The Dodgers knew a healthy AJ Pollock could produce like an MVP candidate
Yup, just like most Los Angeles Dodgers fans, we called out the team’s decision to fork over a sizable contract to outfielder AJ Pollock, which was magnified when he hit the injured list again earlier this season with a hamstring issue.
It really didn’t feel that misguided. Since the beginning of 2016, Pollock has appeared in 476 out of a possible 835 games. That’s not very available!
And when you’re making over $12 million per season and have TWO player options worth $10 million apiece in your age-34 and -35 campaigns, it’s hard to justify the investment.
At least, until now.
Pollock has been right behind Max Muncy as the team’s best hitter in 2021, particularly over the last (almost) two months.
The Dodgers have won 17 of their last 21 and the veteran is a big reason why.
The Dodgers knew AJ Pollock would play like an MVP at some point during his contract.
We should have known all along, really. Andrew Friedman and Co. always know what they’re doing. If Pollock opts into the remainder of his deal, he will have made an AAV of $12 million since the day he signed. That’s a drop in the bucket for the Dodgers. They knew “overpaying” for Pollock would a) hardly affect their payroll situation and b) pay off in a significant way at some point during the life of the contract.
And that point is now, as LA is looking to repeat as World Series champs.
Across 98 games, the former Diamondback is hitting .303 with an .876 OPS. That’s the best batting average and third-best OPS on the team at the moment. He’s been good for a +2 DRS so far in the outfield. He’s among tops in MLB when it comes to expected batting average, hard hit percentage, expected slugging percentage, maximum exit velocity, average exit velocity and expected weighted on-base percentage.
Once upon a time he was an MVP candidate (he finished 14th in the voting) with the Diamondbacks all the way back in 2015. He won a Gold Glove that year, too.
Pollock began to give us a glimpse in 2020 when he was one of the most consistent hitters on the Dodgers during the shortened season … fans were just unsure if that would translate to a full(er) slate. For now, it has, even though he’s missed 29 games so far in 2021.
The moral of the story here is that the Dodgers can take seemingly “risky” financial leaps, especially when they feel there’s a higher ceiling for a player than a lower floor. Pollock represents just that, because we’d venture to say not many teams would’ve signed him to a potential five-year, $60 million contract after he came off three straight injury-shortened seasons.
The Dodgers? They knew exactly what they were getting into. Pollock’s a five-tool player when he’s healthy and Friedman figured that for at least a portion of his contract, the veteran would be playing somewhere comparable to his 2015 levels.
It’s happening right now. It paid off big time in 2020 (even though he struggled in the playoffs). If the Dodgers do the unthinkable this year and Pollock remains a part of the equation, the cost of the rest of his contract will be moot. Nobody will care. And you shouldn’t care, anyway. It’s not your money.