count=all&blur=1&grid=10&view=bat&pitch=FA&season=2019&data=pi

And just for fun, here’s a guy who struggles with a high fastball because of his uppercut swing. He’s also a guy I might trade prospects 7-22 for.

Here’s Mike Trout’s career.
https://www.fangraphs.com/players/mike-trout/10155/heat-maps?position=OF&ss=2011-07-08&se=2022-10-05&type=5&hand=all&count=all&blur=1&grid=10&view=bat&pitch=FA&season=all&data=

Last edited 1 month ago by Bluto
Singing the Blue

Have you looked at his 2019 level lately? I think they’d tender him if they thought he’d get half way between this year and 2019. I’m guessing they don’t even expect him to do that.

Badger

I saw nearly every game this year. The heat maps confirm what was easily seen by the eyes, Bellinger is easy to pitch to. If he refuses to change his stance and load, let him go.

Bumsrap

Belli could still be signed as a Free Agent if he is non-tendered.

Badger

If he’s non tendered what are the chances another team will offer him $18 million. He can be non tendered and re-sign with the Dodgers if he wants to. What is he worth to the Dodgers?

Fred Vogel

Soto as a finalist cracks me up.The award should be a slam dunk for Mookie. Surprised Machado didn’t make the list.

stevied317

The Dodgers always have a highly rated farm system, even with the low draft positions. They also seem to have a very highly regarded development program. With that said, they have a real reluctance to bring anyone up to the majors and really give them a chance (i.e., full season) to perform. Gavin Lux is about the only position player that had a long leash. How about giving Vargas and Outman a similar leash next year? CT3 isn’t a full-time solution in the outfield. His real value is that he can play multiple positions and/or come in off the bench as needed.
I love Bellinger and JT but come on! Talk about a long leash–Bellinger has had no leash for 3 years. JT is an all-time Dodger but so were numerous others yet Father Time always wins in the long run.
Put Vargas at third, Outman in CF and get a SS (pick one) and/or let Amaya give it a shot. Get some pitching and/or let the new kids play. With Mookie, Freddie, Will and Gavin at position slots and May, Gosolin, Kershaw (I hope) and Anderson (I hope) on the mound, that is a very, very solid core. Augment it with a few FA’s or trades and deadline pickups as needed and off we go. 88-90 games gets us in the playoffs and then (based on this year as well as prior years) we have just as good a shot as anyone.
Go Blue!

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