Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and let’s get right to No. 23 in our countdown.
The 25 greatest Dodgers, No. 23: Ron Cey (No first-place votes, 3,842 points)
From 1977 to 1981, the Dodgers appeared in three World Series (winning one), thanks to contributions from a few key players:
Steve Garvey, who was the media and fan favorite
Reggie Smith, who was the emotional leader of the team
Dusty Baker, who was so popular fans threw bubblegum to him in left field
Davey Lopes, the catalyst
Rick Monday, who came over after saving the flag
There were others, of course. But one person who often gets overlooked is Ron Cey, who would have been the best third baseman in the National League during that time if he wasn’t a direct contemporary of Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies. If you ask fans who was the best player on the Dodgers from 1977-81, most would name Garvey or Smith. But let’s take a look at the numbers:
Most homers: Cey, 122; Garvey, 118; Baker, 102.
OPS+: Smith, 154; Cey, 129; Garvey, 126.
WAR: Cey, 22.4; Smith, 16.7; Garvey, 16.3
Cey, of course, was nicknamed “The Penguin,” because his knees were about six inches off the ground, giving him a stiff-legged run. He never seemed slow though, just awkward looking.
He was co-MVP of the 1981 World Series, the Series during which he was famously hit in the head by a Goose Gossage fastball, still the only game (Game 5) I have watched where I was convinced someone had just been killed. Cey was taken to the hospital and had a concussion. You can watch it here. He played in Game 6.
''I heard it hit the helmet,’' Gossage said after the game. ''If he doesn’t have a helmet on, he might be dead.’'
Needing to open up spots in the lineup for Pedro Guerrero and Mike Marshall, the Dodgers traded Cey to the Chicago Cubs after the 1982 season for Dan Cataline and Vance Lovelace. Cey went on the have four productive seasons with the Cubs, leading them to the NL East title in 1984. He was released by the Oakland A’s during the 1987 season and never played in the majors again.
I look back on those great Dodgers teams and realize how underrated Cey was. He is still the greatest third baseman in Dodgers history.
No. 24: Tommy Davis (By the way, I originally listed him with 240 hits in 1962, He had 230. Why do they put the 3 and 4 key so close together?)
Note: A reminder, I received 8,382 ballots from newsletter readers who sent me their choices as the top 10 Dodgers of all time. Points were assigned based on ranking, with the first-place choice getting 12 points, second place getting 10, third place eight, down to one point for 10th place. After tabulating the ballots, I will be presenting the top 25 in points. We will be counting down Nos. 25 to 11, one each weekday, for the next three weeks. Then we will time the top 10 so No. 1 unveils on March 29, the day the season opens. There will be separate newsletters for any news that comes out of spring training.
Just a reminder that there will be a separate newsletter later this week with early spring training news.