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5 best seasons by a hitter in Dodgers history

@kengurnick
November 30, 2020

LOS ANGELES -- Which Dodgers position player had the best season ever? With such a rich history, there are plenty from which to choose. Dodgers position players have won 10 National League MVP Awards, and nine more were runners-up, including Mookie Betts in 2020. The MVP Award is voted on

LOS ANGELES -- Which Dodgers position player had the best season ever?

With such a rich history, there are plenty from which to choose. Dodgers position players have won 10 National League MVP Awards, and nine more were runners-up, including Mookie Betts in 2020. The MVP Award is voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Weave in analytical comparisons -- wins above replacement, particularly -- and there are multiple ways of determining what exactly the “best season” even means.

It’s open for endless debate. Here are some of the best to consider:

Jackie Robinson, 1951
Jackie Robinson won the NL MVP Award in 1949, but the second baseman had the highest bWAR (9.7) for a position player in club history two years later. That was the season best remembered for Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard 'Round the World” that ended the Dodgers’ season. Robinson impacted games in a multitude of glorious ways.

Adrián Beltré, 2004
It’s still difficult to believe the Dodgers let Adrián Beltré walk after this one -- so they could sign J.D. Drew. The third baseman didn’t win the NL MVP Award this year, finishing second to the incomparable Barry Bonds, but Beltré was only 25 years old. He slugged 48 home runs with 121 RBIs and 200 hits on a first-place team. He played Gold Glove-caliber defense, although he didn’t win his first of five Gold Gloves for another three years.

Duke Snider, 1953
With Willie Mays serving in the military and Mickey Mantle still learning at age 21, Duke Snider was the star of stars among New York center fielders. But take your pick from 1953, ’54 and ’55 for Snider’s best season, as they were mirror images of Hall of Fame production, even though he never won an MVP Award.

Matt Kemp, 2011
Ryan Braun won the NL MVP Award this year, with Matt Kemp the runner-up after nearly becoming the Dodgers’ first 40/40 player. Kemp’s 8.0 WAR doesn’t rank as high as the others, but factor in the strength of the lineup surrounding him and he probably doesn’t get enough credit for how good this season was. Playing center field, he was an All-Star and won NL Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger Awards while leading the NL in home runs, RBIs and runs scored.

Cody Bellinger, 2019
Although Cody Bellinger tailed off in the second half, his first half was about as good as it will ever get. He’s the only Dodger to sweep these four honors -- MVP, All-Star, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. Playing primarily right field, he finished third in franchise history with 47 homers, behind only Shawn Green (49) and Beltré (48). His 27 homers at Dodger Stadium set a franchise home record, while his 18 homers against left-handed pitchers were the most in the NL.

Honorable mention
There are bound to be omissions, and any one of these could have been listed in the top five: Babe Herman’s 1930 season, when he hit .393, a Dodgers record; any of Roy Campanella’s three MVP seasons; or Mike Piazza’s 1997 season; or Tommy Davis’ 1962 season.

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