Remembering Mark Ellis’s Biggest Dodger Moments

Last offseason I was hoping the Dodgers would bring back the veteran second base man Mark Ellis after they declined Ellis’s contract. Ellis brought air tight defense to the Dodger middle infield since they signed him in 2012. Little did I know that Dee Gordon would represent the Dodgers in the 2014 All-Star game as a second baseman. Conversely, Mark Ellis would have a disappointing season with St. Louis in 2014.

Ellis announced his retirement on Wednesday, and the 12-year veteran will always have a special place in my heart as one of the best defensive second baseman I have seen play for the Dodgers. He is a class act on and off the field, and many baseball reporters and writers along with former teammates have all spoke fondly about Ellis and his approachable demeanor.

Mark Ellis even sent a positive message to Dee Gordon last season while on the Cardinals after the Dodgers cut ties with him.

“He works really hard and I’m happy for him,” Ellis said. “I think second base is a good spot for him. It’ll take a little pressure off in terms of defense and he can go out and be the dynamic guy he is on offense, steal bases and go out and score runs. That’s a credit to him. He’s so athletic. His speed is just unbelievable and he can change a game. He’s one of the special guys we have in our league.”

Susan Slusser wrote about longtime A’s second base man Mark Ellis in the SFGate on Wednesday. Slusser cited that Ellis may return to the A’s in another capacity down the road after he spends some time with his family. 

Even though Ellis spent nine of his twelve major league seasons with Oakland, his two seasons in Los Angeles brought some bright moments to the Dodgers as well. Let’s look back at a few Mark Ellis moments during his Dodger tenure.

Mark Ellis was never really known for his offense, but a pair of homeruns in the Big Apple back in April of 2013 sparked a Dodger win behind the second baseman. The win was on the heels of a six-game losing streak, and the Dodgers needed some spark in order to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Mark Ellis hit two homeruns, one of which was his 100th career homerun off Robert Carson in the fifth inning. His second homerun was a three-run shot off Brandon Lyon in the seventh. Ellis had 4 hits, 4 RBIs and 2 runs on that cold New York night. The Dodgers defeated the Mets 7-2 in the Clayton Kershaw start.

Mark Ellis nearly lost his leg while with the Dodgers in 2012 after the unforgettable collision between the second baseman and Tyler Greene. Ellis was reportedly hours away from losing his lower left leg. With one out in the top of the seventh, Dee Gordon (then shortstop), fielded a grounder hit by Shane Robinson. Dee threw the ball underhanded to Ellis at second base, and Tyler Greene slid into Ellis’s leg before he could complete the throw. The Dodgers went on to win 6-5, but the scary injury to Mark Ellis will be talked about for far longer.

Some people felt that Ellis’s decision to tag up on a Michael Young fly ball in the 2013 NLCS Game 1 against St. Louis cost the Dodgers the series. With one out and runners at first and third in the top of the tenth, the shallow fly ball to right-center field wasn’t deep enough to allow Ellis to tag up and score. Carlos Beltran fired home, and Yadier Molina held on to the ball after Ellis attempted to slide past him. Some argued that Molina didn’t actually tag Ellis, but nevertheless he was out by a lot. It was an important play which would help decide the series which the Dodgers lost in six games. Lesson: don’t test Carlos Beltran’s arm in the postseason.

It’s okay MEllis, we still love you.

Mark Ellis played in 236 games for the Dodgers, and he made just 9 errors over the two seasons playing the keystone position. Watching Ellis play second base was extremely enjoyable, and his near flawless glove work over his career was quite historic. He is fifth all-time in fielding percentage at second base (per BaseballReference.com). At 37 and now retired, I’m sure Ellis can still run circles around many of the much younger second baseman playing today.

 

RankPlayer (yrs, age)Fielding % as 2BThrows
1.Placido Polanco (16).9927R
2.Jose Oquendo (12).9919R
3.Dustin Pedroia (9, 30).9917R
4.Craig Counsell (16).9913R
5.Mark Ellis (12, 37).9910R
6.Jamey Carroll (12).9899R
7.Scott Fletcher (15).9898R
8.Freddy Sanchez (10).9897R
9.Ryne Sandberg+ (16).9894R
10.Darwin Barney (5, 28).9893R

 

“It was definitely time,” Ellis told The Chronicle on Wednesday evening. “My kids are getting older and I kind of realized it was time to do something else.”