Dodgers of the Decade: Left Field

With Rafael Furcal winning the shortstop competition handily, we now have a complete infield for our All-Decade team:

Dodgers of the Decade team:
C: Russell Martin (68%)
1B: James Loney (62%)
2B: Jeff Kent (88%)
3B: Adrian Beltre (80%)
SS: Rafael Furcal (87%)

As you can see, there wasn’t a whole lot of competition for those spots, but here’s where the real fun begins. You could make a case for the 2009 outfield of Manny/Kemp/Ethier being the best in team history and voting for all three. Who knows, maybe that’s how it will turn out. But before you do that, just keep in mind how great Shawn Green was at the beginning of the decade, how feared Gary Sheffield was while he was a Dodger, and how many fans have an eternal love for Juan Pierre which I will never understand.

Since outfielders tend to play multiple spots, a few of these guys are eligible at more than one position. I thought about doing just three “outfield” spots, but that’s no fun. So what I’ve done is chosen the one position the player is most known for as a Dodger - which means that even though today is left field, you’ll only see Pierre in center and Ethier in right.

Left field

Gary Sheffield (284 games, 2000-01)
Dodger stats: .318/.428/.612 1.040 79 hr 209 rbi
WAR: 11.6

Brian Jordan (194 games, 2002-03)
Dodger stats: .289/.349/.453 .802 24 hr 108 rbi
WAR: 4.5

Jayson Werth (191 games, 2004-05)
Dodger stats: .247/.338/.426 .764 23 hr 90 rbi
WAR: 3.1

Manny Ramirez (157 games, 2008-09)
Dodger stats: .327/.442/.605 1.047 36 hr 116 rbi
WAR: 6.6

Luis Gonzalez (139 games, 2007)
Dodger stats: .278/.359/.433 .793 15 hr 68 rbi
WAR: 0.0

Top three seasons
6.7 WAR Sheffield, 2000
4.9 WAR Sheffield, 2001
3.6 WAR Ramirez, 2008

This is going to be an interesting vote, I think. Manny is immensely popular and had a historic 2008 in Los Angeles, but he’s yet to play a full season with the Dodgers. Sheffield was reviled and since he played here so long ago casual and younger fans may forget him, but there’s no denying his production while he was a Dodger. Also, Luis Gonzalez!

Which enigmatic yet talented left fielder was the best the Dodgers saw this decade?

[polldaddy poll=2438914]

Dodgers of the Decade: Shortstop

Adrian Beltre wins at third base, which is no surprise. 48 homers and excellent defense will win you a lot of votes, I suppose.

Dodgers of the Decade team:
C: Russell Martin (68%)
1B: James Loney (62%)
2B: Jeff Kent (88%)
3B: Adrian Beltre (80%)

On to shortstop, where we have just three competitors - including one who was eligible at second base. Let me tell you, we just dodged the Angel Berroa bullet by a few games (he had 84 in 2008), and I would have artificially upped the threshold for eligibilty if I’d had to in order to avoid including him.

Shortstop

Alex Cora (644 games, 2000-04)
Dodger stats: .249/.318/.357 .675 27 hr 170 rbi
WAR: 2.8

Cesar Izturis (590 games, 2002-06)
Dodger stats: .260/.296/.336 .632 9 hr 176 rbi
WAR: 0.8

Rafael Furcal (483 games, 2006-09)
Dodger stats: .286/.354/.406 .760 35 hr 173 rbi
WAR: 9.3

Top three seasons
3.0 WAR Furcal, 2006
2.8 WAR Furcal, 2009
2.7 WAR Cora, 2002

Fun fact: all three players hit exactly 20 triples during their time as Dodgers. Furcal’s probably the “best” player, but he also played the fewest games here due to injuries. I’ve also been realizing as I’ve been going through the infield that there hasn’t been all that much competition for these titles; well believe me, that’s about to change once we get to the outfield.

Who’s the top Dodger shortstop of the 00s?

[polldaddy poll=2438854]

Dodgers of the Decade: Third Base

Jeff Kent is killing it at second base, so rather than wait until tomorrow, let’s just close it and move on. His win was notable if only for the fact that it wasn’t unanimous. Somebody needs to own up to being the Mark Grudzielanek fan, please.

Dodgers of the Decade team:
C: Russell Martin (68%)
1B: James Loney (62%)
2B: Jeff Kent (88%)

Today we move on to third base, but before we do, let’s think about what we’re really dealing with here. Third base for the Dodgers has been a black hole from whence no light can escape for years. Before Adrian Beltre, do you know who the last Dodger third baseman to play even 500 games (just barely over three seasons) at the position was? Ron Cey, and his Dodger career ended in 1982, nearly 30 years ago. So to say that third base for the Dodgers doesn’t exactly have the cachet of, say, center field for the Yankees is a bit of an understatement.

Even in this decade, it had somehow gotten worse. In October 2007, I noted all of the Dodgers who had seen time at 3B since Beltre departed after 2004, and let me tell you – it’s a sorry group:

Dodger Third Basemen, 2005-07 (3 seasons since Beltre left):
1. Mike Edwards
2. Oscar Robles
3. Antonio Perez
4. Olmedo Saenz
5. Nori Nakamura
6. Jose Valentin
7. Willy Aybar
8. Cesar Izturis
9. Wilson Betemit
10. Bill Mueller
11. Julio Lugo
12. Ramon Martinez
13. Joel Guzman
14. Wilson Valdez
15. Tony Abreu
16. Shea Hillenbrand
17. Nomar Garciaparra
18. Andy LaRoche

I look at some of those names and blood starts rushing from my ears. Antonio Perez! Shea Hillenbrand!! Nori Nakamura!!! I am now having an epileptic seizure. And that list is only just from after 2007, because since then we’ve added 7 more names: Blake DeWitt, Russell Martin (!), Casey Blake, Pablo Ozuna, Mark Loretta, Ronnie Belliard, and Juan Castro. While Blake has finally solidified the position, that’s still 25 players through the revolving door in just five seasons.

Yet while Beltre clearly had the best season of the decade with his monster 2004, and will have the highest total WAR, that’s also because he played the longest. He was largely subpar before 2004, even putting up a .290 OBP in 2003. Blake has, in some regards, actually outplayed Beltre, including in OPS. Also competing: Blake DeWitt and Wilson Betemit.

Third Base

Adrian Beltre (737 games, 2000-04)
Dodger stats: .278/.331/.476 .808 125 hr 421 rbi
WAR: 18.8

Casey Blake (197 games, 2008-09)
Dodger stats: .272/.349/.466 .814 28 hr 102 rbi
WAR: 7.1

Blake DeWitt (148 games, 2008-09)
Dodger stats: .257/.333/.384 .717 11 hr 56 rbi
WAR: 2.3

Wilson Betemit (139 games, 2006-07)
Dodger stats: .236/.332/.455 .787 19 hr 50 rbi
WAR: 0.3

Top three seasons
10.1 WAR Beltre, 2004
6.1 WAR Blake, 2009
3.5 WAR Beltre, 2000

Just like I said for catcher, this encompasses every year of the decade… except 2005. What a horrendous year.

Dodger third baseman of the 00s: go!

[polldaddy poll=2438792]

Dodgers of the Decade: Second Base

The first base voting is now closed, with James Loney winning handily over Eric Karros and Nomar Garciaparra. I love that Olmedo Saenz and Hee-Seop Choi got ten votes apiece, though. Let’s put Loney on the roster…

Dodgers of the Decade team:
C: Russell Martin (68%)
1B: James Loney (62%)

…and move on to second base, which I’m assuming will not be so close. When players have seen time at more than one position, I’ve been trying to include them only at their top spot, like only having Shawn Green be an outfielder, not a first baseman. Alex Cora is the exception to that rule, since he was the starting shortstop for 2 seasons, and then the starting second baseman for 2 seasons. Therefore, he ends up on both lists. He’s not going to win either spot, so I’m okay with this.

Second Base

Alex Cora (644 games, 2000-04)
Dodger stats: .249/.318/.357 .675 27 hr 170 rbi
WAR: 2.8

Jeff Kent (521 games, 2005-08)
Dodger stats: .291/.367/.479 .847 75 hr 311 rbi
WAR: 10.7

Mark Grudzielanek (431 games, 2000-02)
Dodger stats: .274/.319/.382 .701 29 hr 154 rbi
WAR: 3.2

Orlando Hudson (149 games, 2009)
Dodger stats: .283/.357/.417 .774 9 hr 62 rbi
WAR: 3.7

Top three seasons
4.4 WAR Kent, 2005
3.7 WAR Hudson, 2009
3.0 WAR Kent, 2007

“Dodger of the Decade”? How about, “of the Century?” In just four seasons, Jeff Kent is up there in nearly every offensive record for a second baseman in Dodger history. So yeah, I think he might be winning the 2000s title. The only reason I didn’t include a “you’re joking, right?” option in the poll is to not skew the final stats. Let’s get this one over quickly and move on to third base.

[polldaddy poll=2438663]

Dodgers of the Decade: First Base

I have to say, I was surprised with the results of the catcher poll. Despite Paul LoDuca having put up the best overall season and slightly better overall stats, Russell Martin won the vote for best Dodger catcher of the 2000s by a score of 68% to 31%. I figured Martin would win, but not by that much. I suppose the steroid allegations carried more weight than I’d thought they would, or maybe Dodger fans just have short memories. Special thanks to Chad Kreuter’s wife and mom, who clearly must have been the two people behind his two votes.

Lets move on to first base. And what a motley crew this is; you’ve got a 1990s Dodger star in the twilight of his career, a star shortstop trying to make the position switch in his hometown, a top prospect still trying to take the next step, a portly pinch-hitting fan favorite, and possibly the most divisive Dodger (non-Pierre division) of the last ten years. Good luck choosing from among all that.

You may notice that there’s one eligible player missing here, and that’s Shawn Green. Yes, he did play more than 100 games at 1B as a Dodger, and that’s the threshold. But he only played first base regularly in his final season in Los Angeles, with the huge majority being played in right field, so that’s where we’re placing him. I was going to include defensive stats, but UZR doesn’t kick in until 2002, so I’m not sure how to account for the first two years. I’ve left it out for now.

Dodgers of the Decade team:
C: Russell Martin (68%)

First Base

James Loney (463 games, 2006-09)
Dodger stats: .295/.354/.451 .805 45 hr 265 rbi
WAR: 3.6

Eric Karros (418 games, 2000-02)
Dodger stats: .253/.317/.418 .735 59 hr 242 rbi
WAR: 0.6

Olmedo Saenz (381 games, 2004-07)
Dodger stats: .263/.334/.484 .818 38 hr 151 rbi
WAR: 1.7

Nomar Garciaparra (298 games, 2006-08)
Dodger stats: .289/.345/.445 .790 35 hr 180 rbi
WAR: 1.4

Hee-Seop Choi (164 games, 2004-05)
Dodger stats: .238/.328/.419 .747 15 hr 48 rbi
WAR: 0.6

Top three seasons
2.1 WAR Garciaparra, 2006
1.7 WAR Loney, 2009
1.5 WAR Loney, 2007

No one really stands out here to me. Karros was at the end of his career to start the decade, while Loney’s just at the beginning of his career and hasn’t fully realized his talent. While the best single season was probably Nomar’s 2006, it was also really the only season he was any good at all. Saenz was a bench player who was only nominally a first baseman, and I always felt that the biggest travesty of the Jim Tracy era was playing Jason Phillips at 1B down the stretch of the lost 2005 season rather than Choi mainly out of spite from the LoDuca deal. I assume Loney will win because he has the highest overall WAR and is the freshest in people’s minds, but how sad is it that two seasons which are subpar for a first baseman are probably going to be enough to make him the best first baseman of the entire decade?

Make your choice. Who’s your Dodger first baseman of the 00s?

[polldaddy poll=2437858]