Amid all of the talk regarding the glut of All-Stars, Scott Van Slyke had been largely overlooked. While much was made about what the Los Angeles Dodgers would do with the likes of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, Van Slyke remained in the background and has done nothing more than quietly produce.
Even with four serviceable outfielders, Van Slyke fills a very important need, and he has seemed to relish his role as a platoon outfielder and power bat off of the bench. After all, Van Slyke seemed destined to be with another team during last season’s offseason, as the Dodgers designated him for assignment to make room for Skip Schumaker. Fortunately, Van Slyke cleared waivers and he remained with the Dodgers.
Van Slyke has been impressive, and the Dodgers have used him in left, center and even at first base. While Van Slyke’s defense has been adequate all over the field, it is his ability to hit left-handers that is his true value.
On the 2014 season, Van Slyke has slashed .291/.451/.727 against left-handers, accumulating six doubles, six home runs and nine RBI in 55 at-bats. Manager Don Mattingly has not used him exclusively lefties, however, and while the power has not been there for Van Slyke against righties, his on-base percentage of .392 has made him a valuable part of the lineup.
The Dodgers have two left-handed hitting outfielders in Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, both of whom struggle mightily against left-handed pitchers. With the emergence of Van Slyke, the Dodgers have been able to take advantage of favorable matchups on a regular basis.
There has even been some speculation by Mattingly that Van Slyke could be an everyday player elsewhere, and his overall slash line of .271/.426/.542 may indeed indicate that he is capable of doing so. Van Slyke has compensated for his inability to hit right-handers by being exceptionally patient, evidenced by his 18.9% walk rate.
It should also be noted that Van Slyke has already accumulated 1.6 WAR, which is impressive for a part-time player, especially one that was deemed completely expendable less than 18 months ago. It is even more impressive when one considers that the 1.6 WAR is more than Kemp, Crawford and Ethier have accumulated as a group.
So maybe Mattingly is right about Van Slyke being an everyday player. Depending on what happens at the trade deadline, there is still the possibility that he could be an everyday player as a member of the Dodgers.Tags: Andre Ethier, Baseball, Carl Crawford, Don Mattingly, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp, MLB, Scott Van Slyke, Yasiel Puig