The Mariners narrowly missed the playoffs, but the second baseman with a 35 wRC+ they released in August ended up playing in all three postseason games for the Dodgers in 2023. This was a trying year for Kolten Wong, though one that ended on an uptick.
After two solid years with the Brewers, Wong had his option picked up by Milwaukee last November and was traded to Seattle in December. Things just never worked out with the Mariners for Wong, who hit just .183/.256/.263 in 67 games. His highest OPS an any month for Seattle was .510, which led to his release on August 3.
The Dodgers signed Wong to a minor league deal less than a week later, though most of his work at Camelback Ranch was behind the scenes, as he didn’t join Triple-A Oklahoma City until August 26.
“Right after I signed I went down there to Arizona and started working with the hitting coaches, working in the hitting labs,” Wong said. “Just kind of cleaned up some things that had kind of creeped up while I was in Seattle that kind of led to my demise.”
Wong played only three games in Oklahoma City, but made the most of them with seven hits, including two doubles, a home run, and six RBI.
A looming opt-out clause helped Wong’s case for joining the Dodgers as their 14th position player once active rosters expanded, so he was called up to Los Angeles on September 1.
After two home runs in 216 plate appearances with the Mariners, Wong in his first at-bat with the Dodgers hit a pinch-hit three-run home run against the Braves.
First Dodger at-bat for Kolten Wong? Homer. pic.twitter.com/vjsD1BkWCE— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 2, 2023
Wong only started four games with the Dodgers, two of them after they clinched the National League West. But he played often, appearing in 20 of 29 games, often as a late-inning defensive replacement or pinch-hitter if Dave Roberts wanted a left-handed batter.
Wong did well in limited duty in Los Angeles, hitting .300 with an .853 OPS in all of 34 plate appearances. His left-handedness at the plate proved important when the Dodgers were deciding their roster for the NL Division Series against a Diamondbacks team with all right-handed starting pitchers.
He made the NLDS roster and played in all three games, as as a pinch-hitter who finished out the game at second base. The most climactic of Wong’s four appearances came in the sixth inning of Game 2, with the Dodgers down 4-2 with the bases loaded and two outs. With the right-handed Ryan Thompson entering to pitch for Arizona, Roberts tabbed Wong to pinch-hit for the right-handed Miguel Rojas, and Wong grounded out weakly to first base to end the threat.
Wong was hitless in three at-bats in the NLDS but also walked once, his on-base percentage in the series (.250) technically higher that the Dodgers as a team (.248).
Stats: .300/.353/.500, 130 wRC+, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 34 PA, 20 G with Dodgers
Salary: $10 million (Dodgers were responsible for $120,000, a pro-rated share of the $720,000 minimum salary)
Game of the year
The Dodgers were blown out on September 28 against the Rockies at Coors Field, but Wong singled in all three of his at-bats after entering the game in the fifth inning.
That was Wong’s second three-hit game of the season, and only one with the Dodgers.
Wong is a free agent.