In the conclusion of a nine-part series, I preview the Dodgers' right field situation for 2011.
Let's hope no pinkie injuries arise this season.
- Ethier was the best hitter in the game through May 14 before a freak injury while swinging broke the pinkie on his right hand. Ethier was leading the National League in all the Triple Crown categories before the injury. He didn't end with terrible numbers, but like most Dodgers in the second half of 2010, he struggled. Ethier still needs to get better against left-handed pitching, but he is penciled in as the Dodgers' No. 3 hitter and right fielder. The only way he gets moved off right field is if Tony Gwynn hits enough to bump Kemp from center- to right field, subsequently shifting Ethier to left field. He is the Dodgers' best hitter and they're going to need him this season. His defense is atrocious, but his bat, as we all know, is legitimate.
- I only include Kemp here in the extremely rare scenario when Gwynn plays well enough in Spring Training to be the Dodgers' center fielder. The best potential defensive outfield lies with the Dodgers playing Gwynn in CF, Kemp in RF and Ethier in LF. That isn't likely to happen, though. Kemp will, in all likelihood, be the Dodgers' Opening Day center fielder.
Others: Jay Gibbons, Gabe Kapler, Jerry Sands
The Dodgers should get above-average offense from right field, no matter who is playing there. Unless Ethier made some real strides this off-season on defense, the glove work in right will be well below average. Ethier was the worst defensive right fielder in baseball, according to UZR, in 2010. I don't think Ethier's defense will be as bad as it was in 2010, but I wouldn't expect him to win a Gold Glove anytime soon.
That concludes my season preview series. I hope you enjoyed it. Go Blue!