Dodgers: What’s the Deal so Far with A.J. Pollock?

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 29: A.J. Pollock #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds third base to score on an RBI single hit by Corey Seager #5 in the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 29: A.J. Pollock #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds third base to score on an RBI single hit by Corey Seager #5 in the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
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One of the biggest names on the market this offseason, the Dodgers brought in centerfielder A.J. Pollock on a five-year deal, locking him into what looks to be one of the best outfields in the National League.

But even with all of the initial hype surrounding his free agency, Dodger fans were not as excited as they maybe should have been. Here’s how Dodger’s Way’s own Michael Wittman summed up the Pollock signing:

"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."

Thus far, Pollock has been anything but remarkable and unsurprisingly the aging outfielder has not been talked about much across Dodgers social media or really anywhere within the sports world.

I noticed this and decided Pollock’s beginning to the 2019 campaign deserved a little more attention, as even in its mediocrity, Pollock has been a major piece of the first place Dodgers team thus far.

As of April 22, the 31-year old has played in 23 games with 95 plate appearances, already better than his 12-game stint back in 2016 when he suffered a season-ending elbow injury, though he was off to a much hotter start before his injury-lost season. To date in 2019, Pollock has just 2 home runs with no steals and is slashing a meek .239/.303/.364, all of which are well below his career marks.

There really has been no buzz surrounding his lackluster start, with the only bump in Pollock discussion coming after his 4-7 outburst against his former employer, the Arizona Diamondbacks, in which he hit a home run, drove in three and scored twice.

To date, Pollock’s plate discipline numbers are rock solid. In an albeit small sample size, the righty has struck out less than 15% of the time, more than a full 1% below his career mark of 16.2% and good for fourth amongst qualified hitters. He also has the 11th best BB% on the Dodgers with a mark of 8.4%, which if it stuck would be his best full-season mark.

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But even better than those statistics is what he’s been able to do with runners in scoring position and in high leverage situations. In his 24 at-bats with ducks on the pond (and in scoring position), the former speedster has collected 8 hits, including 2 of the extra-base variety, to drive in 12 RBIs and to hit .320.

But it hasn’t been all good for Pollock. Beyond his poor offensive output mentioned above, the 6’1 former-first round pick has had trouble getting things going without runners on base. While it obviously helps the team that Pollock is hitting so well with the pressure on, he is meant to be a table setter and has been in the past, so his lack of performance with no one on would be concerning if he’d played more than 23 games.

Next. Kenta Maeda remains an underappreciated starting pitcher. dark

As long as Pollock can continue to have good discipline and a consistently active clutch gene at the plate, his overall numbers should increase. Have no fear, the Dodgers’ only notable free agent acquisition (sorry Joe Kelly) is looking primed to put up another solid season in 2019.