A.J. Pollock hit two home runs in Sunday’s season finale, giving the Dodgers outfielder more home runs this season (16) than he hit last year (15). But a more obscure note came from Saturday, when he batted ninth.
Pollock started at least one game at all nine spots in the batting order, and hit .276/.314/.556 for a 132 wRC+.
“I can’t speak enough about A.J.,” manager Dave Roberts said Sunday. “I think even the teammate supersedes the performance, and the performance has been fantastic. Right, left, defensively, just buying in to whatever we asked of him in the lineup. He’s a leader on the team on the position player side, and I’m really happy for him.”
Pollock slugged 1.067 out of the leadoff spot — thanks to three home runs in 16 plate appearances, including two homers Sunday — though his most home runs (four) came out of both the fifth and sixth slots in the lineup.
“We’ve had some moving parts the whole year,” Pollock said Sunday. “They don’t need to communicate too much to me. Wherever you put me in the lineup, it really doesn’t matter. It’s just all external. For me, it’s just focus on getting myself in good positions to hit, and preparing the right way.”
Speaking of moving parts
A byproduct of carrying 15 pitchers on a 28-man roster, coupled with no more expanded September rosters, make it hard to make wholesale lineup changes, say the day after clinching a division, or perhaps the last day of the regular season.
On Sunday the Dodgers were already resting Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger, and Roberts wanted to make sure both Justin Turner and Max Muncy, both dealing with ailments recently, were removed after a few at-bats.
Having those four players out exhausted the available Dodgers bench, so when Roberts wanted to rest shortstop Corey Seager for a few innings, there were no position players remaining. Seager was removed after seven innings, and after some others moved around on defense, that left right field open for Adam Kolarek.
That’s pitcher Adam Kolarek, who played three games at first base in 2019, but hadn’t played outfield since his freshman year at Maryland in 2008.
“You have a couple guys you’ve been leaning on,” Roberts said. “With Corey, we were just trying to figure out a way to get him off his feet. We figured, A.K. has played right field, so it worked out well.”
Only one ball was hit to the outfield in Kolarek’s two innings on defense, and it was hit to Pollock in center field.