It's about that time for pitchers and catchers to report to camp and the 2011 baseball season will be underway. For the third year in a row I wanted to get a feel for the favorite Dodgers going into the season. Below is my list for my five favorite Dodgers.
Not surprisingly, I consider Chad Billingsley my favorite Dodger for the third consecutive year. Simply nothing going on to change that fact. After struggling in the 2nd half of 2009 so much that he was dropped for the Dodgers post-season rotation, Billingsley had an excellent bounce back year in 2010. Billingsley was a dependable member of the Dodgers only strength last season (starting pitching) and responded by putting up an ERA of 3.57, FIP of 3.07 and x-FIP of 3.81. Hopefully, the armchair psychology about Bills being unable to pitch past the 6th inning have been put to rest permanently and I look forward to another year with Chad Billingsley in his prime in the Dodgers rotation.
Perhaps more than any other player on the Dodgers roster, Kuo is a guy you appreciate because of the road he's travelled to get to where he is. Also, he's a dominating pitcher. After having endured roughly 50 arm surgeries throughout his career, Kuo managed to stay fairly healthy most of last season. In 2010, Kuo set a franchise record by recording a 1.20 ERA for the season, was selected to his first all-star game, and took over the closer duties after Jonathan Broxton was demoted. On top of that, Kuo has one of the coolest homerun trots of any pitcher in baseball as he flipped his bat after jacking a homerun off the Mets in 2007.
The young ace is a pretty easy player to like. After drafting Kershaw out of high school, the Dodgers paid a (then) record salary bonus to entice the young Texan to sign and turn professional. Kershaw did of course, and absolutely dominated the minor leagues before earning a callup in 2008 at the age of 20. Kershaw has been a fixture in the Dodgers rotation ever since, and has posted video game like numbers in 2009 and 2010 with ERAs of 2.79 and 2.91 at ages 21 and 22. Kershaw is already a star, but hopefully will be included in the Dodgers rotation for years to come (buy out some free agent years dammit!)
I just can't help it. Maybe it's a little bit of guilt for being so opposed to signing him to a 2 year deal before last season and the fact that Jamey got 0 votes this time last season (to be fair he hadn't yet played for the Dodgers by that time.) But Carroll was a solid addition to the club last year fueled by his stellar OBP (.379) and his defensive flexibility. Carroll figured to be the utility infielder but was mostly a second baseman and the Dodgers entered the season with a platoon of Blake DeWitt and Ronnie Belliard at second base. In any event, Carroll outlasted both of them and filled in admirably at short stop when Rafael Furcal was injured. And yes, he's got the gritty/gamer reputation thrust upon him but unlike agitators like Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzales, Carroll seemed to be a bit more comfortable getting along with his (less gritty?) teammates.
If it weren't for those injuries, Rafael Furcal is the Dodgers offensive MVP last season. Actually, even with the injuries, Furcal was arguably the most valuable position player for the Dodgers. Furcal posted a wOBA of .366 last season and a slugging percentage of .460. Great contributions from a shortstop. His defense has even managed to hold up these past few years as he's still considered an above average defensive short stop. If only he could stay healthy.
Below are my top 5 Dodgers noted in 2010 and 2009 respectively.
|Chad Billingsley||Chad Billingsley|
|Hong-Chih Kuo||Hong-Chih Kuo|
|James McDonald||Clayton Kershaw|
|Clayton Kershaw||Andre Ethier|
|Manny Ramirez||Matt Kemp|
|2010 Community Voting|
|Others Receiving Votes: Broxton (33), Loney (19), Ramirez (16), Martin (11), Furcal (6), McDonald (6), DeWitt (5), Stults (4), Elbert (3), Blake (2), Haeger (1), Troncoso (1), Padilla (1)|
|2009 Community Voting|
|Others Receiving Votes: Ramirez (16), Ethier (12), Kuroda (6), DeWitt (5), Furcal (4), Loney (3), Broxton (1)|
Some notes on the TBLA voting the past two years.
- I scored the ballots fairly simply. 5 points for first, 4 points for 2nd and so on.
- As people assumed, Russell Martin suffered a huge fall between 2009 and 2010. In 2009, Martin received 15% of the total points awarded compared to 2010 where Martin received only 2% of the total points awarded. To be fair, It should be noted that there was much more participation in 2010 and a lot more players received votes.
- Despite finishing 3rd in 2010, Chad Billingsley actually received the most first place votes (11), compared to Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw with 8 and 9 respectively.
- Commenter xeifrank voted for Hong-Chih Kuo five times. I only counted it once.
- Manny Ramirez had the most unusual voting pattern. Manny missed the top 5, but actually appeared on 11 ballots. 9 of those ballots voted Manny as their 5th favorite Dodger.
- Poor Hiroki Kuroda. In 2009 Kuroda finished 8th out of 12 vote-getters and in 2010 Kuroda didn't appear on a single ballot.
- In 2009, Brendan Scolari allowed commenters to include non-players in the list. Because I hate fun, I didn't include those votes above. If you're curious, there was one fifth place vote for Larry Bowa and two first place votes (1a and 1b) for Vin Scully and Tommy Lasorda.
Have at it commenters. Vote for your five favorite Dodgers and the only stipulation is that they have to currently be a player in the Dodgers organization (all minor leaguers are eligible.)