If something were to happen to Dee Gordon, would Justin Sellers be ready to step in and take over at shortstop? This is the question I will look into for this article. Some people think that because of Gordon’s frailty, that he will be unable to make it through a full season without getting hurt. This question is being revisited, especially after Gordon took a grounder in the mouth and had to have several stitches put in his upper lip the other day. So with that being said, let me lay a scary scenario on you….
Ok, so let’s say that hypothetically speaking, Dee Gordon gets hurt and is unable to play. (Please note I hope this does not happen, I really like Gordon, and think he is immensely talented. this is a hypothetical argument only for the purpose of this post. We now return you to our regularly scheduled Blue article) Who are the candidates to take over at shortstop? One of the players that comes to mind is Juan Uribe. We know that Uribe can play shortstop. However Don Mattingly has already said that he will not be moving Uribe around the diamond like he did last year after Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal were unable to stay healthy. Mattingly said that Uribe will primarily play third base. So Uribe is out, who else? The next logical choice would be Jerry Hairston Jr. and Adam Kennedy can play shortstop as well, but what about Justin Sellers? I think Sellers would be the best choice to take over at shortstop if something happens to Dee Gordon.
Sellers is the slick fielding infielder from Southern California. Sellers is the son of former major league pitcher Jeff Sellers. The 26-year old infielder was originally drafted by the A’s in the 6th round of the 2005 amateur draft out of Cal State Fullerton. Sellers played for a number of different minor league teams over the next six seasons.
Sellers won the 2007 defensive player of the year while playing In the Hawaii winter Baseball League. Sellers played for the Vancouver Canadians and the Kane County Cougars in 2005 and 2006. He then split time between the Stockton Ports and the Midland Rock Hounds during the 2007 season. He also played for Midland in 2008 appearing in 123 games that year. In 2009 Sellers was traded to the Cubs along with Richie Robnett for Michael Wuertz. On December 2, of 2009, the Cubs traded Sellers to the Dodgers for future considerations.
In 2009 Sellers was a Southern League all-star while playing for the Chattanooga Lookouts. In 2010 he spent the season with the triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes. He hit .285 that year in 90 games. Last year in 2011, he played in 89 games batting .304 with 14 home runs. Sellers was called up to the Dodgers last August 12th to replace the injured Dee Gordon on the roster. Sellers played in 36 games for the Dodgers, batting .203 with 1 home run.
Sellers has always excelled defensively. The young talented Sellers is versatile, and he excels at a number of positions while with the Dodgers he played second, shortstop, and third base. He played all three positions extremely well with Albuquerque, and has even played a few games in the outfield. Looking at his defensive numbers, he is a terrific fielder. With the Dodgers he put up a +3 total zone runs above average at shortstop and a +24 total zone runs above average per 1200 innings last year. Last season while with Albuquerque, Sellers put up a 7.6 War, and has a minor league career +26 total zone runs above average at shortstop.
Sellers also put up a 2.8 UZR last year in his short time with the Dodgers. Sellers has great range, a strong arm, and his .8 War last year with the Dodgers is pretty good for a part time player. The only question the Dodgers have about Sellers is his bat. Will he hit? That is the million dollar question. The Dodgers seem to think that Sellers is weak offensively. I disagree.
I think his bat will adjust to major league pitching over time. It will be hard for Sellers to adjust while playing part time off the bench. The more playing time he gets, the more he learns MLB pitching. He has been a decent hitter as a minor leaguer. In his seven minor league seasons he has a very respectable .268 average with a .356 career OBP. He has hit 45 home runs, and he had a .937 OPS with the Isotopes last year.
Sellers may not be the greatest hitter in the world, but he has shown pretty good plate discipline. He put up good strikeout to walk numbers. In 2010 with the Isotopes, he had 40 walks and 49 strikeouts. The next year in 2011, he had 41 walks and 57 strikeouts. During his 36 games with the Dodgers, he had 12 walks and 21 strikeouts. During his minor league career, he has averaged around 50 walks per year, which isn’t terrible. Sellers splits are concerning though. With the Dodgers he hit .300 against lefties and only .172 off of right handed pitching. This is a small sample size though, but it is still a bit worrisome. If he ever got any kind of playing time, I am sure he would start to adjust to Major League pitching. Sometimes it takes a few years for these young players to develop.
Sellers is 5’10 and 160 pounds. He bats and throws right, and his nickname is Sellblock because of his many tattoos. Sellers got off to a fairly quick start last season. In August he was 16 for 63 (.254), but tailed off considerably in September going 9 for 60 (.150)
So what does the future look like for this skilled young ballplayer? I think the sky is the limit for the slick fielding Sellers. If anything happens to Gordon, Sellers will be ready to be called up. Justin is a much better option than the ageless wonders currently on the Dodger bench. Hairston is a decent offensive player, and he can play all over the diamond, but he is 36, and Adam Kennedy is, well Adam Kennedy. Do not be surprised when he bats .237. However Sellers has more upside than the other older players the Dodgers signed this winter. I will put up a poll, so you guys can let me know what you think. Who do you think is the Dodgers best choice to play shortstop if Dee Gordon gets hurt?
I hope the Dodgers give Sellers a chance if there is injuries, and we all know there will be eventually. Will Justin Sellers be ready when the call comes? Only time will tell….