Friday, April 6, 2012

The Dodgers have no switch-hitters for the first time since 1986

I was looking at the Dodgers' Opening Day lineup and noticed there were no switch-hitters in it. Then I looked at the roster and didn't see any. That got me thinking: when was the last time the Dodgers...
a) had no switch-hitters start Opening Day?
b) had no switch-hitters on the roster, period?
The answer to a) is 1996. The answer to b) is 1986 (courtesy of Baseball-Reference).

The only switch-hitter on the 2012 Dodgers' 25-man roster is Mike MacDougal. But does that really count? Barely, I suppose.

In recent years, the switch-hitting role has been filled by Rafael Furcal (right). Before him (pre-2006), guys like Jose Cruz, Jose Valentin and Milton Bradley filled that role. The Dodgers had a glut of switch-hitters.

We get back to the early part of the century and guys like Cesar Izturis, Todd Hundley and Chad Kreuter were the some of the switch-hitters. Devon White, Jose Vizcaino and Wilton Guerrero (Corky!) filled the role in the late 1990s.

We come to 1996. The Dodgers opened the season in the Astrodome against the Houston Astros. Ramon Martinez was on the bump for the Dodgers taking on Shane Reynolds. The Dodgers' starting lineup looked like this:

Delino DeShields 2B
Brett Butler CF
Mike Piazza C
Eric Karros 1B
Raul Mondesi RF
Mike Blowers 3B
Todd Hollandsworth LF
Greg Gagne SS
Martinez P

Roger Cedeno, Chad Fonville and Guerrero were the only switch-hitters on the club the entire season, and Guerrero wasn't on the team until September.

Fonville pinch-ran for DeShields in the sixth ining and Cedeno, a 21-year-old top prospect at the time, came in as part of a double-switch in the seventh inning.

That kept the streak of switch-hitters playing for the Dodgers alive. You then have to go all the way back to 1986 to find the Dodgers a switch-hitterless team.

I just thought it was an interesting tidbit.

Will the Dodgers have any switch-hitters this season? That remains to be seen.

Gorman Erickson (right) is the Dodger closest switch-hitting prospect to the majors, but he's not the closest player to the majors.

Fellow catcher Josh Bard is playing for the Isotopes and could see time if there are significant injuries. Infielder Elian Herrera, who had all of six at-bats this spring, is also with the 'Topes.

Infielder Lance Zawadzki is another switch-hitter and got 15 at-bats in Spring Training, but he's not even on a Dodger minor-league roster.

So, unless there's a trade acquisition, it's going to take some doing for a "real" switch-hitter to crack the Dodgers' roster this season.

Photo credits
Furcal: SD Dirk, Flickr
Erickson: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue


  1. No switch hitters? So what? it seems MOST of them hit .290 from one side and .198 from the other, where is the benefit in that??

  2. Not saying it's going to hurt the team, just making an observation is all.