This is the second article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In this installment are first and third basemen.
The Dodgers franchise might not feature some of the higher-end Hall of Famers that some other teams have starting at the corner infield positions, but they make up for it with great depth, as well as a mix of power, contact hitting and defense. This article features several modern stars along with two members of baseball’s longest-tenured infield and a revered slugger and manager who recently got a long overdue call to Cooperstown.
The Best First and Third Basemen in Los Angeles Dodgers History
Honorable Mentions – Jack Fournier was a great hitter during a 16-year career with five teams. He spent four seasons with the Robins (1923-26), the first three of which he totaled at least 90 runs, 180 hits, 20 home runs, 100 runs batted in and a .330 average. Fournier led the National League with 27 homers (with 116 RBIs) in 1924 and posted a .350-22-130 stat line the following year. Despite leading the league in assists by a first baseman on one occasion with Brooklyn, he also topped the N. L. in errors and was not good at defending the bunt, which was essential at his position. Fournier ended his career with the Braves in 1927 before embarking on a post-playing journey that included coaching at UCLA and being a major league scout for 25 years.
Del Bissonette was known as the “unluckiest man” in baseball, but you wouldn’t believe it by how his baseball life started. He extended a great minor league career at the plate to the majors, hitting .325 with a career-high 25 home runs and 106 runs batted in as a rookie in 1928. Two years later, he set career bests with a .336 average and 113 RBIs to go with 16 homers, and he followed that by leading the league in putouts in 1931. However, his career took a terrible turn the next year when pitcher Dazzy Vance landed on his ankle during a game of volleyball during spring training, severing his Achilles tendon. A week after surgery, Bissonette suffered blood poisoning, nearly died, missed the entire season and never returned to the player he was before.
He was sent to the minors in the middle of the 1933 season and never got back to the big leagues. Bissonette spent 15 seasons after his playing career ended managing in the minors and coaching in the majors, including a brief stint as manager of the Braves in 1945. In addition to the severed tendon and blood poisoning, he underwent arm surgery and a dozen sinus operations. In his later life, Bissonette suffered from emphysema and depression. In 1972, he was found in an apple orchard in his hometown of Winthrop, Maine, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the abdomen and died a week later at age 72.
Wes Parker spent his entire nine-year career (1964-72) with the Dodgers, excelling in fielding, bunting and getting timely hits for a team that went to a pair of World Series during his tenure. He was a six-time gold glove winner and had his best season at the plate in 1970, when he finished fifth in the MVP voting after setting career highs with a .319 average, 84 runs, 196 hits and 111 RBIs to go with a league-leading 47 doubles. Parker finished his career batting .267 with 548 runs, 1,110 hits, 194 doubles, 64 home runs and 470 RBIs in 1,288 games. Parker hit .278 in 11 playoff games and hit a home run during the win over the Twins in the 1965 World Series. Parker retired after the 1972 season, played one year in Japan, spent more than a decade as an actor, was a hitting instructor for the Dodgers and worked as an analyst for baseball coverage on USA Network in the early 1980s.
Max Muncy has appeared at five positions during his six seasons with the Dodgers (2018-present) but has spent more games at first base (309) than third (304) during that time. He was an All-Star as a second baseman in 2019 and earned the honor again at first in 2021, but his best offensive season was this past one, when he set career highs with 36 home runs and 105 runs batted in while starting at third base. Muncy has appeared in 46 playoff games so far, totaling 30 runs, 36 hits, 10 home runs and 29 RBIs, with six coming in Los Angeles’ 2020 World Series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Muncy switched to third base two years ago after the Dodgers signed Freddie Freeman, who was fresh off winning a title with the Atlanta Braves. Freeman has put up fantastic numbers since coming to Los Angeles (2022-present). He has been an All-Star both years and finished fourth in the MVP race in 2022 after hitting .325 with 21 home runs and 100 runs batted in. He also led the league with 117 runs, 199 hits, 47 doubles and a .407 on-base percentage. This past season, Freeman set career highs with 131 runs, 211 hits and a league-leading 59 doubles while posting a .331-29-102 stat line and topping the previous year’s MVP finish by one spot. If that wasn’t enough, he also made just one error in 1,260 total chances (for a .999 fielding percentage). Freeman has six hits, including a home run and three RBIs, in seven playoff games with the Dodgers.
5. Jake Daubert – He was known for his bat control and his fielding during his 15-year career, with nine of those seasons coming with the Brooklyn franchise that went from being named Superbas to Dodgers to Robins (1910-18). Daubert used baseball as a way to get out of working in the Pennsylvania coal mines, a job that took the life of his brother, Calvin. He won back-to-back batting titles in 1913-14, when the team was known as that Dodgers, and his .350 mark plus 178 hits, 52 RBIs and 25 stolen bases propelled him to the MVP Award in 1913. Daubert had 150 or more hits six times with Brooklyn and had three hits during the Robins’ lost to the Red Sox in the 1916 World Series.
Although he one of the best field first basemen of the Deadball Era, Daubert batted .305 with 648 runs, 1,387 hits, 138 doubles, 87 triples (fourth in franchise history), 33 home runs, 415 RBIs and 187 steals in 1,213 games in Brooklyn. A dispute over back pay due to the 1918 season ending early because of World War II led to him being traded to the Reds, where he spent his final six seasons and won a championship in 1919 against the infamous “Black Sox.” Just after the 1924 season ended, Daubert passed away from what doctors thought was a combination of appendicitis and gallstones. However, when his son later had the same symptoms, it was found that he had a spleen condition.
4. Dolph Camilli – When you ask baseball fans about lopsided trades, most will know about Babe Ruth, with some modern ones, such as Nolan Ryan, Nolan Arenado and Jeff Bagwell getting their share of mentions. However, one of the underrated lopsided trades was the one that sent Camilli to the Dodgers and little-known pinch hitter Eddie Morgan (along with $45,000) to the Philadelphia Phillies. Morgan never played with Philadelphia, while Camilli went to a pair of All-Star Games and was voted National League MVP in 1941 after hitting .285 and leading the league (and setting career highs) with 34 home runs and 120 runs batted in. During his six seasons in Brooklyn (1938-43), Camilli drove in 100 or more runs four times and led the league twice each in walks and strikeouts.
Camilli finished his Dodgers career with a .270 average, 540 runs, 809 hits, 151 doubles, 139 homers and 572 RBIs in 839 games while also leading N. L. first basemen in assists in 1939. He had three hits, a run scored and an RBI in a five-game loss to the Yankees in the 1941 World Series. Camilli was traded to the Giants and after spending 1944 in the minors, he signed with the Boston Red Sox for one final season. After his playing career, he was a minor league manager, a scout and a major league coach. His son, Doug, caught Sandy Koufax‘s third no-hitter in 1964.
3. Eric Karros – He took a negative start to his career and turned it into a definite positive. While playing in the Venezuelan winter league, he was hitting so poorly (.113) that fans threw bottle caps at him with “Karros, Go Home! You’re Fired!” on them. Instead of giving up, he stuck around with Los Angeles and became the first of five straight Dodgers Rookie of the Year winners after posting a .257-20-88 stat line in 1992.
Over his 12-year Los Angeles career (1991-2002), Karros hit at least 20 home runs eight times and drove in 100 or more runs five times. His best season was 1999, when he set career highs with a .304 average, 176 hits, 40 doubles, 34 homers and 112 runs batted in. The 1995 silver slugger ranks third in franchise history in home runs (270), fourth in strikeouts (1,105), sixth in RBIs (976), eighth in total bases (2,740), ninth in doubles (302) and tenth in games (1,601), and he also batted .268 with 752 runs and 1,608 hits.
Karros played twice in the Division Series with Los Angeles, totaling three runs, six hits, two home runs and four RBIs in six games. After winning the fielding title with the Dodgers in 2002, he spent one season with the Cubs and another with the Athletics before retiring. Karros was an analyst with Fox and now works with Spectrum’s SportsNet LA network. Two of his sons were selected in each of the past two MLB drafts.
2. Steve Garvey – He was a Dodgers fan who got even more exposure to the baseball life when his father drove the Brooklyn Dodgers’ team bus in 1956. Garvey became the team’s batboy and was later drafted by the Dodgers in 1968 after failing to sign with the Twins two years earlier. Garvey went from being a shaky defender at third base to a star once he moved across the diamond to make room for Ron Cey. He was also part of a starting Los Angeles infield that spent a Major League-record eight seasons together.
During his 14-year stay in Los Angeles (1969-82), Garvey was selected to play in eight consecutive All-Star Games, won four gold gloves and finished in the top 10 in the MVP race five times. However, his greatest individual accomplishment came in 1974, when he hit .312 with 95 runs, 200 hits, 21 home runs and 111 RBIs to take home the National League’s MVP Award. Garvey was also named All-Star MVP that season and hit two home runs in the NLCS victory over the Pirates before the Dodgers fell in the World Series to the Athletics.
Los Angeles would make three more deep playoff runs during Garvey’s tenure, falling to their longtime postseason nemesis from New York in 1977 and ’78 before finally beating the Yankees in 1981. Garvey was the MVP of the NLCS win over the Phillies in 1978, hitting .389 (7-for-18) with six runs scored, four home runs and seven RBIs. The Dodgers had already broken up half of their record-setting infield, and Garvey signed with the Padres before the 1983 season. He was a two-time All-Star during his five years in San Diego but failed to reach his previous level of play, both on offense and defense.
Garvey finished his Los Angeles career ranked third on the all-time franchise list in doubles (333), fifth in hits (1,968) and RBIs (992), sixth in home runs (211) and total bases (3,004) and ninth in games (1,727) along with 852 runs and a .301 average. He totaled 29 runs, 63 hits, 10 home runs and 22 RBIs in 45 playoff games with the Dodgers. Garvey won the Roberto Clemente Award in 1981 and added on the Lou Gehrig Award and another NLCS MVP Award with the Padres three years later, but San Diego fell to Detroit in the World Series. He lasted all 15 years on the Hall of Fame ballot, with the 42.6 percent of the vote he received in 1995 being the high point.
However, the man known as “Mr. Clean” on the baseball field was not so clean in his personal life. Garvey and his first wife, Cyndy, had a contentious 12-year marriage in which Steve said his wife wanted more than his lifestyle could provide (she later became a talk show host alongside Regis Philbin in Los Angeles). Both accused each other of manipulation and emotional abuse and there was infidelity on both sides. Garvey faced a long battle with Cyndy over visitation of their two daughters after the couple divorced in 1983, and he also fathered children with two other women before marrying his current wife, Candace, after a six-week courtship.
Garvey’s post-playing career has been spent mainly in court, from the continual fight with his ex-wife over care of their daughters, to a pair of paternity lawsuits, to suits over back taxes, bills and wages, both involving Garvey and several of his companies. He has somehow still found work as a motivational speaker, has his name on media and management companies and is even running on the Republican ticket for a United States Senate seat in California in 2024.
1. Gil Hodges – Like Daubert, Hodges saw his family affected by working in coal mines. His father lost an eye and a few toes while working in the mines in Indiana. Hodges played four sports in high school and left St. Joseph’s College to sign with the Dodgers. He played one game at third base with Brooklyn in 1943 before spending the next two years in military service in the Pacific theater during World War II.
After returning, Hodges spent some time at catcher before moving to first base when Roy Campanella arrived. Beginning in 1949, Hodges had 11 straight years with at least 20 home runs and drove in 100 or more seven years in a row. The eight-time All-Star had his best year at the plate in 1954, when he set career highs with a .304 average, 176 hits, 42 home runs and 130 runs batted in. On August 31, 1950, he became the sixth player in Major League history to hit four home runs in a game, driving in nine runs in a 19-3 win over the Braves.
Hodges spent 16 seasons with the Dodgers (1943 and 46-61), winning three gold gloves and playing in seven World Series (with wins in 1955 and ’59). He batted .274 and ranks second in franchise history in home runs (361) and RBIs (1,254), third in walks (925), strikeouts (1,108) and total bases (3,357), fourth in games (2,006), fifth in runs (1,088), ninth in hits (1,884) and tenth in doubles (294). Hodges added 15 runs, 35 hits, five homers and 21 RBIs in 39 career postseason games.
The three-time gold glove recipient and 1959 Lou Gehrig Award winner was left protected in the expansion draft and was taken by the Mets in 1962. The following year, Hodges retired so he could become the manager of the Washington Senators (which would later become the Texas Rangers). After five unsuccessful seasons in the Nation’s Capital, Hodges returned to the Mets, leading them to three winning campaigns, including a 100-62 mark and an improbable World Series victory in 1969.
Baseball had one of their many work stoppages in 1972 (this one was a player strike) which delayed the start of the season. On April 2 – Easter Sunday – Hodges and three of his coaches were golfing in Palm Beach. As they were walking back to their hotel after the round, Hodges collapsed and died after suffering a massive heart attack. He failed to reach the required 75 percent of the writer’s vote in his 15 attempts, then failed to achieve induction in several Veterans Committee votes. Finally, Hodges was voted into the Hall of Fame by a vote of the Golden Days Era Committee in 2022.
Honorable Mentions – Jim Gilliam dropped out of high school to play in the Negro Leagues and appeared in two All-Star Games during the 1948 season as a 19-year-old with the Baltimore Elite Giants. After a failed trial run in the Cubs’ minor league system, Gilliam signed with the Giants in 1951 and joined the big-league club two years later. He had a .278 average, 168 hits, 21 stolen bases, set career highs with 125 runs, 31 doubles and 63 RBIs and led the league with 17 triples as he won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1953. Although he had very little power, the two-time All-Star did everything else well. He had a productive 14-year career, with six of those seasons at third base (1959-61 and 64-66).
Jimmy Johnston was a jack-of-all-trades who started everywhere but catcher and pitcher during a 10-year run with the Robins (1916-25). Johnston’s best offensive season was 1921, when he hit .325 with 104 runs, 203 hits, 56 runs batted in and career-high totals of 41 doubles, 14 triples and 28 stolen bases. Two years later at second base, he matched the average and hits marks, which were both his career bests. Overall, Johnston batted .297 with 727 runs, 1,440 hits, 181 doubles, 73 triples, 20 home runs, 390 RBIs and 164 steals in 1,266 games. He played in two World Series with the Dodgers, amassing three runs and six hits in seven games.
Joe Stripp was a solid contact hitter who could drive in runs when it was needed. During his six-year Dodgers career (1932-37), he batted .295 with 345 runs, 758 hits and 284 RBIs in 692 games. Stripp won a fielding title in 1936, and his best offensive season was 1932, when he hit .303 with career-high totals of 94 runs, 162 hits, 36 doubles, six home runs and 64 runs batted in.
5. George Pinkney – He spent seven seasons with the Brooklyn franchise (1889-91), the first five in the American Association. Pinkney converted from second base and was a highly productive player, scoring at least 100 runs in five straight seasons, including a league-leading 134 in 1888. He also had at least 50 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases five times head and belted 150 or more hits on four occasions. Overall, he batted .271 with 761 runs, 1,012 hits, 20 home runs, 436 RBIs and 280 steals (sixth in franchise history) in 931 games. The two-time fielding champion had six runs, 13 hits, six RBIs and three steals in 16 World Series games.
4. Harry “Cookie” Lavagetto – The son of Italian immigrants, Enrico Arturo Lavagetto made his name off two big hits. The first came on a semipro team after he graduated high school. He hit a go-ahead three-run double off the right field wall and received nine offers to play professionally. He signed with the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League, and he became “Cookie’s boy” after owner Cookie DeVincenzi. Lavagetto joined the Pirates in 1934 as a second baseman, but after three inconsistent seasons, he was traded to the Dodgers.
Brooklyn converted him to third base, and he earned four straight All-Star selections. His best of those was 1939, when he set career highs with a .300 average, 93 runs, 176 hits, 10 home runs and 87 runs batted in. Beginning in 1942, Lavagetto spent four years as an aviation machinist’s mate in the Navy and also coached a baseball team that included Cardinals great Stan Musial. When he returned from World War II, Lavagetto’s skills had declined. He played just two more seasons before retiring. Lavagetto batted .275 with 398 runs, 763 hits, 35 home runs and 395 RBIs in 818 games over seven seasons with the Dodgers (1937-41 and 46-47).
Lavagetto’s final hit came in Game 4 of the 1947 World Series. Yankees’ starter Bill Bevens walked 10 batters but had a no-hitter into the ninth. Cookie came in as a pinch hitter with two outs and two runners on and smashed a double off the wall, giving the Dodgers a 3-2 win and tying the series (although the Yankees would go on to win). After his playing career ended, Lavagetto spent 15 seasons on the bench, including a five-year run as the manager of the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins franchise in which he amassed a 271-384 record. He passed away in 1990 at age 77.
3. Adrian Beltre – He spent time with four teams during his 21-year career and showed excellent power at each stop. Beltre began his career as a 19-year-old with the Dodgers in 1998 and became a solid starter over his seven seasons in Los Angeles (1998-2004). The first six years, he averaged in the 20-homer and 80-RBI range before his production exploded in 2004. That year, Beltre led the National League with 48 home runs (which is the second-highest single season total in franchise history) and batted .334 with 104 runs, 200 hits, 121 RBIs and 376 total bases (third highest in team history). Although he wasn’t an All-Star, he finished second in the MVP voting and won his first silver slugger.
Beltre batted .274 with 456 runs, 949 hits, 176 doubles, 147 home runs and 510 RBIs in 966 games. He had four hits, a run scored and an RBI in a four-game loss to the Cardinals in the 2004 Division Series, his only playoff action as a Dodger. Beltre signed with the Mariners in the offseason and spent time with the Red Sox and Rangers. His American League accolades include four All-Star selections, five gold gloves, three silver sluggers, eight seasons with at least 25 home runs, four with 100 RBIs and league-leading totals of 49 doubles in 2010 and 199 hits in 2013. Beltre knocked his 3,000th hit in 2017 with Texas and retired the following year. He will be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2024.
2. Justin Turner – Several teams had a chance at his services before he became a star with the Dodgers. Turner was drafted by the Yankees in the 29th round in 2005 and didn’t sign, but he did when the Reds took him in the seventh round the following year. He was traded to the Orioles as part of the deal for catcher Ramon Hernandez in 2008 and was claimed off waivers by the Mets two years after that. Turner showed flashes of being a solid starter in his three full seasons in New York but didn’t realize his productive potential until signing with Los Angeles in 2014.
Known for his red hair and beard, Turner blossomed into one of the best third basemen in the league over his nine seasons with the Dodgers (2014-22), earning two All-Star selections and winning the Roberto Clemente Award in his final season. He hit .340 in his first season with Los Angeles, and he batted at least .300, hit more than 20 home runs and drove in at least 70 runs four times each during his tenure. Overall, he batted .296 with 568 runs, 1,088 hits, 235 doubles, 156 homers, 574 RBIs and 1,805 total bases in 1,075 games.
Turner was a postseason stalwart for Los Angeles, batting .270 in 86 career playoff games, totaling 43 runs, 85 hits, 19 doubles, 13 home runs and 42 runs batted in. He earned the NLCS co-MVP Award in 2017 after hitting .333 (6-for-18) with three runs, two homers and seven RBIs in the win over the Cubs. Turner played in three World Series, amassing five runs and eight hits, including four doubles and two home runs in the six-game championship over the Rays in 2020. He had another solid season with the Red Sox in 2023 and is currently a free agent.
1. Ron Cey – He spent 12 seasons in Los Angeles (1971-82), including eight as part of the longest-tenured starting infield in baseball history. Cey was one of the most consistent hitters of the decade, both in the Dodgers’ lineup and in the National League. He posted seven seasons each with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs, including five in a row. His best year from a power standpoint was 1977, when he hit 30 homers and drove in 110 runs despite hitting just .241.
Nicknamed “The Penguin” due to his odd shape and running style, Cey was a six-time All-Star who ranked fifth in franchise history in home runs (228) and walks (765), eighth in strikeouts (838) and tenth in runs batted in (842). He also batted .264 with 715 runs, 1,378 hits, 223 doubles and 2,321 total bases in 1,481 games.
Cey was just as good in the playoffs, totaling 19 runs, 39 hits, six home runs and 24 RBIs in 40 postseason games while helping the Dodgers win four National League pennants. He stepped up his game in the 1981 World Series, taking home tri-MVP honors after posting three runs, seven hits, one home run and six RBIs in the six-game win over the Yankees.
The following year, the Dodgers cut Cey in order to save on payroll, and he spent four years with the Cubs and another with the Athletics before retiring. Despite playing in an era with Mike Schmidt, Cey won two National League fielding titles, one coming in 1979 with Los Angeles. He also earned both the Lou Gehrig (character and integrity) and Babe Ruth (best playoff performance) awards in 1982. Although he serious on the field, Cey wasn’t afraid to enjoy the lighter side of life, as he did in his book, Penguin Power, his podcast or the two songs he wrote and sang for a 45-rpm record in 1976.
Main Image: © Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Dodgers Catchers and Managers
Los Angeles Dodgers First and Third Basemen
Los Angeles Dodgers Second Basemen and Shortstops – coming soon
Los Angeles Dodgers Outfielders – coming soon
Los Angeles Dodgers Pitchers – coming soon
A look back at the Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Angels Catchers and Managers
Los Angeles Angels First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Los Angeles Angels Second Basemen and Shortstops
Los Angeles Angels Outfielders
Los Angeles Angels Pitchers
A look back at the Kansas City Royals
Kansas City Royals Catchers and Managers
Kansas City Royals First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Kansas City Royals Second Basemen and Shortstops
Kansas City Royals Outfielders
Kansas City Royals Pitchers
A look back at the Houston Astros
A look back at the Detroit Tigers
A look back at the Colorado Rockies
A look back at the Cleveland Guardians
Cleveland Guardians Catchers and Managers
Cleveland Guardians First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Cleveland Guardians Second Basemen and Shortstops
Cleveland Guardians Outfielders
Cleveland Guardians Pitchers
A look back at the Cincinnati Reds
A look back at the Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox Catchers and Managers
Chicago White Sox First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Chicago White Sox Second Basemen and Shortstops
Chicago White Sox Outfielders
Chicago White Sox Pitchers
A look back at the Chicago Cubs
A look back at the Boston Red Sox
A look back at the Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles Catchers and Managers
Baltimore Orioles First and Third Basemen
Baltimore Orioles Second Basemen and Shortstops
Baltimore Orioles Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Baltimore Orioles Pitchers
A look back at the Atlanta Braves
A look back at the Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona Diamondbacks Catchers and Managers
Arizona Diamondbacks First and Third Basemen
Arizona Diamondbacks Second Basemen and Shortstops
Arizona Diamondbacks Outfielders
Arizona Diamondbacks Pitchers