The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the smartest organizations in the sport, but they made a head-scratching roster decision with Opening Day around the corner.
On Wednesday, the Dodgers announced they've optioned outfielder Andrew Toles to Triple-A Oklahoma City. With this decision, fellow outfielder Joc Pederson and catcher/infielder Kyle Farmer will make the Opening Day roster.
#Dodgers option OF Andrew Toles to AAA. OF Joc Pederson and C/3B Kyle Farmer appear to have made the team.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) March 28, 2018
Pederson may be a household name and came up with higher expectations, but he's never lived up to them and Toles was clearly the better player this spring.
And based off his comments, Toles agrees.
Now, I don't think you should base your decision solely on spring training statistics. However, when you are making a decision on the final couple of players on your roster, what that player did during the spring should be used as a bit of tiebreaker.
And if we do that in this case between Toles and Pederson, it's not even a hard decision.
In 25 spring games (53 at-bats), Toles hit .283 and slugged .566 with eight extra-base hits (three home runs) and 10 RBI. On the flip side, Pederson hit .148 and slugged .259 with four extra-base hits (one home run), two RBI and 15 strikeouts over 21 games (54 at-bats).
Matt Kemp seems to be in line to be the starting left fielder, and unless he returns to his All-Star form, there's a chance they could platoon with him. So with that logic, you'd need a left-handed hitter than can hit righties.
Surprisingly enough, that favors Toles, who in 183 career at-bats against right-hander's is hitting .295 with an .828 OPS. That may be a smaller sample size than Pederson, but in 224 at-bats last season against right-handers, he hit .214 with a .768 OPS.
The Dodgers may be hoping Pederson turns the corner and plays like the All-Star he was in 2015, but Toles earned that spot and would be a better player off the bench than Pederson.