By definition baseball is a team sport but really it masquerades as an individual sport. Luckily for LSU maybe the single best individual player in the country plays centerfield for the Tigers.
There’s not much more that can be said about junior outfielder Dylan Crews. He’s projected as one of the first picks—if not first overall—pick in this summer’s draft and he’s had that distinction since making it to campus three years ago. Make no mistake: this is the last year we’ll see Crews wearing the Victory Gold jerseys or the sweet midweek pinstripes.
While Crews mans centerfield, there’s a few more looks Jay Johnson can roll with for his corner outfielders. There’s an awful lot of talent in the outfield and Johnson’s getting paid the big bucks to figure out the log jam.
Josh Pearson likely starts thanks to a strong freshman season. Pearson started 35 games (27 in right, 8 in left) and hit .299 with some good power: nine doubles, eight homers, along with 35 RBI. Pearson was also LSU’s most clutch bat, hitting a team-best .459 with runners in scoring position.
If Gavin Dugas doesn’t play the infield, maybe he’ll slide out to left field. Dugas had a thumb injury that kept him sidelined for a good portion of the 2022 season. If he’s healthy hopefully he can return to his SEC leader in RBI form like in 2021. Dugas is also wearing the coveted No. 8 jersey for the second year in a row (it’s the baseball version of LSU’s 18 if you’re not aware).
Of course there’s some other veteran names Johnson can go with. If Johnson wants a big bat, well then make way for Brayden Jobert who had 18 homers last year; if Johnson wants defense, look no further than Josh Stevenson, younger brother of former Tiger Andrew. Josh, like Andrew, can absolutely fly and you’ll surely see him pinch-run in late game situations.
If Johnson wants to go with pure upside, maybe the answer lies in true freshman Paxton Kling. Kling is the highest ranked prospect the Tigers were able to hold onto from their No. 1 ranked recruiting class and it feels like it’s only a matter of when Kling plays, not if.