If you’re a fan who follows the history of the Dodgers closely (or if you’re a fan who personally witnessed the misery of not making the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season), you’ll remember that 2002 was pretty much the year of just two players—outfielder Shawn Green and reliever Eric Gagne.
Green’s name was celebrated in baseball news recently, as Saturday was the 18th anniversary of the memorable game when he went 6-for-6 with four long balls and seven RBI in a 13-run pummeling of the Brewers.
By the time the smoke cleared on the season, Green had tallied 42 homers, becoming the first player to hit more than 40 jacks in back-to-back years since the franchise moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season.
In his age 26 season, Gagne made 77 appearances in route to his first MLB All-Star selection. He tallied 52 saves—the second-most of his career—and racked up an impressive 114 strikeouts over 82-1/3 innings of work.
Green hit .286/.385/.558 in 2002 and was one of the few Los Angeles players who dominated offensively. He led the entire team in average, OBP, slugging percentage, homers, OPS and RBI.
Catcher Paul Lo Duca was the only other leader in a major offensive category with 38 doubles.
Surprisingly, not a single regular player on the roster hit above .300 for the year.
Outfielder Brian Jordan was just a tick behind Green in the average department, batting .285/.338/.469 with 27 doubles, 18 bombs and 80 RBI.
23-year-old Adrian Beltre, in his fifth full big league season, finished second on the club with 23 long balls.
In terms of starting pitching, the rotation was led by 33-year-old Hideo Nomo, who finished the year with a 16-6 record and a 3.39 ERA over 34 starts. The remainder of the regular rotation was filled out by Odalis Perez (32 starts), Andy Ashby (30 starts), Omar Daal (23 starts) and Kazuhisa Ishii (28 starts).
The season was yet another disappointment for $100 million man Kevin Brown. Marred by injuries, the 37-year-old righty made just 10 starts and at one point was even hospitalized for a back ailment.
Here’s how second year manager Jim Tracy wrote out the Opening Day lineup card against the club’s divisional rivals, the San Francisco Giants:
D. Roberts CF
C. Izturis SS
P. Lo Duca C
S. Green RF
B. Jordan LF
A. Beltre 3B
E. Karros 1B
M. Grudzielanek 2B
K. Brown P
Brown was lit up that day, surrendering seven earned runs on nine hits over just four even innings of work. Slugger Barry Bonds did the brunt of the damage against Brown with two long balls and five RBI on the way to his squad’s 9-2 victory.
Offensively for the Dodgers, Roberts went 2-for-4 with a double, scoring both of the teams runs.
Dan Evans was in his first season as general manager and actually had a half decent draft. Among the memorable players selected that summer were Russell Martin, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, Eric Stults and James McDonald.
At the end of the season, the Dodgers posted a respectable 92-70 record, but still finished in third place behind the 95 wins of the Giants and the 98 wins of the Diamondbacks.
Taking over as GM for the team in 2004 was Paul DePodesta, finally bringing the club back to the playoffs.
Tracy was eventually replaced by Grady Little in 2006.