For the second straight season, AJ Pollock proved to be one of the best bargains in baseball. Not only that, he had one of best seasons of his career in 2021.
The 33-year-old outfielder was excellent for the Dodgers, as he was consistently one of the best bats in the lineup. Pollock hit just under .300 while posting an OPS of .892, the best of his big-league career. In addition to a career-high OPS, he also had career-bests in OPS+ (137) and wRC+ (137).
Most importantly, Pollock delivered in the playoffs for LA. Entering the 2021 postseason, Pollock was hitting .167 with an OPS of .428 in 19 career games for the Dodgers in October. He flipped the script, as he was one of LA’s only reliable hitters throughout the postseason. In his final nine October games, Pollock hit .379 with an OPS of 1.124.
After a strong 2020 campaign, Pollock picked up where he left off. Through his first 32 games, he was hitting .277 with 17 runs driven in. A hamstring injury then cost him nearly three weeks. When he returned from the IL, Pollock was one of LA’s top hitters.
Over his next 75 games, Pollock hit .304 with an OPS of .886 to go along with 12 home runs and 41 runs driven in. There was a stretch from early July through the middle of August in which he had a base hit in 25 of 26 starts. From July 7 through August 12, Pollock was truly the best hitter in all of baseball. He posted a slash line of .434/.474/.717/1.191. He had 18 extra base-hits and drove in 18 runs.
During the run, he had quite the series in San Diego. He had one of the best catches of the season, as he robbed Manny Machado of a home run. His catch kept the Dodgers ahead. Later in the seventh, with the Dodgers hanging onto a 1-0 lead, Pollock singled in two runs to put LA on top 3-0.
He delivered in the clutch the following game, as he hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the 16th inning to help give the Dodgers the victory.
Pollock suffered another hamstring injury early in September. The initial diagnosis made is sound like Pollock might miss the remainder of the season, which would have been a massive blow to the Dodgers. Instead, he missed less than three weeks.
Pollock was scorching hot upon his return to LA’s lineup, as he hit five home runs and posted a 1.256 OPS over his final 10 games of the season.
As I mentioned earlier, Pollock’s hot bat during the season carried over to October, where he was one of LA’s best hitters.
Stats: .297/.355/.536/.892, 21 HR, 69 RBI, 27 2B, 9 SB, 137 OPS+, 137 wRC+, .375 wOBA, 3.1 bWAR, 3.0 fWAR
Salary: $18 million
Game of the year
Throughout the season, Pollock had a number of memorable games. However, you get bonus points when you show up in the postseason.
After struggling in October through his Dodgers tenure, Pollock turned things around in 2021. He delivered multiple big hits and was one of LA’s most consistent hitters. His biggest game came in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Braves.
Pollock had three hits, including two home runs. LA went on to win the game in dominating fashion.
- Pollock is under contract for two more seasons, though he has a 2023 player option that includes a $5 million buyout. His 2023 option escalates $1M each for 400, 450, 500, 550, 600 plate appearances in 2022.