Even if Belliard does nothing in 2010 he has already pushed his way into Dodger lore with his fabulous September. A September Dodger fans should never forget as Belliard didn't put on a Mini Manny show, he put on a full size Manny show.
Belliard was drafted in the 8th round of the 1994 draft by the Brewers. He made his debut in 1998 and by September 2009 had played for the Brewers, Rockies, Indians, Cardinals, and Nationals. Most of the time he's been a starting 2nd baseman who was adequate at his job. In 2004 he was good enough to be an all-star while playing 2nd for the Indians. Since 2004 Belliard has posted an OPS+ over 100 every year except for 2006.
Over the last three years Belliard seems to have learned the nuances of left handed pitching as he has posted an OPS against them of .892/ 1.015/.897. Pretty high marks for a middle infielder.
Ronnie Belliard came over in what at the time was considered an insignificant waiver wire deal to help bolster the bench but ended up being the Dodgers starting second baseman for all of September, and shockingly the playoffs.
Belliard became the starter by slugging like no second baseman had done since a Jeff Kent hot streak. By the time September 27 had rolled around he was a big reason why the Dodgers only needed one more victory to secure a second straight NL West Division Championship.
When the Dodgers slumped at the end of the year one thing was constant. Belliard was not in the lineup. It all started innocently enough with Belliard collecting his 2nd hit of the game on September 27 in the 9th inning. He hurt his hamstring and was replaced with a pinch runner. Going into the bottom of the 9th the Dodgers had the lead of 5 -2 with Broxton on the mound. If they win they clinch the division a week early. Improbably Big Jon coughed up the three run lead and the Dodgers had to wait another day. Belliard however was hurt and would not play again until Saturday Night. The Dodgers lost every single game that Belliard did not play in.
Saturday Night came and the Dodgers still needed that one victory. Belliard was not playing and the game was 0-0 headed into the bottom of the seventh. Belliard limped off the bench to pinch hit and drove in the winning run with a key basehit, igniting the Dodgers who would go onto score 5 runs, win the game, and clinch the pennant on TBLA Night. It was not a Gibson moment but his key pinch hit should be remembered as one of the clutch moments of 2010.
Given the production of Belliard in September and the slim margin of the Dodger victory, it is not inconceivable to say that the acquisition of Belliard was a brilliant move and was certainly a big reason why the Dodgers won their 2nd straight division championship. A .636 slug% from your 2nd baseman is a gift from the Gods when his career is .418.
In 2010 Belliard had to make weight to make the team. He's done that but yesterday Blake DeWitt was given the job at 2nd base. The expectation is that Belliard will play against some left handed pitching and provide insurance in case DeWitt does not impress.
I'm of the opinion that when a player goes above and beyond expectations there is a price to pay. As much as I was a huge Belliard backer in 2009, in 2010 I think he pays for that magnificent September and does very little productive work for us in 2010.