Spring training, the battleground for the war over roster spots. They often end with some sort of clarity, these position battles do, but just as often they leave room for a decision from the front office. Clarity, however, is not a crystal clear look at who should get the gig. It is rather a helpful hint or tip as to who earned the job. Rarely does a battle end in a clear-cut winner but in the case of Andrew toles, the decision is clear, and the Dodgers are not seeing that.
Fans knew that going into this spring would be a battle for both the outfield and bench spots. The options were vast and they ranged from prospect, Alex Verdugo, to big names like Joc Pederson. Those in between the two included Trayce Thompson, Andrew Toles, and even Kyle Farmer. Matters were only complicated when Matt Kemp joined the mix and from there it was war.
But, as things shook out the answers became clearer. Trayce Thompson was designated for assignment, Alex Verdugo sent back down, and Kemp likely given the starting job in left field. Kyle Farmer is left vying for a role and the only true battle remaining is between lefty hitters Joc Pederson and Andrew Toles. The answer to that question is clear: Andrew Toles, but the Dodgers are still seemingly sticking to Joc Pederson and it makes no sense.
You look at statistics and they blow you away. Andrew Toles and Joc Pederson are night and day when placed side by side and it was not just this spring that proved that. You can go back to last year’s statistics, 2017, where Andrew Toles hit just six fewer home runs than Pederson did and 20 fewer RBIs. It sounds like a pretty clear discrepancy but may I remind you that Pederson played for almost the whole season and Toles played in just 31 games.
Now sure, you could argue that due to Toles’ torn ACL last year he should kick his 2018 campaign off in Triple-A but that argument to is flawed. Andrew Toles has smoked any expectations of a slow start after serious surgery and he did so emphatically this spring.
Toles has hit .288 in the preseason accompanied by three home runs, 10 RBI’s, and eight total extra-base hits. He also tied the team lead for spring stolen bases with two and finished with an OPS of .868.
The difference between those numbers and the ones of Joc Pederson is stark. In just two fewer at-bats than Toles got this spring, Pederson hit .154. In the span that Toles hit three homers, Pederson, who is known as a slugger, hit just one. He amassed two RBIs and can account for just
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four extra-base hits.
I am rarely one to put stalk into spring stats but in the event of roster spot uncertainty and when there is this large of a discrepancy, there is something to be said.
Finally, since there is yet another point to make in Andrew Toles’ favor, either Toles or Joc would be coming off the bench. Not only would they come off the bench but they would do so in a platoon fashion with Matt Kemp. Kemp hits lefties. He has done so since his glory days with the Dodgers and nothing has changed. But, if he is hitting southpaws, Toles or Joc will be left to hit right-handed pitching and Toles is better at that by a mile. In his career, Andrew has hit .295 against right-handers and although it is in a smaller sample size, the difference between him and Joc is too big to ignore. Pederson has hit .234 in his career against righties and again it begs the question of how is there still a decision to make.
There should be no article like this. The question has been answered and Andrew Toles has won the war. But, the front office is sticking to Pederson and at least for now, fans should still pray that Toles can edge out Joc in the final night of spring training games. But, if Toles starts in the minors, the Dodgers have wasted a hot bat.