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Dodgers news: The value of Chico, Mookie Betts’ focus

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What if Francisco Herrera was the Dodgers’ everyday left fielder?

Los Angeles Dodgers Summer Workouts Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Dodgers clubhouse attendant Francisco “Chico” Herrera was the fun story of Dodgers camp, with his various starts in left field, which included a few highlight-reel defensive plays.

Justin Turner wore a #LetChicoHit shirt, but outside of that, the idea of Herrera actually getting to bat in a game never gained much traction. Manager Dave Roberts was asked several times over the last week or so of intrasquad games whether he would #LetChicoHit, and the answer was always no.

Herrera himself said, “I’d make myself look like a fool out there” if he batted in a game, in a conversation with Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times.

But just for fun, Ben Clemens at FanGraphs wondered what the world might look like if the Dodgers used Herrera as their everyday left fielder. The results of having the 30-year-old, former junior college baseball player, using assumptions Clemens built in, were quite bad. He estimated Herrera would be 3.6 wins below replacement level in a 60-game season, which over a full year would undoubtedly be the worst year in major league history.

Herrera would also be replacing a position which, through a combination of Joc Pederson, A.J. Pollock, and others, the Dodgers are expected to produce 0.9 WAR this season. So Herrera would really cost the Dodgers about 4.5 wins. From Clemens:

That sounds pretty brutal! There are no players projected for 4.5 WAR this year, for example. There aren’t even any players projected for 3.6 WAR. Mike Trout leads the pack with a 3.3 WAR projection. Chico is, in essence, anti-Trout. A player who was Chico half the time and Trout half the time might come out to roughly replacement level.

Here’s the kicker though: even with Herrera, the Dodgers would still be projected to win the National League West, or at the very least end up in a dead heat with the Padres, per FanGraphs’ projected standings.

In the end, this is a fun theoretical exercise that shows more about how deeply talented the Dodgers roster is, and how it could afford to essentially punt a position and still be better than every other team in the division.

But the value of Herrera doesn’t lie in his Wins Above Replacement, obviously. Roberts knows what he brings to the team.

“In the clubhouse, he brings a lot. He’s a servant first, which I really admire. He does anything for everyone, even serving as a left fielder for us. I think he added a little bit of levity,” Roberts said over the weekend. “It was fun, it really was.”

Links

Pedro Moura at The Athletic wrote about the incredible focus of Mookie Betts, including highlighting Betts’ final play in a Red Sox uniform, in an otherwise meaningless game to close out the 2019 regular season. Saying Betts scored from first base on a single doesn’t quite do the play justice, so watch this starting at 5:43:

Andy McCullough at The Athletic talked to Clayton Kershaw about his role in several Dodgers last week speaking out about racial injustice, including those faced by his Black teammates and coaches, and raising money to help fight it. “I want us to focus on trying to make sure that Black kids have the same opportunities as our kids,” Kershaw told McCullough.

Charley Steiner is considered high-risk to work games at Dodger Stadium, so his radio calls this season will be from his house. Jorge Castillo at the Los Angeles Times has more.

Bill Shaikin at the Los Angeles Times talked to Vin Scully about a spring training game he called in 1968. Scully was in Vero Beach, but the game was in the Bahamas, and the broadcast included fake crowd noise and erroneous stories of places visited earlier in the day. “I decided that, since we were going to broadcast it, I would fake it to the nth degree,” Scully told Shaikin.

Mike Petriello of MLB.com wrote about six under-the-radar arms to watch in 2020, including Julio Urías. Among the superlatives for the 23-year-old Dodgers lefty was that he had the lowest hard-hit rate in MLB last year.

The Giants will be without Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria for their season-opening series against the Dodgers, with both players starting on the injured list. Henry Schulman at the San Francisco Chronicle has more.

Speaking of Betts, in case you missed it here is his home run from Monday night: