Sarah's Take: Eric Karros
The 2000 season was difficult for Eric Karros, but he still gave the Dodgers his usual offensive production and a steady presence at first base. During 2000 he reached many personal milestones. Despite personal milestones and accomplishments, Karros like most Dodgers found the 2000 season frustrating because he wants a World Series ring.
In June Karros hit his 229th home run to pass Ron Cey to become the Los Angeles home run king. It was hit against the Diamondbacks’ Matt Mantei, who had much success against Karros. After that game, Karros said quietly he would treasure that accomplishment forever, but he wished he had Cey’s trips to the World Series instead. In a game in late August he became the only Dodger to hit two home runs in the same inning. His only home run in September tied him with legendary Roy Campanella for third on the Dodger all-time home run list. He has accomplished much in a Dodger uniform without much fanfare.
Because he does not show much emotion on the field, many people have questioned Karros’ desire to win. However, not many baseball players want to win as badly as Karros does. In July when he said his job was to drive in runs and not to advance runners in scoring position with little ground balls to the right side, many Dodger fans viewed him as a selfish player who cares only about his own statistics. The opposite is true. Karros is a pull hitter, so hitting anything to the right side is difficult for him, and his grounders often result in double plays. Any fan who calls Karros selfish has not watched the Dodgers during the 1990s.
Offensively the 2000 season was a struggle for Karros. As usual, he had a slow April when he batted .220. Before the all-star break he hit .265 with 25 home runs and 70 RBI, but after the break he hit .232 with six home runs and 36 RBI. It seemed that he would discover his batting stroke only to lose it again. He was second on the Dodgers in home runs, and he drove in the second most runs of any Dodger. He has hit thirty or more home runs and 100 or more RBI for four out of the past five years. His batting average of .250 was the second lowest batting average of his career. In the daytime he batted .338 whereas he batted .217 at night. At Dodger Stadium he batted .235, but on the road he batted .264. For the first six innings he batted .233, but the seventh inning and on he batted .288. His .321 on-base percentage is poor for a major leaguer. In 2000 Karros had difficulty making contact when he struck out 122 times, the most strikeouts in a season during his career. His 63 walks were also the highest walk total in his career.
During his career Karros has been criticized for his defensive shortcomings, but in 2000 he showed he could be a skilled defensive first baseman. For the first time in his career Karros had a regular second baseman with decent range. This is a big help to Karros whose range is limited. Karros makes the difficult throws to second base as good as any right-handed first basemen. His seven errors in 153 games resulted in a .995 fielding percentage, the fourth highest fielding percentage among the National League first basemen.
Eric Karros has been an offensive force in the Dodger lineup during the 1990s, and 2000 was no exception. Although Karros struggled to keep his batting average decent, he gave the Dodgers home runs and RBI. He helped the Dodgers’ weak defense. Baring an injury, Karros should play an integral role in the success of the 2001 Dodgers.