Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus took further examined the definition of replacement player, specifically how it handles an ever-growing group of multi-position players, which is highly applicable to the Dodgers of the last few seasons.
The ability to play more than one position is a skill unto itself, one that WAR massively under-accounts for. WAR assumes that all players are infinitely fungible across the defensive spectrum and that a third baseman who has never played shortstop or second or right field would have the same adjustment to those spots that a guy who’s been pulling utility duty for five years now would. That’s not supported by the evidence and I think it’s a bigger hole in the metric that we generally acknowledge.
Kiké Hernandez and Chris Taylor have epitomized versatility for the Dodgers in recent years, playing several positions in the infield and outfield, depending on the team’s need. Cody Bellinger came up as a highly-touted first baseman, and he just won a Gold Glove in right field.
They aren’t alone. Six Dodgers in 2019 played at least 20 games at multiple positions, and that doesn’t even include the outfield-only A.J. Pollock and Alex Verdugo.
Dodgers defensive versatility
- Bill Plaschke at the LA Times chronicled the tale of a Dodgers fan looking to reunite with the man who greets him every game at Dodger Stadium.
- David Schoenfield at ESPN remembered eight seasons that could have only happened in the 1980s. Included among them was Orel Hershiser’s 1988 season, which ended with 59 scoreless innings followed by 42⅔ innings over 17 days in the postseason.
- Grant Brisbee at The Athletic filled rosters of every single MLB team with “Wait-they-were-on-that-team?” players, and the Dodgers team is so stacked there wasn’t even room for Jim Thome.
- MLB’s average salary when rosters were frozen on March 28 was roughly $4.43 million, up 1.3 percent from opening day 2019, per Ronald Blum of the Associated Press.