eric karros (1992-2002)yes, for 11 seasons, karros was the dodgers' first baseman. that is the longest tenure since gil hodges, who just happened to be karros' dad's favorite player. karros (shown on his 1992 upper deck card) was never an all-star, but he put up solid numbers. he won the 1992 nl rookie of the year award with 20 homers and 88 rbi, and had probably his best all-around season in 1995. that year, he led the dodgers to the postseason for the first time since 1988 with a .298 average and 32 homers and 105 rbi - good enough to win the silver slugger and finish 5th in the mvp voting. he also hit 2 homers with a .500 average in the nlds against the reds, but the dodgers were swept. following the 2002 season, karros was traded to the cubs, but his name remains at or near the top of many los angeles dodger leader boards today. karros is the all-time la dodger leader in home runs (270), and he is fourth (behind bill russell, willie davis, and steve garvey) in games played. he trails only davis and garvey in total bases and doubles, and only garvey in rbi. karros is also currently the all-time la dodger leader in strikeouts, but matt kemp (should he remain a dodger next year) will pass him as soon as he k's 54 more times.
i suspect that the karros/mark grudzielanek for todd hundley/chad hermanson deal was a salary dump (the dodgers saved themselves over $10 million (if one assumes that karros' option would have kicked in) with the trade, even taking on hundley's salary. the dodgers had paul loduca behind the plate, so they didn't need hundley, but they did need a first baseman to replace karros. so, they took the guy who had been playing there for the cubs.
fred mcgriff (2003)a couple of weeks after trading karros to the cubs, the dodgers signed former southsider first baseman fred mcgriff. that's his 2003 playoff prestige card, giving a sort of o-pee-chee vibe. the crime dog had joined the cubs during the 2001 season after it became apparent that the team had gotten rid of mark grace too soon - matt stairs wasn't cutting it as grace's replacement. mcgriff, who had averaged 30 home runs a season in his previous 16 seasons, needed just 22 to reach 500 for his career, and i sure thought that he would do it with the dodgers. unfortunately, mcgriff hit only 13 home runs while playing in only 86 games. in fact, he started only 79 games at first base, with jim tracy using seven other players at first (including ron coomer, robin ventura, daryle ward, paul loduca, mike kinkade, larry barnes, and even jolbert cabrera). mcgriff returned to the devil rays for the 2004 season, but still fell 7 homers shy of 500.
shawn green (2004)
hee-seop choi (2005)
nomar garciaparra (2006)nomah! that's nomar's 2006 upper deck sweet spot update card - not sure why upper deck issued an update to sweet spot, but i'll take it. there are too few cards of nomar as a dodger. nomar had never played first base in the major leagues before joining the dodgers, but that's all he played in 2006. he appeared in 122 games for the dodgers that year, 117 of which were starts at first. as the nl comeback player of the year, nomar hit .303 with 20 homers, 82 runs scored, and 93 runs driven in. he made the all-star team and finished 13th in the mvp voting, while helping the dodgers reach the postseason. despite a move to third in 2007, nomar still played more games at first base, but not as many as james loney, the next step on the evolutionary chain.
james loney (2007-2012)after four 'one and done' first basemen, loney (shown on a 2008 upper deck baseball heroes relic card) brought some stability back to the position. he hit .331 as a rookie in 2007 in 96 games (85 of which were starts at first) and also hit 15 home runs. other than a dip in 2010, loney was pretty consistent in his first few seasons with the dodgers, driving in around 90 runs and hitting in the high .280's. he was slumping in 2012, batting just .254 with 4 homers and 33 rbi after 114 games played, when he was traded to the red sox in the megadeal that landed the dodgers their current first baseman.
adrian gonzalez (2013-present)
and so we have reached the end of not only the dodgers' first baseman evolution, but the evolution of each position. you can use the 'evolution' label to find the posts for all of the positions (some may be slightly outdated as i began this with a run through the managers over five years ago). it's been fun tracking the history of the dodgers by position using baseball cards, which was one of the goals i had when i started this blog almost 6 years ago, although that also means i am getting closer to the end.