Asdrubal Cabrera, Howie Kendrick, Ryan Zimmerman, and Adam Eaton. All veteran hitters for the Nationals; all lack comparable counterparts on the Dodgers.
The Dodgers could have used contributions from all of them during their NLDS loss to the Nationals, the team that employs all five of these veterans. Between them, they have over 50 MLB seasons under their belts.
Kendrick was the NLCS MVP for the Nationals in their sweep of the Cardinals, and despite three errors against LA in the NLDS, Kendrick swatted a grand slam in the extra innings of Game Five to send his team on to the next round.
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Zimmerman and Eaton each have homered in the World Series through two games, and in Game Two, Cabrera made a diving play at second base and found ways to get on base against a tough Astros bullpen.
The current version of the Dodgers offense is not constructed using veterans as the glue. Instead of low-cost veterans, LA uses low-cost rookies. While this saves money and develops a future core of young players, it does not lend itself to winning playoff games.
I’d much rather have a veteran like Ryan Zimmerman or Howie Kendrick have four at-bats against tough pitchers, even if an inexperienced rookie has better splits against right-handers.
The Dodgers relied on Will Smith, Gavin Lux, and Matt Beaty in the postseason on offense, which ultimately hurt the team. Even though their resident veteran A.J. Pollock was the team’s worst hitter, Russell Martin epitomized the role of the veteran hitter for LA. In Game Three, Martin led the offense to a blow out win, ultimately saving the team’s chances in the series.
He never got another at-bat.
If LA wants to win playoff games in 2020 against tough veteran pitchers like those the Nationals currently possess, they’ll need veteran hitters to match up evenly.
David Freese’s retirement makes this effort even more important, and while replacing Freese will be challenging, it could help the front office realize the importance of veteran hitters to a playoff offense.