2011 Dodgers Positional Review: Outfield

2011 Dodgers Positional Review: Outfield

It was a historic season for one, but the rest of the group struggled to find consistency. From Ethier's injuries to Gwynn's lack of offense, the Dodgers had trouble finding production beyond center field. Late contributions from Juan Rivera and Jerry Sands weren't enough to save the unit as a whole.

The one saving grace of the Dodgers' offense in 2011 was Matt Kemp. Finally fulfilling his potential over the course of a full season, Kemp led the National League in home runs and RBI, as well as placing second in the MLB in WAR according to Fangraphs and first in the MLB in WAR according to Baseball-Reference. After winning a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger, Matt placed second in MVP voting behind Ryan Braun, thanks to the Brewers being a playoff team and the Dodgers being 3 games over .500.

Andre Ethier, coming off a strong 2010 campaign, exploded out of the game to open the 2011 season. Ethier hit .380/.446/.556 in March and April. However, he fell back down to Earth in May, hitting just .261 with four extra base hits in 102 plate appearances. Even after mildly productive months in June and July, a knee condition that had been hounding the outfielder for the previous few seasons was just too much for Dre to overcome and he ended his season in early September, opting for surgery prior to the finale. It wasn't much of a dent in the Dodgers' production, however, given that he was hitting just .252 in the second half with 2 home runs.

Left field saw a plethora of contestants for the starting job. Tony Gwynn Jr provided excellent defense but no bat. Juan Rivera hit well immediately after joining the Dodgers, OPSing .805 in 13 July games, but saw his performance decline toward the end of the year. Jerry Sands struggled initially, went back to the minors to re-work his swing, then batted .342 in September. Jay Gibbons hit .300 in 30 at bats and Xavier Paul went 3 for 8.

Then there were the guys who didn't do so well. Marcus Thames was originally going to be platoon mates with Tony Gwynn. However, after batting .197 in 36 games, the experiment ended abruptly. Trent Oeltjen only received 91 plate appearances and hit .197 as well. Xavier Paul went 3 for 11 before going to the Bucs. Jay Gibbons went 11 for 43, also receiving 9 plate appearances as a pinch hitter and a start at DH. Jamie Hoffman went 0 for 4 and I'll let you guess how many hits Eugenio Velez collected in 5 at bats.

So while the Dodgers were tops in the league in OPS from center, they ranked 12th from right and 23rd from left. They did manage to rank 11th in UZR, thanks in large part to improvements from Kemp and Ethier to go along with excellent defense from Gwynn. Still, MVP level production from Kemp wasn't enough to offset the shortcomings from the rest of the offense.

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