Los Angeles Dodgers Midterm Report Card: Position Player Evaluations
In the initial installment of the report card, all of the pitchers who have appeared for the Los Angeles Dodgers were evaluated and graded, and in this second portion of the evaluations, the performances of all the position players who have been utilized in the first half of the season will be examined.
All of the teams in Major League Baseball with excellent pitching staffs still need to put eight quality position players behind every pitcher in order to succeed.
Effective pitching alone won't win a championship, as a superior defense and a productive offense are also integral components to any team's success.
Like the pitching staff, injuries have also hampered the Los Angeles position players. With Manny Ramirez' two appearances on the disabled list coupled with Andre Ethier's broken finger, the very talented Dodger outfield has been broken apart for a good portion of the season.
Casey Blake's minor back problems and Rafael Furcal's nagging hamstring earlier in the season forced the Dodgers' bench players to step up and cover the infield as well.
Team chemistry is paramount on the road to a championship, as it's impossible for one or two superstars to carry an entire team on their shoulders.
In this final installment of evaluations, all of the position players who have appeared during the season thus far will be evaluated and graded. The following frames highlight each of the 16 players who have played in the field for the Dodgers so far this year and show a letter grade and commentary for each player.
Brad Ausmus — Catcher
After five games into the season, and having only appeared in one of the five games, Dodgers' back-up catcher Brad Ausmus was forced to the disabled list with a slipped disk in his back.
In the game that Ausmus did appear, he went 1 for 4 at the plate with a double.
The 41 year-old is scheduled to return to the team in late July, and time will tell if the 17-year veteran still has gas in the tank to contribute to the Dodger squad.
Nick Green — Infield
The Dodgers signed Nick Green to a minor league deal last winter in hopes of providing solid cover for the middle infield.
Green, 31, was called up on May 5 when shortstop Rafael Furcal was placed on the disabled list.
Upon pitcher Scott Elbert's call up on May 29, Green was designated for assignment; however he refused the demotion and eventually cleared waivers. On June 18 he signed a one year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.
In five games played for Los Angeles, Green had eight at-bats, one hit and one RBI while striking out twice. He compiled a .125 average in his short stint in the bigs with the Dodgers.
Garret Anderson — Outfield
It's hard to believe that only seven years ago this month Garret Anderson was named MVP of the 2003 All-Star Game.
Anderson, now 38, signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in March, and after a productive month in pre-season, was named to the Los Angeles Opening Day roster just one day before the season began.
It was hoped that the 16-year veteran could provide depth to the potent Dodger outfield, and contribute as a left-handed pinch hitter off the bench.
However, it's been a struggle for Anderson this season, most specifically at the plate.
In 65 games and 132 at-bats, Anderson is hitting just .182, with a .197 on-base percentage, and a .280 slugging percentage. Anderson has contributed two homeruns and 11 RBI.
He has provided a few clutch hits, most notably the game-winning single in the Dodgers 1-0, 14-inning victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 2.
However, the Dodger faithful is getting more impatient with Anderson, and continue to express concern over whether L.A. needs to try a different left-handed hitter off the bench.
AJ Ellis — Catcher
AJ Ellis was recalled from Albuquerque on April 10 after back-up catcher Brad Ausmus was placed on the DL with a back injury.
In 15 games and 40 at-bats so far this year, Ellis has 8 hits, including a double, and posts a .200 average with 8 RBI while covering for Russell Martin.
The 29 year-old has been average defensively, only allowing one passed ball and throwing out two of the 12 runners who have attempted to steal on him.
Expect Ellis to be demoted back to Albuquerque when Brad Ausmus is activated later in July.
Xavier Paul — Outfield
Xavier Paul was recalled for the third time this season when left fielder Manny Ramirez was placed on the 15-day DL on July 3.
In 26 games and 74 at-bats altogether this year, Paul has accumulated 18 base hits, which include five doubles and a triple. He's posted a .243 average, a .291 OBP and a ,338 slugging percentage. Paul has also added 8 RBI, 5 walks and 3 stolen bases to his stat line so far in 2010.
Paul, still only 25 years-old, is expected to be an everyday outfielder in 2011 if Manny Ramirez doesn't re-sign with the Dodgers when his contract expires at the end of the season.
His speed, both in the outfield and on the bases, his above-average arm strength, and his ability to hit both for average and power suggest his high potential for being a key player for Los Angeles in the future.
Ronnie Belliard — Infield
Ronnie Belliard's best assets are that he can provide ample defensive cover at third base, second base, and first base; and that he offers a suitable right-handed bat off the bench.
Belliard, now 35, has appeared in 52 total games for the Dodgers during the first half of the season.
He's 24 for 105, with seven doubles, a triple, two homeruns and 14 RBI, while compiling a .229 batting average, a .322 OBP and .371 slugging percentage.
Belliard's biggest weakness is that he's suspect with the glove; and so far this year he's commited 3 errors in 28 chances in the field.
He struggled in the several weeks leading up to the All-Star break, but hopes to contribute productive numbers to the Dodgers' offensive attack in the second half of the season.
Reed Johnson — Outfield
In February, the Dodgers signed outfielder Reed Johnson to a one-year deal in an effort to add defensive cover to the outfield. Johnson's value is very high for Los Angeles, as he has the defensive skills to shine in either left, center, or right field.
Johnson also provides an additional right-handed bat off the bench.
Johnson, 33, has appeared in 66 games for the Dodgers during the first half of the season. He's 37 for 127 at the plate with 16 runs scored, eight doubles, two triples, and seven RBI. He posts a .291 batting average, a .316 OBP and a .386 slugging percentage.
Jamey Carroll — Infield
Jamey Carroll has been an unexpected bonus for the Los Angeles Dodgers so far in 2010.
In February, Los Angeles signed the free-agent to a two-year deal, mainly to provide back-up at shortstop, although Carroll has the ability to cover at second base and third base if neccessary.
Carroll, 36, has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers during the first half of the year, especially offensively. In 74 games, he registers a .289 BA and a .389 OBP; in addition, he has also contributed seven doubles, 28 runs scored, six stolen bases and 30 walks.
His glove has been solid for the first half of the year, as he marks a .980 fielding percentage with only 3 errors in 144 total chances.
Russell Martin — Catcher
Russell Martin, still only 27 years-old, is in his fifth season as the Los Angeles Dodgers full-time catcher.
During the first half of 2010, Martin has struggled at the dish, having registered a batting average of .247 with 4 homeruns and 19 RBI—atypical numbers for the 2007 Silver Slugger Award winner. However, he has contributed 41 walks and 42 runs scored, which are among the team's leaders.
Defensively, Martin has already commited nine errors in 2010, which is two more than he committed all of last year. Noneheless, he has gunned-down 21 base stealers this season, which calculates to a 37 percent caught stealing percentage, the highest of his career.
Martin's struggles at the plate have been attributed to overuse, and with a higher number of days off in the second half of the season, he hopes to rediscover his swing which made him one of the best hitting catchers in the League.
Blake DeWitt — Second Base
Although it seems as if Blake DeWitt has been around for sometime now, he's only 24 years old, and is still making huge amounts of progress in his game.
At the halway mark of 2010, DeWitt has appeared in 67 games, and is batting .271 with one HR and 29 RBI. He's also contributed 13 doubles, three triples and 24 runs scored.
DeWitt has also been brilliant with his glove so far this year, only having committed 4 errors in 304 total chances, which calculates to a 98.7 percent fielding percentage.
Casey Blake — Third Base
Outside of a handful of games with a sore back, Casey Blake has been the mainstay at third base for the Dodgers in the first half of 2010.
Blake, who will turn 37 next month, has appeared in 76 games for the dodgers so far this season, and posts .254/.332/.422 stat line, with nine homeruns and 34 RBI. He's also contributed 16 doubles, one triple, and 29 runs scored.
Blake has been suspect with the glove at the halfway mark of the season, having committed 10 errors in 199 chances at the hot corner. His 10 errors rank among the worst of all third basemen in the National League.
Manny Ramirez — Left Field
After a relatively slow start to the 2010 campaign, Manny Ramirez, 38, put together a very productive month of June; however, he began a stint on the disabled list on July 3 due to an aggravated hamstring.
During the first half of this season, ramirez appeared in 59 total games, batting .322 with eight homeruns and 39 RBI. He's also contributed 13 doubles and 31 runs scored, while posting a .412 on-base percentage and a .525 slugging percentage.
Although not hitting for a huge amount of power like the Manny of old, Ramirez has leveled out his stroke and is still a strong force in the Dodger lineup.
It's assumed that Manny won't re-sign with the Dodgers in 2011, as his age and fading mobility will most likely limit him to designated hitter duties in the American League.
Ramirez hopes to impress potential suitors by having very productive numbers in the second half of the year.
Matt Kemp — Center Field
After a squabble with GM Ned Colletti earlier in the season, then a minor disagreement with a bench coach early in July, Matt Kemp continues to produce right along side the best outfielders in the National League, despite the mass scrutiny by the larger media outlets.
Kemp, 25, is one of a handful of true five-tool players in baseball, and can get it done with power, speed and his glove.
So far ths season, Kemp is hitting .264 with 16 HR and 49 RBI; and his 57 runs scored ranks him fourth in the National League. His 16 homeruns is tied for tenth, and his 14 stolen bases is tied for 13th in the NL.
Despite a 97.9 fielding percentage, Kemp already has four errors this year in center field, which is out of the norm for the 2009 Gold Glove Award winner.
Kemp hopes to close out the season in strong fashion, as he hopes to clinch the first ever 30/30 season of his career.
James Loney — First Base
Dodger first baseman James Loney, 26, is putting together yet another remarkable season.
Loney's stat line so far this season reads .307/.358/.433 with 5 homeruns and 58 RBI. His 94 hits rank him tied for third in the NL, while his 58 RBI list him in seventh place in the League.
His 24 doubles, 44 runs scored, and 9 stolen bases are right near the top of the Dodger leader list.
Loney features one of the top defensive games among first baseman in all of baseball. He has only two errors in 744 total chances, which calculates to a 99.7 fielding percentage.
The one thing lacking in James' game is a high number of homeruns, but nobody in Dodgerland is complaining, as his many contributions are already vital to the success of the team.
Andre Ethier — Right Field
Before fracturing his right little finger on May 15, Andre Ethier led the National League in batting average, home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and OPS.
As part of the pre-injury streak, Ethier, 28, added to his highly esteemed walk-off accolades with a game-ending grand slam against Latroy Hawkins and the Milwaukee Brewers on May 6.
Although still not feeling 100 percent from the broken finger, Ethier is impressively lingering around the .320 mark in batting average; and his 14 homeruns and 50 RBI are still very respectable power numbers, despite being on the shelf for 15 games.
If statistics are any indication, Andre’s numbers will continue to improve. Since coming up to the bigs with the Oakland Athletics in 2005, his power numbers have progressively increased each subsequent season. And despite the injury, in 2010 he hopes to surpass his career high of 31 homers and 106 RBI which were recorded in 2009.
Being selected to his first National League All-Star team is not only an indication that he is gaining respect from the fans around baseball, but also that he is beginning to be recognized as a player among the best in the game.
Rafael Furcal — Shortstop
Despite missing almost a full month with a strained hamstring, and another five days on bereavement leave to pay respects to his father, Rafael Furcal's first half of the season was nothing short of amazing.
His stat line is .339/.386/.522, and he already has six homeruns and 35 RBI, which are an added bonus for a lead-off man. His 14 stolen bases are tied for the team lead with Matt Kemp; and he's also contributed with 47 runs scored, 14 doubles and 5 triples.
His glove has been slightly suspect, having 11 errors in 240 total chances, but his rifle of an arm still ranks him among the strongest throwing shortstops in the game.
If Furcal can maintain his health throughout the course of the second half of the season, look for the Los Angeles Dodgers to soar.
Outside of a clean bill of health, and maybe one or two potent bats off the bench for pinch hitting situations, the Los Angeles Dodgers position player scenario is in fine shape.
When healthy the Dodger outfield is among the best in the business offensively; and when Rafael Furcal is in his groove at the top of the order, the Dodger lineup is extremely productive.
There's no need for any additions before the trade deadline, however with the paramount requirement for pitching help, some sacrifices may need to made in order to complete the deal that's best for the club.
Nonetheless, with the core of position players that are on board now, the Dodgers are primed for another run into the postseason—if they get the pitching staff solidified.
Overall Grade for position players in the first half of 2010: C+