Why is Trayce Thompson still on the Dodgers' roster?
Even though Trayce Thompson emerged as a very important piece for the 111-win 2022 Los Angeles Dodgers, not many were blind to his struggles. After absolutely dominating upon his acquisition in June all the way through August, Thompson's Setptember and postseason performance revealed a lot.
He struck out 34 times in 87 plate appearances in September. Though he had six homers, 13 RBI, 12 walks and an .808 OPS, he saw his average drop nearly 100 points between his first 50 games and last 24 games.
Then came the postseason. In the NLDS loss to the Padres, he hit went 2-for-13 with zero extra-base hits, six strikeouts and three walks. As a righty hitter, he was especially awful against lefty pitching, which was part of the reason the Dodgers were utilizing him. They liked the matchup for obvious reasons.
Last year, Thompson hit just .174 with a .621 OPS in 96 plate appearances vs lefties. And that, along with the other issues, have persisted (and gotten worse) in 2023.
Some thought Thompson's awful spring training would do him in, but the Dodgers opted to stick with him after he hit .086 with a .416 OPS and 14 strikeouts in 35 at-bats. Across 27 games this season, he's slashing .125/.279/.339 with a 66 OPS+. And three of his four home runs and eight of his 11 RBI came in one game this season (all the way back on April 1). So for the last six weeks he has one homer and three RBI in 26 games.
Against lefties? Somehow even worse. In 41 plate appearances he has a .061 average and .395 OPS with 19 strikeouts. Almost impossible. Against right-handed starters he's hitting .087 with a .493 OPS with 13 strikeouts in 29 plate appearances.
Not to be a downer, but what value is this providing the roster when so many other players like Chris Taylor, James Outman and Jason Heyward are wildly outperforming him? Even David Peralta, who is terrible, is better!
There's the shortstop conundrum with Taylor and Mookie Betts absorbing more reps in the infield, but it might be time to give the nod to top prospect Michael Busch, who needs more time in the big leagues to develop. His versatility and lefty bat gives him potential to be a worthwhile contributor, especially coming off the bench.
Thompson is 0 for his last 27 dating back to April 19. What fringe major leaguers get that much leash anywhere else? Why does it seem like the Dodgers are hesitant to try a younger option with higher upside? If things weren't going well for LA right now, this would undoubtedly be a louder storyline.