Greg Dobbs, IF (LHB)
Age: 30 (31, July 2)
2008: 226 AB / 30 R / 9 HR / 40 RBI / 11 BB / 40 SO / 3 SB / .301 AVG / .333 OBP / .491 SLG
Summary: In 2008, Greg Dobbs solidified himself as baseball’s top pinch hitter. He broke the franchise single-season record for pinch hits while slugging nine home runs and driving in 40. He’s a free swinger who, when he gets a piece of the ball, usually gets it through the infield some way. In 2008 he cut down on his ground balls (30.5 percent) while raising his ratio of line drives to 24 percent. He has good contact at most places in the strike zone, though he has seen fewer fastballs in recent years — breaking balls are a small Achilles heel for Dobbs. The larger Achilles heel is hitting left-handed pitching (.111/.200/.111). Though Dobbs cut down on his errors at third base in 2008 (from 7 to 3), he remains an average-at-best fielder, mainly because of suspect range from third. Still, Dobbs remains an acutely smart player and individual — one capable of riding out his role to even more success.
Career Level: Prime (Year 2)
Green Flags: His job is to hit the ball, and he does just that. … His ground-ball tendencies decreasing shows Dobbs is growing into a run-producer first, which is his primary goal. … His .920 OPS as a pinch hitter shows he knows what he has to do.
Red Flags: If he keeps seeing more breaking pitches he might have some trouble picking them. … He still strikes out a lot and walks not enough. … Even “professional” hitters can slow down, so Dobbs can have an off year. … He could be better against lefties.
Prognostication: Dobbs is pretty comfortable now, and as long as Pedro Feliz gets the lion’s share of starts at third base, there’s no reason to think Dobbs could do even better as a pinch hitter in 2009. That he doesn’t hit lefties well is troubling, but he’ll likely see very little of them. He could have his most powerful season yet, depending on the amount of time he sees. Counting numbers might decrease, but averages might be at their best.
2009 Projection: 208 AB / 27 R / 8 HR / 34 RBI / 10 BB / 34 SO / 1 SB / .293 AVG / .334 OBP / .493 SLG