On this Christmas edition of the Dodgers Year in Review series, we now turn our attention to Trayce Thompson. When the Dodgers broke camp and started play against the Rockies in Denver, if you were to approach a random reader of True Blue LA and state “Trayce Thompson is going to be a major contributor to the 2022 Dodgers,” the vast majority of them would not have believed you.
Thompson started the year in the Padres organization at Triple-A El Paso before being called up on April 28 to replace the oft-injured Wil Myers. According to our sister site, Gaslamp Ball, Thompson was the obvious choice to replace Myers on the roster, as Thompson was raking in El Paso and had already hit nine home runs in 16 minor league games, with a 1.244 OPS.
While Thompson got a hit in his first game with the Padres on April 29, he did not record a single hit in any of his next five appearances. On May 10, the Padres designated Thompson for assignment and four days later, Thompson elected free agency. On May 19, Detroit signed Thompson to a minor league contract and Thompson was assigned to Triple-A Toledo.
While at Toledo, Thompson played in 25 games and hit .299/.352./.639 with seven doubles and eight home runs. On June 20, the Dodgers acquired Trayce Thompson from Detroit for cash considerations. Thompson never looked back, and the Dodgers had their Cinderella Man.
Thompson made his presence felt immediately with the Dodgers, clubbing a massive home run in Cincinnati in his return stint with the Dodgers. By the end of July, Thompson had raised his slash line from .071/.188/.071 to .260/.345/.460 with four home runs, six doubles, and 17 RBI, while forcing his way into regular playing time mostly in left field.
Famously, at this point of the season, Thompson’s brother, Klay Thompson was enjoying the show watching Trayce succeed as a prodigal Dodger.
Thompson’s offensive performance reached its zenith at end of August as he was hitting .279/.369/.517, clubbing six doubles and three home runs during the month. At this point, Thompson was a regular, splitting his time in center field and left field.
But unfortunately for Thompson, midnight struck a bit earlier than he would have liked. While Thompson rediscovered his power stroke in September, his other offensive statistics started to dip. September saw Thompson hit six home runs, but he also struck out 34 times.
Ultimately, I saw Thompson in twelve regular-season appearances in 2022, culminating in clubbing the decisive blow against the Giants on September 17.
Thompson made a postseason roster for the first time in his career, but largely looked lost at the plate in the NLDS against the Padres. He played every inning of all four games but went 2 for 13 (.154/.313/.154) with three walks and six strikeouts.
Even with the playoff disappointment, Thompson has something that has largely eluded him so far in his career: he has created the expectation that he will be a regular on a major league roster. No one knows how long Thompson will remain with the Dodgers. No one knows whether Thompson will improve or regress.
On this holiday, it is important to note something important that many will overlook. In many ways, Thompson’s story is a triumph of the human spirit. His success in 2022 demonstrates how if one never gives up and when presented with the right opportunity, one can take command of one’s own destiny.
Stats: .268/.364/.537, 145 OPS+, 14 doubles, 13 HR w/LA; 1.9 bWAR, 2.5 fWAR on season
Game of the year
Picking a game where Thompson truly excelled was difficult because he was generally quite good for most of the year with the Dodgers. Ultimately, we are going to select August 12 in Kansas City as had three hits, including a home run and double, scored twice, and drove in three. Kirsten Watson also interviewed Thompson after the game before the fireworks show.
Thompson is on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster and has three years, ten days of service time, making him eligible for salary arbitration for the first time, where he is forecast to earn $1.7 million for 2023. Thompson is out of options.