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Dodger 2007 Positional Overview

The VORP and EQA numbers are from Baseball Prospectus
The OPS+ numbers and historical ranking info came from Baseball Reference
Some of you may not be familiar with this but it is the coolest thing for any Dodger fan.

2007 Dodger Positional Overview
Pos Name 2007-Info 2008
1st James Loney James played 96 games at 1st for us in 2007. No matter how much you think you know about baseball, it will always throw you a curve. James Loney looked ready to be the Dodger everyday 1st baseman in 2007 but Ned didn't think he was ready, and signed Nomar to a two year extension to play 1st. Loney clubbed the ball in spring training but was sent down to AAA to get some at bats and he didn't take it well. In AAA he hit a home run in his 1st ab, and then didn't hit another one for 232 at bats. Luckily for him they felt 3rd base was a bigger problem and they shifted Nomar to 3rd and gave Loney the job. We don't know what would have happened had James struggled but he didn't, and when the dust cleared, he had given the Dodgers much more then anyone could have hoped for. For starters he had a .302 EQA, which was good for 8th place in the NL for 1st baseman. His OPS+ of 133 was the 4th best at 1st base for the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the age of 23 that OPS+ was also the highest for a 1st baseman since Ron Fairly put up a 124 in 1962 at the age of 23. After a tepid August, James was the main cog in Sept, putting up a 1.138 OPS. Starting 1st Baseman
1st Nomar Garciaparra Nomar played 67 games at 1st base before he moved over to 3rd to make room for Loney and to plug a perceived hole at 3rd base. While a 1st baseman he followed a decent April with a putrid May & June before showing some signs of life in July, and then an injury effectively ended his season. His OPS was 130 points better as 3rd baseman then as a 1st baseman. The only thing that propped up his season was his RISP OPS of .879, and his ability to hit at home. His home OPS was .835 compared to a road OPS of .570 a difference of .265 points. That may be the largest differential between a home and road OPS in Dodger history. So we had two complete different hitters this year. Since he hit at home it is understandable why the casual fan still thinks of him as a productive player. Put the numbers together and you have one of the worse corner hitters in the league. His VORP was .08, the list of 1st/3rd baseman who were better then Nomar would fill a tricked out van. Will he be the starting 3rd baseman or a utility player? My gut tells me he bounces back. My gut is often wrong.
1st Olmedo Saenz Saw action in 13 games at 1st base and had a terrible year. Other then his dramatic walk off home run that almost put a hole in the left field fence, he was a constant failure as a pinch hitter. In the past he would drill LHP but even that was missing from his repertoire in 2007. He was released last week and hopes to catch on with an AL club. His departure leaves Brad Penny as the longest tenured Dodgers. Brad Penny!
1st Mark Sweeney Dodgers traded Travis Denker for him and his vaunted reputation as a pinch hitter. For us he was a big zero. He had 33 ab's and managed 9 hits, and only one was an XBH.
2nd Jeff Kent At the age of 39 he was still able to play 139 games at 2nd base, which is the 4th highest number since integration. He had the 2nd highest VORP for NL 2nd baseman. His EQA of .291 was the 2nd best in all of baseball. His defensive skills keep declining but it is hard to argue that his still stellar offense is marginalized by his statuesque defense. Subjectively his base runners skills don't seem to match up with his age. He is aggressive to a fault, and still slides head first into home and 1st base. Tough as nails, he was nailed in the head by a fastball and was playing the next day. Didn't win any friends here, when he went off on the kids. If he had anything to say of value it should have been said in the clubhouse. I'm not a fan, but he is still a solid offensive 2nd baseman. His 2008 contract vested in Sept and we can pencil him into 2nd base for 2009.
2nd Ramon Martinez Other then the fact he had 25 hits and 27 runs batted in he didn't do much in 2007. You couldn't have had a worse offensive season then his line of .194/.248/.225. If he's back in 2008 I'll be one unhappy fan.
2nd Wilson Valdez Wilson tried to give Ramon a run for worse line of 2007 with his .216/.263/.270. Someone needs to tell Ned that just because you're a utility infielder doesn't mean they have to be futility infielders. If he's on the 40 man in 2008 I'll be one unhappy fan.
2nd Tony Abreu Played 25 games at 2nd base and 28 games at 3rd base. At 2nd base he flashed some serious leather but questions about his hitting skills persist. In only 166 at bats he displayed doubles power but little patience. He had hernia surgery at the end of year which should have put an end to the rumor that he was a faking an injury when sent down to AAA in mid-season. He should be the utility player in 2008, filling in all over the infield except 1st base. I am higher on Abreu then most.
SS Rafy Furcal 2007 started out on the wrong foot for Rafy when he suffered a sprained ankle during the pre-season. His defense didn't suffer but his offense took a big hit. His VORP was 11.8, which didn't help ignite the offense like post-all-star 2006. Only Theriot, Drew, and Lopez had a lower VORP with players over 200 at bats in the NL. His EQA was .244 and he had an OPS+ of 77. Since 1947 that was the 9th worse offensive performance by a Dodger SS who started 125 games at SS based on OPS+. Starting SS
SS Chin-Lung HU Filled in for Furcal when he was shut down in late Sept. He didn't display the great glove we all heard about but I'm sure it is there. His pop was there as he sent two shots into the LF pavilion. To small a sample size to make any judgments here but it would have been nice to see him get at least one walk. Our infield prospects don't seem to understand that key offensive component called plate discipline. Headed for AAA unless they trade Rafy or him.
3rd Boom Boom Betemit Struggled in April and lost his job to 1st Abreu, then La Roche, and finally Nomar. When not playing he was the best LHPH we had, popping 3 home runs and posting a 1.103 when coming off the bench. For the first time in his career he displayed excellent plate discipline and for a little while was doing a credible Adam Dunn impersonation. Ned felt it was more important to have a setup guy then a 3rd baseman who could hit a home run and take a walk so he was sent to the Yankee's where to Ned's surprise he was playing 2nd, SS, and 3rd. In NY he forgot how to take a walk. Yankee infielder
3rd Andy La Roche Like all the other 3rd baseman he struggled offensively, both in his 1st and 2nd stint. Subjectively his defense looked excellent. Once he got his shoulder under control he went home run crazy in Vegas but then he hurt his back. The back seems to be chronic and something he will have to work hard on to keep it under control. How this impacts his future we don't know. I think he is trade bait but others think Ned will go with him at 3rd.
3rd Shea Hillenbrand Shea started 19 games and walked twice in 72 plate appearances. He did hit 14 singles and 4 of those came in one game. Gone
C Russel Martin Played and played and played. He ended up squatting for 145 games, which I think, is the most in LA Dodger history. He was a 1st time all-star and put up a VORP of 46 with was double that of the guy who I thought headed into 2007 was the best catcher in the NL. An EQA of .285 also lead all NL catchers. The only thing shocking about his OPS+ of 113, was that it was only the 13th best in integrated Dodger history. Man we've had some great catchers. Starting Catcher
C Mike Lieberthal It says he played 38 games. I don't remember any of them. I think he's the perfect backup catcher for Russ if he doesn't mind never playing. Backup Catcher
RF Andre Ethier Andre played 102 games in RF and 60 games in LF. Subjectively his defense looks solid and he could be a great LF. Offensively he had a nice season. It wasn't great but it was a good building year off of his debut in 2006. He takes a walk, hits for a decent average, and has some pop. All in all he is a decent package. He had a VORP of 13.8 and an EQA of .270. He had the same kind of year that JD Drew had but for 15 million less. Starting LF
RF Matt Kemp While Ethier is average in everything, Matt Kemp is above average in everything. His EQA was .294, and even in limited at bats(292) he posted a VORP of 23.4. His OPS+ of 127 was the best for a 22-year-old RF in the history of the integrated Dodgers. He will need to post an OPS+ > 124 to best Mondesi's 23 year old season. Even with all that the Dodgers felt he wasn't good enough to crack the Ethier/Pierre/Gonzo outfield everyday. What were they thinking? Starting RF
LF Luis Gonzalez Gonzo started out hot, peaked in June with a 947 OPS but then ran out of gas in July/Aug before recovering a little bit in Sept. If he wasn't blocking Ethier or Kemp most fans would have been happy with his OPS+ of 103 but he was blocking better players so in the end it hurt the team to give all those at bats to Gonzo. His defense was as bad as advertised, and Ethier got quite a few games in LF as his defensive caddy. His offensive contributions matched up well with Ethiers as his VORP was 16.5 and he had an EQA of .271 but he wasn't blocking Ethier he was normally blocking Kemp. AL DH
CF Juan Pierre Everybody's whipping boy Juan had another sub-standard year. Since his OPS+ peaked in 2004 at 107 it has gone down every year and reached the nadir this year at 76. His VORP on the other hand was 16.8 and he wasn't at the bottom of the list as many have suggested. His EQA was .249, which is bad, but it is not Mark Kotsay .201 bad. Subjectively I felt his defense improved quite a bit as the season wore on. The same balls that he showed shaky routes in April he seemed to be catching with ease in August. His arm is what it is, but there are several center fielders playing baseball these days who have rag arms. He stole 64 bases and posted his career best in stolen base %. Baseball Prospectus rated Juan Pierre as the best baserunner in the game for 2007. Here is a brief snippet of what they said "Juan Pierre unseats Chone Figgins (who led the majors at +9.19 in 2006) and takes the title at +11.47 runs, or a little more than a win, which is almost three runs more than the next runner". He played in all 162 games and needs to take a seat against LHP once in a while, or preferably all the time. Starting CF
CF Brady Clark Only got 58 at bats and then was released and went to San Diego and played the worse CF I've ever seen in such an important game. FA
OF Delwyn Young Being Vinny's favorite Dodger has to count for something. He crushed a home run 1/2 way up the pavilion on fan appreciation day. He only had 34 at bats but he did something with just about all of them posting a sterling line of .382/.417/.647. He's been one my favorite kids ever since we drafted him. It was great to see him have a sparkling AAA year and show the Dodgers he can hit. Backup Outfielder for us or starting outfielder for someone else.
OF Marlon Anderson He didn't do much for us but it would have nice if Ned had been able to manipulate the roster and keep him. Once he went to the Met's he displayed for them the same magic he displayed for us in Sept 2006. His OPS+ for the Met's was the 3rd best on the team. FA