Now, don’t get alarmed, Alex Guerrero isn’t really a clone of Martin Prado. If he was then there wouldn’t be cloning of Martin Prado going on, there would be cloning of Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout, so that’s not happening. However, what is happening is this
The Dodgers’ Alex Guerrero is starting in LF in AAA tonight. That makes 4 positions in 7 days for him — including 3B, SS, 2B
— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) July 28, 2014
That’s interesting to say the least. They are trying to turn Alexander Guerrero into a super utility infielder/outfielder type bat it appears like. I am very intrigued for a few reasons. It’s common knowledge that this is one of the only recent years where the bench has been very above average. Justin Turner has played SS/3b/2b admirably, Scott Van Slyke, given his current pace projected over a full 600 PA’s, is on pace to be worth over 5 wins above replacement. Miguel Rojas, Butera, yadda yadda, the bench has been a huge plus.
This isn’t to say that the bench couldn’t be upgraded. Scott Van Slyke and Justin Turner might not be everyday players, and that’s perfectly fine, but who knows how they’re going to perform going forward? SVS hasn’t yet reached 400 plate appearances in the majors, Justin Turner has never wRC+’d above 100, and has accumulated 2/3 of his career fWAR in this season alone. It never hurts to have more bats on your bench, and while a utility player who can defend is preferable, someone who has a strong bat and is right handed on a team with Dee Gordon and Andre Ethier/Carl Crawford is very valuable.
I dropped a Martin Prado comp on him because Martin Prado was so good at defending multiple positions that he was once worth 5.5 fWAR. He can play 2b, 3b, and has gotten over 2000 innings in LF in his career. And that’s rare, he and Ben Zobrist are the only real notable ballplayers who are able to defend those positions and play LF.
There was a study done on positional flexibility. It essentially said that players who can play multiple positions acceptably are possibly undervalued. Which is why a super utility guy would be very useful on this team. Consider that Dee Gordon might need a day off once a week versus a tough left handed pitcher (i’m talking Madison Bumgarner and Cliff Lee type pitchers). Also take into account that whoever ends up playing left field at this point is probably going to be a leftie who can’t hit same handed pitching. Also look at the injuries this team has sustained from the left side of the infield.
So the opportunities for playing time are there.
Now lets look at a scouting report from last year. That report cites ZIPS projection system, and while those systems can be very erratic in regards to Cuban defectors, it’s something. ZIPS projected Guerrero to hit .259/.324/.386 and maintain a weighted on base average of .313. These are solid numbers, a .313 wOBA translates to approximately a 101 wRC+, so using the projection systems, he’s an average hitter.
Lets just assume he compiles a 101 wRC+, knowing that there’s a decent chance he hits better than 1% above the league average.
League average second baseman have hit for a 89 wRC+.
League average 3b have hit for a 100 wRC+.
League average SS have hit for a 86 wRC+
League average LF have hit for a 100 wRC+
None of these positions are higher than Guerrero’s projected line. And it’s not hard to envision that slugging % that Guerrero was projected to hit at be higher than .386, while the defense might take some getting used to, and he might never be a plus infielder, the positional flexibility matters. All he has to be is not Skip Schumaker defensively in order to justify taking the risk with the positional flexibility.
Given the team’s previous struggles with platoons, I don’t exactly know if it will work, but there’s no other reason that Guerrero can’t sub in for Gordon (against tough lefties), Hanley (once or twice a week to get him some rest), Uribe (same as Hanley), Andre Ethier/Carl Crawford (whenever they face lefties).
If that happens, Guerrero coming off of the bench to start 4 times a week in sort of a Zobrist/Prado lite role, isn’t all that unreasonable, and having a bat like his is projected to be will be a real plus to this bench.