While the reports from camp say that the Dodgers shortstop is back in action, it’s hard not to think about what would happen if he wasn’t ready to go on opening day. What would the Dodgers do if Seager isn’t ready on April 3rd? Would the front office send out one Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernández, or Charlie Culberson in hope that one of them would stick at the position? What if this injury is something worse? What if it derails his entire 2017 season and the Dodgers’ chance at a 5th straight NL West Division title? If last year was any indication, this front office will send anyone out there until there’s some semblance of production.
The trio of players listed above are already fighting for a spot on the crowded 25-man roster. An injury to Seager would be a chance for any one of the three to prove that they are more than just a utility player. Charlie Culberson was a hero for the Dodgers last year as he famously sent them to the postseason with an extra-innings home run, which happened to be Vin Scully’s last game at Dodger Stadium. However, when it comes to offensive prowess for Culberson, last year’s heroics is as good as it gets. He’s a glove first utility man who can help give Seager or Justin Turner some rest as the year goes on.
Chris Taylor is also on the outside looking in. He’s another glove first player that can play any spot in the infield but his hitting is keeping him from playing every day. Taylor and Culberson are right handed batters who play the same positions. While Taylor profiles as a better shortstop than Culberson, it’s hard to see them being on the Dodgers major league roster at the same time.
Enrique Hernández has the inside track on being Seager’s back-up thanks to his ability to play the outfield as well as the infield. However, Hernández needs to repeat his 2015 dominance of left-handed pitching. With a line of .423/.471/.744 against left-handed pitching in 2015, he was one of the players the Dodgers were banking on hitting left-handed pitching well in 2016. That was not the case as he went on to have his worst year at the plate in the majors. While he did see some significant time on the disabled list in 2016, he could not produce the 2015 numbers when he was healthy. If Hernández can produce at 2015 levels, a spot on the 25-man roster is guaranteed because of his ability to play the outfield as well as the left side of the infield.
If Seager goes down again (hopefully not) expect to see Hernández at shortstop if he figured out his woes at the plate. If Hernández doesn’t produce at the plate expect to see at least a trio of backups to help fill a very big void. Here’s to Seager’s health and his “A” swing because if there’s one position the Dodgers can’t afford to have an injury to its at shortstop. The drop in production at shortstop is unfathomable if Seager is not ready to go.