Can Lefty Smashing Franklin Gutierrez Help The Dodgers Southpaw Hitting Problem?

Franklin Gutierrez

The Dodgers were one of The Worst Hitting clubs against left handed pitching in 2016. Addressing that glaring weakness has been one of their goals this offseason. So in order to do that the Dodgers have reportedly brought another outfielder into their crowded mix and signed 33-year old Franklin Gutierrez to a 2.6 million dollar contract. This is not the first time we’ve heard about Gutierrez. He has been linked to the Dodgers in minor trade rumors over the last couple of years.

Gutierrez was originally signed by the Dodgers in 2000 out of his native Venezuela but he never reached the bigs in Los Angeles as he was traded to the Indians in 2004 for notorious head case Milton Bradley. Cleveland is where Gutierrez made his MLB Debut, playing four seasons before being traded to Seattle.

He’s spent the last seven seasons in Seattle as a part time player, but specializing in southpaw mashing. Gutierrez has shown to be a capable hitter before having his career side tracked by injuries. In 2009 he batted .283 and blasted 18 home runs while driving in 70 runs in 153 games.

Injuries reduced his playing time considerably over the next several seasons but it seems he has taken a big leap forward over the past two years. While heath still remains a question, he certainly has some decent pop in his bat as he has slugged 29 home runs since 2015.

In 2015 he posted a .974 OPS and batted .292 while socking 15 home runs for the Mariners in 189 plate appearances. Last season his OPS fell to .780 and his average plummeted to .246. Yet he was still able to hit 14 home runs in 283 plate appearances. Overall he has a .720 career OPS with a .257 average and 97 home runs during his 11 big league seasons.

His rising strikeout rates are a concern. Since 2009 his strikeout rates have gone up by 10%.

Strikeout rates

2009- 19.4%

2015 – 28.6%

2016 -30.0%

While that is a concerning factor, the Dodgers are acquiring him for a specific reason. He hits left handed pitching very well. In 2015 he hit .317 against southpaws with a .973 OPS. In 2016 he batted .280 with an .884 OPS against left handers. Overall he has a slash line of .289/.351/.495 with an .846 OPS and 50 home runs against left handed pitching.

vs. Lefties

2015 – .317 8 home runs .973 OPS

2016- .280 12 home runs .884 OPS

Career .289 50 home runs .846 OPS

His Defensive metrics don’t look so hot, but he did win a gold glove back in 2010 when he was playing most of his time in center field. He’s seen more time in center (475 games) than he has in right (302). He’s played 81 games in left field.

His defense doesn’t matter. That’s not why the Dodgers are acquiring him. The front office is bringing him in because he does one thing very well and that’s hit left handed pitching. That’s something the Dodgers need in 2017 and Gutierrez could be a very potent weapon in the late innings as a lefty killing power bat off the bench.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda’s Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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62 thoughts on “Can Lefty Smashing Franklin Gutierrez Help The Dodgers Southpaw Hitting Problem?

  1. I would think that if used properly, he would be a fine addition vs LHP, considering Puig was our top hitter last year vs LHP at .261?

      1. Richie

        You are right, the outfield didn’t do much last year.

        And that is true even against righties pitchers last year.

        Hopefully Joc is going to make that next step, and hit for a higher average, and not swing for the fences, with two strikes, and runners in scoring position.

        Joc had the best production last year in the outfield, so I want him to do even better this year.

        And I think he might do it.

  2. Welcome back Franklin… You were a helluva young prospect back in the day before the Blue traded for a ‘true’ knucklehead AKA Milton Bradley… You’re 33, come in strong as you usually do and help man the OF when needed and for God’s sake talk to Puig would you por favor..

  3. What these past 3 signings do is cause a few roster moves since all of these signings are for major league deals. Yimi Garcia is out for the year, so that’s one. Ruf, Eibner, Hatcher, Nuno, all bubble guys in my book. You could put Hernandez on that list too. I do not understand why that guy is so valuable. Yes, he plays multiple positions, but Utley can play 3rd and 1st as well as 2nd. Taylor is a better SS than Hernandez and he is only fair in the outfield. Gutierrez is a natural CF, so he is Joc’s bagman. Ethier, Toles, SVS, and Puig can patrol RF and LF with no problem. Thompson has not even started baseball activities this off season, so extended spring for him. That is not even taking into account Segedin and Culberson, who also play multiple positions. Charlie is on a minor league contract so most likely he is roster protection at AAA. They are loaded with lefty relievers, so Nuno is expendable. All of those guys are candidates for release, the waiver wire, DFA and trades. There are a lot of guys on this roster with the capability to play different positions. I think one of the reasons they brought Utley back was because Seager wanted him back to further his big league education, and Utley is a lot more reliable that Hernandez…..so long Kike and good luck.

  4. I’m not a mathematician but I thinks that’s more than a 10% increase in strikeouts, more like a 54% increase. Oh well welcome back kid.

  5. This is a total waste of money signing Utley and Gutierrez. Norris, that is a good assessment of he Dodgers. It looks like FAZ just cannot resist signing guys who are over the hill. There are going to be a lot of players released or traded before the year starts. Tough being a minor leaguer in the Dodger organization. How are going to give these players enough at bats this spring to know what they can do.

    I loved it when you knew Campanella, Snider, and Robinson were going to play every day regardless who pitched. How are you ever going to know if Joc can hit left handers, if he never plays against a left hander. If they had enough roster spots even Seager would never see a left hander. Sometimes too much information is not good. I am a firm believer in putting your 8 best players on the field and let them play. I guess I am getting old.

    1. Duke, Campy and Jackie? Did you forget Gilly, Furillo, Pee Wee, etc? It was a different era when pitchers routinely pitched 250+ innings every year in a 154 game schedule.
      It was an era, generations ago, which we will never see or be part of again, unfortunately.

      1. Gilly?

        Everything being done is just an effort at polishing the posterior composites. ALL these guys, even Utley, I believe are marginal players. Will it work? Blindfold me, give me 100 darts and I’m sure I could I throw at a couple of bulls eyes. One or two of these contingencies just might contribute. Nobody but family will buy tickets to see any of these guys play, but that won’t matter because the the Dodgers will draw 40,000 even if Heine McAnus and Luke McDouche are in the lineup today.

        It would be exciting to see a Manny-like acquisition, but if you recall Boston was fed up with him and gave him away. I don’t see FAZ being that lucky, but I won’t rule it out.

  6. Richie and Idahoal, I miss those days too. 4 starters, bull pen guys were usually guys on their way out of the majors. Bench guys actually spent time on the bench. But even with those stars there were bench pieces and other starters who were not huge stars who were extremely important in the scheme of things, those Brooklyn teams had a guy named Billy Cox at 3rd. You do not hear much about him, but I have talked to folks from Brooklyn who saw him play and they always raved about his glove. Decent hitter too. George, Shotgun, Shuba, backup outfielder and pinch hitter. LA Dodgers had guys like Norm Larker, who came close to winning a batting title after Gil left, and Chuck Essegian who hit 2 pinch hit homers in the 59 series. Pafko, Miksis, Billy Herman, Amoros, Gilliam, the list goes on and on………….those were the days my friends…..Billy Cox’s obituary

    1. Michael. Billy Cox’s glove was as advertised. He was the Brooks Robinson of his time and he did it at a time when gloves weren’t as they are today.

  7. Almost forgot those LaSorda teams that ran the same 8 out almost every day, Garvey, Lopes, Cey. Russell, Baker, Monday, Smith, Yeager, or Fergy……….what great teams.

    1. I do think that if a player isn’t getting enough consistent at bats, and playing almost everyday, you will never get the best out of a player.

      I know in a long season, they need some days off to keep fresh, but this constant platooning, I don’t think it is worth the bother, most of the time.

      If there is a player like Scotty, that can still hit lefties well, when he is not getting consistent at bats, I can see that type of platoon, if he is playing for a player, that has proven they just can’t hit lefties.

      But there isn’t a lot of players out there, that can deliver, with so few consistent at bats.

      But even then, how often does a team face a leftie starter?

      And with starting pitchers not pitching as deep into games like they use to, you can lose that platoon advantage, somewhat early in games, anyways.

      And not every team in the majors, have almost a complete platoon team, that comes in against lefties.

      And I agree with Idahoal, how do you give a player enough at bats, or a pitcher,
      enough innings in spring training, to see what you have, or to prepare for the season, with so many options.

      And I think all of these platoon players, can take up to much space on a roster, at times.

      1. That theory is shot to hell on the old time players MJ. Gehrig was known to play with broken fingers. Most of those guys did not want a day off. It could cost you your job. Look what happened to Wally Pipp. Got a headache, took the day off and never saw 1st base in a Yankee uni again. Today’s players are a different animal. Too many of them have some baseball skills, but are lacking in others. Today’s scouts look for raw power, not strikeout totals. Guys like DiMaggio were embarrassed when they struck out. Other’s like Ruth it was expected that the way they swung they were not going to make contact all the time. But Ruth, over his career had a .340 batting average. Not bad for a bowl legged fat guy with spindly legs. And most baseball people of that time said they never saw Ruth make a bad decision defensively except once. He threw to the wrong base and allowed a run to score. Todays players also are more into training in the off season. Keeping in shape is important to them. Old timers got in shape in spring.

    2. Those Lasorda teams are what I grew up with.

      And I don’t ever remember them
      having trouble, with having a productive offense.

      It just seemed like they got the job done, most of the time.

  8. The Monopoly Money spread around the FA markets killed almost all chances of seeing the Gwynn and Ripken loyalty… I mean, Richey could you see Alston or Tommy strolling out to replace Drysdale with a set up man??? There would be hell to pay…
    Watford my Man, every morning my feet hit the carpet I say a prayer of thanks for another day and will this be the year for the Blue… Amen…

    1. Bobby

      I don’t envy Roberts, and the decisions, he has to make.

      And I know it isn’t just Roberts, but Roberts, will be the messenger, in these instances.

      I like what I see in the players, but it will be interesting to see what they do with the bullpen, and what happens, with all of the starters, not named, Kershaw, Hill, and Maeda.

      1. MJ, I bet he will not be making them alone. FAZ will have a huge say in who comes out of spring training on that roster. Here are the givens though, Gonzo, Utley, Forsythe, Seager, Turner, Grandal, Pederson, Puig, Ethier, Barnes, Gutierrez, Kershaw, Maeda, Jansen, Dayton, Romo….after that it is anybody’s guess. Starters will be picked in spring, BP has a lot of candidates behind Jansen, Romo and Dayton. I do not think Baez is a lock, guy like Ravin and Fields could replace him easily.

      1. Artieboy

        From what I have read about Gutierrez, he isn’t able to play center well anymore, because of age, and his defensive metrics are even not that good, in the corner outfield positions, either.

        So either Kike or Thompson, will play centerfield, when we face a leftie.

      2. Kike will be extremely lucky to make this team The OF’s are going to be Pederson, Puig, Ethier, Gutierrez, and Toles most likely, with SVS being a utility guy. Thompson is probably going to start the season on the DL. He has not even started doing baseball activities yet.

  9. I think the marginal players with options will get sent down. There will be a lot of unhappy players but we’re going hard for the ring this year.

    I also think a bunch of prospects will get traded to unload either A-Gon or Ethier at the deadline. I doubt we get any quality prospects back. The extra vets are insurance in case a deal goes through, and they will be on the roster. People often talk about prospects being currency, but a coin has two sides, and the other side in this case is using prospects to unload contracts. Guggenheim selling a minority stake signals they are against a hurdle (look up what that means for a private equity fund) and they are going to manage this investment more aggressively.

    1. YF
      I don’t see Agone getting traded this year.

      And I think the only time Agone might be traded, would be at the trade deadline next year.

      But that would depend on if Bellinger is ready, but even then, if they are in win now mode, Agone still might not be traded, even then.

      Agone’s contract goes through next year, and I don’t see Bellinger ready, until he has at least played one season, in AAA.

      And Ethier has the right, to veto any trade, he doesn’t want.

      1. YF

        I don’t like when a better player that has options is sent down, over a player, that doesn’t have options, but is not the better player.

        And that is part of the reason, that Hatcher is still on this team, and has never been sent down.

        I only see them keeping Kike at the major league level, because they think he will save some roster space, because he plays both the infield, and the outfield.

        1. Keeping 25 yr old Kike because he can play both infield and outfield is a pretty darn good reason. Let’s hope we see the 2015 version of Kike.

          Jon Heyman is reporting Utley’s 2017 salary will be $2M plus incentives. Solid! Good left-handed hitting pinch hitter and can provide rest to both Turner and Forsyth against a righty pitcher. Oh, and a good clubhouse guy.

          1. Boxout

            That is really Kike’s calling card, but if he doesn’t hit, it probably doesnt matter, because we have others, who can do the job.

          2. Kike is not making this team. Too many other players can do the same thing he can. Taylor played SS, 3B and some 2B last year. Utley can play 1B 2B and 3B. SVS can play 1B and the OF. There are 9 outfielders on the roster right now and 7 of them are better out there than Kike. Hernandez is a nice kid, I like the guy, but I think he tries to pull the ball too much.

        2. I think Kike is headed to AAA if he has a bad spring. I don’t get The complaining about these deals. Guetierrez and Utley aren’t blocking anyone. Both are making peanuts and can be cut if they don’t have anything left.

          There will be a platoon in LF and a partial platoon behind the plate and that’s it if all goes well. Actually Gonzalez needs more days off so probably a partial platoon there.

          Forsythe’s versatility can give guys days off when they need it and still get Utley the proper amount of AB’s. I don’t love everything FAZ has done but these moves make the 40-man better.

          Guetierrez or Eibner? No-brainer. Thompson is iffy to start the season. SVS has had his share of injuries. Ruf is a plodder. Cheap insurance.

          I like a bench of Ethier, Utley, Barnes, Guetierrez and SVS. Utley can play first, second, and 3rd. Barnes can play 2B, 3B and C. SVS can play OF and 1B. Seager isn’t coming out much so Forsythe can slide over there for those few moments. Inevitably someone will wind up on the DL so a guy like Kike or Taylor can come up from AAA when needed.

          1. I don’t get the complaining either. If we had eight great position players we wouldn’t need to platoon and could march the same guys out everyday. But, we don’t! It’s 2016 folks, the age of specialists. For instance, lefty pitchers are pretty darn good at getting lefty batters out. As much as I like Toles, I don’t really like watching him hit against lefties.

            Additionally, It’s a long season and everyone benefits with rest, even Seager and Pederson. 24 yr old Pederson still has some things to figure out about hitting righties, until he does that I don’t mind seeing Thompson or 2015 Kike taking the AB’s against lefties.

            I agree Kike should start in AAA if he has a bad spring and Dodgers got the depth to do that if necessary. I like your bench, except, I do think we need someone other than Forsyth who can play short. I assume you got Toles starting in left since you have Ethier as a sub. I can see Toles starting at AAA if Ethier is on the opening day roster and someone like Kike, Taylor or Culberson on the bench. It’s going to be interesting.

          2. Hawkeye

            I don’t have any problems with these moves, but isn’t Scotty and Guetierrez, about the same type of players, except that Scotty can give Agone a day off, against a tough leftie?

            I do think they signed Guetierrez, because they don’t know when Thompson, will be able to play.

            I think it is going to be interesting, to see who will be the number four and five, starting pitchers.

          3. Boxout

            Hopefully the platoon team will be better, this year.

            They were not good last year, they ranked last in offense, in all of baseball.

            I am hoping Scotty and Frank, can help change that, this year, because we were pretty good, in 2015.

          4. MJ, SVS has been quite injury prone too. I would absolutely love for him to get more AB’s at 1st this year but he’s going to have to earn his spot on the roster. A lot of healthy competition in Camelback this year.

  10. Utley and Gutierrez are over the hill has beens. Just looking for one more contract. Why sign them? I would rather have Taylor, Segedin, SVS and Toles as our subs. We also have Ruf, Eibner and Kike. Maybe these three will go to AAA along with Segedin and Toles. I am not interested in seeing Utley, Gutierrez, Ebiner and Ruf in ST. You cannot send Utley and Gutierrez to the minors. They made the team. Just like Hatcher. The Dodgers will keep these kind of players and send others to AAA just because they have major league contracts. And the ones they send down may be better players. Just a waste of money. Just my opinion.

    1. Maybe it’s just a numbers game. Just keep flinging it and see what sticks. I think we missed SVS last year, but maybe we didn’t. He has trade value, maybe Guitierrez will end up being his replacement. Sure hope they re-sign Blanton

      1. RC: I’m surprised Blanton hasn’t been signed yet also. It has to be he’s asking too much in years and/or money?
        MLBTR listed him as #32(Romo #34) in the top 50 FA list. He was listed as signing with the Marliins for 2/$14MM). I doubt he will get that. It could also be he’s looking to sign with a team who has a good chance to make it to the WS.

    2. All 3 are making peanuts and can be released without regrets. Hatcher will get a shot at more low leverage situations. If he stinks up spring training his salary isn’t going to keep him on the team. He makes about $1 million next year. His 97mph fast ball is what’s saving him.

      Why in the world do you want to see AAAA guys like Taylor and Segedin. They’re better off in AAA getting AB’s until there’s an injury.

  11. Book this. Kike Hernandez will NOT make the 25 man roster. There are too many guys on this team that are better players with more hitting skills. I doubt he even comes close to the 2015 version. He has options left so they can send him to AAA as insurance. Guys like Ruf and Fernandez are dreaming if they think they come close to making this team. Taylor has a good shot at taking Kike’s spot because he is a true SS. And he would be Seager’s backup. Culberson is not on the 40 man, but he is a solid backup too. Kike is also not that great an outfielder. Some who bitched about Kemp’s routes when he was out there have not watched Kike mis read fly balls and then have to run like crazy to just get close to the ball. Gutierrez will not have to play CF that much. Joc will be out there almost every day. It is time to see if he can hit lefty’s.

    1. Michael

      Puig or Toles can both play center, if that is needed.

      And I know Toles isn’t the right platoon side, but if something happens, he could fill in.

      The stuff I read on Guetierrez is that he can’t play center anymore, because of his age.

      And he actually doesn’t have really good numbers, even in the corner outfield positions.

      1. He’s a LF now. I imagine he will platoon with the winner of the Toles vs Ethier battle.

        If the Dodgers had no problem eating as much salary as they have the last two years, they will clear out dead weight that doesn’t belong especially guys who are getting paid $3 million a year.

  12. You guys remember when Kike Hernandez teed off on Madison Bumgarner early last season? I was impressed with those swings and that he is versatile enough to play CF and SS.

    I think he makes your squad. Isn’t Austin Barnes versatile enough to play IF and OF? And does SVS have option? I think Bellinger is going to make an impact midsummer. Numbers, youth, athleticism, pedigree. Most likely to need bullpen help though. But no problem with deep Farm.

    1. Yes I do and pretty much after that he went in the tank. That was the highlight of his season. I think he began to think of himself as a power hitter and got away from what gave him success in 15. He has options. Demote him and let him find it if he still has it.

  13. Like I said up above, once you sort through all the players, the reseves with options will get sent down. And some of that backlog will need to be cleared up before the trade deadline, and if someone comes willing to eat a big contract with a few years left provided we sweeten it with prospects, the prospects will be gone. It’s a business and I see this as loading up to dump some contracts.

    1. I think Kike will probably have an advantage over the other players, because he is playing in the World baseball thing for Puerto Rico, so he should not have that much trouble hitting.

    1. Yikes. Just read it and looks like FAZ reached on Gutierrez even at $3 million. He’s a part time part timer, and the article says in some days he’ll wake up and just can’t go and the Dodgers will have to play with s short bench? Now I’m really hoping SVS shows the FAZ he’s still got it and force the FO to cut Gutierrez.

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