With Mookie Betts joining the Dodgers (and subsequently signing a gigantic 12-year, $365 million contract), Cody Bellinger coming off a National League MVP performance, and Joc Peterson (still just 27 years old) slugging a career-high 36 home runs last season, A.J. Pollock appeared to be the overlooked man in the team’s outfield mix.
But Pollock, 32, had more important life matters to deal with while a 2020 season was still uncertain. In March, his daughter was born three months premature and had to stay in the hospital. In June, he tested positive for COVID-19, requiring him and his wife to be quarantined from their child for two weeks.
It would’ve been understandable had Pollock chosen to opt out for the season. But with MLB implementing a Universal DH for the 2020 campaign, NL players like Pollock suddenly had a new opportunity to contribute as opposed to settling for a bench role.
Two weeks into the season, he’s been an impact hitter. Splitting time in left field, Pollock leads Dodgers batters with a .364 average and 1.174 OPS in 36 plate appearances and is tied for the team lead with three homers.
And when coming off the bench, he’s also gotten big hits. In Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the San Diego Padres, Pollock pinch-hit for Peterson In the seventh inning and broke up a 2-2 tie with an RBI double. In the ninth, he put the game out of reach with a home run.
Roster depth figured to be extremely important in a shortened season when injuries could result in major time missed and likely doubleheaders tested endurance. Pollock’s early success is showing why that will be a significant advantage for the Dodgers.
Ian Casselberry watchdogs sports media for Awful Announcing. He's covered baseball for SB Nation, Yahoo Sports and MLive, and was one of Bleacher Report's first lead MLB writers. Please follow Ian on Twitter @iancass and give him a listen at The Podcass.
Video credit: SNLA/Dodgers