There’s been lots of talk about the Dodgers having four big-name outfielders for three starting spots, but while everyone debates how manager Don Mattingly should divvy up the playing time among Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier a different outfielder has been the most productive in the bunch.
In what is admittedly limited playing time of 90 plate appearances facing primarily left-handed pitching, Scott Van Slyke has hit .278 with six homers, five doubles, and a 1.060 OPS. By comparison, Puig has a 1.014 OPS and the none of the other three big-name outfielders are above a .750 OPS.
Van Slyke’s strong production dates back further than this season, too. Last year in 152 plate appearances for the Dodgers he posted an .807 OPS that ranked third on the team behind Hanley Ramirez and Puig, and his numbers in the minors include a .330 batting average with 31 homers, 55 doubles, and a 1.009 OPS in 171 games at Triple-A.
Van Slyke can hit and at age 27 he deserves an extended look to see exactly how good he could be in a full-time role, but he picked just about the worst situation possible in which to potentially get that extended look. So he’ll have to settle for posting big numbers in small playing time for now.
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Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.