After the trade of Matt Kemp for Yasmani Grandal the question that Don Mattingly and his coaching staff is faced with is simply who plays in the outfield? Matt Kemp leaving does mean that five players who all had real chances of being an everyday starter is back to 4, 5 if you count Joc Pederson but that will have to wait to see how he plays in Spring Training.
In left field I have CC, Carl Crawford, after playing in 105 games of the 162 last year and putting up .300 with 8 homeruns, 46 RBIs and also a nice 23 stolen bases, I cant see anyone else who needs to be ahead of him with Kemp leaving and going to San Diego. Both Carl and Scott Van Slyke would have and should have got some more games, and they probably would have if they played for any other team, but for LA with the 5 men they had in the outfield that wasn’t ever going to happen. This year will be Carl’s year, he has left field all to himself and if he wants it, it can stay that way for the whole 162 games.
Commanding the outfield and playing centre; Scott Van Slyke. This was Matt Kemp’s position for most of the year and SVS never really got into it at all. I am not really sure if Scott playing centre will work but with the mean around him being the best at their position, this is the place for Van Slyke. Last year he hit .297 but in only 98 games. Expect his number of games to go up to around 120-130 and his average could drop but that wont matter too much. Scott will be crucial for LA if they want to go far this year as he could be exposed as the weak link but after hitting 11 homeruns, most of which coming in clutch times of the game, this could be the year of SVS.
The last place to fill in the outfield is right field and this one is obvious. The man with one of the best arms in all of baseball and the best outfielder on the roster, Yasiel Puig. What more can you say about Yasiel, he burst onto the scene two years ago and he has not slowed down at all. Puig has personally won the Dodgers a few games but then again he has also lost them a couple. If the Cuban can stay calm and not do anything stupid on or off the field he could be a really good player and one of the best offensive producers for LA this year. The numbers aren’t important for him at this stage of the career, because you know he will produce regardless. Puig just needs to mature and he will be in the conversation for NL MVP’s before too long.
Yes, this means no Joc Pederson, sorry fan boys. There is a spot for him on the Dodgers’ roster but he wont start many games. Even after hitting 25 homeruns and stealing 25 bases in AAA, he is good but not MLB ready yet. Spring Training will help and so will more exposure to MLB pitching but I can’t trust him to win the team some games just yet. 2016? Maybe, but for now he needs to just hit when he is called on and understand his role on the team.
Let’s hope that these three can be the best they can be for LA and take them to a championship because no matter who is starting that is what we all want to see for the 25 that get picked to wear the Dodger Blue.