Logan Forsythe is coming off an up and down season in 2017. Fans had high expectations for the second baseman after he was acquired for highly touted prospect Jose De Leon. The Dodgers picked up Forsythe’s $8.5 million option for the 2018 season, but will he be the full-time starter at second?
Forsythe slashed .224/.351/.327 in 2017 with 6 home runs and 19 doubles. He drew a career-high 69 walks, which led to the great on-base percentage. However, his power that he displayed during the few seasons before he was acquired was not there. His .327 slugging percentage was the lowest mark since his rookie year, and his 6 home runs were a far cry from the 37 he hit between 2015 and 2016. Moving from the AL East to NL West could have played a role, but his slugging percentage was even lower in 2017 than it was when he was a Padre. Forsythe did end up being one of the Dodgers more reliable hitters during the postseason. He slashed .297/.435/.351 with 2 doubles, 6 RBIs and 2 stolen bases during the playoffs.
Forsythe got off to a hot start, hitting .295 in April, but wasn’t the same after an injury sidelined him until late May. One thing that plagued Forsythe throughout the season was his difficulty with right-handed pitching. Forsythe slashed just .190/.315/.262 against righties in 2017. The flip side was his dominance against left-handed pitching. He slashed .290/.418/.452 against southpaws. Forsythe has always been much better against left-handers in his career, but 2017 saw a dramatic difference in his splits.
In the midst of Logan’s struggles, he found himself in a platoon at second with Chase Utley. Utley also had a tough year, but gave the Dodgers more production against right-handed pitchers. One thing that Utley lacked was Forsythe’s defensive prowess, which was often missed during tough plays and double play situations. While Utley is unlikely to return to the Dodgers for the 2018 season, the Dodgers do still have internal options to platoon with Forsythe.
One option is Chris Taylor. Taylor is coming off a career year, hitting .288/.354/.496 with 21 home runs. He primarily played in the outfield in 2017, and is likely to return to that role unless the Dodgers were to acquire an outfielder. Taylor has played plenty of second base in his career, including 19 starts at the position in 2017. If the Dodgers don’t acquire an outfielder and Joc Pederson can’t replicate his postseason success, Taylor will likely stay in the outfield. However, he could be a prime candidate to get some reps at second base if the outfield does get more crowded.
In theory, another option at second is Kiké Hernandez. However, Hernandez does not make much sense as a platoon partner for Forsythe as he also struggles against right-handers. Against righties, Hernandez slashed just .159/.244/.255 but had much more success against lefties, slashing .270/.367/.579. While Hernandez will be a platoon player in 2018, he’ll more than likely get the bulk of his starts against lefties.
Austin Barnes is also an option for a second base platoon. While he got most of his starts at catcher in 2017, he does have plenty of experience in the infield. Offensively, he may represent the best option for a platoon. Barnes was nothing short of dominant against righties in 2017, slashing .321/.444/.459. If the Dodgers hold onto Yasmani Grandal and Kyle Farmer proves he can be a serviceable backup, Barnes could fill this role. However, Barnes would need to improve defensively. He may be the worst option at the position for defensive purposes, but if he improves his bat will make up the difference. This option could be gone if the Dodgers deal Grandal, which is a possibility. If that were to happen, Barnes would become the Dodgers full-time catcher.
Hopefully Forsythe figures out his issues with righties in 2018, but it’s good to know that the Dodgers have a couple options in case he doesn’t. We’ll see soon enough what the Dodgers plan is, but Forsythe will likely go into the season as the full-time starter.
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