Just Say No to Platoons

The following article is from Bumsrap

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Mark Timmons or LA DodgerTalk. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world analytic products as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Mark Timmons or LA Dodger Talk.

Platoon: platoon is a military unit typically composed of two or more squads that typically consists of around 40 to 50 soldiers.

FAZtoon:  A FAZtoon is a baseball team that substitutes a pretty good right handed hitter for a very good left handed hitter to reduce the number of runs scored against lefty pitchers and weaken the defense.

Baseball platoons “dates to at least 1914 and the Miracle Boston Braves, who started 26–40, then went 68–19 to win the National League pennant—in part because of manager George Stallings’s platooning of marginal talents. Platooning was a key part of Casey Stengel’s work with the Yankees dynasty in the 1950s. Earl Weaver, the greatest manager since Stengel, viewed platoons as part of his core philosophy: Focus on what players can do, rather than what they can’t. His leftfield platoon of John Lowenstein and Gary Roenicke is among the most famous in history”.  Joe Sheehan, SI, August 26, 2013

Its not like platoons do not have merits.  They do.  See above.

The burn that exists with platoons is that usually one of the players is a fan favorite and while we all want the team to win, we also want to watch our favorite players play.  If we were to have gone to a Lakers game back when they still played basketball and Magic Johnson did not play, would we have been disappointed even if the Lakers won that game?  Do you want to go to the opera and watch the backup singer?  Okay, that last one wasn’t a good example.

Here is my solution.

  1. Keep older veterans on the team for pinch hitting duties that have no expectation of playing defense–Manny Mota and Dave Hansen types. Gutierez could be like those and I wish he were limited to pinch hitting.
  2. Reduce the number of players that need to play defense and hit regularly to stay sharp and be happy.
  3. Trade for an everyday left fielder that hits from the right side and plays good defense. Who is that?

Here are the top left fielders for 2017 according to Mike Petriello, MLB.com Columnist.

1. Yoenis Cespedes, Mets (Shredder rank: 2)
2.Starling Marte, Pirates (Shredder rank: 3)
3. Ryan Braun, Brewers (Shredder rank: 1)
4. Justin Upton, Tigers (Shredder rank: 7)
5. Marcell Ozuna, Marlins
6. Alex Gordon, Royals
7. Kyle Schwarber, Cubs
8. Brett Gardner, Yankees (Shredder rank: 9)

9. Khris Davis, A’s (Shredder rank: 4)
10.Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox

We have heard some noise about Braun being traded to the Dodgers and we have all already put our two cents in on such a trade.

The player on that list that I think might be available and could play every day is Ozuna. A solid finish to 2015 helped predict a 2016 breakout, and that’s exactly what happened, as he hit .307/.360/.533 (137 wRC+) in the first half, starting for the National League All-Star team. Unfortunately, his second half of .209/.267/.342 (61 wRC+) was an unmitigated disaster, coming along with wrist and knee concerns. Ozuna only just turned 26, and the talent is clearly there. Can the consistency follow?

Ozuna will earn $3,500,000 in 2017 and is ARB eligible in 2018 and 2019.  He is an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season and his agent is Boras.  Loria, the Marlins owner, doesn’t want players that have Boras as their agent and in the past has wanted to trade Ozuna.  Loria is also trying to sell the team.

I think Toles and Ozuna are similar players that hit from opposite sides of the plate so I think Toles has to be part of a package for Ozuna.  Toles is under team control through 2022 and won’t hit ARB 1 until the 2020 season.  If the pot had to be sweetened, I would add Hatcher and Hernandez.  If Miami wants more I will leave that problem to FAZ.

If the Dodgers wanted Braun, I would offer Puig and Kazmir and a pitching prospect.  Verdugo will soon be ready to play right field.  SVS could use more playing time if he stays on the team and the same goes for Thompson. — Bumsrap


Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don't do game recaps or such things -- lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don't think they are the "end-all-be-all.". This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We'd like to hear your voice.

This article has 24 Comments

  1. Boy, Yasiel Puig is saying all the right things:


    On the LH problem – Puig should be part of the solution, but right now he is hitting .105 against LH and .444 against RH. Them’s platoon stats! But, I think he will come around – he has always hit lefties. But if he doesn’t, like I have told you – FAZ will get what they need. It’s way too early to panic. Maybe Mid-May, you panic, but not now!

  2. I do see the irony in me wanting Joc to play everyday and wanting to trade for a righty bat that can take his place in CF. Hopefully Joc will start hitting and Ozuna would stay in LF.
    Ozuna has really started out strongly this year and his trade value has jumped since this trade idea first germinated in my head. He already has 5 HR and 18 RBI.

  3. To get Ozuna who is 26 and entering his prime, it will take a lot more than Toles. They will likely want Verdugo AND TOLES AND MAYBE A PITCHER.

    After the progress I have seen with Yasiel, I would not include him in a trade for Braun. He may be better than Braun. The guy I would consider trading is Pederson.

    1. Mark

      I know we need an right hand bat, but do you think Bellinger can be that extra bat we need, and more importantly, does he hit lefties?

      He can play in the outfield, and as you know, he can even play centerfield, and it might be better, to see what Bellinger can do, before trading for Braun.

    2. Mark, the last time I suggested trading for Ozuna you said you didn’t think that was a good idea and now you say he is worth lots. He might only be 26 but he is a free agent in 2020 so Miami only has him for 3 years. Also, arbitration is going to hike his salary. Miami could save significant with Toles and still have a solid CF/LF.
      Puig might have a good trade value now and Verdugo gives the Dodgers a solid long-term replacement in RF.

      1. The Marlins would likely take Puig, Toles and a pitcher like Stewart for Ozuna, but Puig could be better than Ozuna. Ozuna’s value is sky high now, but he does not walk much – his hot streak will not keep up. Then the guy you traded for is the guy he was last year.

  4. Bumsrap: ” A FAZtoon is a baseball team that substitutes a pretty good right handed hitter for a very good left handed hitter to reduce the number of runs scored against lefty pitchers and weaken the defense.”
    Who are these “very good left handed hitters” being platooned? Pederson, .206 BA, 2 extra base hits?, Gonzalez, .250 BA, 2 extra base hits?, Toles, .229 BA, 3 extra base hits? These “fan favorites” better start hitting “righties” soon, let alone lefties!
    Bumsrap: “Keep older veterans on the team for pinch hitting duties that have no expectation of playing defense–Manny Mota and Dave Hansen types.”
    How you going to do that with 25 man rosters, and 12-13 man pitching staffs? When these guys played pitching staffs were about 10 strong.
    Bumsrap: “The player on that list that I think might be available and could play every day is Ozuna.”
    Sorry this ship has sailed. Miami has some crazy ideas about “competing” this year, and Ozuna is a big part of that. They are only 1/2 game out of first at 7 – 6. Ozuna is their Puig, potential super-star, only cheaper contract.

    I say you start changing around the fringes, VanSlyke, .125 BA, Thompson, .000 BA, Gutierrez, .231 BA, even Utley, .050 BA need to step-up or step-down soon.

    1. Boxout

      I think Toles will hit fine, if he is moved down, in the order.

      Tole’s three extra base hits, happen to be HRs, and he ranks second in HRs, on this team,

      Puig does leads the team in HRs, but he has only hit one more HR, then Toles.

      But Puig has also had more at bats, and more consistent at bats, then Toles, because Puig has started and played in every game, this year.

      And Puig has hit most of his HRs, while hitting, in the eigth position, in the order.

      And Toles has hit all three of his HRs, while batting at the top, of the line up.

      The problem is, that Toles isn’t a lead off hitter, at this point, in his career.

      And by Roberts putting Toles in the lead off position, that is taking Toles away from his game, and what made him be the hitter, he was, last year.

      I don’t think we should expect more from Toles, then Joc and Puig, at this point, in his career.

      And remember what Joc did in the lead off position, in his first year.

      The problem with Bum’s view, is that Toles isn’t close to being, the biggest problem, on this team.

      Joc has to be the biggest disappointment on offense, on this team right now.

      He is striking out to much, and striking out way to much, when runners, are one base.

      And Joc’s strike outs are especially bad this year, because Joc, hasn’t provided any power, since the first game, of the season.

      Joc does have a couple more walks then Toles, but he has also struck out, twice as much, as Toles, and Joc is more experienced.

      And I don’t have to tell everyone here, that strike outs, are unproductive outs.

      Strike outs can kill any offensive rally a team might have, and they are not acceptable, when a hitter, isn’t providing any power, to the equation.

      1. MJ, the post was about trying to get rid of platoons which you have been in favor of. To get a RH bat that can play full time somebody good has to be traded. Suggesting Toles is a complement to Toles and recognizes his value. The problem is that he hits from the left side and that is where the Dodgers have too much strength currently Bellinger and Verdugo will only add to that strength.
        Yes, Toles might be moved to CF and Pederson traded and Pederson could be sent down and replace in CF by Bellinger. That is one step forward and one step backward thinking though.

    2. Pederson will improve. He has to adjust to the high fastballs pitchers are using to get him out. He is a better defensive than those that are being platooned with him and his platooned partners are not getting the job done. Joc needs to stay in CF.
      Loria has had a long term desire to trade Ozuna and Miami needs pitching. Toles plus pitching could get Miami closer to the promise land than just Ozuna alone.
      Are you suggesting we can get better fringe players to replace our fringe players? Fringe is fringe.
      If the Dodgers kept Ozuna, Pederson, and Puig in the outfield against all pitchers the Dodgers could use Gutierez and Utley strictly as pinch hitters. I guess if I can be patient with Pederson a little longer, I can do the same with Utley.

      1. Yes, hopefully Pederson improves. I like him and his defense, but I also don’t mind him being platooned. He hasn’t hit lefties in the past (look at his 2015 and 2016 splits) and now isn’t hitting anybody. When he is consistently mashing righties then maybe try him against lefties again. I do admit, the platoon partners haven’t done anything either.
        The argument seems to be, we got some very good left-handed hitters who are going to mash lefties if only given the chance. I think FAZ/Roberts/Ward would be aware of this if it was true. I am sure the Dodgers wish they had eight two-way starters, but they don’t. As you noted, platooning has been a potential solution to this problem since way back.
        We all know our lefty batters are the best we got in the positions we don’t have two way players. What are those positions? First base, left field, center field and probably catcher. What I meant by “changing at the fringes” was improving the other half of these platoon positions. VanSlyke, Thompson, Hernandez, Segidin, Gutierrez primary mission is to hit lefties and they should all be on short leashes if they don’t. They don’t have to be replaced with “fringe”. I am sure FAZ is working the phones (and has been) to see who is available at what price. Hopefully, something good will be available at the right price or try someone else within the organization (Dickson). Promoting within has served us pretty well in the pitching department.
        It also sounds like FAZ is considering Bellinger, hopefully he is another two-way player.
        No need to panic yet, we could be the Cubs or SF.

  5. Nice piece Bums – I enjoy the trade proposal scenarios.
    Posted my thoughts yesterday, and to be honest, although I really believe Braun would be a great addition, I’m not sure I want to give up our potentially stellar players of the near future.
    The was a time recently when I would have started the debate with Puig.
    However, I’m seeing signs of life, and so far, has been one of our best players.
    It’s a difficult one, but if a deal can be done involving some peripheral players then I’m in 100%.
    It appears that Milwaukee are keen to move him so that has to give us an edge. I think FAZ believes we have a good shot this year & the longer our LH struggles continue, the more likely that are to sanction a deal, and I think Braun is the most likely candidate.
    It all comes down to what Milwaukee want, and how desperate they are to move Braun, but I cannot see them not wanting one of our top prospects.

  6. The platoon is just something to do. It probably doesn’t work as often as it does. We only hear about the good. Of course, with mediocre players, putting in another mediocre player from the other side of the plate is kind of sexy. It makes the manager look smart. All of the Dodger outfielders are in the mediocre+ category. So, platooning with them is a neutral factor in most games. How about just developing good hitters? I’m a little tired of the Pederson experiment, and I wonder how long the team will hang with him. He might be good trade bait, with his contract status. He might look good in a Marlins uniform. On McCarthy: a very efficient start, with ball-strike ratio excellent. But, he gave up hits and walks. There must have been some early count hits. At least he was pounding the zone most of the time. Another tough series ahead. I’m to the point that maybe Wood AND Stripling should be in the rotation. Won’t happen.

  7. As a public service and part of the ongoing Dodgerrick analysis,
    1 – The Dodgers are now 5 -2 in games started by lefties and 5 -2 against righties. They are hitting .218 /.302 /.345/ .647 (19th in BA, 20th in OPS) against lefty pitchers and .266/ .367/ .449/ .816. (7th in BA, 2nd in OPS).
    2 – The Dodgers are hitting .213/ .348/ .380 /.727 with RISP (19th in BA, 15th in OPS) and .182/ .308/ .295/ .603 in late and close situations (28th in BA and 23rd in OPS).
    3 – The Dodgers are hitting .181/ .259/ .251/ .511 in losses and .303 ./406/ .542/ .948 in wins. They are 3 – 0 in blowouts and 2 – 5 in games decided by 2 runs or less. That is to be expected given the inability to hit in late and close situations.
    4 – Non-Kershaw starters are averaging 4.7 IP/start. They are 4 – 4 with a 4.33 ERA. Even Roberts is now saying that they have to get more innings out of their starters. Ryu, Maeda and Hill are pitching badly. You won’t win much if 2/3 of your rotation can’t pitch.
    5 – The Dodgers’ beleaguered bullpen is 5th in IP. They are 3rd in bullpen ERA and 2nd in WHIP, but you can’t expect to have to pitch 4 or 5 innings out of your pen every game without something giving out. In yesterday’s game, that meant having to rely on Hatcher for 3 bullpen innings in a 2 -2 game, which led to the loss.

    What they have to do differently going forward? Seems obvious to me.
    1 – Improve hitting lefties. This may require some change in personnel. There has been discussion about Ryan Braun ad nauseum and either he or someone else may be needed.
    2 – Get innings out of starters. This may also require a change in personnel. The good news is that they may already have some part of this solution in house (Urias, for example).
    3 – A change in coaching philosophy may be required to improve situational hitting. A non-Moneyball approach which involves moving runners over, being more aggressive on the basepaths, shortening up and not trying to hit a HR every time up will be helpful.

  8. Tend to agree with dodgerrick that the inability to hit LH pitching and the inability to hit with RISP has more to do with coaching philosophy than the players ineptitude. This sad tale has gone on too many seasons. Maybe Ward can change things, but presently it still smells and looks like what we have seen the last three years; sad walks back to the dugout, with stranded runners, and bewildered looks on hitters faces.

    Agree also with the poster who is really “bored” with the big swings and misses with Pederson. He seems to have a lot of those wiffs with runners on base. Babe Ruth you ain’t Joc, quit swinging like you think you are.

    With the SP’s looking like they are headed into a state of disarray (except of course CK), this team is at least a year away, unless of course all the phenoms (Urias, White, Buhler) suddenly appear in LA ready to put up zeros.

    Most positive thing this year, and I hope it continues;
    1. Puig
    2. BP, but how long can it last with starters not pitching like starters

  9. Good thought provoking piece today Bums! Not a big Osuna fan but at the right price why not? He’s younger and cheaper than Braun but also not a prime time player, at least not yet. I would take Puig off the table at this point as he is really making strides toward his potential. His hitting against lefties will come around sooner or later. It would take a big offer to let Pederson go, at least for me. When he gets hot he hits taters in bunches, has a good eye and plays a darn good CF. Lock down LF with someone, and play Joc and Puig most every day. It may be SVS or Segedin and Toles platooning in LF for now, and maybe Gutierrez soon. How much rope will they get? Probably not too much. Putting Kazmir and or Eithier on the 60 day DL frees up a spot for a guy like Dickson who is knocking loudly on the door. For now it’s Kike in CF when Joc sits.

    I am not sure of the wisdom of using Urias’s innings at AAA or taking Wood out of the BP with several starters having trouble stretching out. He and Stripling have been huge so far in the long man role. Maeda gets an extra day off like last year, Ryu gets a big test tonight and I predict he pitches well for 6 and beats the Rockies at home. With Kershaw going tomorrow sweeping the 2 games would be huge before going to AZ for 3 and SF for 4. After those 9 games the whole trade discussion ideas may die down or go wild.

  10. 14 games into the season is way too early to draw conclusions, negatively or positively. But I think concerns are justified.
    1. The apparent inability of the starting pitchers to get to and into the 7th inning could become a problem. Kershaw and McCarthy are the current exceptions. I have always used 15 pitches per inning as a gauge, and that would be 105 pitches for 7 innings. I think the Dodger starting pitching gets a slow start because they are not lengthened in ST. I think the manager/coaches/FO intended to use April to lengthen their starts. I think SP gets closer to 6IP in May and 7IP in June. If they do not get to 6 IP by mid-May, I think the concern can become a little more than that. Ryu going tonight will be an important step. But perhaps more important will be Maeda on Friday.
    2. OF offense has not been as productive as you might expect an OF to hit. Puig is the exception right now, but his negative splits still hurt the offense against LHP, and will he continue? Joc is a concern. His slash line of .206/.317/.324/.641. Yes he is a plus defensively, but he is not Kevin Kiermaier in CF, and those offensive metrics would be a problem for Kiermaier. But the biggest concern with Joc right now is his 34.15% K rate (14K/41 PA). I do not know how is confidence is right now because he was told he would be starting more against LHP, and yet he only has 7 PA. Right now I do not know who the real Joc Pederson is, but I would not make a change until he forced the decision. Put him out there and let him prove himself…or not. The LF more than any other position should be for offense. If Toles is the decision, leave him there and work it out. If not, either bring up someone from OKC, or go make that trade. Maybe Farhan can work something out with Billy Beane to get Khris Davis.
    As FYI for those who cast stones at Josh Reddick, he is hitting .324/.350/.378/.796 for the Astros. Yes, he is still a singles hitter, and no, I would not have wanted to re-sign him.
    I do not think that any player other than Kershaw, Seager, and probably JT are untouchable on the current 25. I do think this is a year that FAZ believes the Dodgers can get to and win the WS, and will not be afraid to make a trade to bring in a #2 SP (Chris Archer?), or big bat. If I were to go after an OF that might be available, I would consider Lorenzo Cain (good defense with a good bat). This is his walk year, so he would not block either Bellinger or Verdugo. I just do not know what is needed to get him, but no reason to overpay for one half year.
    Loria does not like Boras or Boras clients (I do not think he likes anybody), but while he is trying to sell the team, he is not going to trade Ozuna who is a marketable player right now, with controllable costs, which is what a new buyer will covet.

  11. Gurnick wrote yesterday that Wood pitches Fri and Maeda pushed back to Sat. They gave Maeda extra days between starts whenever possible last year.

    I like Cain, he can go get em in the OF and not only is a clutch bat but a playoff experienced leader. He may not cost a lot, and KC is a mess and could use an arm or two for the bullpen. Hatcher and an OF?

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