Dodgers Position by Position Breakdown: Center Field

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Chris Taylor /

The Dodgers do not have many question marks to fill on the roster and centerfield is one of the positions that they are set at for the moment.

This time last year, the Dodgers were thinking that Joc Pederson was going to anchor center field for a third consecutive season and beyond. Fast forward a year and things are the same yet very different. Similar to the fact that they have a guy who they think will cement himself as the primary center fielder, but different because this time it is not Joc Pederson.

This year it’s the 27-year-old Chris Taylor who broke out in a big way during the 2017 season. After starting off the season in Triple-A, he got called up to the big league squad and hit his way to becoming a full-time player. He slashed .288/.354/.496 with 21 home runs, 34 doubles, led the team with 17 stolen bases, all in just 125 starts (and 15 substitute appearances).

He also played five different defensive positions (shortstop, third base, second base, left field, and center field) and 800.2 of his 1,102 innings came in the outfield, which is highly impressive for a natural infielder who just learned to play the outfield last season.

He was settled in at left before claiming center field and he never looked back. He held his own on defense and continued to hit. He made Andrew Friedman and Co. look like absolute geniuses.

However, he is a strong candidate to regress, but that is something to worry about another time. He’s earned the benefit of the doubt and the chance to open the upcoming campaign as the starter.

But beyond him, the Dodgers do have some additional depth, and it is up to you to judge it for how it is. The projected depth chart, according to ESPN is:

  1. Chris Taylor
  2. Joc Pederson
  3. Alex Verdugo

While according to it is:

  1. Chris Taylor
  2. Alex Verdugo
  3. Trayce Thompson

Personally, I think both are wrong and there is a better depth chart. All it takes is slight adjustment:

  1. Chris Taylor
  2. Alex Verdugo
  3. Joc Pederson

Verdugo, depending on his spring training performance, should be second, and I think he will be. He is LA’s best non-pitching prospect, is five years younger than Joc, and offers a higher upside with better defense and hitting ability.

Ideally, he’d be in the mix for the starting left field job and wins it. However, he has played center field ever since being drafted, and if Chris Taylor regresses or ever needs a breather, Verdugo should be the first person the team looks to. He is a bigger part of the Dodgers’ future than Pederson or any other outfielder that can play center.

Joc is coming off a miserable 2017 that was capped of with a surprising breakout World Series. But even with that, he has tons to prove. 20 good plate appearances should outweigh 323 miserable ones in the show and 81 in the minor leagues. If you do, then you are a prisoner of the moment.

His defense has also slipped, making left field a better spot for him. But, that doesn’t mean he should not ever play center again. If he starts to improve his hitting and proves to hold his own on defense, sporadic starts in center field shouldn’t hurt.

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The Dodgers are full of versatile players so there is due to be defensive rotations where Chris Taylor will play in the infield, Alex Verdugo in the corner outfield spots as well as Joc playing left and most likely center at times.

The Dodgers have other candidates after these three such as Cody Bellinger, Kike Hernandez, Matt Kemp, and Trayce Thompson but for one reason or another, they should primarily play in center (as a starter or backup.

Bellinger is going to be the full-time first baseman, and Kike’s most significant value comes in being able to spot the corner outfield spots along with pretty much everywhere in the infield other than catcher and pitcher.

Matt Kemp’s best defensive years are behind him and is a fully-fledged defensive liability. And next to shortstop and catcher, center field is the last place you want a defensive liability. Left field is where you hide your worst defenders outside of first base, so that is better-suited for him.

And Trayce Thompson should not be on the team period.

Next: Dodgers Position by Position Breakdown: Catcher

The Dodgers have options, but Chris Taylor, Alex Verdugo, and Joc Pederson are the team’s best options going off both ability and convenience.