28 May 2014

the evolution of the dodger second baseman, part 2

when we last saw the dodger second baseman, he (paul popovich) was on his way to the expansion montreal expos, so someone needed to step up in 1969.  that someone was…

ted sizemore (1969-1970)
sizemore (seen with his topps rookie team trophy on his 1970 topps card) actually started the season at shortstop (jim lefebvre was at second), but he moved to second when lefebvre got hurt in mid april.  even though he returned to short when lefebvre came back, walt alston eventually switched sizemore back to second when the club reacquired maury wills to play shortstop.  sizemore played 118 of his 159 games in 1969 as the dodgers' second baseman, and hit .271 as he was named the national league's rookie of the year.  in 1970, he appeared in only 96 games, but made 81 starts at second for the dodgers so he retains his title as their primary second baseman.  he hit .306 that year and was dealt following the season to the cardinals in the dick (rich) allen trade.

jim lefebvre (1971)
look who's back.  lefebvre, who had been the team's primary second baseman in 1965 and 1966 and is a former rookie of the year himself, was back at the position in 1971.  that's lefebvre's 1972 o-pee-chee card, by the way.  he played in 102 games as the dodger second baseman in '71 (98 starts) and hit .245 with 12 homers.

lee lacy (1972)
once again, lefebvre began the season as the team's second baseman, but hit a rough patch in early may and gave way to bobby valentine.  soon thereafter, lee lacy (shown on his 1973 o-pee-chee card) was called up from the minors, and he went on to lay claim to the position.  lacy made 58 starts at second - about a dozen more than valentine and 20 or so more than lefebvre.  he hit .259 and scored 34 runs, but didn't play much in september, as the dodgers called up another guy to play some second.

dave lopes (1973-1981)
lopes (shown on a very crooked 1979 kellogg's card) made 11 starts during the last month of the 1972 season, and i guess alston saw enough.  he handed the position over to lopes in 1973, giving him 133 starts that year.  he dabbled in the outfield from time to time, but otherwise held the position through the 1981 world series.  along the way, he led the league in steals twice, won a gold glove, made four all-star teams, and helped the dodgers to four pennants and a world series title.  he was the second baseman on the team of my youth.

steve sax (1982-1988)
like lopes, sax held the dodgers' second base position until they won a world series title.  lopes, however, was traded prior to the 1982 season while saxy left after the 1988 campaign as a free agent.  before that happened, he was the fourth dodger second baseman to win the rookie of the year award, and he made three all-star teams, including the 1983 squad as alluded to on the 1984 topps glossy all-star card above.  in 1986, sax finished second to tim raines in the batting title race, hitting a career high .332 (raines hit .334).  he twice led the national league in errors while with the dodgers and much was made about his difficulties throwing to first base, but he was still my favorite dodger after steve garvey left town.  besides, i don't think of him defensively - my lasting steve sax memory is of him hitting the first pitch of the 1988 season into the left field bleachers at dodger stadium.

willie randolph (1989)
the yankees and dodgers essentially traded second baseman for the 1989 season, although both signed with their new teams as free agents.  with sax gone to the bronx, the dodgers signed willie randolph (seen on a 1989 fleer update card).  randolph appeared in 145 games in 1989, including 139 starts at second.  he hit .282 and was selected to the all-star team.  however, the dodgers traded him to the a's early in the 1990 season for stan javier.

juan samuel (1990-1991)
following the 1989 season, the dodgers traded mike marshall and alejandro pena to the mets for samuel.  they moved him back to his original position of second base (the mets were using him as their center fielder), and he made 101 starts there for the dodgers in 1990.  the following year, samuel started 150 games at second for the blue, and didn't sniff the outfield.  he made the all-star team that year as well, hitting .271 with 74 runs scored and 23 steals.  samuel began the 1992 season as the team's second baseman, but was released in july.  eric young was called up to take his roster spot, but there was another player who actually played second more than anyone else that year.

lenny harris (1992)
yes, i am using cards from 1992 fleer ultra for both samuel and harris in this post.  it's what i had handy.  deal with it.  the second baseman position in 1992 looked something like this:  samuel, 29 starts; mike sharperson, 33 starts; eric young, 35 starts; harris, 65 starts.  harris had been the team's primary third baseman in 1991, and he played some third as well as short and outfield in 1992 as well.  overall, harris hit .271 while fielding at a clip below league average for second basemen.  many thought that young would be the dodgers' second baseman of the future, but they weren't convinced as he was left unprotected in the 1993 expansion draft and was taken by colorado.  as a result, the dodgers worked out a deal with the rockies to acquire one of their later draft picks to fill the hole at second.  that set into motion events that would lead to one of the worst (thanks to hindsight) trades in dodger history.  stay tuned...

No comments: