AJ Pollock had a productive first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, built on that in 2020 and last year put together his best performance since signing a $60 million contract.
While several Dodgers were struggling to produce, Pollock emerged as arguably the team’s best hitter for a prolonged stretch. He fared well during the first half of the 2021 season and carried that over after the All-Star Game.
“Since the break he’s played as good of baseball as anybody,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said at one point during the second half. “Hitting right-handers, left-handers, playing really good defense, being dynamic on the bases, he’s slugging but can downshift and hit a base hit when we need it.
“He’s just been an overall really good player. When some guys are running a little bit cold, he’s been picking everybody up and been one of our most consistent performers in the second half.”
“He’s been a linchpin for our club. Offensively, defensively, on the bases, the consistency of at-bat versus right and left. I don’t want to imagine where we’d be without him. He’s got big hit after big hit, he posts and plays. He’s all-in.”
Pollock’s season did include two stints on the injured list, with the first coming May 15 because of a left hamstring strain that sidelined him for three weeks. Pollock then suffered another hamstring strain on Sept. 5 against the San Francisco Giants.
He needed assistance walking down the dugout steps and optics of the injury suggested Pollock would miss the remainder of the season. However, he wound up returning from the Grade 2 strain just over two weeks later.
Pollock finished the season batting .297/.355/.536 with 27 doubles, 21 home runs and 69 RBI over 117 games, which were his most played since appearing in 157 during an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015.
On top of his production at the plate, Pollock additionally was among the Dodgers named a Gold Glove Award finalist.
Pollock’s 2021 highlight
With the Dodgers mired in a three-game losing streak and on the verge of getting swept by the Milwaukee Brewers, Pollock collected eight RBI in a 16-4 win.
Matt Beaty had seven RBI, marking the first time in Dodgers franchise history they had two players drive in at least seven runs in the same game. Yasiel Puig (seven RBI) and Cody Bellinger (six) were closest to accomplishing the feat on Sept. 15, 2018.
Pollock became the sixth player in Dodgers history with at least eight RBI in a game. He fell one shy of tying the franchise record shared by James Loney and Gil Hodges.
Another memorable performance by the veteran outfielder came in the field, when he robbed Manny Machado of a home run at Petco Park.
Although the hamstring injuries did not cost Pollock a significant amount of time, they wound up looming large as he fell 11 plate appearances short of becoming eligible to opt out of his contract after the 2021 season.
Pollock remains under contract at $10 million for this season and $12 million on the Dodgers’ payroll, which is calculated by using average annual value.
Pollock’s deal does include a player option for 2023 at $10 million and with a $5 million buyout. The value of the option increases $1 million for 400, 450, 500, 550 and 600 plate appearances made in 2022.
The option also increases if Pollock finishes within the top 10 of MVP voting in 2021-22. If he wins the award, the value would increase by an extra $5 million, second through fifth would increase the value by $3 million, and sixth through 10th would increase the value by $1 million.
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