Which Dodgers offense will show up in 2016?
Now that we are only 31 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, it seems that the offense is set. The winter meetings came and went without any major trades. After the front office failed to sign Zack Greinke, they signed a couple of good, and yet, lesser talents as starting pitchers (Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda). But they made no significant position player move. I’m certainly not counting the signing of Chase Utley and the non-signing of Howie Kendrick as significant. If this is all we’ve got, we have to ask the question, “what have we got here”? Let’s go through it position by position.
Catcher – Yasmani Grandal, AJ Ellis, and Austin Barnes. Well, Barnes won’t likely see much time unless one of the other two are hurt. The big question is whether Grandal will come through the shoulder surgery as a new man or will the shoulder nag him all year? The good Grandal was here for the first half of 2015 and that was glorious. But Yasmani’s bat began to fail big time in August, and his batting average just continued to fall throughout the rest of the season. AJ Ellis hit poorly in the first half, but then came alive in the second half. So the question remains – will the catchers position hit well or poorly?
First Base – Adrian Gonzalez started 2015 on fire with home runs and hits a plenty. But as he gets another year older, will his bat slow down? One thing’s for sure, his legs can’t possibly slow down, since he’s already the slowest man out there.
Second Base – Chase Utley was a broken offensive piece for Philadelphia in 2015, and he never really came back, even late in the year with the Dodgers. Will he regain his earlier hitting form? Will Kike Hernandez be allowed to be full-time second base platoon man against lefties, or will he be needed to fill in at shortstop and/or third base?
Shortstop – Corey Seager started his major league career quite well on the offensive side of the ball. Will he hit a sophomore slump? [Well, technically, he’s still a rookie for 2016, but you know what I mean].
Third Base – Will Justin Turner’s surgically repaired knee allow him to play more than four to five games per week? Will his bat still be as good as it has been during the 2014-2015 seasons?
Left Field – Do we get the Andre Ethier of 2015 or the Ethier of 2014? What of Carl Crawford? How long will the front office keep two left-handed left fielders on the team? Will Scott Van Slyke get back to his 2014 form, or is his ailing back going to continue to cut into his playing time and effective hitting against lefties?
Center Field – Do we get the Joc Pederson of the first half of 2015 (OPS of .851), or the Joc of the second half of 2015 (OPS of .617)? Will Joc be the lead off hitter? Or will it be…
Right Field – Yasiel Puig – will we get the Puig of 2013 (.925 OPS), 2014 (.863 OPS) or 2015 (.758 OPS and only 79 games)? Will Puig learn from Maury Wills how to run the basepaths? Will Puig learn from Maury Wills how to come into his own? Will Puig learn how to show up on time?
So there you have it. We’ve got some major question marks on the offense. Oh, I forgot to mention Alex Guerrero. I think the front office is also trying to forget that he’s still on the team.