Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

There's Room for Four in This Outfield

Let’s say that the Dodgers go into the season with something that they only had for two games out of 162 last season: a team with four healthy starting outfielders.

Is it possible to keep all four of the happy with enough playing time?

I say there is room for all four.  And "no," there wont be a need for the rules of the game to change to allow a rover in the outfield.  All of them need some rest, and history is showing that.  All four will benefit from days off as well.

Andre Ethier providing mentoring to Dodger rookie phenom, Yasiel Puig. (photo by USA Today Sports)

The man that will start almost every day is Yasiel Puig.  He’ll cover right field and in the course of the season, he’ll bash into walls and collide with other players.  He’ll overthrow the occasional base and cut off man, AND he’ll make tons of  highlight reel plays to provide enough material for an hourlong ESPN Sports Center show.  Puig will get hurt.  Hopefully it’ll be a minor bruise now and then and general soreness that is an aftereffect of his reckless play.  So I figure we can count on Puig starting 145 games, maybe less.  Ethier can play the remainder of games in right.

Then there’s Kemp in center field.  Matt just may start the season on the D.L.  Hopefully that’s not the case, but with his ankle issue and the shoulder surgery recovery it’ll be a long road to 100% health for him.  Why push things when the Dodgers have the luxury of extra outfielders?  As fans we really need to hold off on clamoring for his quick return.  Kemp needs to heal because when he’s healthy, he one of the best players in the game. I still believe that, I really do.  Matt Kemp at 75% of what he was in 2011 will be a godsend.

So with that said, I believe that Kemp starts 120 games, and probably misses the first month of play.  If the Dodgers are smart, they will make sure he heals completely before rushing him back.  Kemp won’t be the guy that goes out there and plays everyday as he did a few years back.  It’ll be wise to sit him at least once a week.  Now that we know that Ethier is adequate in CF, that decision becomes easier.  Matt's a stubborn fellow, so Mattingly will have to have a heart to heart chat with him and make sure he goes along with the program.  I think he has the maturity to accept the plan. 

Kemp and Crawford hope to find the 2014 season to be healthy for them both (photo by US Presswire) 
Carl Crawford finally started to see his power return in the final month of last season.  His post season leading 4 dingers were a welcome sight.  He needs his days off and leading off adds additional stress to his aging body, but I see Crawford starting every four games or so.  It’ll be wise to sit him a few times a week to keep him healthy.  Ethier can spell him in left on those days days he sits.

Andre Ethier is the player that will need to be the most flexible of the four outfielders.  That isn’t an easy chore for Mattingly either, because he’s the most tempermental of the bunch, but I’ll argue that he’s the most versatile of the crew.  He’ll play all three outfield positions, and that makes him valuable.  Try to put Puig or Crawford into Centerfield and that’s a recipe for disaster.

Ethier can cover for Puig 15 games in right, add another 45 games in left to spell Crawford and 40-45 in CF while Kemp rests and recovers, that gives Ethier in the neighborhood of 105-110 games of action.  Frankly, that’s enough and it could really help his numbers simply with the fact that he’ll face less left handed pitchers.  For years we have been saying that Ethier would be a valuable platoon player to face only righties.  Now, this might actually come to be.

All the talk of dealing off one of the four outfielders is something that really needs to be put on the backburner.  The Dodgers can have a great foursome out there with enough playing time for all of them if these guys put their pride aside and play team ball.  That’s a lot to ask of players trying to reach individual achievements in this day and age, but all these guys are getting paid big bucks. Perhaps they’ll leave their egos in the closet and go for the ultimate goal:  a world championship.  The outfield certainly has the makings of a championship caliber club, provided that this quartet has championship caliber attitudes.


  1. I'm guessing even more time will be available to Andre. Matt, Yasiel and Carl will most likely use up more DL time than that.

    Yasiel scares me in that at some point a collision with a wall will result in a major injury. A collision with another outfielder wouold cause a call to Joc Pederson.

    The fourth outfielder as a rover is a cool idea.

  2. IMO, it all comes down to maturity and if these guys can or will play for the good of the team !! They all have giant contracts so they don't have to prove anything for big bucks so it's time they buck up and do what it takes to be a team effort and win a WS !!