Oct 14

Four years ago, Manny Ramirez sought a six-year contract

Just to put the Yankees’ hand-wringing over Alex Rodriguez in perspective, imagine if the Dodgers’ contract with Manny Ramirez still had two years to run.

Jon Heyman, SI.com, October 15, 2008:

There are some early signs that the Dodgers’ negotiations involving Manny Ramirez, who almost single-handedly lifted the storied franchise to the postseason, will not necessarily go smoothly. Ramirez is believed to be seeking a six-year deal for as much as $25 million per year, and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is said to be skeptical that the competition will be keen for the controversial but ultra-productive superstar he acquired for virtually nothing a minute before the trade deadline.

Ramirez’s agent, Scott Boras, declined to name a target price in an interview with SI.com on Wednesday. That $150 million total price tag is an estimate based on Boras’ use of the word “iconic” to describe the 36-year-old Ramirez, combined with Ramirez’s own constant mention of a “six-year deal” during frequent media interviews this postseason. Another factor is the reminders from those close to Manny that the 10-year deal Alex Rodriguez signed last year calls for him to be paid his regular $30 million salary from ages 38-42.

Ramirez apparently isn’t kidding with his occasional hints about a six-year deal. If that sounds like a stretch, the Dodgers will have to consider the alternative, which is to present a Manny-less team the year after the hitting savant saved them in the regular season, then carried them in October.

“He pays for himself. You’ve got a free player with Manny,” Boras said. “He’s an iconic player who’s changed the face and fortunes of the franchise.” …

Joel Sherman, New York Post, October 15, 2008

… In other words, Boras is not offering apologies or discounts related to the unprofessional way in which Ramirez forced his way out of Boston. In true no-retreat, no-surrender Boras style, he is strongly hinting that he wants a six-year contract for Ramirez at top-of-the-market dollars.

“All I will tell you is, name me the player in recent times that has had the kind of season [Ramirez] has had this season and postseason,” Boras said yesterday during a conversation that lasted more than an hour.

“Put that together with two [championship] rings on his fingers, and the history he has, and that he is two years younger than Bonds when [Bonds] was a free agent. Bonds signed a five-year contract [for $90 million after the 2001 season] at 38 [he turned 38 midway through the first year of the deal] and got paid until he was 42.

“If Bonds gets five years at 38, what does Manny get at 36? If A-Rod gets paid to 42 [on his 10-year deal with the Yankees], why not Manny? He doesn’t take a backseat to him.” …

Aug 19

Dodgers activate Elbert, De La Rosa making progress

Dodgers at Braves, 10:35 a.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, 1B
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chad Billingsley, P

In the end, it might just be a confidence booster for 2013, but for the first time, I get the feeling the Dodgers are thinking about trying to get some starts out of Rubby De La Rosa in September.

While it’s still a ways from taking a major-league mound in September, De La Rosa pitched a season-high four innings Saturday for Rancho Cucamonga, allowing no runs on two hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

In four minor-league outings since his comeback from Tommy John surgery began, De La Rosa has thrown 12 scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts, allowing five hits and three walks. At a minimum, De La Rosa might soon to be primed to help the bullpen in September.

Last year in the majors, De La Rosa had a 3.88 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings as a starter, while allowing a run in five innings with five strikeouts as a reliever.

* * *

In shorter-term relief news, Scott Elbert – who struck out all six batters he faced in his two minor-league rehab outings – was activated from the disabled list in the next day or so. The Dodgers sent Elian Herrera, who was 1 for 3 while mostly idling on the bench behind Hanley Ramirez and Luis Cruz since his recall, to the minors. Herrera would have played even less had Matt Kemp not been ejected Thursday.

That move lengthens the Dodger bullpen and shrinks the bench (at least for now), and kept the team from having to choose between sending Javy Guerra or Shawn Tolleson to the minors. Each was wild last night, each has allowed two inherited runners to score this month, but neither has been scored upon since late July.

For my part, I think Ronald Belisario would benefit from a two-week “elbow soreness” vacation. Matt Guerrier also pitched a shutout inning in the Rancho Cucamonga game, by the way.

* * *

We were trying to figure out how unusual Saturday’s no-singles game was, and Diane Firstman of Value Over Replacement Grit came up with the answer – and it’s a doozy.

The Dodgers and Braves combined for nine hits without any singles. The previous major-league record was four.

It was the sixth game in MLB history with no singles, including the Sandy Koufax perfect game against Bob Hendley’s one-hitter in 1965.

The biggest play of Saturday’s game was A.J. Ellis catching a foul tip, writes Ron Cervenka of Think Blue L.A.

Aug 18

Dodgers win home run derby

If you’re crazy for the Dodgers, well tonight, they were crazy for you.

Los Angeles hit four home runs – including three in a row for the first time since 2007 – yet had no other hits while coming away with a 6-2 victory over Atlanta.

Within a quartet of pitches from Ben Sheets in the second inning, Hanley Ramirez, James Loney and Luis Cruz hit the Dodgers’ first back-to-back-to-back home runs since Hong-Chih Kuo bat-flip night, when he followed Wilson Betemit and Matt Kemp with dingers.

Then in the sixth inning, after walks to Kemp and Andre Ethier, Ramirez hit his second homer of the game on a 3-0 pitch, giving the Dodgers’ a 6-1 lead. On the roadtrip, Ramirez is 17 for 38 with a .463 on-base percentage, three home runs, 14 RBI in nine games and 28 total bases.

But before, during and after the four home runs, there were no other Dodger hits.

To my shock, two teams this year (Colorado and Baltimore) have had games with five home runs and no other hits, joining the 2004 New York Yankees as the only squads since at least 1918 to do so. The record-holders in this category are the Cleveland Indians, who hit six home runs (three by Joe Carter) with no other hits on June 24, 1989.

Nevertheless, the Dodgers tonight became only the third team in MLB history to hit four home runs and have no other hits. One of those teams was the 2002 Dodgers, who got two home runs by Shawn Green and solo shots from Eric Karros and Alex Cora off Ramon Ortiz – who still threw a complete-game victory on June 14 that year.

The Dodgers also came within one batter of winning a game without leaving any runners on base for the first time since June 1, 2002, as Bob Timmermann noted, but Loney drew a two-out, ninth-inning walk and was stranded there by Cruz.

And finally, the two teams completed the rare feat of combining for nine hits without any singles.

The effort made a winner of Aaron Harang, even though the righty began the game with a simply awful first inning. He started by walking leadoff hitter Michael Bourn on four pitches and then allowing an RBI double to Martin Prado two tosses later. Jason Heyward flew out on a 2-0 count for the first out, before bench coach and acting manager Trey Hillman decided to walk Chipper Jones intentionally. Freddie Freeman did a favor by fouling out on the first pitch he saw, but Dan Uggla walked on four straight balls to load the bases.

On a 3-2 count, David Ross struck out on a high and inside pitch to allow Harang to escape the first inning with only one run against him, despite facing seven batters and being credited with only eight strikes.

But Harang found his center of gravity after that. Though he only retired the side in order once all night, from the first inning on he held the Braves scoreless into the bottom of the seventh on two walks, two doubles, and a triple, striking out four of the last five batters he faced (capping a 115-pitch outing that featured 57 balls and 58 strikes). Randy Choate entered the game with two out, Bourn on third and Heyward at the plate. And just as people were hoping would happen Friday before the Dodgers’ that night lead was lost, Choate struck Heyward out.

The eighth inning was nearly a repeat of the first. Javy Guerra and Shawn Tolleson combined to walk the bases loaded despite the five-run lead, before the well-rested Kenley Jansen came in to strike out Friday’s hero, Juan Francisco, on three pitches.

Jansen did give up a ninth-inning home run to Prado, but retired Chipper Jones to wrap things up.

Aug 13

Homer drought in left field … not for the first time

Dodgers at Pirates, 4:05 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
James Loney, 1B
Adam Kennedy, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Aaron Harang, P

To say the least, this has been a lean year of home runs from Dodger leftfielders. The full list: Juan Rivera on May 6, Bobby Abreu on June 2, Elian Herrera on July 5, Jerry Hairston Jr. on July 7. That’s it. Four.

To my surprise, however, this kind of year isn’t unprecedented. In fact, the Dodgers aren’t on pace to have their worst year in leftfielder home runs since moving to Los Angeles — and the low-offense 1960s have nothing to do with it.

Lowest single-season HR totals for Dodger LF

Year	G	HR	Players
2012	115	4	Abreu, Hairston, Herrera, Rivera
1958	154	6	Cimoli, Demeter, Fairly, Gilliam, Howard, Roseboro
1974	162	7	Buckner 7
1976	162	7	Buckner 7
1970	161	8	Crawford 4, Mota 3, Kosco
1981	110	8	Baker 8
1973	162	9	Buckner 3, Crawford 2, Joshua 2, Ferguson, Paciorek
1975	162	9	Buckner 6, Lacy 2, Crawford
2011	161	9	Rivera 4, Gwynn 2, Gibbons, Oeltjen, Sands
1992	162	10	Davis 5, Webster 3, Daniels 2
2005	162	10	Ledee 3, Grabowski 3, Repko 2, Werth 2

The lowest total of home runs by leftfielders for the Dodgers in the 1960s was 14, in 1965 and 1966.

Here are the top five seasons since 1958:

Year	G	HR	Players
2000	162	48	Sheffield 43, Aven 2, Donnels 2, Leyritz
2001	162	42	Sheffield 36, Grissom 5, Aven
1999	162	34	Sheffield 34
1990	162	32	Daniels 27, Gwynn 3, Gibson 2
1977	162	30	Baker 30

Dodger leftfielders hit more home runs in 2000 than Dodger leftfielders have hit since 2009 (45).

Sheffield hit his 43 homers in 2000 in only 139 games … but how ’bout that Bruce Aven, huh?

Coming soon — home run droughts at first base for the Dodgers.

* * *

Cuban prospect Yasiel Puig has been promoted to Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness has more.

Update: Elian Herrera has been called up in place of Jerry Hairston Jr., who was placed on the disabled list with left hip inflammation.

Jul 20

Vin Scully’s brush with Monday Night Football

If you haven’t read the 1964 Robert Creamer feature on Vin Scully, don’t put it off any longer.

Meanwhile, Scully told Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News that he was approached to be the original play-by-play man for ABC’s Monday Night Football.

… Scully stands by the Red Barber philosophy of having one voice in the booth narrate for radio or TV. He says he saw the trend of analysts taking over came back in the 1970s, when he was asked by ABC producer Chuck Howard if he’d be interested in becoming the first play-by-play man on “Monday Night Football.”

“He said it was going to be the hottest thing on TV — and he was right,” said Scully.

Scully declined, in part, because “the more I thought about it, I realized it would conflict with the Dodgers’ schedule.” But another reason he passed, he said, had to do with how he saw the play-by-play man’s role being diluted.

Keith Jackson ended up with the job for the first year of “MNF” in the debut year of 1970, with Howard Cosell and Don Meredith as the analysts. Frank Gifford replaced Jackson in 1971 and stayed on play-by-play until 1985, when Al Michaels came in, and Gifford moved to an analyst until 1997.

“Because of how football was going to be televised, you’d have one or two analysts now in the booth,” Scully said. “I had been doing games with Jim Brown on one side and George Allen on the other, and there were times I wasn’t sure, ‘Do I turn to him first for an opinion?'”

Scully said the emergence of John Madden, who he had as a partner at CBS, “really put the analyst front and center. And baseball picked up on that. The whole business changed in my opinion because of the way ‘Monday Night Football’ did it.”

Change, maybe not for the better, as far as how local baseball broadcasts were influenced by the national presentation. …

* * *

  • Mike Sandlock, at 96 the oldest living former Dodger, will have a meet-and-greet with the team today, writes Jack Cavanaugh for the Times.
  • J.P Hoornstra of the Daily News checks in with Javy Guerra, who just returned from caring for his ailing father.
  • In May 1960, a 24-year-old Sandy Koufax threw 785 pitches in a 22-day stretch, capped by a 193-pitch, 13-inning outing. Geoff Young discusses at Baseball Prospectus.
  • Via a conversation with Dodger president Stan Kasten, Dylan Hernandez of the Times analyzes the Dodger trade-deadline prospects.
  • De Jon Watson talked about Dodger minor-leaguers with Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.
  • Believe it or not, the Dodgers have been the fourth-most clutch team in baseball in 2012, according to a study by Ari Berkowitz of Beyond the Box Score.
  • Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods offers The Bad News Bears in Breaking Bad.
  • Happy birthday to Rachel Robinson, who turned 90 on Thursday.
Jul 06

Tommy Lasorda’s game for the ages

Tommy Lasorda recalls the time he struck out 25 while allowing 23 baserunners in a 15-inning game — with documentation! Lasorda also drove in the game-winning run (link from May via Baseball Think Factory).

The headline for the post is, “If you believe in pitch counts, read this.” I wonder, though, if Lasorda might have had a better major-league career if he hadn’t pitched a game like this.

Or not. In the minors, Lasorda walked 1,158 and struck out 864.

  • You think you had it rough? Hiroki Kuroda had it rough. This profile by David Waldstein of the New York Times is something.
  • Addressing increasing trade rumors about top Dodger pitching prospect Zach Lee, Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness brings the rationality.
  • Luke Scott of Baltimore is channeling Eugenio Velez with an 0-for-39 slump, notes David Brown of Big League Stew.
  • For an overseas perspective on the MLB All-Star Game, read Nat Coombs’ piece for ESPN America.
  • This piece by David Goldman for CNNMoney sums up all the reasons why wireless service is lacking at sporting events.
  • I wish teams would stop releasing Jamie Moyer.
Jul 02

Route 66


Get your kicks …

  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Information), 66 consecutive innings without a lead for the Dodgers tied a 107-year-old franchise record. As Bob Timmermann pointed out, that 1905 team went 48-104.
  • Also from Timmermann:
    1. Until Sunday, the Dodgers hadn’t played a game where they scored eight runs with only two of them earned since May 13, 1981.
    2. Vin Scully has not called a Dodgers victory since June 17.
    3. The Dodgers are averaging 11.5 runs when they hold Hello Kitty Day.
  • What was Dee Gordon thinking after his second error Sunday? “I can’t say it,” he told Jimmy Bramlett of LAist.
  • Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus finds a lot to write about the Carlos Lee deal that wasn’t.
  • Magic Johnson has been anything but an everyday figure in the Dodger world, writes Steve Dilbeck of Dodgers Now.
  • Clayton Kershaw’s Texas BBQ and Hoedown might be the best-named and most appetizing event I hear about all year. Tickets for the Aug. 2 benefit at Dodger Stadium start at a salivating $250.
Jun 27

Any runs in these stockings?

As painful as the Dodgers’ 21-inning scoreless streak has been, it’s hardly unprecedented.

Dodger Thoughts, August 8, 2007:

L.A. 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 - 0
Opp. 020 100 000 301 000 00x 001 000 00x - 8

Dodger Thoughts, July 30, 2003:

L.A. 000 000 000 01 010 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 010 000 000 000 000 000-3
Opp. 000 000 000 00 000 100 000 000 001 000 010 00x 000 000 000 020 000 00x-5

That latter link points to a couple of occasions in which the Dodgers were held to a total of two runs in a five-game stretch.

* * *

Dodgers at Giants, 12:45 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Jerry Hairston Jr. 2B
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, 1B
Bobby Abreu, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Chad Billingsley, P

Here is a link to Tim Lincecum’s history against active Dodgers, something I surmise influenced Don Mattingly’s lineup choices today. Juan Rivera is 6 for 14 with a walk against Lincecum, while James Loney is 8 for 42 with two walks.

Otherwise, for all of Loney’s problems, I don’t see the case for playing Rivera at first base against right-handed pitching.

But any discussion of the Dodger lineup these days feels like quibbling in the graveyard.

 

Jun 16

So far, Elian Herrera is making Dodger history

Having a great first season in the majors while in your mid-20s is a rare thing. Sure, there are late bloomers – Paul Lo Duca and Maury Wills immediately come to mind –  but most of those late bloomers need a cup of coffee or four before they make a noteworthy impact.

In fact, in the 55 seasons of the Los Angeles Dodgers, only 19 players have notched at least 100 plate appearances in their first season after turning 24. And of those 19 players, so far, Elian Herrera (who added two doubles and three RBI Friday to his magical 2012) has a higher on-base percentage and adjusted OPS than any of them.

Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Age G HR SB CS OBP SLG OPS
1 Elian Herrera 118 115 2012 27 29 0 3 1 .395 .388 .782
2 Andre Ethier 113 441 2006 24 126 11 5 5 .365 .477 .842
3 Dick Gray 106 221 1958 26 58 9 1 1 .327 .472 .799
4 Norm Larker 102 291 1958 27 99 4 1 1 .352 .427 .779
5 Ted Sizemore 94 650 1969 24 159 4 5 5 .328 .342 .670
6 Mickey Hatcher 90 102 1979 24 33 1 1 3 .327 .366 .692
7 Wes Parker 87 240 1964 24 124 3 5 4 .303 .341 .644
8 Oscar Robles 86 399 2005 29 110 5 0 8 .332 .368 .700
9 Jack Fimple 83 167 1983 24 54 2 1 0 .300 .358 .658
10 Lee Lacy 80 266 1972 24 60 0 5 3 .312 .313 .625
11 Chad Fonville 75 338 1995 24 88 0 20 5 .328 .302 .630
12 Jason Repko 74 301 2005 24 129 8 5 0 .281 .384 .665
13 Eric Young 69 144 1992 25 49 1 6 1 .300 .288 .588
14 Henry Rodriguez 66 156 1992 24 53 3 0 0 .258 .329 .587
15 Justin Sellers 63 139 2011 25 36 1 1 0 .283 .301 .583
16 Tracy Woodson 62 148 1987 24 53 1 1 1 .284 .324 .607
17 Larry Burright 60 276 1962 24 115 4 4 3 .264 .317 .581
18 Mike Ramsey 57 138 1987 26 48 0 2 4 .287 .296 .583
19 Maury Wills 55 258 1959 26 83 0 7 3 .298 .298 .596
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used. Generated 6/16/2012.

It’s not as if he can claim a better first season than Andre Ethier had in 2006, for example, but it’s still pretty amazing. In fact, even if you eliminate the age component, Herrera still has the fifth-best season in adjusted OPS for a Dodger in his first season, and second-best OBP.

Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Age G HR SB CS OBP SLG OPS
1 Bill Sudakis 165 102 1968 22 24 3 1 0 .382 .471 .854
2 Willy Aybar 140 105 2005 22 26 1 3 1 .448 .453 .901
3 James Loney 125 111 2006 22 48 4 1 0 .342 .559 .901
4 Steve Yeager 124 124 1972 23 35 4 0 0 .374 .406 .780
5 Elian Herrera 118 115 2012 27 29 0 3 1 .395 .388 .782
6 Andre Ethier 113 441 2006 24 126 11 5 5 .365 .477 .842
7 Jim Lefebvre 106 631 1965 23 157 12 3 5 .337 .369 .706
8 Dick Gray 106 221 1958 26 58 9 1 1 .327 .472 .799
9 Jerry Sands 102 227 2011 23 61 4 3 3 .338 .389 .727
10 Norm Larker 102 291 1958 27 99 4 1 1 .352 .427 .779
11 Russell Martin 101 468 2006 23 121 10 10 5 .355 .436 .792
12 Ted Sizemore 94 650 1969 24 159 4 5 5 .328 .342 .670
13 Blake DeWitt 93 421 2008 22 117 9 3 0 .344 .383 .728
14 Dee Gordon 92 233 2011 23 56 0 24 7 .325 .362 .686
15 Todd Hollandsworth 91 115 1995 22 41 5 2 1 .304 .398 .702
16 Steve Sax 91 127 1981 21 31 2 5 7 .317 .345 .662
17 Mickey Hatcher 90 102 1979 24 33 1 1 3 .327 .366 .692
18 Wes Parker 87 240 1964 24 124 3 5 4 .303 .341 .644
19 Oscar Robles 86 399 2005 29 110 5 0 8 .332 .368 .700
20 Bill Russell 86 238 1969 20 98 5 4 1 .301 .344 .645
21 Matt Kemp 85 166 2006 21 52 7 6 0 .289 .448 .737
22 Jack Fimple 83 167 1983 24 54 2 1 0 .300 .358 .658
23 Tony Abreu 82 178 2007 22 59 2 0 0 .309 .404 .713
24 Mike Scioscia 81 152 1980 21 54 1 1 0 .313 .328 .641
25 Henry Cruz 81 101 1975 23 53 0 1 1 .317 .319 .636
Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Age G HR SB CS OBP SLG OPS
26 Nate Oliver 81 178 1963 22 65 1 3 4 .298 .307 .605
27 Mariano Duncan 80 620 1985 22 142 6 38 8 .293 .340 .633
28 Lee Lacy 80 266 1972 24 60 0 5 3 .312 .313 .625
29 Andy LaRoche 78 115 2007 23 35 1 2 1 .365 .312 .677
30 Chad Fonville 75 338 1995 24 88 0 20 5 .328 .302 .630
31 Jason Repko 74 301 2005 24 129 8 5 0 .281 .384 .665
32 Franklin Stubbs 74 245 1984 23 87 8 2 2 .273 .341 .614
33 Adrian Beltre 73 214 1998 19 77 7 3 1 .278 .369 .648
34 Billy Ashley 69 100 1992 21 29 2 0 0 .260 .337 .597
35 Eric Young 69 144 1992 25 49 1 6 1 .300 .288 .588
36 Henry Rodriguez 66 156 1992 24 53 3 0 0 .258 .329 .587
37 Jeff Hamilton 66 151 1986 22 71 5 0 0 .232 .361 .592
38 Justin Sellers 63 139 2011 25 36 1 1 0 .283 .301 .583
39 Tracy Woodson 62 148 1987 24 53 1 1 1 .284 .324 .607
40 Jim Fairey 61 166 1968 23 99 1 1 1 .241 .276 .517
41 Larry Burright 60 276 1962 24 115 4 4 3 .264 .317 .581
42 Mike Ramsey 57 138 1987 26 48 0 2 4 .287 .296 .583
43 Maury Wills 55 258 1959 26 83 0 7 3 .298 .298 .596
44 Dave Anderson 41 131 1983 22 61 1 6 3 .244 .261 .505
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used. Generated 6/16/2012.

Using Wins Above Replacement, a cumulative stat as measured by Baseball-Reference.com, Herrera is already the Dodgers’ 20th-best first-year major-leaguer … with room to climb.

Rk Player WAR/pos PA Year Age G HR SB CS OBP SLG OPS
1 Jim Lefebvre 4.2 631 1965 23 157 12 3 5 .337 .369 .706
2 Ted Sizemore 4.0 650 1969 24 159 4 5 5 .328 .342 .670
3 Andre Ethier 2.2 441 2006 24 126 11 5 5 .365 .477 .842
4 Russell Martin 1.9 468 2006 23 121 10 10 5 .355 .436 .792
5 Bill Russell 1.7 238 1969 20 98 5 4 1 .301 .344 .645
6 Mariano Duncan 1.5 620 1985 22 142 6 38 8 .293 .340 .633
7 Blake DeWitt 1.4 421 2008 22 117 9 3 0 .344 .383 .728
8 Lee Lacy 1.4 266 1972 24 60 0 5 3 .312 .313 .625
9 Bill Sudakis 1.2 102 1968 22 24 3 1 0 .382 .471 .854
10 Steve Yeager 1.0 124 1972 23 35 4 0 0 .374 .406 .780
11 Dick Gray 1.0 221 1958 26 58 9 1 1 .327 .472 .799
12 Tony Abreu 0.9 178 2007 22 59 2 0 0 .309 .404 .713
13 James Loney 0.9 111 2006 22 48 4 1 0 .342 .559 .901
14 Willy Aybar 0.9 105 2005 22 26 1 3 1 .448 .453 .901
15 Chad Fonville 0.9 338 1995 24 88 0 20 5 .328 .302 .630
16 Norm Larker 0.9 291 1958 27 99 4 1 1 .352 .427 .779
17 Justin Sellers 0.8 139 2011 25 36 1 1 0 .283 .301 .583
18 Jack Fimple 0.7 167 1983 24 54 2 1 0 .300 .358 .658
19 Wes Parker 0.7 240 1964 24 124 3 5 4 .303 .341 .644
20 Elian Herrera 0.6 115 2012 27 29 0 3 1 .395 .388 .782
21 Dee Gordon 0.6 233 2011 23 56 0 24 7 .325 .362 .686
22 Steve Sax 0.6 127 1981 21 31 2 5 7 .317 .345 .662
23 Mike Scioscia 0.4 152 1980 21 54 1 1 0 .313 .328 .641
24 Mickey Hatcher 0.4 102 1979 24 33 1 1 3 .327 .366 .692
25 Oscar Robles 0.3 399 2005 29 110 5 0 8 .332 .368 .700
Rk Player WAR/pos PA Year Age G HR SB CS OBP SLG OPS
26 Jerry Sands 0.1 227 2011 23 61 4 3 3 .338 .389 .727
27 Andy LaRoche 0.1 115 2007 23 35 1 2 1 .365 .312 .677
28 Adrian Beltre 0.1 214 1998 19 77 7 3 1 .278 .369 .648
29 Nate Oliver 0.0 178 1963 22 65 1 3 4 .298 .307 .605
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used. Generated 6/16/2012.

This won’t guarantee future stardom – several of these players are balloons that inflated quickly and then popped. It’s not like Dick Gray carved out a legendary career But it is a measure of just how valuable Herrera has been to this point. I can’t think of a bigger surprise for the Dodgers in 2012.

May 17

The lineups of the 2005 Dodgers

Dodgers at Padres, 7:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Bobby Abreu, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Adam Kennedy, 3B
James Loney, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Aaron Harang, P

Tonight’s Dodger lineup, which features Adam Kennedy batting fifth, is not the first to have a player in an unexpected spot. Just last year, in honor of Aaron Miles, I did pieces at Dodger Thoughts on the most obscure but memorable No. 3 hitters and No. 5 hitters.

This time around, I thought I’d just go straight back to highlight the lineups of the 2005 Dodgers, who ended their season (and Jim Tracy’s tenure) with Mike Edwards batting cleanup.

I’m taking an extreme risk here, because the last thing I want to do is reignite mercifully dormant debates about guys like J.D. Drew, Hee Seop Choi and Milton Bradley. In any case, things didn’t really get weird for the ’05 Dodgers until later in the season.

May 11

Fast starts, uncertain finishes

For ESPNLosAngeles.com, I looked at what the Dodgers’ 20-11 start to the season has meant historically

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ 20-11 record to begin the 2012 season, tied for the best in the National League, has been shot down by the gatekeepers of the Fraternity of Legitimate Hot Starts as being asterisk-worthy — to the point that the footnote almost seems bigger than its antecedent.

Los Angeles 20-11*

* Haven’t played anybody

Nevertheless, that’s 20 wins in the bank with 131 games to go, so the Dodgers’ start - rather than dominant, let’s call it, say, affable - might make you wonder what it means for the team’s postseason chances. …

Read the full story here.