Is that even a fair question?
In 2008 and 2009 Loney hit over .280 and drove in 90 RBIs in each of those seasons. In 2010 his average dropped off a bit as he hit only .267, but still managed to finish the year with 88 RBIs. Then last season he finished the season at .288 with 65 RBI.
Loney isn’t your typical first baseman who drives in 100 runs and hits over 25 home runs, but all the Dodgers need is the return of the 2008-2009 version of James.
Besides last year’s 65 RBI, Loney has been better than advertised at first base. He has never hit over 15 home runs since he entered the league back in 2006, but does he really need to hit more than that? Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier will hit the home runs, drive in the RBIs, and put people in the seats.
The Dodgers have mentioned adding another solid bat to their lineup before this year’s deadline. They really could use another bat to protect Kemp and Ethier, but if Loney returns to form, that could be the solid bat! Just think about Kemp and Ethier with 100 RBIs a piece, over 30 home runs, and Loney adding 90 RBIs of his own. That could be the most dangerous lineup in the National League.
While everyone has talked about Loney’s struggles at the plate over the last couple of seasons, he hasn’t let it affect his defense. His glove hasn’t gotten anything close to the credit it deserves. He has yet to be rewarded with a gold glove to show proof, but this could be his year.
National League Gold Glove First Baseman since 2006
With Pujols and Gonzalez now playing in the American League, the chances for Loney are a lot better. Loney has made a total of just 16 errors over the past 3 seasons and has a career fielding percentage of .994.
The Dodgers seem to always record an out when a ball is hit in his area. Seriously, a ball hit in his direction has now become more automatic than seeing a Ron and Sammy fight on an episode of the Jersey Shore, I like these odds.
He should already have won a gold glove in my opinion, but it won’t be long before he gets his first. The fact that Loney is perceived by most as a below-average first baseman is frustrating, he is a lot better than people give him credit for.
I want people to recognize what this guy brings to the table, which is an A+ fielder, B+ potential as a hitter, and an overall above-average first baseman.
I would go as far as saying he could be an All Star-caliber first baseman one day if he can return to his old form. Now this is something that must happen in the next two years because time is running out for the unappreciated James Loney.