We are roughly halfway through our 2014 Dodgers reviews, and today brings us to the team's best hitter this season: Scott Van Slyke.
What went right
Van Slyke had a breakout season in 2013 and earned his way onto the playoff roster. He carried that over into 2014 and was even more impressive. Van Slyke led the club in slugging percentage (.524), OPS (.910), wOBA (.398), OPS+ (157) and wRC+ (160), and made his bones by crushing southpaws.
The Dodgers faced 42 left-handed starting pitchers in 2014, and Van Slyke started 40 of those games. He hit .315/.415/.630 with eight home runs and 10 doubles in 130 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, leading the club against southpaws in home runs, doubles, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.
There was one particular left-hander tormented by Van Slyke. Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley faced the Dodgers five times in 2014, and in each game Van Slyke had at least one extra-base hit. On the season, Van Slyke was 7-for-11 (.636) with three doubles, four home runs and two walks against Miley.
Against left-handed pitchers not named Miley, Van Slyke hit .278/.385/.474, a much more normal but still impressive figure.
But Miley did hold Van Slyke without a single.
Van Slyke on the season hit 11 home runs in 246 plate appearances, tied for the fourth-most home runs in a season by a Dodgers hitter with under 250 PA.
What went wrong
Van Slyke's worst month was July, when he hit just .239/.255/.478, 11-for-46 with 15 strikeouts.
He rated slightly above average in center field — where he played 17 games, including 10 starts — by total zone rating, but well below average in defensive runs saved and ultimate zone rating, but this is based on just 143 defensive innings. Van Slyke's bat was so good that he was able to play there at all, and didn't absolutely kill them, his first time at the position since 2010 in Double-A.
Game of the year
Van Slyke hit the go-ahead home run in the 12th inning of the second game of a doubleheader on May 1 against the Twins, securing a three-game sweep in Minnesota. Van Slyke was 2-for-4 with two walks, and had the 13th game by a Dodger in 101 years with a home run, triple and stolen base in the same game.
Van Slyke has one year, 151 days of service time and will likely be eligible for salary arbitration after 2015 as a Super Two. He has one option year remaining.