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.

May 04

Revisited: Older is not better for bench players

Dodgers at Cubs, 11:20 a.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, LF
James Loney, 1B
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chad Billingsley, P

Back in March 2010, shortly after Garret Anderson became a Dodger, I posted the following:

We all know about the great, the wonderful, the tremendous Manny Mota. But generally, do aging reserves have a history of success with the Los Angeles Dodgers?

To try to answer the question, I decided to look at the batting numbers for Dodgers since 1958 who were at least 35 years old. (I chose players with between 20 and 400 plate appearances, then removed most of the players who were basically starters that got hurt or were part of a midseason acquisition.) At first I was only going to look at pinch-hitting numbers, but then I realized that except for someone like Mota, a key component of a good bench player includes how well they perform in spot starts.

Of the 89 players on this list, 20 of them (22.4 percent) had at least a league-average adjusted OPS of 100. Mota accounts for three of those 20 seasons, as does Rick Monday. (Sidebar: Is Monday, who OPSed .854 primarily as a reserve in 841 plate appearances from 1980-83, the greatest bench player in Los Angeles Dodger history?) Only 30 (33.7 percent) of the 89 even managed an OPS+ of 90.

Some of these older guys who didn’t produce are catchers or defensive specialists who never were expected to hit much in the first place. Nevertheless, the over-35 bench club is strewn with names of guys who had past hitting success (Jim Eisenreich, I’m looking at you) but were in such decline that not even their veteran moxie could save them.

Even Mota had some unimpressive 35-and-up seasons. Because many of these players don’t get a lot of at-bats, their performances can fluctuate quite a bit year to year. It’s not as if older players are doomed to failure, but there’s clearly nothing about being a veteran that guarantees bench success.

And that makes sense, despite the baseball cliches that would suggest otherwise. After all, there’s a reason these guys lose their starting jobs in the first place — and usually, that reason is related to offense more than defense.

There are some names in the below-average portion of this chart that are actually part of Dodger lore: Vic Davalillo in 1977, Jay Johnstone in 1981, Mark Loretta last October — players who by virtue of a single at-bat put a positive stamp on disappointing seasons. That doesn’t change the fact that overall, veteran benchmen have been more forgettable than memorable. …

Read the full post, which includes a lengthy chart, here.

May 04

Abreu latest career hit leader to play for Dodgers

Paul Waner

Bobby Abreu will join the Dodgers with 2,389 career hits, 103rd all-time. Here are batters from the top 100 in all-time hits, with the number of hits as a Dodger in parentheses, according to Baseball-Reference.com:

10) Eddie Murray, 3,255 (483)
13) Paul Waner, 3,152 (115)
19) Rickey Henderson, 3,055 (15)
27) Frank Robinson, 2,943 (86)
31) Zack Wheat, 2,884 (2,804)
48) Al Oliver, 2,743 (20)
55) Bill Buckner, 2,715 (837)
59) Gary Sheffield, 2,689 (583)
69) Steve Garvey, 2,599 (1,968)
70) Luis Gonzalez, 2,591 (129)
75) Manny Ramirez, 2,574 (237)
77) Willie Davis, 2,561 (2,091)
78) Steve Finley, 2,548 (59)
79) Garret Anderson, 2,529 (28)
85) Fred McGriff, 2,490 (74)
87) Joe Medwick, 2,471 (535)
91) Jeff Kent, 2,461 (551)
93) Lloyd Waner, 2,459 (4)
98) Kenny Lofton, 2,428 (141)

Abreu has 284 career home runs, 153rd all-time. Here are the one-time Dodgers on the top 150.

8 ) Jim Thome, 604 (0)
9) Frank Robinson, 586 (19)
14) Manny Ramirez, 555 (44)
24) Gary Sheffield, 509 (129)
25) Eddie Murray, 504 (65)
26) Fred McGriff, 493 (13)
43) Mike Piazza, 427 (177)
45) Andruw Jones, 423 (3)
47) Duke Snider, 407 (389)
48) Paul Konerko, 401 (4)
61) Frank Howard, 382 (123)
66) Jeff Kent, 377 (75)
71) Gil Hodges, 370 (361)
79) Luis Gonzalez, 354 (15)
84) Dick Allen, 351 (23)
92) Boog Powell, 339 (0)
95) Darryl Strawberry, 335 (38)
100) Shawn Green, 328 (162)
105) Gary Carter, 324 (6)
114) Ron Cey, 316 (228)
115) Jeromy Burnitz, 315 (13)
116) Adrian Beltre, 314 (147)
116) Reggie Smith, 314 (97)
131) Steve Finley, 304 (13)
135) Rickey Henderson, 297 (2)
137) Robin Ventura, 294 (10)
142) Jimmy Wynn, 291 (50)
146) Garret Anderson, 287 (2)
146) Bobby Bonilla, 287 (7)

Update: Jim Peltz of the Times says the Dodgers have – surprisingly – optioned Justin Sellers to the minors, which means that some combination of Juan Uribe and Jerry Hairston Jr. will back up Dee Gordon at shortstop. Mark Ellis could move over there in a pinch, but he hasn’t played shortstop in a game since 2005. Hairston, of course, has been increasingly relied upon at third base in place of Uribe. Adam Kennedy played his only two career innings at short in 2007.

However, it’s possible that Sellers could come right back up to the Dodgers if they decide Uribe needs to go to the disabled list.

Apr 28

Spending the night of the L.A. riots at Dodger Stadium

Twenty years ago, I was in between. I had left my full-time sportswriter job at the Daily News in March and was headed to graduate school in Georgetown in the summer, but for the time being, I was mostly killing time with a little occasional freelance work and a lot of sitting around. I had a destination and was adrift all at once.

Not surprisingly, I spent a lot of time at Dodger Stadium that spring. The 1992 Dodgers were dismal, losing 99 games (the most by the franchise in 84 years), but they started the season 9-9 before dropping three consecutive one-run games, two in extra innings, from April 26-28. The outfield of Eric Davis, Brett Butler and Darryl Strawberry all hit the ball decently in April, and rookie Eric Karros – a surprise starter at first base – was also off to a solid start. The starting pitching, perhaps surprisingly, was the shakiest part of the roster in April.

On the afternoon of April 29, I was in front of the family room TV in my parents’ Woodland Hills house, watching the verdict announcement in the trial of the four police officers charged in the Rodney King beating case. As it was being read, in formal, almost bland, tones, I remember most of all not being sure I was understanding it correctly.

Soon, I would really realize how little grasp I had of what was happening.

My friends and I had plans to see the Dodgers play the Phillies that night, a Wednesday. I don’t believe it occurred to me not to go, other than to perhaps stay home and watch more reaction to the acquittal of the officers. We knew there was anger, we knew there were protests, but we didn’t know how they were going to unfold. Our drive to Dodger Stadium was without incident. When Reginald Denny was being dragged out of his truck, at approximately 6:45 p.m, we were inside the ballpark and insulated from most news of the outside world.

The game wasn’t memorable. Orel Hershiser fell behind 5-0 in the fourth; the Dodgers made four errors and lost, 7-3. It would have been completely forgettable if not for one thing: the warning from the public address announcer not to take any of the southbound freeways away from Dodger Stadium. That certainly got our attention.

By the time we reached home – heading directly west – we fully understood what the deal was.  So would the Dodgers, who canceled their remaining home games that week, forcing them to play doubleheaders on July 3, July 6, July 7 and July 8. That night, I drove back to the Daily News office, an outsider there now as well as just about anywhere else. But in this pre-Internet era, I wanted to see the news coming in. Feeble as it was, that was the only way I knew how to feel connected.

During a recent conference call promoting the documentary Harvard Park, I asked Davis and Strawberry their recollections of the day. Both were in the Dodger starting lineup as the events of April 29 unfolded.

Davis:

It started out as a normal day. With any news of that magnitude, we were watching and paying close attention to the verdict. Unfortunately we had started to play when the verdict came down. And some things started to transpire that we weren’t aware of. And at the end of the game, the sheriffs came into the clubhouse (and told us) that the city was in an uproar and they kind of routed us home, as far as what freeways to take.

Going south out of South Central, the city was in a blaze. There was a lot of anger, there was a lot of hatred that was going on in the city at that particular time because of what had transpired. We actually went home and turned on the news and saw the city being in a blaze.

At that time, Darryl and myself had a store on 84th and Broadway, called All-Star Custom Interiors. The next day we got a call that the games were cancelled. And we were like, ‘Wow, this is really serious, they are canceling games.’ So, we went down to see the store and everything around it had been burned and vandalized — except our store. So it was like we had mixed emotions, because of the total chaos that was going on in the city but the upmost respect for what Darryl and myself had meant to that particular area as opposed to other areas that our store was not vandalized.

And then the time that we brought Rodney King down (to Dodger Stadium) … I had known Rodney’s attorney, and our thought was that it was a healing process and that here’s a man who was getting abused for getting beat. And when he came to Dodger Stadium, it was more of a comfort zone – from what Darryl and myself – to say, let’s try to move forward. But the response we got from some of the people at Dodger Stadium was like this guy was Charles Manson or somebody. It kind of hurt then, because of the fact that he was still being treated as an aggressor, or that he did some wrong outside of getting beat.

So I had mixed emotions about that.

It was a very tough time in South Central at that particular time. I had never been a part of a racial riot to that magnitude. I mean, I was a kid when I watched riots hit, but to actually be in the middle of that and have something to do with it, it was a very tough time – I’m just glad we got through it.

Strawberry:

Well said, E. That’s so true, because it was a very difficult time. You’re talking about two guys that grew up patrolling up these streets of South Central Los Angeles, and never saw so much hatred towards color. Just the frustration of people and the acting out over something hurt a lot of people.

I remember my brother Michael, he was (with the) LAPD at the time too, and he got his car got shot up during the riot as they rolled by. With a AK-47, he got shot up. He had a helmet on but bullets didn’t even hit him in the head, he could have been dead over the fact that the LAPD had got off this case here after being on (video) shown around America of the beating of Rodney King like he was a dog. It was just an unfortunate time for all of us to have to see that because that’s not what America’s supposed to be about.

America is supposed to be about a place of love and peace, happiness and joy and sometimes it turns out to be the opposite of that because of the color of your skin, and it shouldn’t be that way. We felt like we should have been past that, so that time of our life was very difficult to experience and looking back on it and seeing the guy.

The morning of April 30, 1992, we – those of us who slept – woke to a city on fire. The morning of April 30, 2012, we will wake to the day of new ownership of the Dodgers. The events are more coincidental than connected – even with an African-American as one of the new co-owners. Even if it’s just a coincidence, though, it seemed worth pointing out. It is strange what the calendar brings – acknowledgment of how much has changed, and misgivings over how much has not.

Update: My Variety colleague Andrew Barker, who says April 29, 1992 was the first major-league game he ever attended, points out that Strawberry (and then Davis) batted in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and a chance to tie the score, but made out.