Depth and Versatility Make the Dodgers Nearly Injury Proof
Depth and Versatility. It’s no Stanton and Ohtani, but the Dodgers seem quite pleased with their current squad for the time being.
Center fielder Chris Taylor represents the epitome of everything Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers have been looking to build: Cheap, versatile, legitimate talent, that can be stacked on top of the other cheap, versatile, legitimate talent LA has.
Taylor was a light hitting, well versed infielder, capable of playing solid defense up the middle. At least, that’s what he used to be, before LA acquired Taylor from Seattle in a deal that keeps Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto up at night.
"“It’s clearly the worst deal I’ve ever made. “And it resonates every time he hits a homerun,” said Dipoto during the World Series. “I whiffed. There’s no other way to categorize it,” Dipoto said. “He’s young, he was under club control — that was one I wish I could undo.”"
At some point last year, Taylor decided to become the team’s starting center fielder and put up 21 homers, seventeen steals, and an impressive .850 OPS. Not bad for essentially being found off the scrap heap. Also capable of hitting homers and play impressive defense over multiple positions are Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager. Power and defensive versatility aplenty.
Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, and Kike Hernandez can adeptly play every position in the infield. Belling can play anywhere in the outfield. In addition, Logan Forsythe can play second and third base quite well. Taylor, Bellinger, and Seager, along with an impressive amount of depth and resources, combine to seemingly make the Dodger’s nearly injury proof next year.
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Chris Taylor has become key to this versatility. If say, Seager’s elbow starts barking up again next year and needs to hit the DL for an extended stretch, then Taylor slides into shortstop. Either the seemingly resurgent Joc Pederson, top prospect Alex Verdugo, or Andrew Toles replaces him. Let’s not forget about Andrew Toles either, who had been forgotten about several times before. That is until he burst onto the scene in the middle of 2016 and seemed poised to hit 20 homers last year before succumbing to a season ending knee injury.
If Bellinger goes down, Turner can be moved to first with Taylor coming in at second pushing Logan Forsythe to third. If Chris Taylor goes down, he gets replaced by a quality major leaguer in the outfield. Heck, if needed, the Dodgers could give Bellinger a shot in center and add some temporary pop at first or left field. Now if multiple stars get hurt, obviously that would derail this claim. However, the fact remains that LA can seemingly withstand an injury to a star player as they’ve routinely proven it. Not many teams can say that.
The Dodgers withstood several injuries last year, much like a rifle being shot at a tank. They would continue to slowly roll over 104 wins. Chris Taylor’s emergence turned this team from very good, to an indomitable juggernaut overnight last year. The value of being able to put Taylor, a legit 20/20 threat, at shortstop, second, or center without losing much in the way of defense cannot be overstated.
This triumvirate of Taylor, Bellinger, and Seager figures to be LA’s offensive core for the next five years at least. Unless the Dodgers somehow find a way to acquire a star next year that is. Which is now more possible than ever thanks to the numbers driven Matt Kemp deal. A deal might I add, that I jokingly half-predicted more than a week before it went down.
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Oh yeah, and the Dodgers haven’t really even gotten things started yet this off-season. There figures to be more depth, more versatility added to an already stacked roster. Another reliever added to the pen? You bet. Another gem found off the scrap heap? Probably. Another Chris Taylor, grabbed out of thin air? Nope, those don’t come along too often.