In the latest of our season review installments in which we review different aspects of the 2012 Dodgers, today I will be reviewing the Dodger bench. The bench is a very important part of a Baseball team in the National league. A National league baseball team needs a strong bench, especially down the stretch. One of the most important aspects of the bench, is having guys that can come up in the late innings, and get pinch-hits, and pinch-hit home runs.
According to the numbers, the Dodgers ranked second in the league in pinch-hitting, tied for sixth in pinch-hits, but nearly dead last in pinch-hit home runs, and RBI. Just an overall lack of power from the bench was a problem. The Dodgers were 56 for 200, and the Dodger pinch-hitters batted .280. Getting on base didn’t seem to be a problem. The Dodger bench finished with a .376 OBP. Overall the Dodger bench put up a slash line of .280/.376/.360 with a .736 OPS. However the Dodgers only had two pinch-hit home runs, and drove in just 28 runs. The Dodger bench ranked near the bottom half in pinch-hit runs driven in and power. Was the Dodger bench successful in 2012?
If you look at the numbers three players accounted for most of the hits. The Dodger bench consisted of guys like Tony Gwynn Jr., Jerry Hairston Jr., Bobby Abreu, Justin Sellers, Alex Castellanos, Adam Kennedy, Juan Rivera, and back-up catcher Matt Treanor. Gwynn, Abreu, and Kennedy accounted for half of the Dodger’s pinch-hits this season. Gwynn was remarkable in the early part of the year, and ended up hitting .400 as a pinch-hitter. Abreu had one of the two Dodger pinch-hit home runs this season.
Defensively the Dodgers were covered. The bench guys were pretty versatile. Gwynn filled in admirably in left field, especially during the middle months of the season. Although Gwynn was eventually optioned back down to the minors, and was not called up in September. Abreu got off to a real hot start when picked up in May, and Adam Kennedy showed his versatility by playing three of the four infield positions. Juan Rivera subbed in left field, and at first base. Jerry Hairston was solid when given playing time. Hairston played all over the diamond for the Dodgers in 2012, before bowing out with a hip injury. Injuries were a big problem for the Dodger bench this year. Kennedy homered in his final at-bat, then made an error that cost the Dodgers the game before never playing again in 2012 because of a groin injury. In the end, out of the bench group, only Rivera and Treanor made it through the end of the season, and Abreu was callled back up in September after spending time on the DL, and in Albuquerque.
Looking at the numbers, Gwynn was 8 for 20, as a pinch-hitter. Abreu was 9 for 35 with a home run, and Kennedy was 8 for 28. Gwynn, and Hairston are under contract, but Abreu, and Kennedy are both free agents, and are not likely to return in 2013. Rivera has a team option, and Treanor is as good as gone. Tim Federowicz should take over back-up catching responsibilities to A.J Ellis next season.The three main areas that a team must have for the bench is pinch-hits, defensive flexibility, and power. The Dodgers had two of those three. Unfortunately the Dodgers had no power off the bench. That’s a problem the Dodgers could correct by signing someone like a Scott Hairston this winter. The numbers say the Dodger bench was successful this year, but had no power. It seemed the bench was pretty useless during the summer months, but in the beginning and end months were much better. Adam Kennedy especially turned it up towards the end, batting .342, and .389 respectively in the months of July and August.Now as for what grade to give the Dodger bench? It isn’t that easy. On the one hand, the Dodger bench was pretty good. When you consider they were tied for sixth in pinch-hits, and placed second in batting. The big problem was the utter lack of power. The Dodgers need some pop on their bench. I think we’ll see Hairston return, and possibly Gwynn, otherwise it’ll be a different bench in 2013. Adding power to the bench should be a primary concern after starting pitching this off-season.
The Bench-Overall grade…………C