.205/.286/.386 50pa 1hr 0.3 fWAR (inc.)
2012 in brief: Contributed little in sparing early play before back injury ended his season in May.
2013 status: Has a very tenuous hold on a 40-man roster spot and is likely headed back for the minors thanks to injury, poor performance, and roster crunch.
See the picture of Justin Sellers in his card over there? He’s on top of the world in that May moment, having just made an absolutely spectacular tumbling catch into the stands behind third base. (Must-watch video of the play can be found here.) Fans are going crazy. The joy in his face is apparent. And Dee Gordon is hidden in the back, trying to figure out if he should just keep on going into the seats.
It was a great moment for Sellers, but unfortunately for him it was the beginning of the end of his season. Sellers injured his back on the play and tried to play through pain for the next week before being placed on the disabled list. He was originally supposed to be out for only a few weeks, but never did make it back and eventually underwent surgery in August, officially ending his year.
Now for a guy who was never really seen as a prospect and had only 50 plate appearances for the Dodgers this year before getting hurt, I feel like we talked & thought about Sellers far more than he ever deserved. I suppose it’s because we were so desperate to improve on Juan Uribe & Adam Kennedy in any way possible, and at one point, things were bad enough that after Mark Ellis was hurt on May 20, I actually had to write this:
With Jerry Hairston sidelined at least through Wednesday, Juan Uribe scheduled to see a wrist specialist with no return date planned, and Dee Gordon benched due to ineffectiveness, the Dodgers now have a 2B/SS/3B rotation of Elian Herrera, Justin Sellers, Ivan De Jesus, & Adam Kennedy.
That was the dark time before Hanley Ramirez & Luis Cruz, and it’s just unspeakably awful beyond words. As for Sellers, he beat out Josh Fields & Jerry Sands (or, rather, was the beneficiary of Sands torpedoing his chances with a horrible spring) for the final spot out of camp, and played sparingly until being optioned out when Bobby Abreu arrived in early May. He was only down briefly, because Jerry Hairston injured his hamstring in Chicago soon after, and when he returned he made several starts at shortstop as Gordon struggled terribly.
Of course, Sellers wouldn’t be a 2012 Dodger if he hadn’t been injured himself. So will we ever see him again? If I’m being honest, the answer is, “probably not, and who cares.” The Dodgers already have something like 21 different infielders under contract for 2013, and 40-man spots are at a premium, so it’s hard to think a 27-year-old who has shown no ability to hit in the bigs coming off a major surgery is going to get much of a shot. I am totally okay with that, though I’d certainly like him to remain in the organization as Triple-A depth if it works out that way. We’ll always have that three-run homer you hit in front of the hometown fans last year, though, right?
Next up! Luis Cruz, Hall of Famer!