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Best Dodgers’ 60-game starts & finishes: Batting

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From Babe Herman to Duke Snider to Manny Ramirez, some great hitting stretches in franchise history

Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

A 60-game MLB season is so odd, because we are so used to a normal schedule being more than twice that long. Since 60 games is so relatively short, it also becomes a Rorschach test of sorts, whether we compare the 2020 season to other years’ 60-game starts or finishes.

I decided to look at both starts and finishes in Dodgers history to find the best 60-game stretches in a few categories. The Brooklyn numbers only go as far back as 1904, the earliest year that Baseball-Reference has game-by-game data on for the full season.

Home runs

  • 24 — Duke Snider (1953, final 60 games)
  • 22 — Snider (1955, first 60)
  • 21 — Gil Hodges (1951, first 60)
  • 21 — Mike Piazza (1997, final 60)
  • 21 — Shawn Green (2001, final 60)
  • 20 — Cody Bellinger (2019, first 60)

Runs batted in

  • 66 — Duke Snider (1955, first 60)
  • 63 — Babe Herman (1930, first 60)
  • 62 — Snider (1953, final 60)
  • 61 — Roy Campanella (1953, first 60)
  • 61 — Campanella (1955, first 60)
  • 61 — Tommy Davis (1962, first 60)
  • 61 — Mike Piazza (1997, final 60)

Runs scored

  • 60 — Babe Herman (1930, first 60)
  • 58 — Zack Wheat (1925, first 60)
  • 58 — Johnny Frederick (1930, first 60)
  • 57 — Duke Snider (1955, first 60)
  • 56 — Davey Lopes (1979, first 60)
  • 55 — Junior Gilliam (1953, final 60)

Batting average*

  • .427 — Babe Phelps (1936, final 60)
  • .420 — Carl Furillo (1949, final 60)
  • .406 — Babe Herman (1930, final 60)
  • .397 — Lefty O’Doul (1932, final 60)
  • .396 — Manny Ramirez (2008, final 60)
  • .392 — Herman (1930, first 60)
  • .390 — Zack Wheat (1925, first 60)
  • .388 — Zack Wheat (1925, final 60)
  • .388 — Walker (1944, final 60)
  • .385 — Dixie Walker (1944, first 60)
  • .382 — Wheat (1924, first 60)
  • .381 — Herman (1929, first 60)

OPS*

  • 1.232 — Manny Ramirez (2008, final 60)
  • 1.195 — Cody Bellinger (2019, first 60)
  • 1.161 — Babe Herman (1930, final 60)
  • 1.160 — Mike Piazza (1997, final 60)
  • 1.151 — Duke Snider (1953, final 60)
  • 1.147 — Herman (1930, first 60)
  • 1.145 — Snider (1954, first 60)
  • 1.135 — Snider (1955, first 60)

*minimum 186 plate appearances for the batting rate stats

Justin Turner in 2014 — his first season in Los Angeles — hit .403/.466/.588 in the Dodgers’ final 60 games, but he only started 28 of those games and totaled 133 plate appearances.

The takeaway here is that Hall of Famers Duke Snider and Zack Wheat were very good, and that Babe Herman’s 1930 season was ridiculous. Another Babe, a catcher named Phelps, was hitting .276 for Brooklyn entering play on July 30, 1936, and thanks to his incredible finish hit .367 on the season.

Carl Furillo’s finishing kick in 1949 came in the heat of a pennant race. Brooklyn trailed St. Louis by 1½ games with seven games left to play, and Furillo went wild down the stretch with six multi-hit games — including a five-hit game and a four-hit game — going 19-for-33 (.576) with 17 RBI to lead the Dodgers to their second World Series berth in three years.

Also, the Manny Ramirez experience after the trade deadline in 2008 was sublime. Ramirez just missed out on the counting stats leaderboards with 17 homers and 53 runs batted in, but he also was with the Dodgers for only 54 games. Perhaps those extra six games would have vaulted him up the lists. I wouldn’t put it past him.

Links

  • Ken Gurnick at MLB.com ranked the top general managers in Dodgers history, with Branch Rickey edging out Buzzie Bavasi for the top spot.
  • Among the 60 storylines to watch in this 60-game season across MLB, as determined by David Schoenfield at ESPN, is watching Mookie Betts in a Dodgers uniform. Schoenfield also lists Gavin Lux and Dustin May among his five National League Rookie of the Year candidates.
  • Tyler Kepner at the New York Times on the 2020 season: “Baseball, of course, will be just a small patch on 2020’s tapestry of the weird. But for a sport with such a deep and enchanting history, it will stand out as a singular phenomenon, by far the shortest season since the 1870s — before the invention of the pitcher’s mound, the catcher’s mitt and the infield fly rule.”