Scott Van Slyke - Dustin Nosler ST 2014

Scott Van Slyke: Extra-base hit machine

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Scott Van Slyke has some of the best power on the Dodgers. (By: Dustin Nosler)

A couple years ago, Scott Van Slyke was pretty much an afterthought. He was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. No team took a flyer on him. Now, it seems the Dodgers were quite lucky for that.

Van Slyke hit the then-go-ahead home run in the second game of the Dodgers’ doubleheader against the Twins on Thursday night. It was his third of the season, and the power is real.

On opening day in Australia, Van Slyke drew the start and hit a double that would have been a home run in the Northern Hemisphere and a wind-blown home run in his next at-bat (so things evened out). He’s been “on” since that day, and the numbers back it up.

In 43 plate appearances, Van Slyke is hitting .309/.419/.722(!) with three home runs, four doubles, one triple and a .381 isolated power mark (league-average is .145). Eight of his 11 hits have gone for extra bases, and 15 of his 31 hits in 2013 were of the extra-base variety. When he gets a hit, he makes it count.

He has also improved his plate discipline this season. It’s a small sample size, but he’s walking in 16.3 percent of the time and is only striking out about 4 percent more than his career mark — more than worth it, considering the increased power.

Van Slyke has been worth 0.7 wins above replacement in 16 games. He was worth 0.8 WAR in 53 games (152 plate appearances) last season. There is value in this guy’s bat, which makes it even more infuriating when Don Mattingly refuses to use him late in games at times — especially in place of Carl Crawford and Andre Etheir against left-handers.

This season, he has a 1.399 OPS against lefties. That isn’t a typo. But he’s just 2-for-12 against righties this season, which also isn’t a typo. But, he owns a career .727 OPS against righties, so he could be more than just a lefty masher, if the Dodgers need him to be (i.e. Crawford and Ethier are injured/traded and Joc Pederson isn’t on the team). But he fits perfectly fine as a weapon against those pesky left-handers.

Van Slyke rededicated himself to baseball after, admittedly, he didn’t take the game seriously in his first couple seasons in the minors. Now, he’s one of the more valuable bench pieces in all of baseball. Seriously, if there were a “Sixth Man” award in baseball, he’d be the early leader in the clubhouse.

Much has been written about the Dodgers’ four-outfielder problem. Van Slyke and Pederson are making it a six-outfielder problem. Van Slyke, coupled with whomever is sitting on a day between Crawford and Ethier (and, on the rare occasion, Matt Kemp), head a pretty decent bench.

Oh, and he has a 70-grade mountain man beard working this season. That doesn’t hurt things.


About

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called “Dugout Blues.” He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.


786 comments
P_F_P
P_F_P

Everyone be ready with the "thanks for that anyone useful" screencap for the flurry of "who's going to start Sunday" ideas.

efb
efb

I WANT POST TO TELL ME EVERYTHIN GIS OK

BlueMarvin
BlueMarvin

This is why I didn't like the Maholm signing.  We're in better shape with Maholm than if we had added nobody, but man, I wanted someone better than him because I was pretty fucking sure we'd need that extra starter.  He's been solid enough so far but, he'll career average out when used for extended periods and that's just not awesome.

juanhenry
juanhenry

I went yo the feminine club to try tp meet girlls today. Dammit Ryu

moneynow27
moneynow27

Didn't Withrow start in another life?  Can we stretch him out to go 5?

DBrim
DBrim moderator

Going to be Fife on Sunday I think.

efb
efb

Is Mike writing a post right now?

moneynow27
moneynow27

How does Figgins spell Uribe?  Ok, all together, U-R-I-B-E

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

LOL. Red Patterson is going to get DFAed isn't he

moneynow27
moneynow27

And I'll be at Sunday's game in Miami, so I get to watch Jose Fernandez vs. a scrub pitcher like Magill?

efb
efb

So rotation will be? Kersh, Greinke, Haren, Beckett, Maholm 

efb
efb

Shoulda picked up Tanaka

efb
efb

If this was serious.. we would have heard earlier right? there would have been doctor vists etc. someone tell me something good

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

So wait, who in the bloody hell starts on Sunday

efb
efb

probably nothing serious 

P_F_P
P_F_P

hahaha nm just gettin around the spam filter

BlueMarvin
BlueMarvin

@efb We're replacing Ryu's inconsistency with Kershaw.  It's OK.

P_F_P
P_F_P

@juanhenry  I don't get what the first sentence has to do with the second

DBrim
DBrim moderator

No.

LA_Woman
LA_Woman

@efb ***IF***?!?! WTF? (Hope that's his version of Vin's "He's day to day. And aren't we all?"

MFYG
MFYG

@efb  yeah it only took like an hour after last night's game to get teh news that Matt Kemp suxxxxxx now

BlueMarvin
BlueMarvin

@efb Nope, Bills kind of came out of nowhere last time if I recall.  No?

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

@efb  yeah that's why it took 18 hours for us to get the news on AJ

PagansOedipalComplex
PagansOedipalComplex

I don't know, I'd feel better if he didn't already have Tommy John surgery

DBrim
DBrim moderator

Clock, routine, etc etc