Sunday, July 22, 2018
In Defense of Logan Forsythe
I have to be honest and say that the outline of this piece was written before Logan Forsythe's three hit game today. The timing of Forsythe's best offensive game this season was appropriate, though it's not as if one day's performance that included a hit off a position player would change anyone's opinion on him.
So I'll be the voice of contrary opinion and say that Logan Forsythe can be a valuable member of this ball club. Not only as a defensive rock in a Dodger infield that has its flaws, but as a veteran influence that will deliver and be a valuable piece in this post season run.
Dave Roberts plugs him into the lineup almost everyday and unnoticed by the masses is that Forsythe makes both the routine and difficult defensive plays day after day. Defensive metrics tell the baseball world he has regressed this year with the glove. I don't see it. Metrics told us that Machado was a statue at shortstop, and then we saw unbelievable defense today.
If there are flaws with sabermetric stats, it's on the defensive end of the spectrum. My eyes see a hard hit ball in Forsythe's direction, and usually he comes up big. Can the same be said about infield play by Muncy, Taylor and Hernandez? Let's put it this way. If a spectacular play needs to be made, which Dodger player do you want the ball hit to? I'd put my money on Forsythe over just about any Dodger player outside of Bellinger.
Defensive metrics list his dWAR at 0.1, a significant regression over his career high dWAR in 2017 that was 1.2. This statistical fall off is caused primarily by inconsistent play and 4 errors committed at third base. As the season progresses and his innings in the field increase, these numbers are bound to improve.
I'm not of the position that it is time to let the club's best defensive infielder loose. There is a value to a steady glove down the stretch. There have been players on championship clubs in in the past that served a purpose with steady defensive play, even if they brought little to the team with the bat. Cesar Geronimo with the Big Red machine in the 70s Reds, (two championships and four pennants). Mark Belanger served as a defensive strength around his teammates in Baltimore from the late 60s into the 80s. (one Championship, four pennants). Even the Dodgers of the 70s-80s rode out a long stretch with one dimensional Steve Yeager behind the plate. He was hardly a threat with the bat, but arguably the best defensive catcher in the game during his prime.
With regard to Forsythe's offensive production. He has struggled more than any season he has experienced thus far. He has had reduced playing time, which is undoubtedly a factor. His OBP has decreased due to his failure to keep up with the walks he drew last season. There are those that are quick to criticize him for taking too many pitches. This has probably resulted by his attempt to replicate lat season;s .351 OBP. After todays' game, Logan's OBP is at .280, hardly acceptable but it is a number that is steadily rising in his three games since the break. Perhaps we are starting to see a change in his fortunes.
Are we so quick to forget last year's post season? Forsythe's .425 on base percentage over 14 games was second best on the club (of those with regular playing time). He was amongst the team leaders in several offensive categories. When it was time to shine, Forsythe delivered much more consistently than other Dodger starters. His value in post season play is something that should not be overlooked.
It will be interesting to see if the recently concluded Milwaukee series serves as a catalyst to Forsythe's season. Sitting under the Mendoza line for most of the year, Logan has emerged from the All Star break raising his average to .219. That five day break may have been what the doctor ordered, It certainly will be interesting to see if he's able to go on that offensive run that has been missing all season.