Many of you younger Dodger fans don’t remember Von Joshua, but it’s a worthwhile study in Dodger history to go back and remember this former Dodger. Von Joshua was a left-handed center fielder. In 1970 at age 22, Von Joshua saw his first significant action in the major leagues, garnering 106 at-bats and hitting .266. In 1971 he had 7 AB’s and didn’t get a hit. In 1972 Von played exclusively at AAA Albuquerque. The next year (1973) he hit .252 in 159 AB’s, followed by .234 in 1974 limited action.
What’s the point of this history lesson? Well, the Dodgers thought so little of him that he was not protected and was claimed on waivers by the rival San Francisco Giants, where that season (1975) he proceeded to hit .318 with a .358 OB% in 545 plate appearances. That one season was by far, his best season. He never even flirted with the kind of success he experienced that one season in San Francisco at age 27.
Tony Gwynn, Jr. who is also a left-handed centerfielder whose career-path is not unlike Von Joshua’s career. Tony Gwynn, Jr. was deemed not worthy to be a San Diego Padre and is now a Dodger. Most Dodger fans think he is worthless at worst and a defensive replacement at best. Now, I am not predicting that Tony Gwynn, Jr. will hit .300 and I would advise not to even count on much from him. We know that he can play all three outfield positions and be a plus defender. We know he has speed and a suspect bat.
Don’t plan on it, but Tony Gwynn, Jr. could hit .300 with a .350 OB% and never repeat the feat again. It’s happened before!
While we are at it we need to remember that there are a few other young players who could step up and win a job in 2011, including Ivan DeJesus, Jr. who (in my opinion) is even odds to win the job at 2B. You may not think that, but I do… and Don Mattingly will give him a long look. Mattingly likes him.
Also, Trayvon Robinson, Jerry Sands, Xavier Paul, Jamie Hoffman and Rubby De La Rosa are all possibilities to make the team (longshots all). It will be an interesting Spring Training.
See, that’s what makes baseball such a cool game. You just never know. While we are thinking that we have a couple of stiffs with Thames and Gibbons in LF, WHAM! A guy like Tony Gwynn, Jr. could come in and win the CF job, and you know what? It could happen!