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.
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.
Adrian Beltre (737 games, 2000-04)
Dodger stats: .278/.331/.476 .808 125 hr 421 rbi
Casey Blake (197 games, 2008-09)
Dodger stats: .272/.349/.466 .814 28 hr 102 rbi
Blake DeWitt (148 games, 2008-09)
Dodger stats: .257/.333/.384 .717 11 hr 56 rbi
Wilson Betemit (139 games, 2006-07)
Dodger stats: .236/.332/.455 .787 19 hr 50 rbi
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!