Obviously, A.J. Pollock’s 2019 postseason was complete disaster. Furthermore, Pollock’s entire 2019 campaign was rather ordinary in the wake of signing a five-year, $50 million dollar contract with Los Angeles in January.
Pollock’s statistics in the 2019 NLDS – or lack thereof – are rather easy to review and put in plain view in tweet below. Notably, Pollock tallied just a 0.2 bWAR in 86 games for the Dodgers in the 2019 regular season.
Equally important, Pollock is due $15 million in 2020 — a raise from his $4 million contract number this past season. Therefore it’s worth asking the question, will A.J. Pollock be a Dodger in 2020?
AJ Pollock is yes, right handed and was, yes, facing left handed reliever Sean Doolittle. AJ Pollock’s postseason stat line is:
0 for 13. I believe something like 11 of those are strikeouts.
He struck out to start the 10th. pic.twitter.com/N32zcZNwiY
— river buddy butcher ? (@rivbutcher) October 10, 2019
Beyond the obvious rash of rather short-term memory emotions, there are several things that complicate the answer.
Pollock Is A Defensive Liability
First and foremost is looking at Pollock with the glove, and not the bat. Remember, A.J. Pollock was signed to be the Dodgers’ center fielder. Indeed, when the Dodgers took him aboard as a free agent; part of the package they were getting included a player who won a Gold Glove award in 2015 in center.
Now, a case can be made that Pollock is the fifth best player at that spot on the current roster. Arguably, here are the players in a tight spot one should want to see based on recent defensive metrics:
- Cody Bellinger
- Alex Verdugo
- Chris Taylor
- Kiké Hernandez
Then, if your hand is forced; you likely play Pollock in center. Moreover, Pollock was -1.0 dWAR in the outfield in 2019. While this was the first time in his career it occurred, the 31-year old was relegated to left field by season’s end due to decreased range.
Finally, with a startling lack of versatility; your options are limited with Pollock moving forward. He will enter his age-32 season as a player who can only play left field. Currently, there are few if any Dodgers players who dot the roster than can really only play one position. For those you can name, they are able to provide their value offensively.
Can Pollock Hit Enough To Justify His Contract?
While he didn’t entirely fall of a cliff until the 2019 postseason, there’s reason for pause on Pollock offensively. While batted ball data profiles don’t show anything alarming for Pollock in 2019, he simply didn’t ‘wow’ with the bat this past season.
Pollock’s slugging, on-base, and subsequent OPS were below his career averages in all three categories. Additionally, he was once a double-digit base stealer, but it looks like the sunset has come upon. This past year Pollock managed to steal only five bases after stealing at least 12 and as many as 39 during every semi-full season since 2013. Although Pollock avoided a complete statistical collapse on paper in 2019, he basically treaded water.
Simply put, players aren’t usually huge rebound candidates in their age-32 season. Certainly if it happens, players at that age aren’t expected to string together three or even two of those types of seasons consecutively. With two of the three tools that made him so valuable coming into the contract (glove, speed) and a third tool looking to be waning, is Pollock worth the risk in 2020 at $15 million?
As always, we will let you decide.
State Your Case: Is Pollock at Dodger in 2020?
Finally, it’s time to decide if Pollock is in a Dodgers uniform in 2020. You’re the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s November, and it’s time to have a conversation with your internal scouts about A.J. Pollock.
First, you need to decide whether or not you keep Pollock at all. With D.J. Peters on the rise rapidly in the minor leagues, and the current cast we all know in the outfield; can Pollock provide you with enough value to be on the roster in 2020?
Second, if you have decided you want to end the Pollock experiment altogether. You look to trade Pollock for a minimal return (those other scouting departments saw those postseason at-bats, too) and likely be forced to eat around 50 percent of the contract. Then, you would risk paying another team to take him off your hands and let them gamble with less to lose on the rebound candidate.
After signing Pollock, you’re limited in your options moving forward. What is the best course of action in dealing with the contract he’s signed to, and what do you see happening in 2020? Let us know in the comments.