Positional Preview 2018: Right Field

For today’s position preview we hop into right field. That’s where enigmatic and flashy Yasiel Puig roams free. The Dodgers have tried to reel him in over the last several years. To Puig’s credit he reportedly matured in 2017. His prolific antics were more silly and entertaining than controversial last season. Puig has always been a silly guy anyways, but you all know this already. Puig did mature on and off the field as his bounce back season was a big boon for the Dodger lineup.

Whether the Dodgers were successful in taming the Wild Horse is subjective, but we can still admire the amount of work Puig put in to get back to the level he was at in 2017. Despite Puig’s improved power and plate discipline it’s still important to note that his batting and on-base skills are still nowhere near the levels they were when he first broke into the majors with the Dodgers in 2013-2014. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look and compare his batting lines and on-base numbers from those years to last year.

2013 – .319/.391/.534 OPS+ 159

2014- .296/.382/.480 OPS+ 145

2017 .263/.346/.487 OPS+ 118

As you can see his batting and on-base numbers have dipped about 50 points from those early years. I don’t know what the exact reason for the decline is. The on-base percentages are what worry me the most. However the good news is that Puig drew 64 walks in 2017 which was the most since his 2014 season when he collected 67 free passes. Keep in mind that Puig had 131 hits last year, 34 less in comparison to his 2014 season in which he got 165 hits. However his isolated power mark of .224 was the best of his career. Thanks in part to him belting 28 home runs and driving in 74 runs over his 570 plate appearances. Increased power was the name of the game for Puig in 2017. He also was pretty durable last year as he played in 152 games. He also swiped 15 bags on the base paths.

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Postseason

Puig had a terrific NLDS against Arizona. In that series he batted .455 (5 for 11) with a double, triple and four runs batted in. He excelled in the NLCS against Chicago as well. He batted .389 (7 for 18) with 6 runs scored, 1 home run and 4 walks. Unfortunately he disappeared in the World Series. He batted just .148 (4 for 27) during the fall classic. He did crush two important home runs though.

Defense

Puig continues to display fantastic defense and it’s easy to see why many people consider him to be one of the best defensive right fielders in the game. It’s not just his cannon for an arm, but his range and glove work are all top notch. Puig registered 18 defensive runs saved above average and then also tallied a +12 total zone fielding runs above average. He was foolishly snubbed for a gold glove but was honored with a Wilson award as he took home a defensive player of the year award. It was well deserved. The Dodgers were also named the top defensive club of the year.

Trade Rumors swirled

Even though Puig was pretty awesome in 2017, the Dodgers still had discussions of trading the 27-year old. As a matter of fact they had a theoretic swap with the Red Sox for Jackie Bradley Jr. on the docket, but Boston declined the offer. If the Dodgers don’t end up moving him, they’ll enjoy two more seasons under team control before Puig can test the free agent waters. The final year is an arbitration year before Puig can officially file for free agency in 2020. Puig is due to earn 9.2 million dollars in 2018.

The Dodgers may decide to trade Puig in the near future, but I think we’re all glad that they haven’t. Not only is the guy super talented, but he’s entertaining as all heck. He’s another big power bat in the middle of the Dodger’s order with a cannon arm that plays superlative outfield defense. It should behoove the Dodgers to keep him around for a while.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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19 thoughts on “Positional Preview 2018: Right Field

  1. I could not believe he was not on the top 10 RF list. The guy is very talented. He also has the best arm out there I have seen since Raul Mondesi. Dodgers in serious discussions with Chase Utley.

    1. Mr. Norris
      The Dodgers might be in serious discussions with Chase Utley but I feel that it is extremely unlikely that many will get very excited about this revelation. Will the Dodgers ever have discussions about a TOP TIER player. I think not unless someone other than FAZ is in charge.

      1. I think they discuss a lot of things, including Top Tier players. Then they go out and sign guys like Utley and McKazderson.

        Utley is probably a good guy to have around – as a coach. He projects at most 250-300 AB’s, about .240/.314/.393. He was a 1.3 fWAR player as a 38 year old. Can he do it again? Maybe. Not exactly a galvanizing signing if they do it.

        1. Badger

          Utley had better offensive numbers, then Forsythe had.

          I love Chase, but I was hoping we would give one of our young infielders, that hit leftie, a chance this year.

          Because Chase wares out at the end of the year, and we don’t know that Forsythe will hit righties any better this year.

    2. As you know, rightfield is an offensive
      position, and although Puig had his best offensive year in a while, he isn’t a top offensive player, for a rightfielder.

      Judge and Stanton are the top two guys, and Mookie Betts and Harper are three and four.

      But they have Josh Reddick on this list, and I would take Puig over him any day, so that is a crock.

      I am surprised Puig OBP is not higher, but his OBP isn’t bad, and if he continued to bat eighth, I am sure it would have been even higher.

    1. Badger

      I said Utley had better offensive numbers then Forsythe, not war.

      But Forsythe is making quite a bit more money then Chase, for having the same war value.

      I am still amazed Forsythe had good enough defensive numbers, to even have a positive war value.

      Because I don’t see him having the range that top defensive second baseman have, but that might be about the defensive shifts, because that has helped a couple of Dodgers, to have better defensive numbers.

      And I am not saying Forsythe is a bad defensive player, I just don’t see him as an elite defensive player at second.

      1. I don’t follow you MJ. Better numbers? Better how? Neither of them were very good offensively. Utley with an OPS+ 92, Forsythe with an OPS+ of 82, Utley hit .012 higher, but Forsythe had a higher OBP. Using the metrics they were equal offensively. Forsythe is 9 years younger so chances are he will be better this year but neither of them are all that. Somebody on the team has to hit at the bottom of our order and whoever we have playing second base is that guy.

        1. Badger

          Chase had more extra base hits, and more HRs, then Forsythe had, and Forsythe had 60 more at bats.

          Chase’s OPS was in the 700s, and Forsythe’s OPS was in the 600s.

          And an OPS lower then 700, is considered below average.

          And you have to remember Chase was coming off the bench, and not getting the consistent at bats, like Forsythe.

          And I don’t consider it a talent to pick up a lot of walks, batting eighth, like Forsythe did.

          And that is where Forsythe got most of his OBP.

          And I think his over patience, to try to have a good OBP, also caused him to strike out way to much, because he was down with two strikes, way to often.

          He a struck out an enormous amount of times, without having very many extra base hits, or HRs.

          Forsythe slugged in the 300s, and that is definitely way below average.

          I am not advocating Chase to be our second baseman, I am just claiming, that Forsythe was a very weak offensive player.

          I hope he can turn it around, and hit righties this year, because he gives Turner his days off.

          But he has only had two good offensive seasons, in his entire career, so we really don’t know what he is going to do, against righties this year.

          1. I would recommend you read the splits. Utley was used primarily as a platoon player. He only had 24 at bats against same side pitching. Forsythe had ten times that many.

            There is a reason why they graded equally offensively.

          2. Forsythe had a high .ObP before he got moved to 8th. Puig was hitting there early and Forsythe didn’t bat 8th vs lefties.

    2. Badger

      That was a good article!

      But when they compared Harper’s arm to Puig’s arm, they just used the velocity of both players throws.

      And as you probably know, part of Puig’s great arm, is the fact he throws and releases his throws, like an infielder, so he releases his throws quicker then most outfielders.

      I think they need to check a player like Mookie Betts, first ten steps or first ten feet for speed, because the other measure they are using, isn’t practical for a smaller player like Betts.

      Because I think shorter people have a quicker first ten feet, then taller people.

      It isn’t only instinct with Betts on defense, he probably gets a quicker start to balls.

      And because of that, he gets to many more balls, then Puig or Heyward, and that is why he has many more defensive runs saved, compared to Puig and Heyward, every year.

      I wasn’t surprised that Puig is not as fast as he once was, because I think most players speed discreases a little, from when they were 25 or younger.

      1. In general athletes peak years are ages 23-30. There is no reason why Puig, at 27, can’t run fast. As fast as last year or the year before? Maybe not, but smarts and jumps are just as important as speed. Apparently there is a list of players who grade out better than Puig in right field. I really don’t care about that. If he does this year what he did last year I’ll be happy with him. He should be a 3-4 WAR player for another 5 years if he keeps his head out of his ass.

        1. Badger

          I agree with everything you said.

          Except I thought you said, an athlete’s peak four years started younger, then what you posted here.

          That article was the source that said Puig is not as fast, as he once was.

          No one said Puig wasn’t fast.

          I don’t think Michael would like it, if Puig kept his head out of his A, because Michael is entertained, by anything Puig does, bad or good.

          1. You thought I said an athlete’s peak years started at 19? Dwight Gooden’s did. LeBron was pretty good at 19. I had a Physiology professor tell me we start approaching senility after 18. But most of the better MLB players peak between 23-30.

      2. Badger

        Thanks, I didn’t check that.

        But I guess it is more important what Forsythe did against righties, because he isn’t going to be a platoon player, like Chase.

  2. First off, no way Reddick is anywhere close to Puig defensively. Reddick more than proved that when he was in LA. As for Puig, I think he is finally getting it and Turner Ward is the reason. I honestly believe we will see more improvement from the Wild Horse.

    1. Michael

      Reddick will come way back to earth, way before that contract the Astros gave him, ends.

      And I don’t think Reddick even broke the atmosphere.

      And we all know that!

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