Writing about the 2020 season is not possible at the moment. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to discuss when it comes to baseball. Baseball has been around for 151 years, and shown this world amazing things. Given the current situation, looking into the past is a good idea. The Dodgers have been a huge part of that rich history. This article will compile the greatest Dodgers’ lineup ever from across the franchise’s entire past. Nine players and one manager to call the shots. From Brooklyn to Los Angeles, this article will build the perfect ten.
The Perfect Ten By The Numbers
There is a great deal of extremely detailed stats on every player on this team. The offense criteria of the perfect ten will consist of total At-Bats (AB), Batting Average (BA), On-Base Percentage (OBP), Stolen Bases (SB), Runs-Batted-In (RBI’s), and Postseason performance to gauge how they do under pressure. Defensive criteria will consist of total defensive games played at the chosen position, Errors (E), Put-Outs (PO), Double-Plays turned (DP), and Fielding Percentage.
Part of The Perfect 10: Greatest Dodgers’ Infield
As seen in the title, this article will be part one of a three part series. First (this article) will discuss the four infield positions; first, second, short, and third. The next will tackle the three outfield positions, and the last will be the pitcher, catcher, and manager. This format allows the space and time required to explain why each player has been chosen. Not only will it go into detail as to why each player is picked, but also why other greats are not. Every player mentioned in this article is a legend and even the runners up deserve that kind of respect.
First Base: Steve Garvey
Playing first base, batting right, number six, Steve Garvey. Garvey is a 4x Gold Glove winner, 10x All-Star, ’74 MVP, 2x All-Star MVP, and 2x NLCS MVP. Not only was he an amazing fielder but also has a Dodger BA of .301, OBP of .337, and .459 SLG in 6,543 AB. Also Garvey is one of the rare cases in which his BA and OBP go up during the postseason. This well roundedness is what gets Garvey the position.
What made this choice easy was not only Garvey’s impressive stats, but also the number of games in which he kept them consistent. The Dodger legend played 2,059 defensive games at first (15th most of all-time) with only 81 errors, and 18,844 PO (14th most all-time). This gives Garvey a .996 field percentage at first base. Gil Hodges was also considered but falls short with 1,908 defensive games played at first with 126 errors, and 15,722 PO. This puts Gil at .992 field percentage. Hodges beats Garvey when it comes to double plays with 1,614 DP compared to Garvey’s 1,498 DP. Even though Hodges turned more double plays in less games, Garvey’s overall field percentage proves him to be more well rounded.
Hodges’ offense is comparable and even surpasses Garvey’s in some aspects. Hodges falls short to Garvey with a career BA of .274, but beats him with an OBP of .360 and 262 more RBI’s than Garvey. Even though Garvey has the higher BA, Hodges drove in more runs and got on base more. Despite Hodges slightly beating out Garvey at the plate, Garvey makes up for it with one of the greatest gloves of all time.
As stated in the last paragraph, Hodges narrowly beats out Garvey in general with the bat. But Garvey’s numbers in the postseason show he is the man you want when the pressure is on. Garvey’s postseason BA was .338, with an OBP of .361 with 31 RBI’s over 55 playoff games. In Hodges’ 39 postseason games he maintained a .267 BA, .349 OBP with 21 RBI’s. Not only will Garvey protect his side of the field more effectively, but he out performs Hodges by every metric at the plate when the stakes are high.
Second Base: Jackie Robinson
Playing second base, batting right, number 42, Jackie Robinson. It came down to Robinson (of course) and Dodger great Davey Lopes. Jackie had a significantly better bat. In 4,877 AB, Robinson boasted a career BA of .311, OBP of .409 with 734 RBI’s. In 4,590 AB as a Dodger Lopes’ has a BA of .262, OBP of .349 with 384 RBI’s. Both players had a similar amount of at-bats but Jackie’s vastly superior offensive contribution will be the deciding factor.
When it comes to offense, Lopes beats does beat Jackie in stolen bases. In his 1,207 games in a Dodger uniform Lopes racked up 418 stolen bases. Though Robinson was a great baserunner he falls short with 197 SB in 1,382 games. Despite Lopes’ better performance as a baserunner, Jackie was on base way more and drove in almost double the amount runs. Jackie’s plate performance comes through for him once again.
Robinson’s and Lopes’ defensive stats are much closer. Lopes played more games with 1,418 at second base; but also had more errors with 162. This gives Lopes a .977 field percentage. Robison played 748 games with 68 errors at second base. This gives Robison the edge with a .983 field percentage. Lopes does have 204 more double plays turned, and a Gold Glove, but Robison played before the Gold Glove was invented and would likely have earned at least one had he played later. Overall Robinson would be the player to protect his part of the field more effectively.
This is an area in which Lopes beats Robinson; but not by much. In 181 post season AB Lopes maintained a .238 BA, .330 OBP with 21 RBI’s. Robinson has a postseason BA of .234, OBP of .335 with 12 RBI’s in 137 AB. The only category that puts Lopes significantly above Robinson is the nine more RBI’s. Though impressive Robinson still beats him by a lot when it comes to batting in general and on the field. The first African American to break the color barrier is still the best man for the job at second base.
Short Stop: Maury Wills
Playing short-stop, batting both left and right, number thirty, Maury Wills. The only player to come close to beating Wills when it comes to defense and offense is Hall-of-Famer, Pee Wee Reese. Maury Wills only beats Reese in BA when it comes to offense; with a .281 AVG in 6,156 AB. His OBP of .331 and 374 RBI’s fall short to Reese’s. But Wills played in a much more competitive league.
Reese played four seasons before the desegregation of baseball. Considering Wills has the 20th all-time highest amount of steals with 586 SB (Reese has a very respectable 232), it’s safe to say Wills was far more likely to score once he got on base. The fact that he is the ’62 MVP, a 7x All-Star, the ’62 MVP All-Star, ’62 MLB Player of The Year and 3x World Series champ proves that his base stealing is invaluable.
Of course Reese is best known for his relationship to one of the greatest athletes to ever play professional sports; Jackie Robinson. Reese himself was an outstanding baseball player. In his 16 years as a Dodger he boasts a .269 BA, and a .366 OBP in 8,858 AB with 885 RBI’s. Though Reese got on base more and drove in more runs, Wills value as a base-stealer means he is more likely to get the Dodgers in scoring position. Wills being more effective once on base, in a more competitive time, gets him the second base position.
Pee Wee Reese was a 10x All-Star who played 2,014 games at short-stop (19th most all-time), with 1,246 DP (13th most all-time), and 4,040 PO (12th most all-time). With 388 errors Reese has a .962 fielding percentage. These numbers are legendary, but must be seen through a historical context. Reese played four seasons before baseball was desegregated. Yes, he would still be a great player worthy of his Hall Of Fame status, but Wills would still help the Dodgers more in an inclusive league. The only way baseball should be played.
Even with playing in a more competitive league, Wills defensive stats compare nicely to Reese’s. In Wills’ 1,555 games at short-stop (55th most all-time) he has 284 errors, 859 DP(61st most all-time), and 2,550 PO. This actually gives Wills a fielding percentage one point above Reese at .963. Given that Wills is just as good as Reese on the field (Wills is a 2x Gold Glove winner) and much more likely to get the Dodgers in scoring position (due to his impressive 585 SB) he deserves his spot on this team.
Third Base: Ron Cey
Playing third base, batting right, number ten, Ron Cey. This was by far the hardest choice when it comes to building the greatest Dodger infield. It came down to Cey, Justin Turner, and Adrian Beltre. The only reason Turner didn’t get the position is because he has significantly less games at third-base (722) than both Beltre (2,759) and Cey (1,989). If this list was made a few more years down the road, Turner would easily have the spot (that being if he maintained his impressive stats). At the moment Turner beats his predecessors in both offense and defense. However, Cey gets the spot due to him holding up such great numbers for 12 years as a Dodger. As great as Turner is, one can’t assume Turner will perform just as well for as long without seeing it.
Adrian Beltre is a 4x All-Star, 5x Gold Glove winner, and 4x Silver Slugger winner. The problem is that all but one of these awards were earned for other teams. If Beltre had played his entire career with the Dodgers then he would be given the spot. Unfortunately for him, this article isn’t building the Texas Ranger perfect ten. Ron Cey gets the spot because he did more for the Dodgers as a third basemen than anyone else. In 5,216 AB Cey maintained a .264 BA, and .359 OBP with 842 RBI’s. Beltre beats Cey in BA with a .274 as a Dodger. But falls short with an OBP of .332 and 510 RBI’s in 3,462 AB. Cey is clearly more effective when it comes both to driving in runs and getting on base.
As mentioned before, Beltre is a very valuable asset to have at third. In his 2,759 games (2nd most all-time) at the position he has 311 errors, 2,194 PO, and a fielding percentage of .960. Cey may not have any gold gloves but he was still more effective at third for the Dodgers than Beltre ever was. In Cey’s 1,198 games at third he has 223 errors, 1,500 PO, and a fielding percentage of .961. Even more important than the one point advantage is that Cey did most of that as a Dodger. Beltre’s best years were with the Rangers. Either way, Cey’s numbers are still comparable and did more for the boys in blue.
The best argument for Cey being a part of the Dodger perfect ten is the fact that he is the only third basemen (being discussed here) to help bring a W.S. ring to Los Angeles. When it comes to postseason stats Cey comes out on top. With a .261 BA, .362 OBP, and 27 RBI’s in 61 AB, “The Penguin” proves his worth over Beltre. In Beltre’s 111 postseason AB he maintained a .261 BA, and .297 OBP with 11 RBI’s. Cey both drove in more runs and got on base more in less AB. The fact that Cey has an ’81 W.S. MVP title is evidence that he is the man that will perform for the Dodgers when it matters most.
The Perfect 10 In An Alternate Dodgerverse
Each member of this dream infield has helped bring a World Series title to either Brooklyn, or Los Angeles. Maury Wills alone contributed to three of them. With Garvey, Robinson, and Cey added, this infield would undoubtedly give the Dodgers more rings. It has speed in Wills, power in Garvey & Robinson, and consistency in Cey. With Cey and Wills constantly getting on base, Garvey and Robinson will be hitting them in with their dominant bats. The one thing that these four Dodgers have in common is that they gave their best years to the franchise. To watch them together would be a true blue heaven. Somewhere in the cosmos where an alternate universe plays out baseball fantasy, these four Dodger legends are turning double plays with multiple rings on their fingers. But their only four of the perfect ten…
Stay tuned for the second part of the perfect ten and follow me @christhinksblue on Twitter
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