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Ken Landreaux: Speedy CF Helped LA to 3 Postseasons

I was genuinely happy when the Dodgers acquired Ken Landreaux in a trade with the Twins for Mickey Hatcher, who would return to play for the 88 team, and two minor leaguers. He was a solid defender who could steal some bags and hammer an occasional homer.

Ken would end up playing 7 years in Los Angeles. Landreaux was born in LA on December 22, 1954. Landreaux went to Dominguez high. When he graduated, he was selected by the Houston Astros in the 8th round of the 1973 draft.

He chose to go to Arizona State instead and played on the 75 and 76 teams which went to the college World Series. His teammates included future major leaguers, Floyd Bannister, Bob Horner and Chris Bando. Landreaux was chosen by the Angels in the first round of the 1976 draft.

He played 21 games at AA El Paso of the Texas League and hit .220. In 77, he started the year at El Paso and put up a .354/16/59 line in 62 games. Promoted to AAA Salt Lake, in 62 games he was .359/11/57 for an overall minor league total of .357/27/116.

That earned him a September promotion to the Angels. In his first start on September 11th, he had three outfield assists against the White Sox. In 23 games he hit .250.

In 1978, he was in 93 games hitting .223 with 5 homers and 23 runs driven in. That winter he was part of a blockbuster trade with the Twins that sent him, Dave Engel, Paul Hartzell and Brad Havens to the Twins for Rod Carew.

In 1979, he had a 31 game hitting streak, the longest in the AL since Dom DiMaggio’s 34 game streak in 1949. He still holds the record for the longest streak in Twins history. He hit .305 with 15 homers and 83 RBI’s.

He tailed off some in 1980. Hitting .281 with 7 homers and 62 driven in. He only played in 129 games as compared to 151 the prior year.

On March 30th, 1981, he was traded to the Dodgers for Mickey Hatcher, Kelly Snider and Matt Reeves. Ken would play in 99 of the Dodgers games that strike shortened season. He hit .251 with 7 homers and 41 RBI’s. Although he did not hit well in the playoffs, he played in 15 games. He only managed 6 hits, 3 of which were doubles.

He improved to .284/7/50 in 82. But the Dodgers fell short of making a playoff berth. His BA fell to .281 in 83, but his power numbers improved significantly to 17 homers and 55 driven in. He stole 30 bases, marking the second year of 30 or more. He played in 141 games. LA made the playoffs, but were beaten in the NLCS by the Phillies in four games. Landreaux again did not hit well.

He and most of the Dodgers had a down year in 84. The Dodgers were under .500 and fell to fourth place. Landreaux dropped to a .251 average and had 11 homers and 47 driven in.

He and the Dodgers fared much better in 1985. Ken would rebound to hit .268/12/50. The Dodgers won the West, but then fell to the Cardinals in five games in the NLCS. Landreaux hit well in the series going 7-18 with three doubles and a pair driven in. But Jack Clark ended their pennant aspirations with his mammoth homer at Dodger Stadium.

Over the next two seasons, Landreaux was basically a fourth outfielder for the Dodgers. He played 103 games in 86, and 115 in 87. He hit 10 total homers those last two years. After a .203/6/23 showing in 87, the Dodgers granted him free agency.

He caught on with the Orioles AAA team and hit .272. In 1989, he was with the Dodgers AAA team in Albuquerque, he hit .243 in 56 games and was released. He then went to Mexico for the rest of 89 and then retired at the age of 34.

After his playing days were over, He had substance abuse problems. After he got sober, he was a counselor at Bellwood Health Center in Bellflower.

He and Darrell Jackson, a former teammate, formed the Athletic Connection Team to help athletes with substance abuse problems.

Landreaux now spends time teaching young players at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton. He returned to Arizona State in 2012 and earned his Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree in 2014.

I saw Ken play several times while he was in LA. I met him by the batting cage behind the bullpen in left field in 1981. We had a nice conversation for about 5 minutes. He signed my ball for me the night I sang the Anthem. Nice guy, very good ball player.

 

 

 

 

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Jeff Dominique

Baseball America published their Top 30 Prospects for every team. Here is the Dodgers Top 30. There are some surprises. I will do some of my commentary in a very near future post.

1.    Dalton Rushing – C
2.    Gavin Stone – RHP
3.    Andy Pages – OF
4.    Nick Frasso – RHP
5.    Josue De Paula – OF
6.    Kyle Hurt – RHP
7.    River Ryan – RHP
8.    Diego Cartaya – C
9.    Jackson Ferris – LHP
10. Maddux Bruns – LHP
11. Landon Knack – RHP
12. Thayron Liranzo – C
13. Justin Wrobleski – LHP
14. Kendall George – CF
15. Ronan Kopp – LHP
16. Trey Sweeney – SS
17. Payton Martin – RHP
18. Joendry Vargas – SS
19. Emil Morales – SS
20. Austin Gauthier – Utility
21. Yeiner Fernandez – C/2B
22. Gus Varland – RHP
23. Ben Casparius – RHP
24. José Ramos – OF
25. Alex Freeland – SS/3B
26. Jake Gelof – 3B
27. Peter Heubeck – RHP
28. Samuel Muñoz – OF
29. John Rooney – LHP
30. Chris Newell – OF

Duke Not Snider

I’m always curious about how they compute these lists.
How much does the proximity to the majors count? How much does “upside” count? (My guess is the Dodgers value Jeondry Vargas much more that Trey Sweeney, but Sweeney is the higher rated SS here.)
It’s beenreported that Pages is unlikely to reach the majors this season. Unfortunate if true.
You can see the two waves of pitching prospects here. The first wave is those who have reached Tulsa and higher.
Then there’s the younger wave–Ferris, Bruns, Kopp, Martin, Heubeck..

Mark Timmons

Generally, proximity to MLB is not given much weight. This is a “talent evaluation,” with ceiling and floor both under consideration.

BA also published players “with less fanfare than the Top 30 who could surprise in 2024. They picked one for each team. For the Dodgers, this was their pick:

Alexander Albertus, 3B/2B

Albertus hit .307/.469/.420 in the complex leagues after signing out of Aruba and is a frequent target of opposing teams in trade discussions. He has a good understanding of the strike zone, advanced contact skills for his age and is a smart, cerebral player who gets the most out of his ability. His future defensive home is in question, but his promising offensive skill set makes for a strong foundation.

Last edited 5 months ago by Mark Timmons
Badger

“How much does proximity to the majors count?”

That has always been my first question. Well that, and the likelihood this prospect will make it at all.

“Generally, proximity to MLB is not given much weight. This is a talent evaluation”.

I’m sure you’re right, but not the answer I would give. By definition: “prospect – an apparent probability of advancement, success, profit, etc

Talent. Without it there will be no promotions. But, obviously it’s not just about talent. Looking at the Dodgers draft history, both local and international, it would appear to me they need to get better at identifying and weeding out the zipperheads.

I admit that I don’t pay much attention to those prospects outside the Top 10. Those 10 are the players that must be closest to helping the team in the immediate future, either through promotion, which is likely only one or two per year, or trade. I rely on intelligent researchers, like Jeff, to keep me informed on depth.

Looking at that list the only surprise to me is Sweeney not being closer to that Top 10.

So, who in that group plays this year, either with the Dodgers or somewhere else?

Cassidy

The guy I really like is Payton Martin. Thought he would be ranked higher.

Dionysus

#17 is a surprise based on the hype. But it’s best to view it as a byproduct of a strong system. If he proves it year he’ll rocket up.

Mark Timmons

Some Dodgers prospects from 11 -30 would be in other teams’ TOP TENS. The problem is that due to their draft position, the Dodgers are not positioned to get many superstars. However, they have a ton of supporting talent.

Badger

Did an updated system ranking accompany this publication?

Bumsrap

Superstars, such as Trout or Piazza?

Bluto

Yes to all superstars. It’s really hard. Especially if you don’t have a 1/1 pick to get the likes of Rutschman, Cole or Harper.

Last edited 5 months ago by Bluto
Dionysus

Nice, thanks for this. Add him to the list of talented teenagers.

Bluto

They are pretty transparent about how the lists are built. Proximity to majors not as important as skills, and they incorporate the sentiments of scouts and organizations (and rival orgs)

Jeff Dominique

Everyone of the publications lists of prospects are based on what are perceived as Future Values based on the 20-80 grading scale. Of course it is all subjective to those publications standards. 20 being lowest and 80 being highest. Position players – hit, power, run, field, arm, and overall. Generally power is game power, but some also include raw power (and it is stated which is which). Pitchers are graded for each of their pitches, control, and overall. As Bluto mentioned, every publication has their organizational contacts and scouting contacts that they tap into. FanGraphs has a little twist that they have a present and future value grade for their skills.

I generally do a review of the grading scale and what it means once all of the publications top lists are published and I have updated my Top Prospect section above.

MLB Pipeline drops their top 100 on MLB Network on Friday at 4:00 PM PT.

The individual teams are updated shortly thereafter.

Dionysus

Thanks, Jeff. Much appreciated.

Cassidy

Thanks Bear. I’m glad Landreaux turned his life around. It’s always most interesting to me what ball players do after they retire. He had that one great year for the Twins and I thought he would really shine in LA. Didn’t happen but he had a nice career.

Oldbear48

I wish Steve Howe could have done the same. But he had issues right up until he died. Bob Welch finally beat his demons too. Both died too young.

OhioDodger

Darn shame what happened to Steve Howe. He was one of my favorite players at the time.

Dionysus

All right, OldBear, you got me. I loved Kenny Landreaux. I don’t care what the numbers said or how big he was. I always wanted him at bat. Great early memories for me.

Bobby

In 1986 or 1987, when Tim Raines of Montreal was a free agent, and wanted to sign with LA, GM Fred Claire stated something like “why would we need Tim Raines when we have Ken Landreaux”?

Even high school me who had just gotten into baseball in1983 couldn’t believe that ridiculous comment/question. Horrible non-move.

Mark Timmons

Fred Claire was a decent writer…

Kenny Landreaux and Devon White seemed to “glide” – they did not run!

Last edited 5 months ago by Mark Timmons
Badger

Who will have the better career, Landreaux or Outman?

Outman. By a mile.

dodgerpatch

Joe DiMaggio was described similarly … I think I saw that in the Ken Burns series.

I wonder if Claire’s comment was more of a deflection. I think 1986 was still in the thick of baseball ownership’s collusion scheme. Owners weren’t signing free agents to big contracts. I just glanced at Raines’ career page. He wound up staying with the Expos, and probably missed out on a larger payday as a result.

This … and this might also be after his drug scandal, where it was even alleged that he did his head first slides when stealing bases because he didn’t want to damage the little baggies of coke he kept in his back pocket.
He may have been considered a little bit of a signing risk with a past drug problem. The experience with Steve Howe was probably still fresh on Claire’s mind.

Last edited 5 months ago by dodgerpatch
Oldbear48

Bobby, he probably said that because Raines at that point in time was one of those who was using cocaine and he had testified at the trials in 1985. More about the image the Dodgers wanted to present that a fault with the player. 87 was Landreaux’s last season. Raines did not want to be caught with cocaine in his locker, so he would put it in his back pocket and slide headfirst. He was a free agent in Jan of 87, but no one would sign him. He finally got approval to re-sign with the Expos. Fans can criticize all they like, but they rarely know the real reasons why a team will or will not sign a player. In 1987, the Dodgers regular centerfielder was John Shelby. He would hold that position for three years. And he was part of the 88 Championship team. Raines was mostly a left fielder in his career. He played more than 1900 games there as compared to 165 in center. Dodgers left fielder in 1987? Pedro Guerrero. Now who would you have rather had in left???

Last edited 5 months ago by Oldbear48
OhioDodger

Hey Bear. Great write up on Landreaux. One question. Where did he usually bat in the lineup?

Oldbear48

Most of his at bats came hitting second or third. He had 1761 at bats in the two hole and 1147 at #3. His BA in the two hole was .273, in the three, .277. Oddly, he was consistently in the .270’s in 2-5. Leadoff, 6th or 7th, he was not even at .240.

OhioDodger

Thanks Bear.

Bluto

Among all the changes in modern baseball the “theory” behind lineups is one that I think is under-analyzed and deserves a good article.

Anthony H

Thanks Bear, Landreaux was a favorite of mine and I believe he batted 3rd a lot of the time.

OhioDodger

Thanks Anthony.

Oldbear48

In 81 he hit second in 93 games. 82, 105 games, 83, he mostly hit second or fifth. 84 and 85, he hit third the most. His last two years a majority of his at bats came in the 2 hole. That is straight from Baseball Reference checking the splits for each season. As a Dodger, he was used in the 2 hole more than any other spot in the order and the same thing for his career.

Last edited 5 months ago by Oldbear48
dodgerpatch

My earliest of baseball imprinting was watching him catch the final out of the 81 World Series. I was not really that much of a baseball fan before that, but I have some vivid memories of that post season, and I was hooked after that.

Mark Timmons

I remember…

Oldbear48

And the pitcher was……….. Steve Howe.

dodgerpatch

I don’t remember that.

I do remember Steinbrenner issuing a statement apologizing for the play of his players … DURING THE GAME, LOL! I remember Tommy John sitting in the dugout being upset because he was pulled.

I have somewhat vague memories, too, of fans in the upper deck tossing torn up pieces of paper as confetti when the Dodgers clinched the division in that win over the Astros.

I remember hearing about this young Mexican kid named Fernando being on some sort of special streak to start the year.

I was in 5th grade.

The next year I was religiously looking at box scores in the last page of the sports section of the LA Times and reading Jim Murray columns.

Jeff Dominique

Discussions are very close to Joc signing with Arizona. Arizona knows that Joc hits RHP very well, and looked at the RHP in the NL West. Another example of Mike Hazen looking at his team, and knowing their financial limitations, making a decision that helps the team the most. Most had JDM going to Arizona, but Hazen loves the Lefty bat against the RHP in the NL West. If Joc does sign, I think it will be an excellent signing for Arizona, just like I thought the power RH hitting RH Teoscar Hernandez was an excellent choice for the Dodgers. They fill a perceived weakness on the roster.

Cassidy

Joc is gonna get a lot of AB’s against the Dodgers next year and in Joctober! Should be fun

Last edited 5 months ago by Cassidy
Singing the Blue

I would think that with the outfielders Az already has and with Joc’s relative weakness in playing there, he’ll get most all of his AB’s in the DH spot.

As you pointed out, Jeff, the abundance of righty starters in the division steered them to a lefty bat, but that means they won’t be singing JDM, JT or Soler.

In the long run, I think I’d rather have to face Joc than JT or JDM on a regular basis.

Jeff Dominique

Yes, I agree. I would much rather face Joc than JDM or JT. I would not have been so concerned with Soler.

Singing the Blue

I’m requesting indefinite time to edit any comment I make. Either that or please tell me how the D’backs could SING those three guys, as I stated in my comment above.

Cassidy

You’ve got singing in your brain but of Cass they could sing those guys!

Last edited 5 months ago by Cassidy
Jorge Valenzuela

Ken Landreaux was one of my favorite players, I remember a game in which he hit 5-5 and I was happy, listening to Jaime Jarrin on the radio!

Dionysus

Damn, left the team right before they won it in 1988. Poor dude.

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