A.J. Pollock

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Allen Lorenz Pollock IV

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Biographical Information[edit]

A.J. Pollock was a first-round pick in the 2009 amateur draft and made his major league debut in 2012.

Pollock hit .2003 as a freshman at RHAM High School, .489 as a sophomore, .386 as a junior and .462 as a senior, when he was named the Gatorade high school Player of the Year for Connecticut.

A.J. hit .372/.464/.474 in 2007 to become the fourth freshman ever to lead Notre Dame in average. He was 4th in the Big East Conference in average. He made the Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American team. Pollock hit .348/.419/.481 for the Vermont Mountaineers of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, leading the league with 15 doubles and finishing second in slugging. As a sophomore, Pollock batted .352/.414/.505 with 28 steals in 31 tries. He made first-team All-Big East, finishing 4th in the conference in swipes. He was the 12th-hardest batter in NCAA Division I to strike out (one K per 21.7 AB). Pollock hit .377/.455/.556 in the 2008 Cape Cod League, playing for the Falmouth Commodores. He was second in average behind Jimmy Cesario, led the league in hits (61), led in doubles (15), led in slugging (.009 over Grant Green) and was third in OBP. He was named the circuit's MVP. Baseball America named him the #7 prospect in the Cape Cod League. As a junior, A.J. hit .365/.443/.610 and made All-Big East once again. He made no errors in 159 chances that season. His 21 steals (in 25 tries) were second in the Big East. He became the second player ever to lead Notre Dame in average three years in a row.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and scout Mike Daughtry signed Pollock as the 17th pick of the 2009 amateur draft; the choice was compensation for the loss of Orlando Hudson to free agency. Pollock matched the highest selection ever by a player from Notre Dame - Ken Plesha (1965) and Brad Lidge (1998) had also gone at #17.

Pollock made his pro debut on June 30 with the South Bend Silver Hawks, going 0 for 4, but he had 6 hits in his next 16 at-bats. For the year, he hit .271/.319/.376 in 63 games in the minors, while fielding .994 in center field. Baseball America rated him as the #13 prospect in the Midwest League, between Eric Hosmer and Wily Peralta. Injury struck in 2010, though, as he missed all season following surgery on a fractured growth plate in his elbow. He returned to action in the Arizona Fall League and hit .389.

Back in action in 2011, Pollock did not show any signs of rust. He batted .307/.357/.444 for the Mobile Bay Bears, with 41 doubles, 103 runs and 36 steals (in 43 tries). In the outfield, he fielded .996 while playing primarily center. He led the Southern League in runs (13 ahead of runner-up Alfredo Silverio), was third in doubles (behind Scott Van Slyke and Silverio), was third in sacrifice flies (9), was third in steals (trailing Quintin Berry and Kevin Mattison), ranked 4th in average (behind Van Slyke, Tyler Kuhn and Rebel Ridling), tied Paul Goldschmidt for 4th in extra-base hits and ranked 4th with 244 total bases (trailing Silverio, Van Slyke and Ernesto Mejia). He led not only the SL, but all of AA baseball in outfield fielding percentage. Among Diamondbacks farmhands, he led in doubles, runs and stolen bases while tying David Nick for the most hits. Baseball America rated him as the best hitter for average, best defensive outfielder and best outfield prospect (#6 overall prospect) in the Arizona chain. They also rated him as the best defensive outfielder in the Southern League and its 14th-best prospect overall, between Nathan Eovaldi and Vinnie Catricala.

Pollock played for Team USA in the fall of 2011. In the 2011 Baseball World Cup, he started in left field for the US (Jordan Danks was in center) and hit .257/.350/.457 with 2 steals (in 2 tries), 2 assists and no errors. The USA made it to the Bronze Medal game against Team Canada and the two teams wound up sharing the Bronze when the rain in Panama proved too heavy to play that game. In the 2011 Pan American Games, he was 6 for 20 (all singles) with 3 walks, 5 runs and a RBI in five games. In the 2-1 loss to Canada in the Gold Medal game, he got the only US run, singling off Andrew Albers in the first, advancing on a passed ball by Cole Armstrong and scoring on a Brett Carroll double. For the day, he went 2 for 4 with a run, the only US player with multiple hits that contest.

Starting 2012 with the Reno Aces, he hit .340/.386/.453 with 6 doubles and 4 steals in 12 games. He was then called up to The Show when Geoff Blum went on the disabled list. In his major league debut on April 18th, A.J. hit 7th and played center field in a 2-1 loss against the Pirates. He was retired by James McDonald his first two trips up. His third time to the plate, he drew a walk from Brad Lincoln but was gunned down running by Michael McKenry. His last time up that day, he grounded out against Juan Cruz. Back with Reno, Pollock was named most valuable player of the 2012 Triple-A Baseball National Championship as the Aces beat the Pawtucket Red Sox 10-3 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC on September 18th. He went 2-for-5 with a triple, double, two runs scored and an RBI. Overall, he hit .318/.369/.411 in 106 games for Reno and .247 in 31 big league games.

Pollock spent all of 2013 with the Diamondbacks, as the team's starting center fielder. Adam Eaton, his teammate at Reno the previous year, had been penciled in to be the starter in spring training, but he lost a good part of the season to injuries, giving A.J. his opportunity. He hit .269 with 28 doubles, 5 triples and 8 homers, scored 64 runs and drove in 38, and was successful in 12 of 15 stolen base attempts. Eaton was traded after the season and A.J. was now the undisputed starter in centerfield in the first two months of the season. He was leading the team with a .316 batting average after 52 games on May 31st when he was hit on the hand by Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds, breaking a bone and putting him on the disabled list. Ironically, he was named the National League's Player of the Week a day later on the strength of a .522 batting average before sustaining the injury. As a result he was limited to 75 games, during which he hit .302 with 7 homers.

In 2015, Pollock had a true break-out season, hitting .315 in 157 games, with 39 doubles, 6 triples and 20 homers, claiming a spot as the D-Backs' second hitting star next to 1B Paul Goldschmidt. He scored 111 runs and drove in 76, stole 39 bases whole being caught only 7 times and also won a Gold Glove in centerfield. He also made the All-Star team for the first time. He was counted as one of the team's pillars in 2016, after Arizona splurged on free agent P Zack Greinke in the off-season, but on the penultimate day of spring training, on April 1st, he broke his right elbow sliding head-first into home plate and had to start the year on the disabled list after undergoing surgery. He was out of action until August 26th, and when he returned, he played only 12 games, hitting .244 with 2 homers and 4 RBIs. In his absence, the D-Backs had a dreadful season. He was back healthy at the start of 2017. After 37 games, he was hitting .299 with 26 runs, and not coincidentally the D-Backs were in a three-way fight for first place in the NL West. However, on [[May 14]th, he suffered a groin injury and went on the disabled list. Just as he was starting a rehabilitation assignment a month later, he felt tightness in his quad muscle, setting him back some more. Still, he managed to play 112 games for Arizona, hitting .266 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs; he also scored 73 runs and added 33 doubles and 6 triples. The D-Backs made the postseason as a wild card team and A.J. went 2 for 5 with a double and a triple in the win over the Colorado Rockies in the Wild Card Game. He was then limited to one hit - a solo homer - in 9 at-bats as Arizona was swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS.

The D-Backs got off to a very hot start in 2018 and A.J. finished the month of April tied for the National League lead with 9 homers, to go with 20 runs scored and 24 RBIs in 26 games. He finished the month with a flourish: the first three-homer game of his career against the Dodgers on April 30th. The three solo shots were key to an 8-5 win that allowed the D-Backs to end the month at 20-8, the second best record in the majors. Not surprisingly, he was named the NL Player of the Month for April. His superlative season took a pause on May 14th, however, as he broke a thumb attempting to make a diving catch and putting him out of action from six to eight weeks. The question was whether the D-Backs could remain in first place in his absence. He returned on July 2nd, and while the D-Backs were still in first in spite of his absence, they did collapse after the All-Star break, finishing well behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies who finished tied for first after 162 games. For his part, A.J. played 113 games and hit .257 with 21 homers and 65 RBIs, setting a personal best for homers.

Pollock was a free agent after the 2018 season and on January 24, 2019, agreed on a four-year contract worth $55 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers had traded OFs Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp earlier in the off-season and most observers thought that this was in anticipation of signing another free agent, Bryce Harper. However, Pollock's signing meant that this was seemingly off the table. On May 2nd, however, he had to undergo surgery to clear up infection in his right elbow, putting him out for six weeks. The infection was linked to the operation he had received on his broken elbow in 2016, and to a cut he had suffered earlier in the season. He was hitting .223 in 28 games, with 2 homers and 14 RBIs. He returned after the All-Star break, on July 12th, and starting the next day, he homered in three consecutive games. It took a while to return to a consistent level of play, but by the end of August, he had managed to raise his batting average to .263. On September 6th, he had a three-homer game, although it came in a 5-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants. He finished the year at .266 in 86 games, with 15 homers and 47 RBIs, for an OPS+ of 107. In the postseason, he was shut out by the Washington Nationals in the Division Series, going 0 for 13 as the Dodgers made an unexpected quick exit.

Pollock gave the Dodgers everything they had been looking for when they signed him during the abbreviated 2020 season. He appeared in 55 of the team's 60 games (the scheduled was cut down drastically by the COVID-19 pandemic) and saw his OPS+ bounce back to 132. He hit .276 with 16 homers and 34 RBIs, also scoring 30 runs; his home run total placed him in a tie for third in the National League, only 2 behind leader Marcell Ozuna. This time, the Dodgers made a deep run in the postseason, ending up by winning their first championship since 1988. He was not as good as during the regular season amd only played in 3 of the 6 games of the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, but still contributed 9 hits and 4 runs to the title run. He had another season shortened by injuries in 2021, being limited to 117 games, but remained productive when he got to take the field, with an OPS+ of 137. His 21 homers tied a personal best and he batted .297, also driving in 69 runs. The Dodgers won 106 games that season - but still finished second behind the surprising San Francisco Giants. He was shut out on the Wild Card Game, going 0 for 3 against the St. Louis Cardinals, but did much better in the following two rounds, batting .273 and .381 respectively. he also hit three doubles and two long balls in the NLCS loss to the Atlanta Braves, scoring 5 runs and driving in 7.

On April 1, 2022, in a bit of an unforeseen move, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in return for closer Craig Kimbrel. It was the rare kind of trade these days, one made entirely for baseball reasons: both players were in a similar contract situation, entering their final season, but the Dodgers had a clean need for a closer after the departure of Kenley Jansen via free agency a couple of weeks earlier, while the White Sox needed one more outfielder, as both teams were favorites to win their division. Things did not go as planned for the Sox, though, as they missed the postseason altogether. A.J. played 138 games for them, his highest total since 2015, but had a sub-par season, hitting .245 with 14 homers and 56 RBIs, for an OPS+ of 91. It was his first time with an OPS+ below 100 since 2016. He became a free agent after the season, and given his disappointing performance, the White Sox did not really want him back. On January 7, 2023, he signed a one-year deal with the Seattle Mariners for $7 million, with no guarantee that he would be a starter given he was joining a crowded field that already included Rookie of the Year Julio Rodríguez, trade acquisition Teoscar Hernández, and one-time super-prospect Jarred Kelenic. Indeed, he appeared in just 49 games through the first four months of the season, batting just .173 with 5 homers and 15 RBIs for an OPS+ of 53. On July 31st, the Mariners simply dumped him on the San Francisco Giants, who were hoping for a dead cat bounce, sending him an IF Mark Mathias in return for future considerations that were unlikely to amount to much.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL All-Star (2015)
  • NL Gold Glove Winner (2015/CF)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (2015, 2018 & 2021)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2015)
  • Won one World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020


Further reading[edit]

  • Gabe Lacques: "Dodgers acquire closer Craig Kimbrel from White Sox, deal outfielder A.J. Pollock to Chicago", USA Today, April 1, 2022. [1]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Mariners add Pollock to outfield mix", mlb.com, January 7, 2023. [2]

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