Dodgers 2016 Season Previews: Scott Van Slyke
Next up on our player preview list of Dodgers outfielders is Scott Van Slyke.
The 29 year-old was drafted by the Dodgers in 14th round of the 2005 draft and since then has been fighting his way to the starting position. As the son of All-Star outfielder, Andy Van Slyke, Scott Van Slyke has big shoes to fill having his last name on the back of his jersey. With Andre Ethier being out due to an injury, maybe this is Van Slyke’s perfect opportunity to step up in 2016.
In 2015 Van Slyke played in 96 games for the Dodgers. 74 of those appearances were in the outfield, 21 of them at first base and he also made one appearance as a DH. He hit .239/.317/.383 in 222 plate appearances. Throughout the season he battled back and wrist injuries that stunted his offensive ability and playing time. In those 96 games he went yard six times and had 30 RBI’s. Overall, Van Slyke had an okay year, but I think there is a lot of potential with him. In his career so far, Van Slyke has bounced back and forth from the minors and the majors, but never fully established himself in one place.
2016 Role and Steamer Projections
The past few seasons the outfield has been a crowded place for the Dodgers, but with an injury already to Andre Ethier, the door is opening for Van Slyke to get some more playing time. Ethier is not expected to return to the team until at least June. That puts more pressure on Carl Crawford to play in the starting role, but after only playing in 69 games last season and battling injuries, that might not be the Dodgers best option. Van Slyke has the chance to be in the starting lineup frequently for the Dodgers in 2016, a role that he has yet to fully establish. He also brings great versatility with being able to play first base well.
Steamer projects that Van Slyke will play in 82 games and hit .243/.325/.410. In those 82 games, it is also projected that he will hit 11 homeruns and drive in 40 RBI’s. I think with the injuries already in the outfield, that Van Slyke will not only meet these projections, but surpass them. Either way I am excited to see how Dave Roberts makes his lineups and uses Van Slyke.
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What Could Go Wrong?
Earlier this week according to Ken Gurnick, Van Slyke was scratched from the lineup with a hip injury.
Although this was a very minor injury, it is something to still consider. Van Slyke struggled with back and wrist injuries last season and already is having a little discomfort in his hip. Last night during the game Vin Scully spent part of an inning reading off all of the Dodgers injuries and let me tell you, it was depressing. It seems like everyone on the team is struggling with some ailment. Though this was not a big deal, it still is a reminder that no one is prone to injuries. The worst thing for the Dodgers would be for another outfielder to get hurt. For the most part, every current outfielder on the team has been injured in 2015. Health is essential in Van Slyke’s case in order to get the playing time he deserves in my opinion.
What Could Go Right?
A lot could go right for Van Slyke this season. If he can stay healthy and get some more playing time I believe that he can surpass all of the projections. He is currently under contract for one year, $1.23 million dollars. If he can preform consistently, the Dodgers will be getting a solid defender who can hit for power, for a steal! The best part about Van Slyke’s contract is that in comparison to other players he is very underpaid. If he has a great season then the Dodgers front office and staff come off looking great. If he has a slow season, then the Dodgers did not give up a lot of money. Van Slyke has the same potential that his father had, he just needs to find a consistent place with the team and in the lineup in order to fully get into his rhythm. There’s a lot to expect from Van Slyke this season.