Reviewing Dodgers infield offensive production in 2020

I’ve been slacking on contributing here since the season came to an end.

There’s many reasons for that, but I’ve felt a bit guilty as Dustin has put out posts over and over. So here’s some form of content, even if it is basically just a bunch of stats anyone could look up. All of it is going to be pretty obvious, especially when the season was just 60 games, but I did it last season so here it is again.

So enjoy the breakdown of each position and how everyone hit at the positions. All of the sample sizes make much of this useless, especially when a guy may have played a sixth of the season at a position and managed about 30 plate appearances in the process.

We’ll start with the infield today before getting to the outfield and designated hitter soon enough.

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Catcher

(.258/.371./454/.824 in 234 plate appearances)

Save for the 17 innings by Keibert Ruiz, it was pretty much an even split between Will Smith and Austin Barnes at catcher.

Smith just held the edge with 276 2/3 innings caught, with Barnes at 245 innings, but (unsurprisingly) ended up much better on the offensive side. Slashing .267/.390/.554/.945 in 123 plate appearances at catcher with a 153 wRC+, Smith was as good as we all knew throughout the abbreviated season.

While all the sample sizes here are a little rough to draw conclusions from, Smith’s .294/.400/.441/.841 in 40 PAs against lefties was a rise from where he finished in 2019 (.685 OPS in 64 PAs).

Meanwhile, Barnes finished the year at 24/.356/.318/.674 in 103 PAs for a 96 wRC+. Now Barnes also put up a .320/.393/.440/.833 across 29 PAs in the playoffs, though much of that came before the World Series besides his Game 3 homer in the solo shot.

As mentioned above, Ruiz received 8 PAs as he quickly debuted in the majors this season. Thanks to his first career homer, coming in his first career at-bat, Ruiz finished the year with a nice line (which means absolutely nothing at all). Since there was no minor league season, that’s unfortunately about all that can be said for Ruiz.

First Base

(.212/.306/.396/.702 in 252 PAs)

It wasn’t a great season for the Dodgers at first (or second base, but that’s coming up next), as Max Muncy slashed .183/.309/.409/.718 in 136 PAs. With a 95 wRC+, Muncy was still near league average as he accounted for nearly half of the team’s PAs at the position and 273 2/3 innings on defense.

Muncy also accounted for just about every plate appearance at first throughout the playoffs, slashing a much improved .250/.438/.467/.904 across 80 PAs and 143 innings. That included an unbelievable 20 walks, with at least one coming in 14 of the 18 games.

Cody Bellinger (69 PAs), Matt Beaty (30 PAs) and Edwin Rios (14 PAs) were the next three to see time at the position. Bellinger also struggled (.203/.261/.313/.573) and was considerably worse than Muncy with a 55 wRC+ in his limited time at the position.

Beaty’s (.333/.400/.556/.956) included nine hits, just four less than Bellinger in less than half of the PAs. Rios also helped boost the position with a .308/.357/.462/.819, doing so without a homer at the spot as well.

Enrique Hernandez was responsible for the other 3 PAs and 7 innings, though there was absolutely nothing to cover within them.

Second Base

(.202/.286/.376/.661 in 238 PAs)

To my surprise, Gavin Lux actually finished second on the team with 65 PAs and 143 innings at second base this season. Unfortunately, at least at the plate, it went pretty horribly. Slashing .186/.262/.373/.634, Lux finished with a 73 wRC+ in what is somewhat a wasted season for the 23-year-old. With just one postseason plate appearance, a strikeout against the Padres, Lux seems like he’s in position for more playing time in 2021 (at least with where the Dodgers’ roster is right now).

Hernandez led the position with 91 PAs and 220 1/3 innings, slashing .241/.275/.460/.734 for a 96 wRC+. Not that it really means much, but after going 4-for-5 with 5 RBIs on opening day, Hernandez added just 8 more RBIs at the position during the season.

Muncy (39 PAs) and Chris Taylor (38 PAs) each started 11 games at second base, with the results a rather stark difference. Muncy slashed .097/.282/.097/.379 to a 31 wRC+ compared to Taylor’s .242/.342/.455/.797 and 119 wRC+.

The last 5 PAs and 8 of the other 9 innings? That would be from Mookie Betts, who walked twice against the Diamondbacks on Sept. 10 as the Dodgers decided to get him some innings at the position should he ever be forced into playing there.

And the final hitless inning in the field went to Zach McKinstry, who will pop up again in two other spots later.

Third Base

(.279/.355/.540/.895 in 259 PAs)

Just three players earned PAs while playing third base, with Justin Turner leading the way at 133 along with 263 2/3 innings in the field. Muncy (64 PAs, 135 innings) and Rios (62 PAs, 140 innings) split the job just about evenly while Turner missed about two weeks and mixed in some regular rest.

For all the concern about Turner’s age and possible regression, he slashed .303/.368/.471/.839 and finished with a 131 wRC+ during the regular season. The postseason obviously went a little worse, with a .250/.333/.471/.804 in 78 PAs, though that was considerably better than a few other regular starters throughout the World Series run.

However, the Dodgers didn’t lose much when Turner was out thanks to Muncy’s odd split at the position and Rios’ incredibly efficient regular season.

Muncy (.265/.406/.551/.957 and a 156 w RC+) oddly performed much better than he did at the other two spots in the infield, and Rios (.241/.274/.672/.947 and 142 wRC+) connected on seven of his eight homers while playing third.

Shortstop

(.273/.336/.521/.857 in 262 PAs)

Just as it was last season, shortstop is a pretty simple recap.

Corey Seager finished at a 147 w RC+ and a line of .299/.352/.571/.923 in 376 innings. We all know how incredible Seager was during the postseason, earning the NLCS and World Series MVP awards, but the stats are still amazing to look at.

Holding a .328/.425/.746/1.171 line in 80 PAs across the 18 games, Seager finished with 8 homers and 20 RBIs while walking 11) nearly as often as he struck out (12). It’s pretty hard to add anything else to what has already been said about his run to help the Dodgers finally win a World Series.

Taylor took over at the position for 147 2/3 innings and 63 PAs while Hernandez covered the other 15 innings and 6 PAs. Hernandez drew just one walk while at shortstop and Taylor slashed .214/.302/.411/.712 for a 95 wRC+.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore
Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.