The Dodgers are now entering the last month of the regular season, and they still have not gotten much production out of Logan Forsythe. It’s time to let Austin Barnes spark the lineup.
When the Dodgers swung a trade for Logan Forsythe this offseason, they had hoped it would provide the offense with an upgrade at second base (and against lefties in general) and possibly even a legit lead-off hitter.
Forsythe has mashed lefties to the tune of a .292 AVG and .887 OPS, but against right-handers, he is only hitting .201 with an OPS below .600. Despite Forsythe’s high BABIP of .330, the hits haven’t been dropping in.
The Dodgers’ offense has stumbled a bit since Cody Bellinger went on the disabled list and even with him returning the Dodgers need some more production out of their second basemen.
Chase Utley is stable at filling in here and there, but his body can no longer sustain the rigors of starting every day at 38 years old. If the Dodgers want a legit hitter playing second base, it is time for them to start Austin Barnes.
Despite only 163 at-bats, Barnes has six home runs compared to the four by Forsythe. Barnes has a .299 average this season with an on-base percentage of .412 and an impressive .909 OPS.
While he is currently the backup catcher, the Dodgers have Kyle Farmer who has earned a look as the backup catcher. They could also shift Barnes back to catcher for games that Grandal needs a day off. With expanded September rosters coming, this will be less of an issue.
The Dodgers’ best lineup against right-handed starters would be Grandal at catcher, Bellinger at first base, Granderson in left field, Chris Taylor in center field and Austin Barnes at second base. Barnes has hit right-handed pitching better than left-handed pitching this year.
Barnes has a .350 average against right-handers compared to a .253 batting average against southpaws. Five of his six home runs have come off left-handed pitching though, so he seems to hit for more power against southpaws.
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If the Dodgers are not willing to move Barnes to second base full time, they should at least start him there against right-handers. Most of the games played are against right-handed starters, so this would give Barnes the lion’s share of starts at second base.
Forsythe could then start against lefties since he has mashed them, and that would allow Barnes to start behind the plate and give Grandal a rest.
This would be the most likely scenario since the Dodgers may not want to rock the boat too much and outright bench the well-respected Forsythe. At the same time, Barnes is far too talented of a player to just sit him on the bench for four to five games a week.
One of the valuable assets that Logan Forsythe does bring is excellent defense with a lot of range at second base. But, Barnes is no slouch of his own. He has played about 70 innings at second base and has yet to commit an error.
Given that the Dodgers are a near lock for home-field in the playoffs, they can live with Barnes taking time to adjust to playing second base every day. Given his athleticism, it shouldn’t be that big of an adjustment for him as he has played all over the infield during his brief Major League career.
An underrated part of Barnes game is the ability to steal some bases and the fact that he almost always puts the ball in play. Barnes only strikes out 15% of his at-bats compared to the 27% that Forsythe whiffs.
In terms of Barnes’s speed, he has stolen four bases this season and has only been caught stealing once.
With a knack for putting the ball in play, athleticism, underrated speed and the ability to hit well off right-handed pitching, it is clear that the Dodgers should start Austin Barnes at second base.