Dodgers: A.J. Pollock’s Big Game is Just the Beginning
The Dodgers’ big position player acquisition last winter was A.J. Pollock. While the move wasn’t well received by much of the Dodger fanbase, it was a move to help restore balance.
The Dodgers and Andrew Friedman had an interesting off-season. Friedman lost Farhan Zaidi as the Dodgers’ general manager and then Andrew shipped Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to Cincinnati in a move that many thought foreshadowed the possible signing of Bryce Harper. Instead, the Dodgers signed A.J. Pollock to a four-year contract with a player option for a fifth season.
The biggest knock on Pollock was that he is injury prone. While there is no doubt A.J. has missed a large number of games in his career, most of them have been of the freak variety. In 2018 it was a fractured thumb diving for a ball in center field, and in 2016 it was a fractured shoulder sliding at home plate. Outside of a groin injury in 2017, not the typical nagging injuries that “injury prone” players usually deal with.
On Friday night, Pollock showed exactly why the Dodgers signed him to a long term deal which is balance. Pollock is not a platoon guy who is able to hit right-handed pitching and mash southpaw pitching as well. That is something the Dodgers lacked last season as their platoon lineup included Yasiel Puig who for the majority of his career has not hit left-handed pitching.
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A.J. went four for six last night, collecting hits against right-handed pitching and he delivered a big home run against Robbie Ray who has owned the Dodgers for most of his NL West tenure. Pollock has a .787 OPS over the last three seasons against lefties and a .801 OPS against righties. That fourteen point difference is essentially a wash and shows the type of balance the Dodgers craved to cut down on platoons in 2019.
While Pollock is not Bryce Harper, he is a very good player who for a third of the price of Harper’s annual salary, can end up becoming one of the best bargains in baseball. All he has to do is stay healthy, which admittedly looking at his track record seems skeptical, but when looking at the type of injuries he had it eases some of those concerns.
The Dodgers needed to change something after losing two straight World Series, and they felt it was creating more lineup balance and eliminating most of their platoons. Now left field and possibly first base are the only two positions where they will employ a platoon. A.J. Pollock will help create more of that balance this season and if he stays healthy, the type of game he played Friday night, is just the beginning.