Dodgers News: Roberts Expands on How Miguel Rojas Can Get Better in 2023
Earlier this week, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he thinks there’s potential for shortstop Miguel Rojas to be a better offensive player than he’s been for most of his career. With Gavin Lux out for the season with a torn ACL, the bulk of the playing time at short will fall to Rojas, so extra offense from him would be nice.
On Thursday, Roberts was asked if there were specific things Los Angeles is working on with Rojas’s swing or approach this spring, and Roberts acknowledged that some of the veteran’s struggles in 2022 might have been related to an injury to his hand and wrist that he battled the last half of the season.
“I think there’s some of that – the hand and wrist. I think there’s a little bit of understanding count leverage and using the lower half to move the baseball a little bit more. He has the bat to ball, always had it. He has a two-strike approach, that’s already kind of baked into who he is. But when you get count leverage you can take some shots. But I do believe that with the lack of the shift, the ball in play is going to benefit him a lot.”
The comment about the shift is very interesting. Three things are immune to the shift: homers, walks, and strikeouts. Those are the three things Rojas doesn’t do much. So these shift restrictions, which were designed to increase offense, seem specifically tailored to him, a guy who puts the ball in play a lot.
The big question will be whether Rojas can hit the ball hard enough to take advantage of the new holes in the infield. His hard-hit percentage was down to 27.1% last year, his lowest percentage since 2018. If he can get back to the 32.8% he had between 2020 and 2021, mix in the shift restrictions and you could see his batting average jump from last year’s .236 up closer to .280-.290. And if he’s hitting better, his walks will increase, too, as pitchers won’t attack him quite as aggressively.
No matter how you slice it, Rojas will probably be an offensive downgrade from what Lux would have provided, but if the Dodgers can squeeze a little more offense out of him, it could be a less drastic drop than we’ve feared.
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