Daily Dodger in review: Wanting so very much to love Jerry Sands
Final 2011 stats: .253 batting average, four homers, 26 RBI, .338 on-base percentage, .389 slugging percentage in 198 at-bats, plus no errors and six assists.
Contract status: Under team control.
The good: After being called up a second time when rosters were expanded, he hit .343 in September with a .413 on-base percentage and a .493 slugging percentage. Included was a 14-game hitting streak. Showed a strong, if not always perfectly accurate, arm.
The bad: In his first call-up, surprisingly on April 17, he hit .200 with a measly .294 on-base percentage and .328 slugging percentage. Had trouble pulling the ball. Considering expectations for the Dodgers' reigning Minor League Player of the Year, a disappointing start.
What’s next: All things are possible. His strong September has likely earned him a spot on the team next spring, though that’s hardly assured.
When James Loney was off to his rotten first half, there was thought Sands might be moved to first. But Loney’s strong second half has probably assured his return, unless of course, you’re a believer in the team signing Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols or Jimmie Foxx. In which case, there is even the remote possibility of Loney moving to left.
The take: Admit it, you want to love Sands. You want so very much to love him. The farm system has produced intriguing arms and speedy shortstop Dee Gordon, but power bats are in short supply.
Sands appears to be the one player who could emerge as a slugger. And as I might have mentioned, the Dodgers remain in dire need of an impact bat.
If Sands could make the leap, an in-house solution is the easiest way to go; also the cheapest. There are no guarantees here, though, and even manager Don Mattingly has warned against becoming too enamored with September stats.
The Dodgers need someone to bat fifth behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, and that would be asking a lot of Sands. His situation is left uncertain by the organization not really knowing if it can attempt to go after a significant free agent while the ownership situation hovers in purgatory. Still, he showed maturity in handling his demotion last season, working on his swing and returning an improved player. Plus, he’s getting married and playing winter ball in the off-season.
Sands should believe he belongs now, which is a plus. It would be something of a gamble to start next season with Sands and Gordon both as regulars in the lineup, but right now, that’s the most likely scenario.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers left fielder Jerry Sands hits a single against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 17. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images