Review of Win shares by Rob Neyer.
Los Angeles Dodger 1st Baseman Win Shares
Los Angeles Dodger 2nd Baseman Win Shares
Los Angeles Dodger 3rd Baseman Win Shares
Los Angeles Dodger Shortstops Win Shares
|Los Angeles Dodger Catcher Peak Win Shares|
|Lo Duca, Paul||28||142||2001||125||29||519||460||71||147||28||0||25||90||39||0.374||0.543||0.917|
|Los Angeles Dodger Career Win Shares for Catchers|
|Player||Career Win Shares|
1958 - 1958: We were never allowed to see Roy Campanella play for the LA Dodgers as he suffered his horrendous injury in the winter of 1957. He was already 35 and didn't have much left but he might have given the Dodgers a potent platoon for a few years with the man below. While he was unable to give LA fans any baseball memories he showed them what courage was all about as he fought his paralysis with an incredible dignity and became many LA fans favorite player even though he never played a game for them. 12 years later when I started attending games he always got one of the largest ovations when he was introduced at games.
1958 - 1967: Johnny Roseboro started our run of excellent backstops and was the primary catcher during the early Dodger days. He won world championships in 59,63, and 65 but his best years were 1961 and 1966. Those two years made it into the top peak years. He is best remembered for getting smacked upside the head by Juan Marichal with a bat but he was a solid catcher and an integral part of the success of the Dodgers during their world champion years. His autobiography was the 1st one I read that was very honest. He loved being a Los Angeles Dodger and hated being traded and hated it even more when he hung up his cleats. The money wasn't much when he played but evidently the perks in LA were better then anywhere else in baseball at the time. Other catchers during his reign were Pignatano, Sherry, Camilli, Jim Campanis and Jeff Torborg. Campanis is famous for being traded by his dad. Al was no dummy. Norm Sherry is supposed to be partly responsible for Sandy Koufax gaining control of incredible stuff. I read the Koufax bio and Koufax felt he always had the stuff and it was Walter Alston who held him back from being the dominate pitcher he would become.
1968 - 1972: Roseboro was traded to the Twins in what was supposed to be a big deal for us but we got nothing out of it. Roseboro went to the Twins along with Bob Miller and Ron Perranoski for 1965 heroes Mudcat Grant and Ziolo Versalles. Versalles had been the AL MVP in 1965 but was a huge failure for the Dodgers. Mudcat did nothing for us but after we traded him he went on to do some great relief work at the end of his career for various teams. Perranoski did some great relief work for the Twins and helped them to the ALCS in 1969 and 1970. So to make up for the void when they traded Roseboro they made a great trade with the rival Giants for their catcher Tom Haller. It turned out to be a great trade for the Dodgers as Haller was an All-Star in 1968 and gave us 4 solid years. Jeff Torborg was his primary backup during 68-70 but Joe Ferguson showed up in 1971 and got into a few games. Duke Sims came over via a trade and took over the job in 1971. Haller was traded in Dec of 1971. Duke Sims was supposed to be the guy in 72 but he didn't come close to doing what he did in 71 and so Chris Canizarro got the bulk of time with Steve Yeager getting his 1st cup of coffee. Dick Dietz who replaced Tom Haller on the Giants when Haller was traded to us also got a few at bats. Dietz made into Dodger lore when he was hit by a Drysdale pitch with the bases loaded but they wouldn’t' give him 1st base because he didn't try to get out of the way and then Big D retired him and went on to break the scoreless inning streak at the time.
1973 - 1980: The Yeager/Ferguson years with some other key players thrown in. Ferguson was all offense and Yeager was all defense. Big Joe went unappreciated during his time with us but his combo of power and walks put him at the top echelon of offensive catchers during his time. He also played a lot of outfield and is famous for his 1974 world series throw when he ran in front of the Toy Cannon and threw a dart to home to nail the runner. He also helped the Dodgers by being traded in 1976 for Reggie Smith who became one of the Dodgers greatest right fielders. Fergy came back in 1978 but was traded again in 1980 and missed out on the world champion 1981 team. Steve Yeager stuck around long enough to hit a key home run in the 1981 World Series and ended up being a co-MVP in the World Series with Cey and Guerrero. Jerry Grote and Johnny Oates were part timers during this time. In 1980 Mike Scoscia showed up and decided to extend the Dodgers run of solid backstops until the best of the best showed up.
1981 - 1992: The Mike Scoscia show, started in 1981 as he and Steve Yeager shared the catching duties. They would continue to share the catching duties until 1985 when Yeager retired after a long and great Dodger career. The only exception was 1983 when Mike got hurt and Jack Fimple made his mark. Mike would then catch the bulk of games from 86 - 92 and make his mark as the career Dodger win share leader for catchers. During this time he would hit a key home run to extend a game in the 88 playoffs that enabled Kirk Gibson to play hero. He was known for being the toughest catcher to score upon and while many tried, many were left short of home plate. Many Dodger fans lament the fact that was overlooked when looking for a Manager and he took his managerial skills down the highway and beat the Giants in one of the great world series of the 21st century. Rick Dempsey was probably the best of the other backstops during this time. He hooked up with us from 1988 - 1990 and in 1988 in limited at bats had his best OPS+ season by a huge margin at the age of 38. Check it out, at the age of 37 for Cleveland he had an OPS+ of 52 and in 1988 for us it was 129. His previous best had been 108. Alex Trevino and HOF Gary Carter also saw some time. In 1992, a young Italian showed up at the end of the year. He had been terrorizing minor league pitching but no one seemed to think he was major league material. He didn't do much in 74 at bats so maybe the experts were right.
1993- 1998: No, the experts weren't right. The 63rd round draft pick won the job in spring training and then went on an offensive tear that no LA fan had ever seen the likes of. Forget the fact he was a catcher he was simply the best hitter the LA Dodgers ever had. The numbers speak for themselves so no need to review them, I'll simply say that Mike Piazza put my butt in Dodger stadium more then any player before or since. I expected him to mash every time he came to the plate and more often then not he did. No one hit the ball harder. No one. Other catchers of note during this time were Carlos Hernandez and Tom Prince. No one was more robbed of an MVP then Piazza in 1997.
1998 - 2000: The Dodgers traded Mike over a salary dispute and then endured 3 years of Charles Johnson, Todd Hundley, and Angel Pena. Johnson came over with high expectations and proceeded to whiff so often we had a Wrigley breeze going on. 99 K's in 346 at bats while putting up an OPS of 637. Not to be outdone the Dodgers then acquired Todd Hundley who in 1999 K'd 113 times in 376 at bats but at least he managed to hit 24 home and talk a walk. Finally in 2000 Hundley put together an excellent year posting on OPS of 954. The downside was that he only garnered 350 at bats but still it was one of the best offensive years for a catcher. Only Piazza had a higher OPS+ then Hundley's 2000 season. Chad Krueter also had a solid 2000-year so the combination was deadly for one year. Then Hundley was gone but in Sept, Paul Lo Duca came up and just like Piazza he gave no indication that he was headed for bigger things.
2001-2004: Heart and Soul time. La Duca was a career minor leaguer who didn't hit the bigs for a full time gig until he was 29 years old. He wasted no time and slugged 25 home runs and put up a 917 OPS in 2001. It would be his pinnacle but it was quite a pinnacle for a non-Piazza season. Over the next few years he became a solid offensive player, known for playing hard and being a leader. He was easily the fan favorite of this time but his 2nd half fades became his Achilles heal. In the biggest trade shock since the Piazza debacle the Dodgers traded La Duca in the middle of a pennant race and gave the job to David Ross. The year before Ross had shown some power but he was completely overwhelmed and he stunk up the joint.
2005: Season started with Jason Philips as the starting catcher when David Ross was cast aside in spring training. Luckily Philips was just a placeholder as Dionar Navarro percolated in AAA. By mid-season Navarro made his debut and showed enough that it was expected he would be the Dodger catcher for the next 5 years. At the same time rumblings were coming from an AA Jacksonville team, which had been proclaimed to be the "best ever minor league team" by Baseball America. It had players like James Loney, Tony Abreu, Andy LaRoche, Joel Guzman, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, and a catcher name Russ Martin.
2006 - Future: Navarro started out as the catcher in 2006 but to be honest, Russel Martin had impressed so many people that it seemed only a matter of time before he got his shot. The GM who had acquired Navarro was gone and he no longer had anyone in his corner. He started slow and got hurt and that was all it took. Russel Martin took the job and we can only hope he holds it for the next 5 years. He seems to have all the tools to become one of the best all around catchers in NL history. I expect quite a few top 5 MVP finishes for this guy.