When the Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League West in 2008 and 2009, much of the credit was given to their young homegrown core of outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, catcher Russell Martin and first baseman James Loney.
In reality, it was a bit misleading to group them all together since their individual values are wildly different -- and this is becoming even more obvious as time goes by. Thus far this year, Kemp and Martin (who is now with the New York Yankees) are in top form, and Ethier continues to crush baseballs all over Chavez Ravine. All three are showing why the Dodgers had so much success when they were clicking on all cylinders together.
And then there's Loney. (Hey, it can't all be good news, right?)
The first baseman has picked up right where he left off last year ... and that's not a good thing. Loney posted a .616 OPS after the All-Star break in 2010 and is sporting a .470 mark 25 games into the 2011 season. The common refrain of the optimistic is "give him time, he'll come around." But the truth is that Loney was never that good in the first place, and he's one of a number of players who is the beneficiary of job security he never really deserved.