2020 Dodgers spring training preview: infield

first_img Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start center_img As the Dodgers head toward the first workout of spring training on Feb. 14, we are providing a breakdown of how they stand with their roster by position groups. Today, the infield. (Previously, the rotation, the bullpen and the catchers):2019 RECAPCorey Seager returned from Tommy John and hip surgeries to start 125 games at shortstop. He tied for the league lead with 44 doubles and his other offensive numbers – a .272 batting average, 19 home runs and an .817 OPS – approached his pre-surgery production. Max Muncy had a terrific follow-up to his revelatory 2018 season, finishing behind only Cody Bellinger on the team in home runs (35), RBIs (98), on-base percentage (.374) and OPS (.889) and becoming a central figure in the Dodgers’ lineup while splitting time between first, second and third base (giving the Dodgers flexibility to start veteran David Freese at first base against left-handed pitching). Limited by a fractured wrist at the start of the 2018 season, third baseman Justin Turner had a largely healthy season in 2019 and appeared in 135 games, his highest total since 2016. Though his defensive metrics have declined the past two years, Turner’s offensive production and clubhouse leadership remain critical to the Dodgers. He hit .290 with an .881 OPS last year and matched his career-high with 27 home runs. Bellinger’s MVP season was spent primarily in the outfield.HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOWThe Dodgers flirted with a significant makeover this winter. But Francisco Lindor remains a Cleveland Indian and Seager is still the Dodgers’ incumbent at shortstop. After tearing up Triple-A pitching last summer, Gavin Lux made his big-league debut in September and showed the Dodgers enough that including him in a trade for Lindor (or perhaps Boston outfielder Mookie Betts) was a deal-breaker. Instead, pencil Lux in as the Dodgers’ primary second baseman in 2020 with Muncy likely to see more time at first base than second. The Dodgers also briefly pursued free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon and approached Turner about a possible position switch from third to first. That doesn’t look necessary now.THE NEXT LAYERUtilitymen Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernandez return as the first line of defense should any of the front-line infielders get injured. With Freese having retired, Tyler White could emerge as a right-handed alternative at first base. Edwin Rios saw major-league time last season and showed some of his offensive upside with a .277 average and four home runs in 47 at-bats. Zach McKinstry was added to the 40-man roster this winter after hitting .382 in a brief stint in Triple-A. He fits the Dodgers’ fondness for multi-position players and could see big-league time at some point this year. With Lux graduating to the majors, Jeter Downs ranks as the Dodgers’ top infield prospect. The 21-year-old should reach Triple-A this year. Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco MOVE THEY COULD MAKESeager’s aggressive approach at the plate goes against the grain of a Dodgers’ lineup that focuses on extending at-bats and running up pitch counts. His 3.53 pitches per plate appearance was the lowest among Dodgers regulars last season. That could explain the Dodgers’ openness to trading the 25-year-old two years before he reaches free agency. Turner is entering the final year of his contract so a move across the diamond is still possible if a midseason addition makes it necessary. But with the Lindor speculation cooled, the Dodgers’ infield mix is likely set for now.Related Articleslast_img

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