21 October 2011

the evolution of the left fielder, part 4

finally, the current ending to this story can be told (here are parts 1, 2 and 3).  at one point this past season, i was ready to run this post with jerry sands at the end of the dodger evolutionary change and not have to update it for 10 years or so.  however, he struggled, and tony gwynn jr wound up being the dodgers' primary left fielder in 2011.  before we get to that, let's pick up where i left off, with andre ethier taking over in left for the blue in 2006.

andre ethier (2006)
with kenny lofton in center and jd drew in right, ethier spent his entire debut season in left field, starting 99 games and appearing there in 10 others.  his rookie year was good enough for him to place 5th in the roy voting as he hit .308 with 7 triples, 11 home runs and 55 rbi.  in 2007, he moved over to right field to make room for...no, not matt kemp, but luis gonzalez.

luis gonzalez (2007)
drew and lofton were gone, so ned colletti brought in juan pierre and luis gonzalez to block either ethier or matt kemp from playing as much as they should.  while pierre played center, gonzo started 126 games for the dodgers as their left fielder in 2007.  he hit 15 home runs, but we all knew he was stealing at bats from kemp - at least all of us except the 39-year old gonzalez.  gonzalez maintained that the dodgers were sacrificing winning at the cost of developing their younger players, which may have been true to some extent, but the 2007 dodgers were in a rebuilding mode, and only luis and ned failed to realize it.  his play tailed off in the second half and he was somewhere else in 2008. 

juan pierre (2008)
pierre slid over from center to left to make room for matt kemp andruw jones (seriously, ned?) in 2008.  he played well in his 119 games (71 starts in left) if my memory serves.  at least his arm was not as much of an issue with him in left.  he stole 40 bases and hit .283, but that didn't stop ned from getting another veteran outfielder at the trade deadline to take over in left.  this time, however, ned did alright.

manny ramirez (2009-2010)
manny started 53 games in left in 2008 as he led the dodgers to the nlcs for the first time since 1988.  in 2009, he started 99 games in 'mannywood' and the dodgers again advanced to the nlcs.  and, despite playing just 48 games for the dodgers in 2010, he was their primary left fielder that year, too.  pierre, who had subbed so well for manny in 2009 while he was out, was traded to the white sox before the 2010 season.  ned backfilled with garret anderson and reed johnson before bringing in scott podsednik and jay gibbons to replace manny and ga after they were both jettisoned from the roster.  in short, left field was a cluster in 2010 for the dodgers.  going in to 2011, only gibbons was left over, but he didn't last long.

tony gwynn jr. (2011)
i was bummed when i found out that the jr gwynn was bumped from the topps update set and figured i might have to wait until 2012 to finish this post properly.  then i stumbled across the 2011 topps allen & ginter relic card shown above.  i had to pay about $15 for it, but whaddayagonnado when you need the only dodger card of a guy who allows you to finish up a post that has gone undone for far too long.

gwynn made only 60 starts in left for the dodgers, but spent parts of 50 other games there, too.  by comparison, jerry sands made 34 starts in left, juan rivera had 32 and the rest were made by gibbons, marcus thames and the like.  his 136 appearances were a career high, as were his 22 stolen bases.  it's fairly likely that i will be updating this evolutionary chain again next season, but for now, we are done with the left field position.  from amoros to gwynn in 58 years.

No comments: