By: Enrique Medina
Without any doubt, this past offseason, the biggest acquisition the Dodgers made came in ex-Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock. Pollock, now 31 years of age has spent the entirety of his 7 year big league career with Arizona. In Arizona, Pollock was one of the most productive outfielders in the game when healthy.
Pollock’s breakout year came in 2015 when he hit 20 home runs with 76 RBI’s all with a .315 batting average. This same season Pollock stole 39 bases had a .367 OBP, .498 SLG, .865 OPS topped off with a 7.2 WAR. This season saw Pollock win a gold glove and make his first and only all star game in his career thus far. 2015 saw a bright future in Pollock, but unfortunately injuries over the past 3 seasons has really prevented him from performing at his 2015 breakout season level.
For his career Pollock is .281 hitter with 74 home runs and 264 RBIs through the end of 2018, also owning a .338 OBP, .467 SLG, .806 OPS, and 47 DRS during this time.
With the Dodgers trading a way core pieces Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig during the offseason to Cincinnati, and signing Pollock to a 4 year deal with an option for a 5th year, the Dodgers seem set on having Pollock being an important part to the ball club for 2019 and beyond.
Pollock best fits the team as the primary center fielder, but unlike in Arizona, there seems to be a lot less pressure for Pollock with an already impressive Dodgers lineup. Having guys like Justin Turner and Corey Seager hit in front of Pollock will only help Pollock get more opportunities to drive in runs.
An important piece of the Pollock signing as well is his versatility and ability to both hit left handed and right handed pitchers equally well. This is especially key with the Dodgers struggles in years past with hitting left handed pitchers with a lineup that has a lot of left handed bats.
Pollock also adds his name to a very solid defensive ball club. A proven center fielder with solid speed that can hold his ground in Pollock gives the Dodgers a man they can trust each and every day in center field. If need be, he can play any other outfield position as well and add more flexibility to the Dodgers defensive lineup. Pollock can also swipe a few bags on the basepaths, but not quite as well as his 2015 rate as last season he had only 13 stolen bases in 113 games.
Overall, he will be a sure name manager Dave Roberts can rely on to play every day no matter who is out on the mound for the opposing team, knowing he can bring so much to the plate, out in center field, and in the basepaths.
Ultimately, the Dodgers may have missed out on Bryce Harper during the offseason, but if Pollock can stay healthy and avoid bad luck with the injuries like the past 3 seasons, he can be the low risk high reward signing that the Dodgers have needed to help improve the ball club in a huge way to propel them over the hump.