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BILL SHAIKIN ON BASEBALL

Combining Angels, Dodgers forces for an all-L.A. team

Before the Dodgers and Angels move on to the playoffs, here is one man's 'all-city' team: the best player in Southern California at each position.

October 05, 2009|BILL SHAIKIN

In the hallway outside the Dodgers' clubhouse, you can buy a special Manny Ramirez T-shirt for $30. The blue shirt features a picture of Ramirez in the middle of his swing, surrounded by these words: "Manny, Take Us to the Promised Land."

Ramirez walked through the clubhouse Sunday morning, stopping to ask me a couple of questions.

Hey, what's my batting average?

It's .290.

That's OK. How many home runs?

You hit 19.

Pretty good, right?

Not really. The batting average is his lowest since his rookie season, in 1994. Same for the home-run total.

Granted, he lost 50 games to his suspension for violating baseball's drug policy. Yet he hit one home run every 18.5 at-bats, well below his career ratio of one every 14.6 at-bats. He enters the playoffs with no homers in his last 49 at-bats.

No one will remember any of this if he takes the Dodgers to the promised land, to their first World Series since 1988. Ramirez holds the record for postseason home runs, so this could be his time.

The regular season is over, a season in which Ramirez left a relatively faint mark. He is one of the best-hitting left fielders in baseball history, yet he was neither the most productive outfielder on his team this season nor the most productive left fielder in town.

Before we look ahead to the playoffs, here's a look back, at this season's All-L.A. team. One game, one team, one lineup:

Chone Figgins, 3b

He saw the most pitches of any major leaguer this season, was second in the AL in runs, sixth in on-base percentage and stole 42 bases. He's about to hit the jackpot in free agency.

Bobby Abreu, dh

No coincidence that the Angels set a club record for runs in the year they signed him. He took too many called third strikes, but he hit .354 with men in scoring position, with 96 runs, 103 RBIs, 15 home runs and 30 stolen bases.

Matt Kemp, cf

Torii Hunter is the present, but the future is now. We'd rather have Hunter's defense, but we defer to Kemp's offense: 26 home runs, 101 RBIs, 97 runs, 34 stolen bases. Whatever happened to Andruw Jones?

Kendry Morales, 1b

Mark who? Morales hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 RBIs. He had a .569 slugging percentage, second in the AL to MVP-in-waiting Joe Mauer. The last L.A. first baseman to hit .300 with 30 home runs: Eric Karros, in 1999.

Andre Ethier, rf

We're hoping he bats in the ninth inning of a tie game, since he leads the majors with six walk-off hits, including four home runs. He led the Dodgers with 31 homers, 106 RBIs, 42 doubles and 72 walks.

Juan Rivera, lf:

Someone finally let him play, and he hit a career-high 25 home runs, predictably. He hit one home run per 21.2 at-bats this year, one per 21.3 at-bats last year, one per 19.9 at-bats in 2006. (He was injured in 2007.)

Maicer Izturis, 2b

He probably won't start the playoff opener, but he had the best regular season in town. He hit .300, with 74 runs, 65 RBIs and a .794 OPS. Orlando Hudson hit .283, with 74 runs, 62 RBIs and a .774 OPS.

Russell Martin, c

Not a good year for L.A. catchers. Martin shepherded a pitching staff with a 3.41 ERA, the best in baseball, but it's never a good sign when the on-base percentage (.352) is higher than the slugging percentage (.329).

Erick Aybar, ss

He might have the strongest infield arm in baseball, and his .312 batting average set a record for Angels shortstops. Bet you can't guess the last regular Dodgers shortstop to hit so well: Mark Grudzielanek, .326 in 1999.

Jered Weaver, starting pitcher

Randy Wolf, the Dodgers' Game 1 starter, might not crack the Angels' playoff rotation. John Lackey draws the Game 1 start for the Angels, but Weaver had the better regular season, ranking among AL leaders with 16 victories, 211 innings and a 3.75 earned-run average.

Jonathan Broxton, closer

Brian Fuentes led the major leagues with 48 saves, but we'll take Broxton in the ninth. If all else fails, he can blow a fastball by you; Fuentes cannot. Opponents are batting .165 against Broxton, the lowest average against any reliever in the majors.

Total salaries, 2009: $26.4 million

Alex Rodriguez's salary, 2009: $32 million

Last time the team with baseball's highest-paid player won the World Series: 1986

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISON SERIES

Baseball playoffs at a glance

The postseason matchups have been decided except for the opponent of the New York Yankees, which will be decided Tuesday when Detroit and Minnesota play for the AL Central title:

Angels

vs. Boston

Game 1: Wed., 3 p.m.

or Thu., 6:30 p.m.

Boston (Lester, 15-8) at Angels (Lackey, 11-8)

Game 2: Friday, 6:30 p.m.

Boston (Beckett, 17-6) at Angels (Weaver, 16-8)

Game 3: Sunday, time TBD

Angels (Kazmir, 10-9) at Boston (Buchholz, 7-4)

Game 4*: Oct. 12, time TBD

Angels (Saunders, 16-7) at Boston (Lester, 15-8)

Game 5*: Oct. 14, time TBD

Boston at Angels, pitchers TBD

New York vs. Detroit or Minnesota

Game 1: Wed. or Thu., 3 p.m.

Det./Minn. at New York (Sabathia, 19-8)

Game 2: Friday, 3 p.m.

Det./Minn. at N.Y. (Burnett, 13-9, or Pettitte, 14-8)

Game 3: Sunday, time TBD

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