Thursday, February 23, 2012
How Much Playing Time Will Tony Gwynn Jr. See This Year?
136 games, 340 plate appearances. That is the in game action that Tony Gwynn Jr. saw last year. His role was valuable, and often times as a late inning replacement or pinch hitter. By my count, Dan Mattingly used him in that role for 70 games last season, meaning he was written into the starting lineup only 66 times.
That’s a role Gwynn will fill again this year, unless the team is plagued with injuries, Tony most likely won’t see as much action. Why? Well there are too many outfielders: Kemp, Ethier, Sands, Rivera and then there is Hairston that can move out there in a pinch too.
Tony was valued as a defensive replacement, a role I see him continuing to play in 2012. Though his UZR reduced substantially from his lead leading numbers the year before, I certainly didn't visibly notice a deterioration in his defensive range and overall skill out there. Gwynn mostly saw action in left field where he saved a game or two with some spectacular defensive plays as recorded by Bobby Crosby at Dodgerfilms on April 29th.
Entering into last season’s 2011 campaign, all of us would have been happy with the numbers Gwynn gave us especially after awful 2010 season with the Padres:
340 PA, 37 R , 80 H, 12 2B, 6 3B, 2 HR, .256 AVG, 22/28 SB, .308 OBP
Gwynn proved to be a valuable addition not only as a defensive replacement, but as a guy that could provide speed on the base paths as a pinch runner and with the occasional pinch hit. Twenty two stolen bags at a 79% success rate was more than we ever could have expected from Gwynn, who is 29 this year. Then there are the intangible values of Tony that he brings to the clubhouse. Positives that are immeasurable and they even included Tony Sr’s presence that was helpful to such vets as Matt Kemp.
Had Gwynn delivered and convinced Prince Fielder to sign with the club, he would have been even more influential, by bringing another solid piece to the team. We had read about it this week. He certainly tried. It is no secret that their friendship influenced Fielder in seriously looking at the Dodgers. It wasn’t to be, but it was closer than we thought.
Overall - I’m happy that Gwynn as a Dodger. I think he is an ideal reserve outfielder because of his defense, speed, knowledge and presence. Last but not least, having once been a San Diego resident enduring the constant Dodger loathing from the Padre faithful, I get extra joy in knowing that it must be really hacking off Friar fans that Gwynn is thriving in Dodger blue.