The Dodger Bench

The Dodger bench will take a decidedly different look in 2012 but with the same fundamental aging veteran presence. The Dodgers focused more on defensive versatility as they have been building their bench for next year. Let’s take a look at the guys that figure to be on the Dodgers bench next season, and the guys that could be competing for a spot….

The bench is an often overlooked part of a Baseball team, but it is very important. It’s especially important for National League teams since they don’t use the DH. There has to be a balance of defensive versatility and clutch hitting in late inning situations in order to have a successful functioning bench. The Dodgers added Hairston, Kennedy, Treanor, and Gywnn from free agency to bolster the bench. Let’s take a closer look at the following players. We’ll analyze their career splits, batting with runners in scoring position, clutch hitting, and total defense at each position.

Jerry Hairston Jr. IF/OF-

Jerry Hairston

Jerry Hairston

Hairston is a very versatile player that has had experience at just about every position except pitcher and catcher. Hairston is a very balanced hitter. He is just as good against lefties as righties. He hits around the same with runners in scoring position and in high leverage type situations. He has more power against righties than lefties by a two to one margin. I would think that in the late innings opposing teams might bring in a lefty to pitch to him in order to cut down on his power.

His defensive stats tells us he’s a decent fielder as well, but tends to play better at second base. His worst position defensively is at shortstop, where he costs his teams 7 runs below average. Overall he’s a pretty good outfielder, and has had playing time at all outfield positions. He plays best in center field.

Overall Hairston should be a valuable player off the bench. Much like a Jamey Carroll type but with more power. He seems to be a good balance of decent offense and defense. He’ll be respectable, not spectacular, but respectable.

Vs. righties-.258/.327/.367  42 home runs

Vs. lefties-.259/.324/.381 22 home runs

RISP-.257/.327/.351 12 home runs

High Leverage-.263/.332/.365 11 home runs

Defense-Total Runs Above Average

2B+13/SS -7/3B -1/LF +5/CF +9 / RF +4

 

Adam Kennedy-IF

Adam Kennedy

Adam Kennedy

Kennedy is the former Angel who hits righties better than he does lefties by a good margin. He has virtually no power against lefties, but has hit 70 career homers against right handers. He hits well with runners in scoring position and in late inning situations. He has pretty good pop. He is a pretty good defensive player. Second base is his best position, and defensive metrics rank him as being 61 runs above average at second base. At most of the other positions he’s league average, except third base, where he is awful.

Vs. Righties-.279/.332./.400 70 home runs

Vs. Lefties-.248/.306./.325 8 home runs

RISP .267/.333/.371 18 home runs

High Leverage .270/.326/.378 15 home runs

Defense-Total Runs Above Average

 1B +3/2B +61/ 3B-8/SS 0/LF 0/CF-/RF +3

Tony Gwynn Jr.-OF

Tony Gwynn Jr.

Tony Gwynn Jr.

The Dodgers brought back Tony Gwynn Jr. to be the fourth outfielder and pinch hitter for another two years. Gwynn doesn’t hit very high for average, and his splits look just as equally as bad. He has a bit of pop against righties but just about no power overall. Here is where Gwynn’s strengths come into play here: pinch hitting and late inning defense. While he hits below average with runners in scoring position, he is hitting nearly .300 in high leverage late inning situations. We saw him pinch hit well last year.

His defensive metrics are a bit confusing, but we remember seeing Gwynn make several amazing catches. (two game saving catches). He can play all outfield positions,  but right field is his strongest position at over 8 runs above average. Even though he will be backing up Kemp in center field, he is 8 runs below average playing in center.

Vs. righties-.248/.326/.329 7 home runs

Vs. lefties-.242/.292/.303 0 home runs

RISP-.246/.342/.327 2 home runs

High Leverage-.296/.362/.374 0 home runs

Defense-Total Runs Above Average

LF 0/CF -8/ RF +8

Jerry Sands-OF

Jerry Sands

Jerry Sands

Sands is still a little green around the gills, and it shows in his stats. During his initial call up last year he was awful, although he showed glimpses of goodness. In his last call up in September, it seemed he finally figured it out. It seems the Dodgers may not be completely sold on him, as they are still rumored to be interested in another outfielder, but if Sands does make the roster, most people expect him to platoon with Rivera and Gwynn in left field. Here is what the Dodgers can expect from him in 2012.

He’s awesome against lefties and terrible against righties. If he wants to stay with the big club, he’s gotta start hitting right handers. The weird part is his line with runners in scoring position is very solid, but his line in high leverage situations is awful. He’s a rookie, so he has trouble hitting in high pressure at bats. That’s expected for very young players.

His defense leaves something to be desired though, he should see some time at first base when Loney is resting.

Vs. Righties .203/.297/.283 1 home runs

Vs. Lefties .367/.433/.633 3 home runs

RISP-.275/.321/.451 2 home runs

High Leverage-.192/.300/.385 1 home run

Defense-Total Runs Above Average

LF 0 /1B 0

Matt Treanor-C

Matt Treanor

Matt Treanor

There is really not a whole lot to say about Treanor. He is one of those career backup catchers. He is an atrocious hitter, but is decent with runners in scoring position. Treanor was signed to pair with A.J. Ellis so prospect Tim Federowicz (Fedex) can get seasoning in Albuquerque. Total Runs Above Average ratings rank him as a poor defensive catcher, although I think it’s hard to judge catcher defense.

Vs Righties-.237/.326/.322 12 home runs

Vs. Lefties-.192/.286/.265 4 home runs

RISP- .259/.363/.329 4 home runs

High Leverage- .249/.337/.332 2 home runs

Defense Total Runs Above Average

C/ -8

There are a few other players that will be competing for a bench spot in spring training. Those players include Ivan Dejesus Jr., Russ Mitchell, and Alex Castellanos.

EDIT-Justin Sellers could see some consideration as well, but it looks doubtful he would make the opening day roster.

I don’t expect any of those three players to make the opening day roster. Dejesus is a failed prospect that in limited playing time has been terrible. His defense has been god awful, and there is reports of him having a bad attitude and poor work habits.

Russ Mitchell is a 27-year old career minor league lifer that has been getting token call ups each September. Mitchell is a decent defensive player that can’t hit at all. I expect Mitchell to stay down in Albuquerque, and he should still get his token call up this September. He can play third base, first base, and left field.

Alex Castellanos is the interesting one here. Reports are that the Dodgers were playing him at second base in the winter leagues. I have no idea how he would be at second base, which is not his natural position. He is an outfielder, and I don’t expect him to play above Double AA ball this year, but you never know if he rakes in spring training, he could make a good impression.

So there is the Dodgers projected bench for the 2012 season.  The bench can be a very vital role for a National League team. The Dodgers need players that can play multiple positions, and come off the bench in the late innings and get pinch hits. Some power would be nice too. The goal this winter was to provide manager Don Mattingly with some more flexible lineup choices. It seems like they have. Normally the Dodger Bench is the place where useless aging veterans make their final career stop. The Dodgers still seem reluctant to give these bench spots to young players. They would rather have the younger players play every day down in the minors for proper seasoning. Whether we like this or not, that seems to be the Dodger’s prevailing philosophy.

Lets hope next year we don’t have a bunch of auto outs on the bench like in years past. We’ll be taking a look at each part of the 2012 Dodgers roster and making our analysis. Look out for our next piece as we analyze the starting rotation. Go Blue!

Tags: Adam Kennedy Alex Castellanos Dodgers Ivan Dejesus Jr Jerry Hairston Jr. Jerry Sands Matt Treanor Russ Mitchell Tony Gwynn Jr.

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