As a man of small stature - all 5' 7" of me - I've always had an affinity for the small man playing amongst the big boys of major league baseball, even if they weren't toiling for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Whether it was Little Joe Morgan (5' 7") flapping his left elbow on his way to MVP awards, Jimmy "The Toy Cannon" Wynn (5' 10") improbably launching home runs, or Freddie "The Flea" Patek (5' 4") stealing bases and gobbling up grounders at short, I just had to root for the little guys who got themselves to the major leagues.
The Dodgers have had their share of short-statured players over their years in Los Angeles. Here we present the best of the shortest. While this team would never have been an offensive juggernaut - only two players were/are above league average batters for their career - they just might have been a lot of fun to watch.
To qualify for this team, players had to be 5' 9" or less in height, as listed at baseball-reference.com and had to have played at least 25 games at that position for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Los Angeles Dodgers All-Short-Stuff Team
C - Dioner Navarro, 5' 9", in his first go-round with the Dodgers, he hit at a 94 OPS+ clip. Let's hope for that or better in 2011.
1B - Paul Lo Duca, 5' 9", Lo Duca posted a 105 OPS+ until he was part of the trade that brought Brad Penny and company to Los Angeles. The only Dodger 1B to qualify for this list, he appeared there 76 times. Maybe something made him feel more than 69 inches tall.
2B - Eric Young, 5' 9", EY played 309 games in two stints with the Dodgers and stole 112 bases at a 75% rate of success. He was the 11th overall pick in the expansion draft that stocked the Rockies and Diamondbacks, and was traded back to LA for Pedro Astacio a few years later.
3B - Don Zimmer, 5' 9", there are only three qualifiers at this position - Tony Abreu and Cesar Izturis being the others - and all appeared between 26 and 28 times there. It's simply more fun to have "Popeye" on the list, and he did outhit Izturis, slightly.
SS - Rafael Furcal, 5' 8", the incumbent is the best short shortstop in Los Angeles Dodger history. (Note: "Pee Wee" Reese doesn't qualify because he was listed at 5' 10"!)
OF - Davey Lopes, 5' 9", part of the famed Dodger infield of 1974-1981, Lopes stole 418 bases at an 83% success rate with LA, a total second only to Maury Wills in Dodger history. He played 50 games in the outfield for LA, including 35 starts in center.
OF - Trenidad (born Trent!) Hubbard, 5' 8", Hubbard had a 112 OPS+ as a Dodger utility man for the 1998 and 1999 seasons and appeared at every position except pitcher, 1B (too short!) and SS. Also the only player to make this team and the All-Spelling-Bee team.
OF - Chad Fonville, 5' 6", the only other qualifier in the outfield other than Lo Duca, and the shortest Los Angeles Dodger ever, Little Chad hit .245 / .302 / .272, 59 OPS+ as a Dodger, but provided plenty of excitement on the 1995 playoff team playing, well, small ball.
PH - Vic Davalillo, 5' 7", Davalillo made 95 pinch-hitting appearances over four seasons for the Dodgers, all after turning 41 years old, and after spending three-plus seasons in Mexico. He also ignited one of the great Dodger playoff comebacks, by starting a two-out, bases-empty, ninth-inning rally with a beautiful bunt single. His older brother, Pompeyo "Yo-Yo" Davalillo, was a 5' 3" shortstop for the 1952 Washington Senators who is tied for the shortest player ever not named Eddie Gaedel.
P - Fred Norman, 5' 8", made only 30 appearances in a Dodgers uniform, all in relief in 1970. Went on to be an effective starter (106 ERA+) for the Big Red Machine of all teams. (Only four pitchers 5' 9" or less have ever taken the mound for the Dodgers, the shortest of whom was Jackie Collum at 5' 7".)
The only other 5' 7" LA Dodgers ever were Jim Barbieri and 1955 World Series hero Sandy Amoros.