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2012 Dodgers exit interviews: The infield

A look back at the Dodgers infield, which was markedly different at the end of the season than the one that came out of spring training.

"Really? 46 home runs combined. For the whole season?"
"Really? 46 home runs combined. For the whole season?"
Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The Dodgers infield saw much change in 2012, as three quarters of the opening day starting infield were either traded or benched by the end of the year. The Dodgers got just 46 home runs out of their first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, and shortstops in 2012, 29th in baseball. Only the Giants had fewer home runs out of their infield, with 37.

Here is a look back at the 13 players who primarily played infield for the Dodgers in 2012.

Mark Ellis

What went right: Despite missing nearly seven weeks with a left leg injury, and getting regular rest throughout the season, the 35-year old led all Dodgers infielders with 464 plate appearances. His on-base percentage was .371 as late as July 20, and he ended the season hitting .258/.333/.364, right in line with his .265/.331/.394 career line. Ellis was a rock defensively, as he made just three errors in 110 games, and was at or near the top of MLB in both Ultimate Zone Rating and Total Zone Rating.

What went wrong: Ellis took a hard slide at second base on May 18 against the Cardinals and had to have an emergency fasciotomy to relieve pressure in his left leg. After coming reasonably close to losing his left leg -- a few hours, had his condition not been properly recognized by team trainer Sue Falsone -- Ellis missed 43 games. While the middle of the lineup took the brunt of the blame for the Dodgers' offense struggles after their trade with Boston, and rightfully so, Ellis didn't do much from the leadoff spot, hitting .243/.277/.355 in September, including a 13-for-74 (.176) skid to end the season.

2013 status: Ellis will make $5.25 million in the second season of a two-year contract. Ellis also has $5.75 million club option for 2014, with a $1 million buyout.

Luis Cruz

What went right: Everything. Cruz emerged from obscurity, and Albuquerque, on July 2, and hit his way into a permanent lineup spot. He started 73 of 81 games, and became such a fan favorite that Dodger Stadium by year's end had Cruuuuuz shirt-jerseys in both the stands and the clubhouse. Cruz drove in a run in each of his first four games as a Dodger, the first Dodger to do so since Jimmy Wynn in 1974. Cruz hit .331/.346/.461 over his final 48 games of the season.

What went wrong: Cruz went 0-for-15 from July 7-16, and 3-for-23 from July 30 - Aug. 11.

2013 status: Cruz has one year, 76 days of service time, and is out of options. He heads into the offseason as the starter at third base, pending any moves, or decisions, made by the Dodgers this winter.

Dee Gordon

What went right: Gordon had a .385 on-base percentage in July.

What went wrong: His July lasted all of 14 plate appearances, thanks to tearing a ligament in his right thumb. Gordon missed over two months with that injury and when he came back his .280 on-base percentage no longer had a spot to play.

2013 status: Gordon has one year, 89 days of service time, and two options remaining. As it stands now, he is the odd man out on the right side of the Dodgers infield.

Hanley Ramirez

What went right: Ramirez gave the Dodgers a legitimate third bat in their lineup with his acquisition on July 25, and he led the team with 10 home runs during his time with the Dodgers. Ramirez hit .271/.324/.450 with 44 RBI in 64 games, and he played 573 of a possible 576 innings with Los Angeles.

What went wrong: His last home run came on Sept. 3, and Ramirez hit .252/.287/.301 over his final 108 homerless plate appearances of the season.

2013 status: Ramirez will make $15.5 million next year, and another $16 million in 2014.

Adam Kennedy

What went right: Kennedy proved to be a useful reserve for the Dodgers, hitting .262/.345/.357 in 86 games while starting 25 games at third base and 15 games at second. Kennedy hit .339/.394/.500 from July 1 to the end of the season, and homered against Tim Lincecum in his final at-bat of the season, on Sept. 7.

What went wrong: Kennedy struggled mightily in the first half, hitting .217/.317/.274 through the end of June. He was also limited by a right groin injury. Kennedy missed 14 games on the disabled from late July to August, then had his final month cut short and missed the final 23 games of the season.

2013 status: Kennedy is a free agent

Juan Uribe

What went right: The third baseman hit 1.000 over the final 36 games of the season. Uribe homered against likely National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey on July 21. Uribe was singled out by manager Don Mattingly for being a great teammate.

What went wrong: Those final 36 games, when Uribe was fully healthy, featured all of two plate appearances by Uribe, who was banished to the bench. Uribe followed up a putrid .204/.264/.293 in 2011 with a worse season across the board in 2012, hitting .191/.258/.284 with two home runs in 66 games. In two seasons as a Dodger, in 474 plate appearances (nearly enough to qualify for the batting title in a normal season), Uribe has hit .199/.262/.289 with six home runs and 45 runs batted in. Uribe has provided a worthy challenger to the Andruw Jones throne of worst signing of the Ned Colletti era (non-Jason Schmidt division). Even with that final 2-for-2 push, Uribe ended his season with six hits in his final 60 at-bats. Uribe started just once in the final 66 games of the season, with 18 plate appearances during that span.

2013 status: Uribe has one more season left on his three-year, $21 million deal, and will make $7 million next year. The only question is whether or not the Dodgers will send his checks elsewhere.

Adrian Gonzalez

What went right: Gonzalez ended the year with a 15-game hitting streak, the longest by a Dodger during this season, and hit .390/.429/.542 during that span. He continued his assault on Homer Bailey, hitting two home runs against the Reds hurler on Sept. 23 (in his career, Gonzalez is 8-for-15 with five home runs against Bailey).

What went wrong: He hit one home run as a Dodger against pitchers not named Homer Bailey. That home run came on Aug. 25 in Gonzalez's first at-bat as a Dodger, then he followed it with 115 plate appearances of .238/.296/.333 and 25 full games without a home run.

2013 status: Gonzalez is around for the long haul, as he is signed through 2018. He will make $21 million next year.

Juan Rivera

What went right: He hit a game-winning, three-run home run to beat the Angels on June 12. Rivera hit a walk-off single to beat the Cardinals on Sept. 15 that brought the Dodgers into a tie for the second National League wild card spot with 16 games remaining. Rivera played 327 innings at first base and 301 innings in the outfield, so he qualifies as an infielder for our purposes here.

What went wrong: Rivera hit .244/.286/.375, an 81 OPS+, one year after hitting .243/.305/.360, an 80 OPS+, before getting designated for assignment by Toronto. The lefty masher hit .260/.312/.433 against southpaws in 2012.

2013 status: Rivera has a $4 million club option for next season, but a $500,000 buyout is far more likely to be in his future.

Jerry Hairston Jr.

What went right: Hairston thrived early in the season, transitioning from super-sub to near regular at multiple positions. Hairston started 49 games in the infield and 13 games in left field. He came into the season having never started in the major leagues batting third or fourth, and did both with the Dodgers (six times batting third, four times at cleanup). Hairston tied a career high with five hits, while batting third, on May 27 against the Astros. Hairston homered and drove in a season-high five runs on June 9 against the Mariners in Seattle, and was hitting .366/.435/.525 on the season at that point.

What went wrong: After that June 9 game in Seattle, Hairston hit just .204/.272/.285 in 44 games for the rest of the season. He missed 16 games with a left hamstring strain in May, then was sidelined by left hip inflammation and didn't play after Aug. 11. Hairston had arthroscopic hip surgery on Sept. 10, and his readiness for spring training is in question.

2013 status: Hairston will make $3.75 million in the final season of a two-year contract.

Nick Punto

What went right: Punto hit .286 with a .390 on-base percentage in 22 games as a Dodger after coming over from the Red Sox in the Gonzalez deal. He had three hits and scored four runs on Sept. 26, more runs scored in a game by any Dodger all season.

What went wrong: Decimated the Dodgers' uniform supply with his 'Shredder' persona, ripping the jerseys off the hero of a walk-off win.

2013 status: Punto will make $1.5 million next year in the final season of a two-year deal.

Justin Sellers

What went right: Sellers made his first opening day roster, and the defensive specialist made a highlight play on May 14 when he dove into the stands after tracking down a pop-up down the left field line.

What went wrong: Unfortunately Sellers hurt his back on that play, and ended up not playing after May 22. He underwent season-ending back surgery to repair a bulging disc in his lower back on Aug. 23.

2013 status: Sellers has one year, 48 days of service time, and has three options remaining.

Ivan De Jesus

What went right: After getting passed over for a September call-up in two straight years, De Jesus briefly carved out a niche for himself as a primary pinch-hitter for Mattingly in May and June, hitting .231 (3-for-13) with two walks and s sacrifice fly as a pinch-hitter. His highlight of the year was a two-out, two-run double to give the Dodgers an 8-7 win over the Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 22.

What went wrong: His final major league hit of the season came on June 15. He was 0-for-13 after that, including 0-for-8 with six strikeouts after his trade to Boston.

2013 status: Under team control in Beantown.

James Loney

What went right: He hit .368/.429/.509 over a 17-game span from May 8-26.

What went wrong: Loney had the worst season of his career, was reduced to a platoon player, and eventually traded to the Red Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez deal. His high in runs batted in for a month was 10, in May, and his best month with the Dodgers, July, produced a .702 OPS despite a .318 batting average.

2013 status: After hitting .230/.264/.310 with two home runs in 30 games in Boston to end his season, Loney is a free agent.