Sarah's Take: Gary Sheffield
Though again the Los Angeles Dodgers failed to meet lofty expectations in 2000, Gary Sheffield had a career year. He led the Dodgers in most offensive categories. Defensively he was a liability in left field. He assumed the role as the leader of the Dodgers, but when he spoke to the media, he appeared to think himself better than the rest of the team.
Ever since Gary Sheffield joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in May 1998, he has been an offensive force, and the 2000 season was no exception. He had a .325 batting average, 43 home runs, 109 RBI, and four stolen bases. For the second straight year he had at least a .300 batting average, 30 home runs, 100 RBI, and 100 walks becoming the first Dodger to do that. His 43 home runs are the most hit by a Los Angeles Dodger in a season, topping Mike Piazza’s record of 40 homers in 1997. He tied for the franchise record with Duke Snider. His home run total was the sixth highest in the National League. His .325 batting average was the ninth highest in the league. His patience at the plate enabled him to have a high on-base percentage of .438. His 109 RBI led the Dodgers. Unusual for a power hitter, he walked much more than he struck out. His 101 walks were the sixth highest. Some games Sheffield was the Dodger offensive production.
Defensively Sheffield had his problems in his second season playing left field. During his twelve-year career he has played shortstop, third base, right field, and left field. He has never excelled defensively. Though his arm makes strong and accurate throws from anywhere on the baseball field, he does not move quickly after the ball. In left field he had poor jumps allowing many catchable balls to go for hits. Because he has had many injuries during his career and he is trying to avoid more, he does not make many diving or leaping catches. In 2000 he committed ten errors, the most by a National League left fielder. His .954 fielding percentage was the second worst by a National League left fielder. His range was quite below the league average. Sheffield contributed to the Dodger defensive shortcomings.
Since Sheffield became a Dodger, he has been a team leader and a media spokesman. He has criticized his teammates in the press for not playing their best and not wanting to win badly enough. On the field Sheffield has not shown more effort or emotion than any other Dodger. If he wants more effort from his teammates, he needs to show them how. He needs to jump off the bench to congratulate a teammate who just scored. Enthusiasm is catching. Sheffield does not know how badly his teammates want to win. Though he has a world championship ring, it does not mean he wants to win another world championship more than any other Dodger. In the press Sheffield sounds like he wants to be a team player, but on the field he does not appear to do all the things he can do to help the Dodgers win.
Gary Sheffield has been an excellent player since becoming a Dodger. Many people believed Sheffield was the Dodgers’ most valuable player in 2000. With better defense and attitude Sheffield would have contributed more. Probably he will play an integral part in 2001 for the Dodgers.