2011 Positional Review: First Basemen

The first half was a black hole, but was the second half an oasis?

Another source of frustration for Dodger fans last season, first base was yet another position where the Dodgers got below average output. It began with James Loney, who appeared in 158 games and started 134. His overall line of .288/.339/.416 isn't encouraging, but a second half surge gave Dodger fans hope for improvement in 2012. I'll get into that more later. He batted just .213 against lefties, which accounted for 140 of his plate appearances. His home/road OPS splits were nearly identical.

Only two other players received any playing time at first, mostly in platoon situations. Juan Rivera appeared in 17 games for the Dodgers at first base, batting just .226/.259/.302 there. He actually hit righties better than lefties in LA after mashing southpaws with the Blue Jays. His BABIP was abnormally low against them with the Dodgers and his career OPS against opposite-handed pitchers is over .800 so it's likely just a fluke.
The final contestant at first was Russell Mitchell, who put up solid numbers in Albuquerque before getting the call. Unfortunately he didn't get a whole lot of playing time and his production was disappointing, as he hit just .157/.259/.294 overall in 58 plate appearances. Many of his PA's came as a third baseman and he made 8 pinch hitting appearances.

Altogether, Dodgers' first basemen posted the 27th best OPS in baseball, though that rank was considerably higher in the second half, as Loney went on a tear and ranked 5th in the MLB with a .914 OPS among batters with 200 plate appearances after the all star break. But can he keep up that type of production over a full season?