Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says defense at shortstop will be Miguel Rojas’s primary focus, but he also believe Rojas can improve as a hitter.
With Gavin Lux out for the season with a torn ACL, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said on Tuesday that Miguel Rojas will get most of the at-bats at shortstop for Los Angeles. Rojas had been slated to be the utility infielder, but he’ll now shift into more of a starting role.
Rojas is an excellent defender, but he’s had just one good offensive season in his career, and that was the shortened 2020 season. Overall, his 85 career OPS+ is 15% worse than league average, and he’s been right around that mark the last two seasons.
Roberts, though, thinks LA’s team of hitting coaches might be able to help Rojas find a little bit more in his bat. When he was asked how replacing Lux with Rojas will affect the offense, Roberts said defense is the main priority but he thinks Rojas’s offense can improve.
“[With Miguel], I think there’s more in there offensively than there has been the last two years. It’s the defense that’s the primary focus, and I felt that way with Gavin as well at shortstop, taking on that position. So he’s going to hit somewhere at the bottom of the order and be the leader and he’s going to put together good at-bats, but it’s not going to be his job to carry us offensively. We expect that professional at-bat and I think with the information that we have and the game prep, I still believe that there’s a lot more than there has been the last two years.”
Rojas can definitely handle the bat well — his career strikeout rate is just 12.6% and it was 12.0% last year, which would have easily been the best on the Dodgers. Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts are the only other players on the current team who were even below 20%. So there’s a good baseline to work from.
Chances are, Rojas will continue to be roughly the same offensive player he’s always been, but with the track record of LA’s coaching staff, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him end up closer to league average. If he can play great defense with average offense, he’ll be a perfectly fine fill-in for Lux.