1. Elite hitter that can’t defend > Elite defender that can’t hit
Defense is important in the game of baseball. There are so many key moments on the field where defense changes the course of a game. For example, Cody Bellinger has made his fair share of elite catches in the outfield that saved games for the Dodgers in the past.
Heck, Justin Turner turned in one of the most impactful plays of the entire 2020 World Series run after he doubled up the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS when they had runners on second and third and one out. Defense definitely is important.
However, what’s interesting about that Turner play is that he isn’t really considered to be a great defender, especially late in his career. Do you know who else isn’t a great defender? Yordan Alvarez, who has played six of seven games in left field in the postseason.
What about Kyle Schwarber and Nicholas Castellanos, both of whom have played the corner outfield spots all year for the Phillies? None of these guys are great defensive players; they’re in the lineup because of their bats.
Nobody is saying that the Dodgers should go out and sign a bunch of horrible fielders and throw them on the roster. But the team cannot keep justifying putting in a bat like Bellinger because “he’s a great fielder” (even though Trayce Thompson had better advanced metrics).
Granted, the Dodgers weren’t expecting Bellinger to turn into a Double-A hitter these last two years, but they have seen plenty to change how they approach the game, and it isn’t just Bellinger. They added guys like Joey Gallo, who “were great fielders at the very least” instead of just targeting the best bats. Offense wins the postseason. And the Dodgers went cold and failed to be clutch at the worst time because they didn’t have enough bats ready for the task.