The Dodgers have had only one productive season from a player 40 years old or older, and that player was Jeff Kent. It was not a good season for Jeff Kent as it would be his least productive season of his career, and subsequently his last. This came as a surprise to many who felt that a 40 year old Jeff Kent would be just as good as the 39 year old Jeff Kent who had still been an above average hitter. Jeff battled injuries most of the year and on Aug 29th went down for an eight count. He wobbled up by Sept 24th for four more games to prove he was ready for the playoffs, unfortunately he ended his career by going hit-less in nine postseason at bats. It was a bitter way for Kent to end his career, the 2008 team had enough talent to win a World Championship but he was unable to help them deliver that championship.
Player WAR/pos Year Age PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Jeff Kent 1.3 2008 40 474 42 123 23 1 12 59 25 .280 .327 .418 .745 *4/3 Brad Ausmus 0.2 2009 40 107 9 28 4 0 1 9 5 .295 .343 .368 .712 *2 Rick Dempsey 0.2 1990 40 151 13 25 5 0 2 15 23 .195 .318 .281 .599 *2 Manny Mota 0.2 1978 40 37 2 10 1 0 0 6 3 .303 .361 .333 .694 Vic Davalillo 0.1 1977 40 48 3 15 2 0 0 4 0 .313 .313 .354 .667 /987 Sandy Alomar -0.2 2006 40 62 3 20 5 0 0 9 0 .323 .323 .403 .726 *2 Brett Butler -0.4 1997 40 401 52 97 8 3 0 18 42 .283 .363 .324 .686 87/D
40 Year Tidbits:
- Brad Ausmus shocked many with a decent season, in limited at bats, Brad put up the third best OPS of his long career.
- This would be the last year of the three years Rick Dempsey spent with the Dodgers. He had a great 1988 but 1989 and 1990 were not so kind.
- By this time Manny Mota was simply a pinch hitter garnering only 37 plate appearances over a full year of activity.
Vic Davalillo had a pedestrian season but he climaxed it with one of the most important at bats in the 1977 postseason and remains a Dodger folk hero for his good work. The SABR bioproj recounts the story and also tells you everything you could possibly want to know about Vic Davalillo.
In the top of the ninth inning of Game Three, reliever Gene Garber had retired the first two men to face him. Davalillo, whose speed was still intact, saw that the right side of the infield was playing deep. He "recognized that he was being given a gift...decided to take what was being given him...and dragged a perfect bunt past the mound." Manny Mota followed with a fly ball to left that a lurching Greg Luzinski couldn’t hold; it fell for a double. A game-winning three-run rally ensued, propelling L.A. into the World Series.
Davalillo, who played for six teams in his 16-year career, achieved some notoriety as the oldest player in baseball from 1977-1980 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, after having played from 1974 through 1977 in Mexico. Appearing often as a pinch-hitter, he hit .312 in both 1977 and 1978 as the Dodgers won the pennant each year. Vic had 24 pinch-hits in 1970, which tied the single-season record established by Dave Philley in 1961. The mark was then broken by José Morales in 1976 (Vic's 1970 total was subsequently shown to be 23). Davalillo finished his career with 95 pinch-hits in the majors.
And the improbable joy of Vic Davalillo, a name that I hold dear to this very day and a reference that I drop to people of my age. When they recognize the name, I realize I may have found a friend…
And the heroics of Manny Mota, on a team full of stars, someone who I loved then for reasons I still don’t know why…
And the clutch play of Bill Russell. I have come to not believe in clutch as a concept, but Bill Russell will always be clutch for me…
And the magic of victory snatched from defeat, though the pain of defeat snatched from victory was a lesson soon to me taught to me by the hated Yankees. But for this day, I was yet unspoiled.