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2013 Dodgers player profile: Mark Ellis, the defensive expert

The Dodgers were 56-44 in games Ellis started in 2012, and 30-32 in games he didn't.

Mark Ellis may get overshadowed, but his defense is second to none.
Mark Ellis may get overshadowed, but his defense is second to none.
Stephen Dunn

When the Dodgers signed Mark Ellis to a two-year deal before the 2012 season, Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts linked to a story by David Pinto at Baseball Musings on Ellis's defense and just how many runs it might save the Dodgers.

That led to former Athletics blogger and Baseball Toaster impresario Ken Arneson, who watched Ellis play second base for nine seasons in Oakland, chimed in, and said, "Ellis's defense is as invisible as a mistake-free umpire."

Ellis was fourth among regular second baseman in baseball in Ultimate Zone Rating, and tops in UZR per 150 games. He was tied for fourth in Total Zone fielding runs above average.

The statement by Arneson was just about perfect. You don't notice Ellis much when he's out there, but he continues to make plays on defense. He's like a good server at a restaurant. You turn to talk to your dinner companion, and before you know it your drinks have been refilled and there is a fresh basket of bread at the table.

He also hit a little bit last season, at .258/.333/.364 for the year and .273/.373/.364 with 27 runs scored in 37 games before injuring his leg while getting slid into at second base in May.

Ellis hit .321/.377/.500 against left-handed pitchers in 2012 and has hit southpaws to the tune of .275/.350/.431 in his career. With left-handed hitting infielders Skip Schumaker and (switch-hitting) Nick Punto on board, the Dodgers have the tools to rest the 36-year-old Ellis often to keep him fresh.


Ellis was drafted in the ninth round of the 1999 draft by Kansas City, and signed by Royals scout Cliff Pastornicky, the father of Braves infielder Tyler Pastornicky.

While with the A's, Ellis won the Catfish Hunter, given annually to the Oakland player who best exemplifies the spirit of the Hall of Famer, in 2005 and 2007.

Contact Status

Ellis is in the second year of a two-year contract that will pay him $5.25 million in 2013. Ellis also has a club option for 2014 at $5.75 million, with a $1 million buyout.

Previous Player Profiles

2012: No subtitle needed


Year Age PA HR
2010 (Oakland)
33 492 5 45 49 .291 .358 .381 .329
2011 (Oakland/Colorado)
34 519 7 55 41 .248 .288 .346 .282
35 464 7 62 31 .258 .333 .364 .312
2013 Projections - Age 36 Season
Year PA HR
Bill James 477 8 54 44 .252 .317 .361 .296
Pecota 530 8 58 43 .243 .300 .340 -----
ZiPS 459 6 51 37 .251 .309 .347 .290

2013 Outlook

Those projections seem down on Ellis, but then again he is 36. I will guess a tad higher, at .259/.326/.359 for Ellis.

What is your guess for Ellis? Be sure to guess BA/OBP/SLG, and any other thing you wish to guess.