New fan favorite, meet old fan favorite. Through his first 18 career games, Zach McKinstry is slashing .302/.333/.585, and it’s even better than that here in 2021 alone. The gritty 25-year-old utility man has quickly become not only a favorite amongst Dodgers fans but has become a key cog in Dave Roberts’ game plan.
Flashback a couple of seasons and Doc used to look at another gritty left-handed batter the same way. The man, Chase Utley became an everything man after a 2015 trade to LA. And when Roberts was named as manager of the club heading into the 2016 season, he got his first exposure to what has now become one of the biggest components to his game plan.
A guy you can move around the field a bit and bat anywhere in the lineup. But most importantly, a guy that plays the game hard.
Long setup out of the way, Dave recently caught up with old friend Alanna Rizzo where he shared some high praise for the young McKinstry.
I think the biggest compliment I can give Zach — and for all you Chase Utley fans don’t hate me, because I’m a big Chase Utley fan too — he is kind of Chase Utley lite. The younger version as far as mindset, the way he goes about the game, sees the game. He’s a grinder. Tough player. Throws right, bats left. He’s got a little bit of a runway and he’s performing.
Now, right off the bat, I’ll say that when I heard this, I was stoked because it meant I got to write something about Chase Utley. Because we all need Chase Utley in our lives. But it’s also a reasonable comparison from Dave.
If you were lucky enough to watch Utley play throughout his career — particularly with the Dodgers — he was the tough-nosed player that didn’t take any play off. He ran hard, slid hard, and laid it all on the line (whatever it is). And so far in the early goings, we’re seeing a similar style out of Zach McKinstry.
Whether it’s Zach going over a wall in right field or speeding around the bases for an inside the park home run, he’s hustling every step and every play. He’s got a long way to go before he reaches the true statue of someone like the Silver Fox, but he’s off to a great start.