Daily Dodger in review: Tony Gwynn Jr. delivers as hoped
Final 2011 stats: .256 batting average, .308 on-base percentage, 37 runs, 22 steals in 28 attempts, 312 at-bats, one error.
Contract status: Arbitration eligible.
The good: Gwynn delivered pretty much what the Dodgers hoped he would – excellent defense, speed on the bases and a .250-ish batting average. Played mostly left field, where he had seven of his eight assists. His steals were third-highest on the team.
The bad: At the plate, he was less than consistent. He had two excellent hitting months (June .309, July .303), two mediocre months (April .264, August .257) and two dismal months (May .067, September .214). No power, but none was ever expected.
What’s next: The Dodgers have to decide whether to offer him arbitration. He made $675,000 last season, so he figures to be in line for a raise to something a tad over $1 million.
The take: Considering the unknown circling the team and its owners, there are precious few certainties on this club, but bringing him back as an extra outfielder for another year seems a fairly easy call. And comparatively inexpensive. If he believes he's earned a multiyear contract, then the game changes.
Of course, the Dodgers hope they identify an everyday left-fielder that would diminish Gwynn’s role. If he's getting over 300 at-bats again next year, something is wrong.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt his cause that – like his father – he's a high-character guy and great to have in the clubhouse.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Tony Gwynn Jr. makes a diving catch against the Washington Nationals on Sept. 5. Credit: Greg Fiume / Getty Images