2018 Season Review: Right Field

Last but not least, out season review for right field. The Dodgers had six different players play in right last season, but only two will be discussed here.

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Surprisingly, Dodger right fielders were pretty good at not striking out and pretty bad at drawing walks. That’s a bit of an outlier from most of the other position groups we’ve discussed here.

Yasiel Puig

2018 stats – .267/.327/.494, .820 OPS, 123 wRC+, .349 wOBA, 19.6 K%, 8.1 BB%, 1.8 fWAR

Another bit of an outlier for a team that prides itself on versatility. Puig hasn’t played a position other than right field since 2016. In 2017, Puig was one of the better defensive right fielders in the game. Last season, Puig wasn’t nearly as good defensively. He posted 6 DRS, down from 18 in 2017. In 2017, Puig registered a 14.3 UZR/150 and that decreased to a -6.0 UZR/150 last season.

Offensively, Puig upped his power in 2018. Despite taking more than 120 fewer plate appearances last season, Puig hit only five fewer dongs and nine fewer extra base hits overall than he did in 2017. Puig’s wOBA remained the same (.349), but his wRC increased from 117 to 123. After showing increased plate discipline in 2017, Puig reverted back to some old ways last season. His 19.6 K% and 8.1 BB% are both much closer to his career averages than they were in 2017.

The main issue with Puig, and a large factor in why he is no longer a Dodger, is that Puig lost playing time last season due to some pretty drastic reverse platoon splits. Despite hitting right handed, Puig dominated right-handed pitching and was borderline unplayable against lefties last season. His wRC+ against righties (150) was more than double his wRC+ against lefties (70). Against righties Puig OPS’d .921, which is just shy of Paul Goldschmidt‘s OPS last season. Puig OPS’d .632 against lefties, which is slightly higher than Jacoby Jones OPS’d last season. This isn’t a one-year phenomenon either, as Puig’s wRC+ against righties more than doubled his wRC+ against lefties in 2017 as well. Prior to 2017, Puig was as-good or better against lefties than righties, but he hasn’t shown much against lefties since 2016.

Of course, Puig had his share of incredible games/moment. He hit five dongs over a two-game stretch in St. Louis in September, a pivotal series in helping the Dodgers take the NL West. While Puig often has up-and-down regular seasons, he has a flare for the dramatic and usually brings it in the postseason.

Puig hit two of the three most important Dodger dongs of the postseason. In Game 7 of the NLCS, Puig’s three-run homer in the sixth inning off Jeremy Jeffress game the Dodgers a four-run lead and almost made John Smoltz cry on national TV. Re-read Chad’s recap. Watch that Streamable. Puig also came up huge in Game 4 of the World Series, when it (stupidly) seemed like the Dodgers could pull it off. His three-run homer against Eduardo Rodriguez (a lefty!) gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Almost impressive that they lost that game 9-6. What a shitshow.

For better or worse, Puig was always entertaining. He moves on to a ballpark where he’ll probably hit like 35 dongs or something and we’ll all be miserable about it.

Alex Verdugo

2018 stats – .260/.329/.409, .706 OPS, 98 wRC+, .311 wOBA, 16.3 K%, 9.3 BB%, 0.2 fWAR

Verdugo only had 86 plate appearances in the majors last year and played a few more major league innings in left than he did in right, but he’s here to split up the positions a little more evenly. For this exercise, Verdugo is a right fielder. Fight me.

Verdugo was up and down a bit this season after a brief September call-up in 2017. Verdugo got his first call-up this season in April, after Puig was placed on the DL. He played decently well in this stint, starting in nine games and reaching base in 11 of 37 plate appearances. He came back up in June as Puig was hurting again but only appeared in five games, where he reached base eight times in 19 plate appearances. He wasn’t seen in the majors again until September call-ups, where inconsistent playing time meant he got 30 plate appearances in 23 games and he reached base only nine times.

In between call-ups, Verdugo played pretty well at Triple-A OKC. In 379 plate appearances in the minors, Verdugo posted a .329/.391/.472 triple slash. His power is still the main drawback as he only homered 10 times in the minors last season (and once in the majors). Verdugo’s approach at the plate could be a positive for the Dodgers moving forward, as he struck out only 47 times in the minors last season and drew 34 walks. In 2017 at Triple-A, Verdugo walked 52 times and only struck out 50 times. He’s been slightly more strikeout-prone in the majors, but that could improve with more consistent playing time.

Others

Five others played in right in 2018. Matt Kemp played 357 innings in right and it wasn’t a complete trainwreck most of the time. Enrique Hernandez, of course, played nearly 75 innings in right. Cody Bellinger played 11 1/3 innings in right, and Breyvic Valera played 2 1/3.

About Alex Campos

Alex Campos
I'm a writer that has blogged at a whole bunch of places about a whole bunch of sports. I was most recently writing for Chavez Ravine Fiends, but was also the former editor at Dodgers Way. I graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Marketing. At Long Beach, I covered the Dirtbags in the 2014 season as an assistant sports editor at the Daily 49er.