The Blake DeWitt story begins in the spring of 2008, when before the season began both of the candidates for the starting third base job (Andy LaRoche and Nomar Garciaparra) were hurt and both started the season on the disabled list. Dewitt (22 at the time) was called upon by the club to fill in, with instructions for DeWitt simple, just don't hurt the team. To the surprise of probably everyone, DeWitt did an excellent job filling in at third base. In April of 2008 DeWitt posted an OPS of .761 and in May posted an OPS of .896 (but with a very high BABIP of .328 and .343 respectively) whilst playing an excellent third base defensively. Understandably, DeWitt leveled off a bit in June and with a healthy LaRoche and occasionally healthy Garciaparra, DeWitt was optioned to AAA for a brief period. During the trips to AAA, DeWitt started getting reps at second base, and at this point DeWitt was clearly valued pretty favorably within the organization. The most logical spot for DeWitt long term was second base as Jeff Kent was clearly in his last run in the major leagues. After a few trades near the deadline in 2008 saw LaRoche out but Casey Blake in (in separate trades) DeWitt effectively became the backup infielder at both second base and third. In the postseason, Blake DeWitt was able to contribute when Jeff Kent was sidelined and DeWitt was again called upon to fill in for an injured starter. While DeWitt didn't exactly crush the ball in the 2008 playoffs (he did drive in 5 runs in the NLCS despite posting an OPS of only .364) the season was a huge success. DeWitt had gone from being the third man on the depth chart at third base, to being the starting second baseman in the National League playoffs. DeWitt had arrived.
Unfortunately, 2009 did not go as planned.
In the offseason, the Dodgers seemed content to have Blake DeWitt as the starting second baseman. The club reached a 3 year deal with Casey Blake in the offseason but didn't make any real effort to sign a veteran second baseman to start in front of DeWitt. It wasn't until the market had really bottomed out that the Dodgers were able to sign Orlando Hudson to a 1 year contract who would certainly start at second base. Even with DeWitt being relegated to a backup role, it still seemed likely that he would spend the majority of his time with the big league club as DeWitt could fill in at third, second and (in a pinch) short stop. DeWitt did not perform well at the beginning of 2009 and posted a .176/.222/.176 batting line in only 18 plate appearances in April and DeWitt was quickly sent to AAA. DeWitt would get used to making the trip from Albuquerque to Los Angeles as he would be sent to the minors a total of 5 times in 2009 and by late summer, it appeared DeWitt had been passed in the organizational depth chart by Tony Abreu, who was outplaying DeWitt even in the minors (Abreu AAA wOBA .425, DeWitt wOBA .343.) However, Abreu did not last long in Los Angeles either as he was included in a late season waiver deal for Jon Garland, leaving DeWitt, again, in a position to compete for a starting job coming into 2010.
|2010 Projections - Age 24 Season|
The 2010 offseason was not as active for the Dodgers as it had been the year before. Orlando Hudson was not offered arbitration and subsequently signed a contract in Minnesota, and the Dodgers re-signed Ronnie Belliard to compete with Blake DeWitt for the starting job at second base. I expect Blake DeWitt to again make the 25 man roster out of camp, and will be given a chance to get more regular playing time in 2010. DeWitt and Belliard will likely platoon at second base, and while DeWitt's glove is not great at second base, neither is Belliard's. Interstingly, despite the 2009 slide for DeWitt, because of trades, DeWitt still figures to be an important peice for the Dodgers. The club has essentially traded away all of the third base depth (LaRoche, Abreu, Josh Bell and Carlos Santana) and Casey Blake is entering his age 36 season. If Casey Blake is injured for an extended period of time, DeWitt is the logical replacement. But even though in the field DeWitt is a much better third baseman, he doesn't quite hit enough to be considered an adequate corner infielder in the major leagues. So 2010 figures to be a big year for DeWitt. Hopefully more consistent plate appearances will allow DeWitt to perform at the level he showed in 2008, and with a few years of work now as a second baseman, his glove may yet prove adequate to be a starting second baseman in the long run.
I predict DeWitt will spend all of 2010 in the major leagues and will hit
.270 / .350 / .410 in 145 games.
What are your community projections for Blake DeWitt?