There probably will be little suspense this spring while the Dodgers build their roster. Most of the positions are spoken for. There will be a few spots up for grabs. Sure maybe the last spot or two in the bullpen or the final place on the bench. Speaking of that final bench spot, what should the Dodgers do with Alex Guerrero? Will he have a place on the club in 2016?
We know that Howie Kendrick is not returning, (Update) (Kendrick is returning, according to Ken Rosenthal) and the Dodgers resigned Chase Utley this winter. Between Kendrick, Utley, and Enrique Hernandez the Dodgers are covered at second base. Of course rookie wonder boy Corey Seager has finally grasped the shortstop position, and Justin Turner will be manning the hot corner again.
We can reasonably expect for Utley to receive the majority of the time at second base. I think he’ll probably split time with Kike, as the banana man is better served as a super utility guy that can fill in all around the diamond at second, short, and center field. The question I have is who’s going to be the second reserve infielder?
This is where Guerrero could come into play. The Dodgers will need another infielder that can backup at short and third in case Seager or Turner get hurt and or need days off. The Dodgers will be looking at a few guys as bench pieces this spring. This will likely pit Guerrero against non-roster invites Elian Herrera, Charlie Culberson, and third string catcher Austin Barnes. Guerrero has to have the advantage over them despite his second half struggles last season.
In 230 plate appearances last year Guerrero posted a .233/.261/.434 (51 for 219) slash line with 11 home runs and 36 runs batted in. The problem was that Guerrero’s on base skills were poor because of his lack of plate discipline. He walked just 7 times all year while striking out 57 times.
Looking at the numbers we can see that Guerrero swung at just 41.8% of pitches outside of the strike zone. So it’s not like he was chasing pitches outside the strike zone. His line drive percentage was 19.5% which is just below league average. It’s possible he had some bad luck, but lack of contact really hurt him. The big issue with Guerrero were his home/road splits. Guerrero was terrible at Dodger Stadium but hit very well on the road. Just how big of a split? Check it out
Guerrero at home –
122 PA .172/.197/.345 (20 for 116) 5 HR 17 RBI .542 OPS
Guerrero on the road –
108 PA .301/.333/.534 (31 for 103) 6 HR 19 RBI .867 OPS
That’s over a hundred point difference in batting between his home and road stats. I don’t know why he hits so much better on the road. Maybe he doesn’t see the ball well at Dodger Stadium?
His defense was always the weak part of his game. Defensive metrics rated him very poorly at third base and in left field. It’s hard to see him getting much if any time in the outfield next season unless something goes very wrong. Remember when he got off to that hot start in April and the Dodgers played him in left field in order to get his bat in the lineup?
Indeed Guerrero’s April was very good. He batted .423 (11 for 26) with 5 home runs in the month of April. Then he hit .239 in May, .220 in June and went 2 for 22 in July.
There was no way that Guerrero was going to be able to sustain his hot April start. We know he was going to come back to Earth and eventually the league was going to adjust. Guerrero never got back on track after that. Nor did he get enough playing time to make those adjustments.
The Dodgers could always end up trading him, but he could still play an important role for the Dodgers for infield depth. He can play second, short, and third. He’s still young and he has power. I still like him as a power bat off the bench. If he can work on his on-base skills then he could become more valuable than you think.