In his best year (2009), Gwynn reached the .350 mark in on-base percentage, but other than that and a good year on the basepaths last season (17 steals in 21 attempts), Gwynn has zero — or less than zero — offensive value.
Defensively, Gwynn’s another story, as he was arguably the best center fielder in the National League last season.
So if the Dodgers plan on using Gwynn as more than a fifth outfielder, should they not play him in center field, either moving Matt Kemp to left field or Kemp to right and Andre Ethier to left?
Just as you shouldn’t bat a great offensive player eighth, shouldn’t you avoid minimizing the impact of a fine defensive player?
The Dodgers’ 2011 lineup may be the most OBP-challenged we’ve seen in Los Angeles in some time. If the plan is to win with pitching and defense, while hoping that Kemp, Ethier and others hit a few home runs along the way, the Dodgers should seriously consider using Gwynn in center.
Of course, if the Dodgers want to find more offense for that third outfield slot, fine by me.
Update: R.J. Anderson of Fangraphs has more on Gwynn.
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According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, in addition to his $2 million base salary, Vicente Padilla could earn as much as $8 million in incentives as a starter or $6 million in incentives as a reliever.