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2012 vs 1988

By Wes Williams

Clayten Kershaw won the Cy Young. Matt Kemp should have been MVP. The Dodgers had one of the best records in baseball the second half of the season.  

Yet all of the talk is about what is going on off the field. 

Quietly, the Dodgers could be a contender in the weak National League West, but nobody is talking about the team on the field.  

The make up of the team reminds me of a certain Dodger team from 24 years ago, the World Series Champion 1988 Dodgers. 

Before locking me up in an assylum, lets analyze the teams. 

In 1988, the Dodgers were led by an un-hittable Cy Young pitcher named Orel Hershiser and an MVP outfielder named Kirk Gibson.  The rest of the team was average at best.  

In 2012, the Dodgers will be led by an un-hittable Cy Young pitcher named Clayton Kershaw and an MVP outfielder named Matt Kemp.  The rest of the team is average at best. 

So how do the rest of the current players match up offensively with the 1988 Dodgers?  Below are the 1988 statistics and the 2011 statistics for the 2012 team.  The 2011 statistics for the current Dodgers can be misleading since two players spent most of the year in AAA and two were injured, but the reasons will be discussed below the comparison. 

First Base
Advantage 2012

1988- Franklin Stubbs
BA: .223   HR: 8    RBI: 34    2B: 13    SB: 11

2012- James Loney
BA: .288  HR: 12    RBI: 65   2B: 30   SB: 4

As bad as Loney was the first half, he more than made up for it the second half.  His numbers are much better than those of Stubbs, although Stubbs was not the full time starter.  

Second Base
Advantage 1988

1988- Steve Sax
BA: .277    HR: 5    RBI: 57    2B: 19    SB: 42

2012- Mark Ellis
BA: .248     HR: 7    RBI: 41   2B: 24    SB: 14

Although Sax was a liability as a fielder, he more than made up for it offensively, especially on the base paths. Ellis is new to the Dodgers.  He has hit for power in the past in Oakland, but is on the downside of his career. 

Short Stop
Advantage 2012

1988- Alfredo Griffin
BA: .199   HR: 1     RBI: 27    2B: 8    SB: 7

2012- Dee Gordon
BA: .304   HR: 0    RBI: 11    2B: 9   SB: 24

Griffin was a bust in his short career as a Dodger.  Dee Gordon has the potential to be one of the great shortstops in the league.  He hits for power and has unbelievable speed on the base paths.   

Third Base
Advantage 2012

1988- Jeff Hamilton
BA: .236    HR: 6     RBI: 33   2B: 14   SB: 0

2012- Juan Uribe
BA: .204   HR: 4    RBI: 28    2B: 12    SB: 2

Hamilton hit better than his statistics indicate as he split time with Tracy Woodson. Uribe had a down year due mostly to injuries.  He should bounce back this year and put up numbers similar to 2010. 

Catcher
Advantage 1988

1988- Mike Scioscia
BA: .257    HR: 3     RBI: 35    2B: 18    SB: 0

2012- AJ Ellis
BA: .271    HR: 2     RBI: 7    2B: 1    SB: 0

Scioscia will forever be remembered for his game seven home run in the NLCS against the Mets that sent this Dodgers to the World Series. His offensive statistics are not stellar, but he managed an unbelievable pitching staff.  AJ Ellis has not gotten a chance to prove what he can do.  His statistics are based on only 31 days so it is hard to know just what he is capable of doing.  

Left Field
Advantage 1988

1988- Kirk Gibson
BA: .290    HR: 25     RBI: 76    2B: 28    SB: 31

2012- Juan Rivera
BA: .258   HR: 11     RBI: 74    2B: 23    SB: 5

Juan Rivera was a great pick up for the Dodgers mid season, but this one is a no brainer.  Gibson's numbers do not tell the story of how he willed this average team to a World Series title. His game one home run in the World Series was voted as the greatest moment in Los Angeles sports history.   

Center Field
Advantage 2012

1988- John Shelby
BA: .263    HR: 10    RBI: 64   2B: 23    SB: 16

2012- Matt Kemp
BA: .324    HR: 39     RBI: 126   2B: 33    SB: 40

Another no brainer. Shelby was a solid center fielder, but Kemp had one of the best seasons in Dodgers history.  Kemp was one home run away from the extremely rare 40-40 season and was a big reason the Dodgers were so successful in the second half. 

Right Field
Advantage 2012

1988- Mike Marhall
BA: .277   HR: 20     RBI: 82   2B: 27   SB: 4

2012- Andre Eithier
BA: .292   HR: 11    RBI: 62    2B: 30   SB: 0

Marshall's 1988 numbers were better than Eithier's 2011 numbers, but Ethier was injured.  Eithier should bounce back and have a solid 2012 batting .300 with 25 home runs and 90 RBIs. 

According to the final count, the 2012 Dodgers are better at five positions than the 1988 Dodgers.  Does this mean we should clear our schedules for next October? Not necessarily. 

There is a thing called pitching that probably more important than offense. 

Next week, we will take a look at starting and relief pitching to see if the 1988 team had an advantage in that department. 

Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference

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