Best Dodgers shortstops: Long-time Dodgers
3. Bill Russell
Although not even the most notable athlete of his era named Bill Russell, his name is still written all over the Dodger’s record book. After the departure of longtime Dodger Maury Wills, Russell took over as the regular shortstop in 1972. The converted outfielder became a mainstay, starting at short on opening day until 1984, and along with Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, and Ron Cey, Russell cemented himself as a key member of the legendary Dodger infield of the 70’s and 80’s.
The former ninth-round shortstop spent his entire 18-year career with the Dodgers and played more games (2,181) than anyone since the club moved to Los Angeles. The three-time All-Star wasn’t a prodigious hitter (.648 career OPS), but his dependability and the integral role he played on some great Dodger teams (including the 1981 World Series champs) have established Russell’s legacy as a fan favorite.
2. Maury Wills
Bill Russell’s predecessor, Maury Wills reestablished the validity of the stolen base in the early 60’s. He became the first National League player to steal 50 bases in a season in almost 40 years, and broke Ty Cobb’s record of 96 steals by stealing 104 bases in 1962. The ‘62 season was the pinnacle of Wills’ career, as he took home the MVP award, hit .299, won a Gold Glove, and led the league in triples, in addition to setting the single season stolen base record. Injuries and a somewhat abrupt decline led the Dodgers to trade Wills to the Pirates in 1966, but after short stints in Pittsburgh and Montreal, Wills found his way back to LA for four more seasons.
Overall, Wills spent 12 seasons in Los Angeles, five of which were of the All-Star variety, and totaled 490 steals and a .281 average during his Dodger tenure. He also served as the Dodgers’ captain from 1963-1966. Wills’ Hall of Fame candidacy has been a controversial topic. He is credited with helping revolutionize the strategy of stealing bases, but his less than elite hitting (88 career OPS+) and off the field issues have kept him from being enshrined. Hall or not, Wills is a Dodger legend whose baserunning prowess played a role in three World Series winning teams.