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Dodgers finally watching James Loney contend for batting title?

May 03, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck
  • James Loney has found a home with the Tampa Bay Rays.
James Loney has found a home with the Tampa Bay Rays. (Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated…)

Hey, every day deserves a good laugh, so today we bring you … James Loney!

Come on, you’re smiling already. And that’s just off his history. Now everyone’s favorite underachiever as a Dodger is able to bring a fresh chuckle. And not because of his sometimes zany personality.

Guess who has the second-highest batting average in all of baseball? Who has the fifth-highest slugging percentage among all first basemen?

That’s right, the beleaguered Loney.

Loney was included in the blockbuster trade for Nick Punto last summer, though he apparently impressed the Red Sox as much as the Dodgers the last couple of years. They let him wander off into free agency, where he signed with the Tampa Bay “Don’t Call Me Devil” Rays for one year at a modest $2 million.

Yet after a slow start, Loney is now a man on fire in Tampa. He is currently batting .375, second in baseball to ex-Dodger Carlos Santana’s .395. (Loney remains a few at-bats shy of qualifying for the batting title.)

And though he still isn’t driving the ball out of the park – he has one home run – he is still getting his doubles and his .528 slugging percentage would rank fifth among first basemen. Among others, that puts him ahead of Joey Votto (.453), Ryan Howard (.475), Paul Goldschmidt (.491) and Adrian Gonzalez (.495).

Loney, naturally, right how is pretty happy in Tampa, which is one way of saying he’s happy to be out of L.A. Said Loney to Rays.com:

“I think it's great for me to be in this situation. This team. This organization. I feel like the change was good for me. I definitely feel blessed to be in this situation.

“I just think the whole environment is better here. You've got the right type of leaders here. You've got the right type of guys. And you know, it's just a good atmosphere that we have.”

Hmm, all this time and it was an atmosphere problem?

Whatever, good for him. Don’t think there are too many who believe he can continue at his current pace (.524 batting average in his last 13 games), but he is showing the form that some in the Dodgers once thought would win him a batting title.

It’s not like the Dodgers were not patient with him, but he could never find consistency here. It should be noted, though, he had six hitting coaches in six years.

And was responsible for about a hundred times more head scratches. It’s working for now, though, and ain’t that funny.

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