Fool Dodgers fans once, shame on you. Fool Dodgers fans twice, and they riot. Or at least that's what we can predict if Los Angeles doesn't start James Outman on Opening Day.
And if he's left off the roster? Forget about it. You won't want to hear the discourse, because it's already feisty.
Outman, who's vying for the starting center field job, won't stop tattoong the ball during Spring Training. Through Monday's action, he's hitting .462 with a 1.375 OPS, a triple, a home run, four RBI and two walks. Does that look familiar? If it does, it's because that was pretty much his MLB debut last year!
After he burst onto the scene when rosters expanded in September, fans were calling for Outman to make the postseason roster because of Chris Taylor's immense struggles (likely as a result of injuries), Cody Bellinger's inability to hit, Trayce Thompson's high strikeout rate, and Joey Gallo's existence.
Instead, Outman was sent back down to Triple-A, where he continued to mash. And he stayed down. Never came back after his four games of action.
The Dodgers crashed out of the NLDS against the San Diego Padres where Bellinger, Thompson, Taylor and Gallo (who didn't log an at-bat) went a combined 3-for-27. Now that the competition is seemingly between Outman, Taylor and Jason Heyward this spring, the answer is a no-brainer ... unless the Dodgers want to repeat forgettable history.
Dodgers Twitter is lobbying hard for James Outman to be the starting CF
If the Dodgers cleared roster space to presumably play the kids, then they'd better play the kids. Miguel Vargas is already locked into the starting second base job, and he's done far less to prove himself compared to Outman.
While Heyward has the MLB experience on Outman, there's no denying Heyward is nearing the end of his playing career. He's a fourth outfielder/locker room presence heading into his age-33 season, especially given his poor offensive output since the start of the 2016 season.
It was one thing to give Bellinger one last chance in 2022. It was one thing to stick with Joey Gallo after surrendering a prospect for him at the trade deadline. Giving an over-the-hill veteran in Heyward or a utility player in Taylor the job over Outman would result in warranted outrage (assuming Outman continues to prove his worth throughout the spring).
Something tells us if the conversation is already this loud after a week and a half of action, it's not dissipating anytime soon.
Look around the league. There isn't an excess of young players doing what Outman is doing at the moment. He at least deserves the chance to receive regular reps before the Dodgers roll with one of the more underwhelming options.
It's the least they can do after willingly creating this job opening.