Looking at how the Dodgers envisioned the opening of their 2017 season, they faced some skepticism. Trayce Thompson was on the verge of star-studded status last season. Unfortunately he ended up with a season-ending back injury in July. The Los Angeles Dodgers had to maneuver their attacks against left-handed pitching and cope with losing a plus-defender in the outfield. Thompson’s back injury held him out of play for the remainder of last season, after he was sidelined in July. Having an impactful right-handed bat on the disabled list for the ‘dog days’ of last season proved to be a major downfall of the 2016 Dodgers.
But… Their man is back and feeling good after smashing a home run in a Spring Training game coming against the Seattle Mariners. Trayce took the stage going 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI on his twenty-sixth birthday.
As mentioned in the recent past, LA did add some sticks this offseason to help out on the right side. The production of a young Trayce Thompson could catapult the Dodgers’ offense this season (if healthy). Thompson put up stellar numbers for only playing until July last year. However, he did not post a flattering average throughout his 80 games played. He sported a .225 batting average (via: mlb.com) – but Thompson did post up 13 home runs in those 80 appearances. Even while his average was a better .227 against right-handed pitching and only .219 versus left-handers, there is still reason to believe that he will crush southpaws when healthy.
In only 44 games with the Chicago White Sox during 2015, Trayce slashed .327 against left-handers. He also posted a solid .269 against right-handers (via: mlb.com). He added five home runs when he came up with the White Sox but they never discovered his power potential.
Looking ahead, Los Angeles can expect middle-of-the-lineup production. It certainly would not be out of Thompson’s capabilities to swat 25 or more home runs, while batting in 80 runs and maintaining a batting average of at least .270. The focus for both the Dodgers and Thompson going into 2017 is to stay healthy. Appearing in over 140 games would be a reasonable expectation; and with the repetitions, the production should only follow it up.
Seeing health and production are obviously a luxury for a ball club like the Dodgers. In LA’s case however, they have age on their side with Trayce Thompson. Only turning 26 years old, Trayce is still young, and should be a centrepiece in the Dodgers’ clubhouse. Thompson will also compliment an offense that could be firing on a potentially record-breaking rate this year.
The current room for upside in the Dodgers’ organization is immense. They possess 9 position players who are capable of putting up 20-home run seasons (Seager, Pederson, Thompson – as potential candidates). On top of their surplus of power, if the Dodgers maintain a healthy roster throughout the season, their offense is accompanied by above-average defense and what could be the best starting rotation in the National League.