The Los Angeles Dodgers still have multiple needs to fill but their outfield is locked in and should be a strength of the team in 2022.
Along with superstars Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger, AJ Pollock has been one of the Dodgers’ most consistent contributors, which has him ranked among the top-10 left fielders in baseball by ESPN’s Buster Olney. Olney amassed his annual list by receiving input from evaluators and others around baseball.
Pollock was ranked No. 7 on the list, putting him ahead of Atlanta Braves left fielder Marcell Ozuna, who was suspended last season for domestic violence, Mark Cahna of the New York Mets and Andrew Benitendi of the Kansas City Royals.
Ahead of Pollock are Tyler O’Neil at No. 1, and who is coming off a breakout season for the St. Louis Cardinals, Jesse Winker (Cincinnati Reds), Randy Arozarena (Tampa Bay Rays), Joey Gallo (New York Yankees), Michael Brantley (Houston Astros) and former National League MVP Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The recently turned 34-year-old is coming off the best offensive season of his career where he hit .297/.355/.536 with 21 home runs, 69 RBIs, 53 runs scored, nine stolen bases, a 137 wRC+ and three WAR in 117 games.
Pollock’s fantastic 2021 season followed a strong showing in 2020, when he hit .376/.314/.566 with a 131 wRC+ and 16 home runs in 55 games.
In addition to his strong stats, Pollock’s numbers were backed up by his batted ball profile as he finished the season in the 72nd percentile of average exit velocity, 79th percentile of max exit velocity, 82nd percentile of hard-hit rate and had an expected batting average of .285 that ranked in the top 10% of players in the league.
Defensively, Pollock finished the season with zero outs above average, ranking him in the 41st percentile of outfielders, and among players with at least 800 innings spent in left field, Pollock was sixth with a -1.3 UZR. He also had a perfect fielding percentage to go along with four assists, which is tied for third-most.
He was named a Gold Glove finalist but ultimately lost the award to O’Neil.
Pollock failed to meet plate appearances threshold to reach free agency
Pollock signed a four-year, $55 million contract in January 2019 with a player option for 2023 that also included the chance to opt-out after the 2021 season if he reached a combined 1,000 plate appearances from 2020-21, or 1,450 plate appearances from 2019-21.
However, Pollock fell just short of that mark, according to Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors. Pollock needed 433 plate appearances in 2021 to trigger the opt-out clause, but he finished the season with 422, keeping him under contract for 2022.
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