The Dodgers traded for Logan Forsythe this offseason in hopes of upgrading second base. Forsythe looks to help the Dodgers against lefties at the top of the lineup for Dave Roberts.
When I heard that the Dodgers signed Logan Forsythe from the Tampa Bay Rays, I was ecstatic. For starters, the endless Dozier to LA rumors were finally put to an end. Also, Forsythe is a solid acquisition. The Dodgers are in a win-now mode, and this move reinforces that. The price, however, was steep.
To get a player of Forsythe’s caliber required treasured prospect, Jose De Leon. Now on the Rays, De Leon represents a top 100 prospect for the Rays. He is a righty with high upside who will likely find himself very useful in the Rays rotation, health permitting. In this 1 for 1 swap, the Dodgers get a versatile second baseman that can leadoff whereas the Rays got the 33rd best player on MLB.com’s 2016 prospect ranking list.
Forsythe adds a little bit of everything to the Dodgers. Above average defender that can play multiple positions. Leadoff experience with an above average hit tool. The ability to hit with above average power. He is a solid runner. While he does not have a single 70 or 80-grade tool, each one of his tools profiles as slightly above-average or better. Also, did I mention he is right-handed? That should help the Dodgers’ woes vs. lefties next year.
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WRC+ is a nifty stat that looks at condensing a player’s hits (1B, 2B, 3B, HR), walks, strikeouts, stolen bases, and caught stealing into a single metric. WRC+ then takes this number and compares it to the league average after it adjusts for variances in park factors. Fangraphs.com has a great explanation here if you want further reading on the topic. As a snapshot a WRC+ of 100 is average, 115 is above average, 140 as great, and 160 as excellent per Fangraphs.
In 2015 Forsythe had a WRC+ of 125 which is above-average to great. He saw a slight dip in 2016, where it fell to 113. Still certainly above average. Double checking with the Forsythe’s triple slash line, he had a .281/.359/.444 line in 2015 and .264/.333/.444 line in 2016. The average took a dip in 2016, but the power stayed consistent.
Of note, FoxSports reports he had a shoulder fracture in May of 2016, which could explain part of the drop-off. Looking at Forsythe’s pre and post All-Star splits, he actually had more home runs after the break. He did hit for a lesser average post-injury after the All-Star break (.285 vs .246), however, he hit more home runs (8 vs.12). Shoulder injuries tend to sap a player’s power while they recover (Adrian Gonzalez), so it appears that this fracture may be behind Forsythe.
For base running, Forsythe is at least average. He isn’t a burner on the basepaths, but he was 9 of 13 in SB’s 2015. He certainly isn’t going to be clogging the basepaths, but he should be able to go from first to third and second to home on big hits.
Logan Forsythe is a steady defender at the keystone. His defensive runs saved (DRS) was in 2015 was 8 and in 2016 was 1. This is an advanced metric that is explained again by Fangraphs here. In short, all you need to know if you have a positive number, you are above average. If you have a negative number, you’re below average. A DRS of zero is league average. For comparison, Chase Utley had a DRS of -3.
One of the reasons that Forsythe was sought out by Andrew Friedman was for his defensive versatility. He has experience at shortstop and third base. In a pinch, he could play a corner spot in the outfield. This versatility was key to the Dodgers’ success last year because of an endless barrage of injuries. If someone in the outfield or infield goes down, he can certainly help bridge the gap until a permanent solution presents itself.
Andy McCullough got a quote from Andrew Friedman in his Los Angeles Times article discussing the trade for Forsythe:
"“He’s a grinder,” Friedman said. “A professional hitter. Can really handle left-handed pitching, as well as right-handed. Has some versatility. Is a good baserunner. We felt like he was the type of player that we needed to be aggressive and go out and add to our current group.”"
This marks the second time that Friedman has traded for Forsythe (San Diego to Tampa Bay). Forsythe was one of the best bats in the Rays’ lineup and had the pressure to produce on a daily basis. Now on the Dodgers, Forsythe doesn’t need to be the best or second-best hitter. He just needs to keep the line moving because he has teammates around him that are above-average hitters as well. His righty bat will go a long way to addressing Los Angeles’ hitting against lefties problem and his experience as a leadoff hitter will be beneficial to the Dodgers.
Forsythe is a jack of all trades, and hopefully, this pushes the needle far enough for the Los Angeles Dodgers to win their first World Series since 1988.