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Dodgers who overcame being ex-Giants

The starting lineup (and top relief pitcher) for the best team of Los Angeles Dodgers that had the misfortune of playing in hideous Giants orange prior to donning Dodger Blue

MLB: NLCS-Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers
Manny Mota, seen here before a 2017 NLCS game, overcame his hindrance of being a former Giant to blossom into a great Dodger.
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants are longstanding rivals, with a conflict that has endured from one coast to another for nearly as long as baseball has existed as a national sport.

But there are the select few who have worn the prison-orange clown-suit of the Giants, then redeemed themselves in the splendor of Dodger Blue. Here is the starting lineup and batting order (plus a relief pitcher) of the top Los Angeles Dodgers who overcame the San Franciscan scar in their previous résumés.

And no, they weren’t all obtained by erstwhile general manager and ex-Giant front office man Ned Colletti.

(To be clear, these are the best Los Angeles Dodgers who also played for the Giants prior to coming to Los Angeles - I just didn’t feel like delving into the merits of Rube Marquard, etc.)

Brett Butler - Centerfield

How acquired by LA: Signed as a free agent after he left the Giants prior to the 1991 season.

How acquired by SF: Signed as a free agent prior to the 1988 season.

The fleet leadoff hitter extraordinaire led the players eligible for this article by far in Plate Appearances with 3,342 as a Dodger, and he did so while reaching base at at a .392 clip, contributing to his 112 OPS+ as a Dodger over most of seven seasons. The left-handed swinger also stole 179 bases, but while being caught 90 times, a success rate of only 67%.

Manny Mota - Leftfield

How acquired by LA: Traded from the Montreal Expos with Maury Wills for Ron Fairly and Paul Popovich on June 11, 1969.

How acquired by SF: Signed as an amateur free agent in 1957.

Once the leader for career pinch-hits in the major leagues with 150*, Mota also became a longtime coach for the Dodgers, a fixture on his bicycle at spring training for many years. Before become the top pinch-hitting threat on the Dodger bench, the right-handed hitter played 2,866 innings in the outfield from 1970-1973, almost entirely in left field. Mota posted a batting line with Los Angeles of .315/.374/.391/.765, 117 OPS+. His 816 games played for LA leads all players eligible for this article.

* Since surpassed by Giant-cum-Dodger Mark Sweeney with 175 and ex-Dodger Lenny Harris with 212.

Jeff Kent - Second Base

How acquired by LA: Signed as a free agent after he left the Houston Astros after the 2004 season.

How acquired by SF: Traded from the Cleveland Indians with Julian Tavarez, ex-Dodger Jose Vizcaino and Joe Roa for Matt Williams and future-Dodger Trent (Trenidad) Hubbard prior to the 1997 season.

The 2000 National League MVP award winner and Southern California native is undoubtedly the best Giants player on this list and probably the best Dodgers player as well. Kent played in LA for his age-37 to age-40 seasons, manned second base and batted .291/.367/.479/.847, 119 OPS+ while clubbing 75 home runs and 202 total extra-base hits.

Tom Haller - Catcher

How acquired by LA: Traded with a minor-leaguer from San Francisco for Ron Hunt and Nate Oliver prior to the 1968 season.

How acquired by SF: Signed as an amateur free agent before the 1958 season.

The Dodgers needed a catcher for the 1968 season and arranged a trade with their archrivals for the 31-year old Haller, while the Giants turned their backstop duties over 26-year old future-Dodgers Dick Dietz. The left-hand hitting Haller started 247 games behind the plate over his first two years with Los Angeles and nearly 400 overall, while hitting a robust .276/.344/.393/.737, 115 OPS+. While he averaged nearly 17 homers per year for San Francisco, then-cavernous Dodger Stadium limited his top season in LA at 10 round-trippers. The younger brother of umpire Bill Haller, Tom is also among the tallest Dodgers catchers ever.

Juan Uribe - Third Base

How acquired by LA: Signed as a free agent after he left the Giants before the 2011 season.

How acquired by SF: Signed as a free agent prior to the 2009 season.

“Jazz Hands” Uribe is most remembered for having one of the more memorable turnarounds as a Dodger. After signing with the club he was an abysmal batter for two seasons, posting a slash line of .199/.262/.289/.552, 54 OPS+ before rebounding over the next two years to the tune of .295/.334/.439/.773, 118 OPS+.

Oh, and this:

Len Gabrielson - Right Field

How acquired by LA: Traded from the California Angels for Johnny Werhas

How acquired by SF: Traded from the Chicago Cubs with Dick Bertell for Ed Bailey, Bob Hendley and Harvey Kuenn on May 29, 1965.

Gabrielson hit .262/.315/.390/.705, 111 OPS+ in four season with the Dodgers, including a .270/.337/.428/.765, 137 OPS+ in 343 PA in 1968, the most pitcher-friendly year since the “dead-ball era”. He also led the club in home runs that year. He clubbed 10. The left-handed hitter played college baseball at USC in the late 1950s. In a foreshadowing of the Dodgers later apparent obsession with “bloodlines”, Gabrielson’s father, also Len but with a different middle name, also played in the major leagues, appearing in five April games with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1939.

Cory Snyder - First Base

How acquired by LA: Signed as a free agent prior to the 1993 season.

How acquired by SF: Signed as a free agent prior to the 1992 season.

The pickings at first base are pretty slim, so So-Cal native Snyder and his nearly 52 innings there over two seasons gets the nod*. An earlier-day Kiké Hernandez of sorts, Snyder ended up manning every position except catcher and pitcher in his two seasons in Los Angeles and batted .259/.324/.396/.720, 96 OPS+.

* I just could not stoop low enough to jam Bill Madlock’s nine innings at 1B into this position.

Derrel Thomas - Shortstop

How acquired by LA: Signed as a free agent prior to the 1979 season.

How acquired by SF: Traded from the San Diego Padres for Tito Fuentes and Butch Metzger prior to the 1975 season.

This jack-of-all-trades played every position INCLUDING pitcher and catcher for the Dodgers in his five-year stint in his hometown of Los Angeles, accumulating 962 innings at shortstop. The Dorsey High School graduate also enjoyed tormenting manager Tommy Lasorda with his basket catches in the outfield. The switch-hitter batted .257/.330/.347/.677, 90 OPS+ in his tenure with the Dodgers. He also saw time with every California-based major-league team except the Oakland A’s.

Wilson Alvarez - Starting Pitcher

How acquired by LA: Signed as a free agent prior to the 2003 season.

How acquired by SF: Traded from the Chicago White Sox with Danny Darwin and future-Dodger Roberto Hernandez* for Lorenzo Barcelo, Mike Caruso, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, Ken Vining and a minor-leaguer on July 31, 1997.

The pickings are so slim among starting pitchers that I chose Alvarez and his 29 starts for the Dodgers. Alvarez was an effective relief pitcher, 2.13 ERA in his 53 appearances in that role over his three years in Los Angeles, but fared well as a starter only in his first year, compiling a 6-2 won-loss record with a 2.67 ERA in his 12 starts. In his other 17 starts his ERA was 5.66. But when your next choices in order of innings pitched are Brett Tomko and Jason Schmidt, well....

* The Roberto Hernandez that was always Roberto Hernandez, not the ex-Fausto Carmona that also pitched for the Dodgers under his real name, Roberto Hernandez.

Jim Gott - Relief Pitcher

How acquired by LA: Signed as a free agent prior to the 1990 season.

How acquired by SF: Traded from the Toronto Blue Jays with two minor-leaguers for Gary Lavelle prior to the 1985 season.

Gott enjoyed his best years a Dodgers uniform, during his age-30 to age-34 seasons. The hometown lad (born in Hollywood, attended San Marino High School) threw 340 innings exclusively in relief over 272 appearance, both easily the leading totals among pitchers eligible for this article. The right-hander ended his run with the Dodgers with a 2.99 ERA, which includes a 2.64 mark for his first four years. He chalked up 38 saves for Los Angeles, including 25 in 1993. Gott continued his Dodger connection on radio, hosting “Dodger Talk” for three season in the latter half of the 1990s. He is now a bullpen coach with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Honorable Mention:

Madlock (1985-1987, .285/.346/.406/.752), Kenny Lofton (2006, .301/.360/.403/.763, 32 SB, 5 CS), Jamey Wright (2012-2014, 127 appearances), Elias Sosa (1976-1977, 2.50 ERA, 68 games), Charlie Culberson (for obvious reasons).

All statistics and transaction information acquired from the invaluable Baseball Reference.