2013 in brief: Combined the expected mediocre offense with defense that was merely bad in the outfield and excruciating at second base, resulting in a below-replacement season.
2014 status: Free agent. May have to settle for a non-roster invite somewhere, hopefully not with the Dodgers.
Unfortunately, we ran into a small bit of website trouble last December, and when I got things fixed a few days of posts had been lost. One of those was the post where I broke the news that Skip Schumaker had been acquired from St. Louis for minor league shortstop Jake Lemmerman, which is unfortunate, because that was a particular high point for me.
It was also a high point for Schumaker’s hopefully completed tenure with the Dodgers, because, it wasn’t great. He was expected to be a somewhat interesting bench piece, providing depth in the outfield as well as using a decent platoon split to pair with Mark Ellis at second. In theory, that’s a unique and fascinating role.
But while Schumaker got all the playing time you’d expect him to — more, really — the value never came with it. It didn’t help that he started off the season in an awful slump, not pulling his batting average above .200 until May 21, and the platoon split never really showed up. Sure, we complained that Ellis hit only .265/.319/.325 against righties, but Schumaker managed only .265/.338/.333, which is only ever so slightly better.
Schumaker paired that with some truly, truly terrible defense at second, a huge step down from Ellis. You know as well as I do that single-year defensive metrics aren’t infallible, but I’m also not going to pretend that the fact that he was ranked as the worst defensive 2B in baseball doesn’t pass the sniff test.
As the season went on, Schumaker saw less time at second (only eight starts over the last two months) and more in the outfield as injuries mounted, though his defense was sub-par out there as well. He did manage to heat up over the summer, though, hitting .341/.412/.484 in July & August (which, when looking at his season line, should tell you how rough his first two months were) and in his spare time, led the major leagues in ERA, twice entering in blowouts to throw a scoreless inning:
But of course, after hitting .204/.246/.241 in September, we were faced with a very uncomfortable proposition: with Matt Kemp suddenly out for the year, and Andre Ethier hobbled by an ankle injury, the Dodgers had no choice but to go with Schumaker in center field in the playoffs.
That went about as well as you’d expect. Schumaker started all four games of the NLDS, hitting only .231/.313/.231. That motivated the team to try to get by with Ethier in the NLCS, while Schumaker started Game 2 and pinch-hit in three others, going 0-6.
Schumaker turns 34 in February, and while I’m sure he’d love to return, I’m hoping the Dodgers can find a way to upgrade. He’ll be a free agent, and I wonder if the days of him getting guaranteed major league deals are over.