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Dodgers' Top 5 shortstops: Gurnick's take

@kengurnick
April 21, 2020

LOS ANGELES -- No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings

LOS ANGELES -- No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only. If you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite at this position.

Here is our ranking of the top five shortstops in Dodgers history. Next week: left field.

1. Pee Wee Reese, 1940-42, ’46-58
Key fact: Reese enlisted in the Navy during World War II and missed three seasons as a Seabee.

You know about the Boys of Summer. Vin Scully said Pee Wee Reese was their “heart and soul.”

Reese was a 10-time All-Star who played on seven pennant winners and finished in the top 10 of the National League MVP voting eight times. He was instrumental at the plate, on defense and on the bases, and he also was the captain and leader of the team. He was adored by the Brooklyn fans.

• Dodgers' All-Time Team: C | 1B | 2B | 3B

He’s also known for openly embracing Jackie Robinson, literally and figuratively, as Robinson faced the challenges of breaking baseball’s color barrier.

“When Pee Wee reached out to Jackie, all of us in the Negro League smiled and said it was the first time that a white guy had accepted us,” teammate Joe Black said at Reese’s funeral. “When I finally got up to Brooklyn, I went to Pee Wee and said, ‘Black people love you. When you touched Jackie, you touched all of us.’ With Pee Wee, it was No. 1 on his uniform and No. 1 in our hearts.”

2. Maury Wills, 1959-66, ’69-72
Key fact: Before his Major League debut in 1959, Wills spent 8 1/2 years in the Minors.

Maury Wills revolutionized the game, bringing back the stolen base and winning one of the most improbable MVP awards in 1962 when he broke the Major League record with 104 stolen bases. He became such a disruptive force that the Giants muddied the area around first base into a quagmire to slow him down.

Pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale relied on Wills to create a run or two and more often than not made it stand up for a win. In addition to the NL MVP Award, Wills was an All-Star in five seasons and won two Gold Gloves.

3. Bill Russell, 1969-86
Key fact: Russell was in 12 Opening Day starting lineups.

The least heralded of the vaunted infield that played together 8 1/2 years, Bill Russell nonetheless outlasted Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Ron Cey as a Dodger. He eventually became the team’s manager.

On the field, the converted outfielder is No. 1 on the Dodgers’ list of games played (2,181) since the team’s move to Los Angeles in 1958 and was a three-time All-Star.

4. Corey Seager, 2015-present
Key fact: Has a .322 career batting average with RISP.

On a roster stacked with stars, Corey Seager has almost become an afterthought, even though he has been an NL Rookie of the Year, a two-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger. He missed most of 2018 because of elbow and hip operations and returned last year with an .817 OPS in a solid comeback season.

5. Rafael Furcal, 2006-11
Key fact: He went 6-for-12 in the 2009 NL Division Series.

Rafael Furcal spent 5 1/2 seasons with the Dodgers and made an impact as the leadoff catalyst when they could keep him on the field. In 2006, his first season in Los Angeles, he posted an .814 OPS and stole 37 bases. He slipped in ’07, then was off to a great start in ’08 but blew out his back. Furcal was an All-Star in ’10 but played only 97 games that year. The next year, with his contract about to expire and hampered by injuries, Furcal was traded to the Cardinals for outfielder Alex Castellanos, opening up shortstop for Dee Gordon.

Honorable mention
No telling how the 2013 postseason might have turned out if Hanley Ramirez hadn’t had a rib broken by a Joe Kelly pitch.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.