The Chaos Of The Dodger Outfield

Carl Crawford returned from the disabled list on July 10th, just over two weeks ago. Crawford’s return brought the outfield back up to five players, with no real candidate to play center. I looked at the math of the offense prior to his return, and we’ve had all sorts of fun talking about the outfield shuffle since it re-commenced. So far, it has lived up to advanced billing an has been completely insane.

Let’s take a look back at a log of the Dodger outfield for every game since Crawford’s return to see just what has been going on.

  • 7/10 vs SD: 9 innings, Puig RF, Van Slyke CF, Kemp LF
  • 7/11 vs SD: 5 innings, Puig RF, Van Slyke CF, Kemp LF
  • 7/11 vs SD: 3 innings, Puig RF, Van Slyke CF, Crawford LF
  • 7/11 vs SD: 1 inning, Puig RF, Ethier CF, Van Slyke LF
  • 7/12 vs SD: 3 innings, Puig RF, Ethier CF, Kemp LF
  • 7/12 vs SD: 5 innings, Ethier RF, Kemp CF, Crawford LF
  • 7/12 vs SD: 1 inning, Ethier RF, Van Slyke CF, Kemp LF
  • 7/13 vs SD: 6 innings, Puig RF, Ethier CF, Crawford LF
  • 7/13 vs SD: 3 innings, Puig RF, Van Slyke CF, Crawford LF
  • 7/18 @ StL: 8 innings, Puig RF, Ethier CF, Kemp LF
  • 7/19 @ StL: 7 innings, Puig RF, Van Slyke CF, Crawford LF
  • 7/19 @ StL: 1 inning, Van Slyke RF, Kemp CF, Crawford LF
  • 7/20 @ StL: 9 innings, Ethier RF, Van Slyke CF, Kemp LF
  • 7/21 @ PIT: 9 innings, Kemp RF, Ethier CF, Crawford LF
  • 7/22 @ PIT: 8 innings, Kemp RF, Ethier CF, Crawford LF
  • 7/23 @ PIT: 7 innings, Kemp RF, Van Slyke CF, Crawford LF
  • 7/23 @ PIT: 1 inning, Van Slyke, RF Puig CF, Crawford LF
  • 7/25 @ SF: 9 innings, Kemp RF, Puig CF, Crawford LF

That’s a long list, with many mid-game changes. Yasiel Puig got kicked out of a game and hurt his hand. Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke continued platooning in center, mostly. Matt Kemp played a few innings in center for some reason. He also started playing in right field (and has actually looked good there, to my untrained and horribly biased eyes). Now, Yasiel Puig is in center field and looked pretty okay at it during his first full game. Puig in center might calm things down for now, but it probably shouldn’t be a long-term move.

This can be organized a bit better. Here’s a table with every outfield configuration the Dodgers have used since Crawford’s return, along with the number of innings each set of outfielders has played:

Innings Right field Center field Left field
17 Kemp Ethier Crawford
14 Puig Van Slyke Kemp
13 Puig Van Slyke Crawford
11 Puig Ethier Kemp
10 Ethier Van Slyke Kemp
9 Kemp Puig Crawford
7 Kemp Van Slyke Crawford
6 Puig Ethier Crawford
5 Ethier Kemp Crawford
1 Puig Ethier Van Slyke
1 Van Slyke Puig Crawford
1 Van Slyke Kemp Crawford

Or, we can run it down by innings in each position:

Player Right Field Center Field Left Field Total
Yasiel Puig 45 10 0 55
Matt Kemp 33 6 35 74
Andre Ethier 15 35 0 50
Scott Van Slyke 2 44 1 47
Carl Crawford 0 0 59 59

What a glorious, horrible mess. Twelve alignments in the last eleven games. The most common alignment was used for two full games. Last night’s arrangement stayed in place for nine innings, so it is already more common than six other alignments which have been used. Matt Kemp, whose agent is still making noise about a possible trade, has played 15 more innings than any other outfielder.

The list of alignments has the potential to grow even more, since Puig hasn’t played in center with a left-handed pitcher going. Surprisingly, Andre Ethier hasn’t played left field at all in this mess, either. There’s some more potential number growth right there. I’ve been compiling this info for about a week, and there have been three more new configurations in the last two games alone. It hasn’t slowed down yet.

Really, Don Mattingly is slacking. There are 60 ways to arrange five outfielders into three defensive positions. The Dodgers have only made it 20% to that lofty “goal.” Sure, that would involve doing such things as putting Carl Crawford in right field or Puig in left field, which are terrible ideas. But at this point, who knows? I’m now rooting for the number of unique configurations to go up, because I like anarchy. It’s a fun way to pass time while waiting for the trade of an outfielder and/or the promotion of Joc Pederson to restore order.

About Daniel Brim

Avatar photo
Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area but doesn't live there anymore. He still watches the Dodgers and writes about them sometimes.