Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers had a fairly quiet offseason, most notably signing J.D. Martinez and Noah Syndergaard to one-year contracts, which have provided mixed results. But some of the biggest impact has come from two of their more under-the-radar signings in David Peralta and Jason Heyward.
Peralta signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal near the end of the offseason, while Heyward agreed to a Minor League contract. The contracts reflected the state of each player, with Peralta viewed as more of a role player and Heyward looking to continue his career and rebound from back-to-back years where he was far below league average.
Both veteran outfielders have become important pieces in the Dodgers lineup while playing mostly every game a right-hander is on the mound. They have received limited at-bats against left-handers, which is by design in their platoon roles.
The top of the lineup for the Dodgers was never a question if they would produce, but there was some concern with how the order would shape up following the first five hitters, but Peralta and Heyward have helped answer that question.
“I think for me, it starts with David and Jason,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Professional hitters just taking really good at-bats.
“So if you look at those guys, they’ve kind of added some length to our lineup. Those guys obviously had nice nights to drive in some runs, picked us up big. For me, it’s just the quality of at-bat and they’re very dependable players.”
Peralta is hitting .290/.326/.420 this season, but over his last 30 games he’s batting .376/.404/.516. He’s added five home runs, 30 RBI and 22 runs scored with nine doubles and one triple, and is on a current nine-game hitting streak.
As for Heyward, he’s batting .257/.351/.479 with eight home runs, 21 RBI and 32 runs scored, along with 13 doubles. Heyward worked on rebuilding his swing in the offseason, and the results are showing after he hit just one home run in 48 games last season, compared to his eight in 66 games this year.
Heyward has been hitting the ball hard all season, but early on he was facing some bad luck. Like Peralta, Heyward has seen much better results over his past 30 games, batting .301/.372/.518.
The former All-Star continued to see his luck turn around on Monday when he hit a hard ground ball to Carlos Santana at first base, but he was unable to field it clearly, which turned into an extra-base hit for Heyward.
“We got a little help right there, but the J-Hey one was a shot that Santana was just trying to knock down,” Roberts said. “It turned into a double, and then the error on the other one. With baseball, you take it anything you can get it. Like I said earlier, Jason has been having good at-bats so it was good for him to get rewarded.”
The Dodgers still need to find another platoon bat to compliment the pair of veterans for when a lefty is on the mound, but the club is surely thrilled with the production they have received from the duo. They also are fortunate both play the strong side of a platoon with the majority of pitchers in MLB throwing right-handed.
Freddie Freeman helped push Dodgers to sign Jason Heyward
When the Dodgers signed Heyward, it reunited him with Freddie Freeman as the two spent five seasons together on the Atlanta Braves from 2010-2014. Both players were selected by the team in the 2007 MLB Draft and rose through the organization’s farm system more than a decade ago.
But it wasn’t just a coincidence as Freeman was actively lobbying for the Dodgers to sign Heyward.
“When I talked to Jason in the last couple months of the season, I went straight to Andrew Friedman and Brandon Gomes, and was like, ‘Hey guys, it’s a perfect fit. He’s a wonderful human, there’s a lot left in there,’” Freeman recalled during the offseason.
“I stayed on them for a little bit. As the offseason went on, I talked to Jason pretty much every day, and things just kind of fell into place.
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