The Dodgers’ have shuffled positions around for various players this season. Is all the shuffling affecting their offense?
The Dodgers’ roster has a ton of versatility. Outside of a few players on the roster, nearly every Dodger has played multiple positions on defense this season. This isn’t a surprise given how much Andrew Friedman and the front office love versatility but are they pushing it to the limit and hurting the offense in the process?
This first came up last season with Cody Bellinger. Bellinger has admitted that this season has been better for him settling in at right field compared to last season where he was shifted around the outfield and first base, including playing the high-stress position of center field for 78 games. Cody suffered his worst season last year and now as the primary right fielder, he has posted an MVP caliber season so far.
This season there is similar shuffling going on with Joc Pederson and Max Muncy. Joc Pederson made his first start at first base on June 21st, since then he has not hit a single home run. While it may be a coincidence, the timing of his first start at first base and the fact he has had no home runs since then is eye-opening.
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Joc may not be the only player seeing his offense harmed by adjusting to playing multiple positions. Max Muncy is another player who the Dodgers have moved all around the infield this season. Muncy has started games at first base, second base, and third base due to injuries and the need to give Justin Turner more off days in prep for another long postseason run.
While Muncy has had another strong season, he hit a slump entering the All-Star break. Over his last 15 games, he has five home runs but has been hit or miss batting just .182 with an on-base percentage of .286. Muncy has played second base more over the last few weeks with Joc Pederson getting starts at first base.
Now that A.J. Pollock and David Freese are healthy once again, it will be interesting to see if the Dodgers settle in on a “standard” lineup configuration or if it remains a game by game decision. The Dodgers have a very deep roster but trying to fit everyone in and shuffle players around could hurt the team in the end.
The Dodgers should learn from Cody Bellinger’s experience from a season ago and try to come up with a set lineup against left and right-handed starting pitchers. While some players like Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor can effectively fill in all around the diamond, not all players are able to do so. Dave Roberts and the front office have work to do on coming up with more static lineups.