Ronnie Belliard decided to retire on Tuesday, finishing up his professional career with the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Triple A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Belliard's last major league action came as a Dodger in 2010, but he will forever be remembered in Dodger lore for his contributions down the stretch in 2009.
Belliard was acquired from the Nationals on August 30 for minor league pitchers Luis Garcia and Victor Garate. While it was fun to hope Belliard might replicate some of the magic from another late August pickup from Washington, Marlon Anderson (who hit .375/.431/.813 with seven home runs in 25 games in 2006), it didn't seem likely. However, that's just what Belliard did, hitting .351/.398/.636 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 24 games. He filled in for Casey Blake at third base, and more surprisingly supplanted All-Star and Gold Glove winner Orlando Hudson at second base. Belliard started all eight playoff games at second base that season, one of the more surprising maneuvers in recent Dodgers history.
Here are some fun facts about Belliard's time in Los Angeles:
- Belliard welcomed himself to the club right away, hitting a home run in his first plate appearance with the Dodgers, on August 31, 2009. Belliard is one of four Dodgers to hit a home run in his first plate appearance with the club, joining Garey Ingram (May 19, 1994), Jose Offerman (August 19, 1990), and Dusty Baker (April 9, 1976).
- Among Dodgers with at least 17 RBI in a season, Belliard in 2009 did it in the fourth-fewest plate appearances (83), behind only John Anderson (19 RBI in 67 PA in 1894), Pop Corkhill (19 RBI in 77 PA in 1888), and Jay Gibbons (17 RBI in 80 PA last season)
- With seven doubles and five home runs in 24 games in 2009, Belliard had one of 16 seasons by a Dodger with at least half as many extra-base hits as games played (minimum 20 games). Matt Kemp, with 35 extra-base hits in 69 games this season, is trying for the 17th season
- At .6364 in 2009, Belliard had the sixth-highest single-season slugging percentage in Dodgers history (minimum 80 plate appearances). At the end of this season, Belliard may or may not be sixth, as Kemp is currently right on his heels, with a .6360 slugging percentage this year
- Though it may seem that way, Belliard didn't confine his Dodger accomplishments to just 2009. On April 8 last season, Belliard had a double, a triple, and a home run against the Pirates, one of just nine Los Angeles Dodgers to accomplish the feat.
- When Belliard re-signed with the Dodgers before the 2010 season, the Dodgers put a weight clause in his contract, which became guaranteed only if the infielder weighed in at 209 pounds during spring training. That inspired this post, but unfortunately no new jersey sales:
Farewell, Ronnie. You will be missed.