The spring is a time of rebirth, opportunity and renewed life. As Spring Training and a new season draw near, each organization sits tied atop the standings, looking to raise the Commissioner’s Trophy in the fall; redemption.
The same is true for Logan Forsythe.
When the Dodgers traded highly touted prospect Jose Dé León to the Tampa Bay Rays for Logan Forsythe in January of 2017, they had great expectations for their new second baseman. Forsythe had posted two straight double-digit home run seasons, with a career-high 20 in 2016. With 16 of those homers coming against right-handed pitching, Logan seemed to be a perfect fit in a clubhouse where right-handed batters thrived against them, but Forsythe never seemed comfortable in the batter’s box after his early season toe injury and saw his power numbers and average drop dramatically. Forsythe managed to hit .290 against left-handers but hit an abysmal 100 points lower against right-handers.
Although he came up with some clutch hits in the postseason, he may find himself trying to redeem himself at the plate to the LA faithful. Defensively, Forsythe had another solid year, making many acrobatic stops and providing veteran leadership on the right side of the infield, all while committing only three errors in 80 games. Still, he will likely need to prove that he has regained the offensive form that endeared him to Dodger management if he’s looking to maintain his starting role this year and beyond.
If Forsythe’s woes against righties continue, Chris Taylor may find himself back home in the infield more often. Taylor’s natural position is shortstop, and he is comfortable at second base despite committing five errors in only 22 games, but the Dodgers recognized his athleticism, and he took over the starting job in centerfield. As this season begins, he is the incumbent in center, but manager Dave Roberts could play him at second base on occasion to give Forsythe a rest, or when Roberts plays Forsythe at third should Justin Turner be unavailable. Offensively, Taylor had a breakout year in 2017, hitting well over .300 for much of the season, and hitting for power atop the lineup. With Taylor at 2nd, Roberts could enjoy the Dodgers’ roster depth and could insert Joc Pederson into center and perhaps Andrew Toles in left.
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This flexibility of the roster is notable when it comes to another option at the keystone sack, Austin Barnes. Barnes played 21 games at second base in 2017 but became the starting catcher toward the end of the regular season and for much of the postseason. Even when Yasmani Grandal gets the nod at catcher, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the lineup card includes Barnes starting at second base on the same day. A more likely situation would be one where Barnes starts at catcher, and then moves to second with Grandal pinch-hitting for Forsythe and remaining in the game at catcher. If Grandal has already been used, Roberts could still pinch hit for Forsythe, put Barnes at second, and bring Kyle Farmer off the bench if the Dodgers choose to carry three catchers.
The Dodgers might have the luxury of three catchers on the roster because of their super utility superman, Kiké Hernandez. Hernandez played every position other than pitcher or catcher last year and is a notorious lefty killer at the plate. Dodger fans will likely not soon forget his 3 HR performance in the pennant-clinching game against the Cubs last fall, and he could find his way to second base when Roberts needs to insert an extra spark into the lineup.
Other options not currently on the roster are veteran infielder, Chase Utley, who could continue to provide valuable leadership in the clubhouse should the Dodgers re-sign him, or newly acquired minor leaguer Jake Peter. The Dodgers are fairly thin in their minor league system at second base, although 2016 first round draft pick Gavin Lux could eventually find his way to success with the big league club, or they may turn their attention to finding their second baseman of the future in free agency next winter.
But for now, as the only harshness of winter in Los Angeles stems from the painful memories of the Fall Classic, Dodger fans will look to Logan Forsythe to start at second base this spring and join him in the hopes of redeeming himself in a year to remember.