Case for Toles:
Toles was the everyday left fielder before his knee injury in 2017. He earned that spot with a great breakout performance in 2016 and a great spring to follow. Unfortunately for him, he has to do it all over again and once again claim left field.
Toles is doing just that this spring. He is proving why he got the job entering 2017 and why he deserves it this season. He is hitting very well this spring. That comes as no surprise as one of the reasons he got the job was because of his hitting. He adds versatility to the lineup because he can hit anywhere.
He is a good, not great defender but left field is not really seen as a spot for elite defenders anyways. The most interesting thing he brings is his mentality. He, like many other players on the roster, are just “blue-collar” players. No extracurricular, he just comes in does his job and hustles all the time. He fits this team perfectly, and it would be a great story for him to snatch the job two spring training’s in a row.
Case against Toles:
For players coming off an injury, they aren’t always the same when they return. A player like Toles who relies heavily on his hustle needs to trust his body won’t give out on him again and give it all he’s got. Yes, he seems fine this spring, but this is nothing like a real game.
It might be better for Toles to start off in AAA for him to get 100 percent comfortable with his restructured knee. One thing he doesn’t have that the other two do have is power. He can put the ball over the fence just not at the same rate as the other two can. Left field is traditionally for a big bat, and Toles is not that. He is a table setter who can do damage, not a power hitter.