22 April 2013

the evolution of the dodger third baseman, part 2

first things first - there is still 1 slot open (at least there was about an hour ago) in my inaugural group break.  go here and join the fun with some 1983 fleer stickers!

now then.  this is the second installment of the revolving door that was and is the dodgers' third base position.  the first group of guys can be found here.  the funny thing about this is that while i was able as a youngster to quickly link bill russell to maury wills to pee wee reese, and steve garvey to wes parker to gil hodges, and davey lopes to jim lefebvre to jim gilliam to jackie robinson, i couldn't figure out how to get from ron cey back to the brooklyn days.  this post helps illustrate young gcrl's confusion.

john kennedy (1966)
kennedy appeared at third base in 87 games for the dodgers in 1966.  he started 52 games there, and had only 32 complete games at the hot corner that year.  jim gilliam, the previous primary third baseman, appeared in only 70 games at third in 1966 (his final season).  gilliam also started there 52 times, and he actually had 1 more complete game than kennedy at the position.  i gave the nod to kennedy, though, because he had about 15 more innings at third than did gilliam.  besides, gilliam didn't have any cards beyond 1964 (a situation i should rectify).

after all that, kennedy hit only .201 in 1966 with 3 homers and 24 rbi in 125 games played.  he did get one of the few (17) hits that the dodgers managed in the 1966 world series against the orioles, but was dealt to the yankees prior to the 1967 season.

jim lefebvre (1967)
frenchy took over at third in 1967 after having made 34 starts there the previous year.  the 1965 nl rookie of the year made 89 starts there in '67 and hit .261 with 8 homers and 50 rbi over the course of the season.  in 1968, he was back to being primarily a second baseman.

bob bailey (1968)
acquired by the dodgers in the maury wills trade with the pirates, bailey had split time at third with lefebvre in '67 (he made 65 starts there in 1966) and wasn't technically the full-time third baseman in 1968 either.  he started 88 games there however, so that makes him the guy in my book.

oddly enough, bailey hit .227 (73 for 322) in both of his seasons with the dodgers.  he did manage to double his home run output from 4 in 1967 to 8 in '68, but he was taken by the expansion montreal expos after the 1968 season ended.

others to spend time at third for the dodgers in 1968 included lefebvre, paul popovich, ken boyer, luis alcaraz, and bill sudakis, who took over the majority of the playing time in 1969.

bill sudakis (1969)
sudakis appeared in 132 games in 1969 - all as a third baseman.  well, that's not correct - he had 11 appearances as a pinch hitter, but the rest of his games included 118 starts at third.  he hit 14 homers with 53 rbi and a .234 batting average.

it looked like maybe, just maybe, the dodgers had found their third baseman.  instead, sudakis split time between third and behind the plate in 1970, while another youngster took his turn as the dodgers' third baseman.

billy grabarkewitz (1970)
hey - a 1971 kellogg's card!  you can see that billy g earned breakfast cereal super star status thanks to his 1970 campaign.  he made the all-star team after a torrid start to the season, and wound up hitting .289 with 17 homers and 84 rbi when it was all said and done.  he appeared in 156 games, which included 95 starts at third base.  he also played some shortstop and second base, but injuries and the emergence of the other infielders severely cut into his playing time. as did the arrival of dick allen.  sorry - rich allen.

rich allen (1971)
allen (shown on his 1971 o-pee-chee card) gets the nod here over steve garvey by virtue of a single inning.  in '71, allen played 561.2 innings as the dodgers' third baseman while garvey served there for 560.2 innings.  allen made 65 starts at third and had two additional appearances there as well.  garvey started 60 of 79 appearances as a third baseman in 1971, but even though he made more appearances, allen logged more time.  barely.

overall, allen hit .295 with 23 homers and 90 rbi in 155 games.  after the season, he was traded to the white sox for tommy john, and went on to win the 1972 al mvp award - while playing first base.

steve garvey (1972)
it was weird for me as a youngster see a card of garvey with a fielder's glove on (that's his 1971 o-pee-chee card, by the way), but the dodgers were eager to get his bat into the lineup and third base seemed like a reasonable spot.  after allen was traded, garvey started in 73 of 85 games at third base. he appeared in a total of 96 games and saw action at first base in 3 of them for the first time in his career.  he hit .269 with 9 home runs and 30 rbi, but most significant, perhaps, are the 28 errors he made at the hot corner.  that made it clear that someone else needed to play at third, and the dodgers had just the guy for the job.

ron cey (1973-1982)
another kellogg's card (that's cey's 1977 issue)!  the penguin took over at third in 1973 and didn't give the spot up until he was traded to the cubs after the 1982 season.  over those 10 seasons, cey never played anywhere but third, and he averaged 147 games per season, along with 23 homers and 84 rbi.  i'm getting teary eyed just thinking about it.

pedro guerrero (1983-1984 (first half))
petey was a guy without a position.  like garvey, the dodgers needed to find a way to get his bat into the lineup.  he had settled in right field after the injuries to, and eventual departure of, reggie smith, but with cey gone he was handed the keys to the hot corner.  he wound up starting at third in 156 of the 160 games in which he played, and he had a huge offensive year as well.  32 home runs, 102 rbi, and a .298 batting average got him his second all-star berth and a 4th place finish in the league mvp race.  he led the dodgers back to the playoffs, but they couldn't get past the phillies.

in 1984, guerrero began the season as the dodgers' third baseman, but he had hit only 6 home runs to go along with a .277 average when july rolled around, and he was moved back to the outfield.  so, the dodgers had two primary third basemen in 1984 - a different scenario than the platoons of the 1960's - but you'll need to wait for the third installment to find out who it was.

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