Dodgers: Five Key Players That Will Determine the Season

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Mar 16, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Members of the Los Angeles Dodgers look on during the national anthem during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Members of the Los Angeles Dodgers look on during the national anthem during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 7, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Franklin Gutierrez (28) bats against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Franklin Gutierrez

The most glaring weakness of the 2016 Dodgers’ team was their inability to hit left-handed pitching. The majority of the Dodgers’ lineup bat from the left side and they all struggled against lefties. To make matter worse, the few right-handed batters in the lineup also could not hit lefties.

In fact, Los Angeles ranked last in the entire Major Leagues in both batting average (.213) and on-base percentage (.290) against left handed-pitching last season. This problem came back to bite the Dodgers in the playoffs, as teams threw lefty after lefty at the Dodgers.

In order to bring more balance to the lineup, the Dodgers signed right-handed Franklin Gutierrez. The 34-year-old outfielder signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers worth about $2.6 million plus bonuses. The former Gold Glover can play all three outfield positions but his real value comes from his ability to hammer lefties.

Last season, Gutierrez batted .280 with 12 home runs and 32 RBI’s in just 186 at-bats against left-handed pitching. In his career, he is batting .289 with an on-base percentage of .351 along with 50 home runs and 150 RBI’s in 1175 at-bats against left-handers.

The addition of Gutierrez is huge for the Dodgers because not only does he rake against lefties but he can also play the outfield. With so much uncertainty in right and left field, he can act as a platoon at those positions when the opposition starts a southpaw.

Finally, Gutierrez will be another high character veteran presence in the clubhouse that can help mentor the other outfielders like Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, and Andrew Toles. The other players will also get to pick his brain and watch his approach when it comes to facing lefties. If Gutierrez produces another season as advertised, he could play a vital role in the Dodgers’ attempt to return to the World Series.

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