For two seasons in Los Angeles, Shawn Green was one of the best players in baseball, and if you look closer at the numbers, one of the best Dodgers ever.
When you think of great Dodgers players, Shawn Green is not the first name that comes to mind. In fact, he probably isn’t the 15th or 25th name, either. But for two seasons between 2001 and 2002, the tall, right fielder was one of the most prolific hitters in the game. And if you compare those seasons to Dodgers sluggers of the past, they sit uniquely in history.
In 1999, the Dodgers acquired Green in a trade that sent the irritable Raul Mondesi, who won the Rookie of the Year Award several years earlier, to the Blue Jays.
When Green arrived from Toronto, he had proven to be a steady gap hitter with plus power. He made his first All-Star game in the season before he was traded to LA, winning the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards that season, too. But little did Dodgers fans know exactly how productive he would be at the plate at Dodger Stadium.
After hitting 24 home runs during his first season wearing blue and white, Shawn Green clobbered 49 home runs in 2001, breaking Gary Sheffield‘s and Duke Snider‘s franchise single-season home run record of 43.
The left-hander batted .297/.372/.598 in 2001, while knocking in 125 runs. His 7.0 WAR total that season was the highest of any Dodger since Mike Piazza in 1997, and the highest among Dodgers not named Piazza since 1985.
In 2002, he followed up his amazing performance with another dominant season. His 42 home runs just one shy of the previous Dodger single-season record. Once again, his WAR value reached seven wins.
Think about that, the Dodgers were established in 1883, they have employed great power hitters from Roy Campanella to Duke Snider to Gil Hodges to Pedro Guerrero, and Shawn Green hit more home runs in a season than any of them did, and he was only two home runs short of doing it two seasons in a row!
By 2003, Green had returned back to earth, his power perhaps impacted by a tendinitis injury. After smacking 91 home runs the previous two seasons, the left-hander only hit 47 over his final two campaigns in Los Angeles. He was eventually traded to the Diamondbacks for catcher Dioner Navarro in a deal that allowed him to sign a three-year extension with Arizona.
When you think of all-time great Dodgers, you would be right to exclude Shawn Green from your mind. But for two seasons, he truly was one of the best hitters in Dodgers history.