1. AJ Pollock
No, not Cody Bellinger. His 2021 was appraised very properly, actually. He was quite bad.
Since AJ Pollock signed a four-year, $55 million deal with the Dodgers prior to the 2019 season, spurning the division-rival D-Backs in the process, most of the conversation has been unified around two themes:
- He’s too injury-prone.
- He doesn’t perform well in October, so what’s the point?
The first one is, of course, frustratingly true; Pollock played in just 86 games in 2019 and 117 last season, fighting off a number of maladies.
The second one, though, is a classic example of both modern fan mentality and frustration with small sample sizes. Yes, for quite a while, Pollock did rank among the worst statistical October performers of any player who had met his at-bat thresholds. Not good. Nobody wants that black mark on their ledger. But look what happened in 2021, after the numbers stabilized a bit: .273 in the high-pressure NLDS, .381 in the six-game NLCS with two homers and seven RBI.
Is Pollock David Ortiz now? No. Not what we’re saying. But one more series like that, and the narrative should officially be dead and buried. He’s a very good player who knows how to hit, premium pitching included.
Perhaps most importantly … Pollock’s October struggles haven’t disqualified the Dodgers from winning titles, have they? No, not so much. In his three seasons in LA, they’re 1-for-3 in that department.
So, perhaps it’s time to appreciate Pollock, who’s been something close to a five-tool threat when healthy, posting OPS+ marks of 132 and 137 his past two seasons and accruing 3.1 WAR last year in just 384 at-bats. When he’s available — which, we’ll grant you, is not nearly enough — he’s an All-Star left fielder. And he’s earned a bit of a pat on the back for his services.