MLB regulates away the Marlon Anderson and Ronnie Belliard’s of the world.
While my two favorite new rules don’t go into effect until 2020, in 2019 MLB will put into effect a rule change with huge ramifications. It may not seem like much but having only one true trade deadline means that teams have to make up their minds thirty games before they are used to do doing so.
In the past, the Dodgers have made good use of the 2nd trading deadline that involved a player being put on waivers after the July 31st trade deadline. These players included the second greatest LAD Dodger season ever for a player with at least 50 plate appearances. The infamous Marlon Anderson who was acquired on August 31st, 2006 for Jhonny Nunez. You had to be there to appreciate what Marlon Anderson did in 2006. Manny Ramirez sits on the top of the list after being acquired in 2008, but Manny is a HOF level hitter so him hitting is no surprise. Marlon Anderon, on the other hand, had a career OPS+ of 84 and would be completely out of baseball in just three years. You could make a case that Marlon’s month of Sept is one of the flukiest months in the history of modern baseball.
Rk Player PA OPS+ Year BA OBP SLG OPS Pos 1 Manny Ramirez 229 221 2008 .396 .489 .743 1.232 *7 2 Marlon Anderson 73 208 2006 .375 .431 .813 1.243 *7H/49 3 Rick Monday 156 194 1981 .315 .423 .608 1.031 *9H/7 4 Mike Kinkade 60 194 2002 .380 .483 .600 1.083 *H3/7 5 Hanley Ramirez 336 189 2013 .345 .402 .638 1.040 *6/HD 6 Mike Piazza 633 185 1997 .362 .431 .638 1.070 *2/DH 7 Pedro Guerrero 581 182 1985 .320 .422 .577 .999 *7538/H9 8 Manny Mota 50 178 1977 .395 .521 .500 1.021 *H/7 9 Gary Sheffield 612 176 2000 .325 .438 .643 1.081 *7/D 10 Ronnie Belliard 83 174 2009 .351 .398 .636 1.034 45/H 18 Justin Ruggiano 60 165 2015 .291 .350 .618 .968 *7/H9
Number ten on this list is Ronnie Belliard who was acquired on Sept 2, 2009 from the Nationals for Victor Garate. At the time, longtime Dodger writer Chad Moriyama called Belliard a “shitty hitter”. Ronnie would put up a 174 OPS+ and helped lead the Dodgers to the 2009 Western Division Title. Joe Torre would bench the regular starting 2nd baseman Orlando Hudson and use Belliard. Ronnie proved so important to the team that when he missed the games from Monday – Friday the Dodgers lost every game.
On Sept 26th the Dodgers beat the Pirates behind three hits from Belliard and were six games in front of the Rockies. On Sept 27th, Belliard got hurt and the Dodgers lost the game. Belliard would not play again until Oct 3rd. They lost every game from Sept 28th thru Oct 2nd and the one-time six-game lead had been shaved to only one game. The Rockies beat them on Oct 2nd. Nothing was going right for the Dodgers headed into that game on Saturday Night except, for one thing, they had 21-year-old Clayton Kershaw on the mound. This was long before Clayton would establish himself as the premier pitcher in baseball, but on this night he gave a glimpse of what he would become. Against the hottest team in baseball, he shut them out for six innings. The problem, however, was that the Dodgers had also been shutout for six innings. Entering the bottom of the 7th the score was tied 0 – 0. Casey Blake led off with single, and James Loney put down the sacrifice bunt. Joe Torre then made one of his greatest managerial moves as a Dodger. He pinch-hit Ronny Belliard for Orlando Hudson. Ronny hadn’t had an at-bat since the previous Sunday but the Rockie pitcher was Franklin Morales a lefty. Belliard came through with a seeing-eye single between 1st and 2nd and drove in Casey Blake. The Dodgers erupt for five runs that innings and clinched the Division title but it was Belliard who put them on the board.
I was at the game with a TrueBlueLA Dodger get together. We celebrated with 20 – 30 of our favorite Dodger fans and that game is one of those that I’ll always remember as one of my favorite games.
Ronnie put up a 174 OPS+ for the Dodgers in 2009 compared to his career OPS+ of 96. He would be out of baseball just one year later.
Justin Ruggiano has the 18th best OPS+ for a LAD with at least 50 plate appearances. Justin was acquired in 2015 from the Seattle Mariners on August 31st. Justin tore it up as a Dodger putting up an OPS of .968, 290 OPS points higher as a Dodger than he did as a Mariner that season. Justin gave the Dodgers 55 amazing at-bats, he would only get 84 more at-bats before his career was over.
You won’t be seeing any more stories like this, that era has come to an end, but for those of us who saw Marlon Anderson, Ronnie Belliard, and Justin Ruggiano put on their magic show in Sept, it was something we won’t’ forget.