The Dodgers had a remarkable season in 2016. Despite being unable to win a National League pennant and that nasty World Series drought reaching 29 years and counting, the Dodgers still had an incredible season for all accounts. The club set the record for most players on a disabled list, and most days lost to the disabled list for any major league club yet still won the NL West and reached the NLCS.
For the record the Dodgers once had their entire starting rotation (Clayton Kershaw included) on the disabled list and still finished with a 91-71 record and won their fourth consecutive NL West title by 4 games over the Giants. Of course they did have some help along the way, such as the Giant’s huge second-half collapse. Yet they still found themselves facing the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. It was unbelievable.
The top two clubs in the National League were the Cubs and the Washington Nationals. The Dodgers came in at a close third place, and the Giants and Mets were wild cards. The Cubs won 103 games, and Washington won 95. Both clubs were going to be difficult to beat. The Dodgers were able to knock off the Nationals during an emotionally draining and exhausting 5-game playoff series that saw the Dodgers come from behind to win the final two games.
So there the Dodgers were, in the NLCS and playing those daunting Cubs. And you know what? The Dodgers played them tough. As a matter of fact the Dodgers won two of the first three games and had a 2-1 series lead before they folded up like a beach chair. It’s fair to say the Dodgers got tired. The Cubs were just a little bit better. Well ok, the Cubs are an amazingly tough team. They are exceptionally good.
The Dodgers played them well though. The series went 6 games as the Cubs were forced to clinch the series at home. Just imagine if Joe Blanton had not given up that grand slam home run to Miguel Montero when game 1 was tied at 3-3. What if the Dodgers had won the first three games and had a 3-0 series lead? I guess we’ll never know.
So why am I bringing this up? Dave Cameron of Fangraphs wrote a very interesting article about the Logan Forsythe trade. It’s an interesting perspective about comparing Forsythe and Brian Dozier, and asking why the Dodgers made the trade.
For the record I do think that Dozier is a superior player right now. No disrespect towards Forsythe though. As I have previously written, I think he is a sure handed solid hitting second baseman. Forsythe is a respectable yet not flashy player. Comparing the two second baseman is not like comparing apples to oranges. Dozier is a better player in terms of raw power, speed and base running. Just three years ago Forsythe was basically a utility player. Once he reached Tampa Bay he turned his career around and two good seasons later he’s being traded to the Dodgers.
The Dodgers had to give up one of their best pitching prospects to get him though. Jose De Leon is projected to be a very strong pitcher. Possibly a top of the rotation guy. There is talk that he needs to better develop his third and fourth pitches, but for now he looks to be talented and full of promise. We saw a glimpse of his talent last September in a spot start against the Padres. Sure enough De Leon showed his power pitching striking out 9 Padres hitters and showed impressive presence on the mound.
Cameron asks the question that some of us have been wondering. The Dodgers couldn’t work out a deal with the Twins for Dozier. So why did they give up De Leon for Forsythe? Considering that Dozier is a superior player? I think I know the answer to that. The answer is Kike Hernandez.
The Dodgers couldn’t work out a trade for Dozier. The Twins were asking for too much, or perhaps the Dodgers did not want to part with some of the other top prospects that could be considered more valuable. They did not want to trade Cody Bellinger who is the heir apparent to Adrian Gonzalez at first base. They did not want to part with Yadier Alvarez, or Walker Buehler. They didn’t want to trade Alex Verdugo, or even Brock Stewart.
The reason the Dodgers traded Jose De Leon for Logan Forsythe is because they had a huge gigantic hole at second base and if they didn’t fill it with a decent major league caliber second baseman then they would be stuck with nothing more than a .190 hitting utility banana man at second base. For that I am grateful for Logan Forsythe.
As Cameron noted the Dodgers traded from a position of strength, (pitching depth) in order to save them from the sure failure of a Kike Hernandez keystone platoon. It doesn’t look like toolsy prospect Willie Calhoun is ready, and the only other options are Chris Taylor, Charlie Culberson, or unknown Cuban defector Jose Miguel Fernandez. Starting Hernandez at second base would make them considerably weaker.
The Dodgers were just two wins away from the World Series. Championship clubs do not have a second baseman that bats under the Mendoza line. In contrast the Cubs’ second baseman Ben Zobrist batted .272 and posted an .831 OPS. Zobrist blasted 18 home runs and walked 96 times. Logan Forsythe is an enormous improvement over Kike Hernandez or any of the other castoffs the Dodgers had lingering around for second base. The Dodgers can probably afford to lose Jose De Leon and thank goodness they can.