19 seasons of Long Island Ducks baseball have come and gone. Players from all around the world and of all varieties of baseball experience have worn the Ducks uniform since the first pitch on April 28, 2000. In that time, they have played in front of nearly 8 million fans in Central Islip, and millions more around the rest of the country. Those players and coaches have also earned three Atlantic League Championships, seven Division Championships, 13 half-season Division Championships and over 1,300 victories. As the Ducks 20th Anniversary Season, presented by Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, approaches, it is time to determine which members of the Flock have stood above the rest.
The infield and outfield spots on our 20th Anniversary Team have officially been determined through the first nine weeks of voting. As we reach the halfway point of balloting for this exclusive group, we focus our attention this week on some of the heavy hitters. The Atlantic League has used a designated hitter since its inception in 1998, so it’s only fitting that we include a designated hitter spot on this squad. The trio of nominees for this position features some of the best power hitters in franchise history. All three had Major League experience by the time they joined the Flock, and each one showcased tremendous pop during their time on Long Island. Here are the three candidates for the DH role:
Of the three nominees in this week’s balloting, only Patrick Lennon has an Atlantic League championship ring. The slugger earned his in 2004, which was the third of his four seasons on Long Island. Lennon’s first came in 2002 when he burst onto the scene with 19 home runs, 61 RBIs and a .311 batting average in just 58 games, earning an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays took notice and purchased his contract in July. One year later, it was the Detroit Tigers who came calling after Lennon hit .327 with six homers and 44 RBIs in 40 games with the Flock. The former Mariners first round draft pick put together his finest season in ’04, earning another All-Star Game nod while crushing 14 home runs, driving in 88 runs and compiling a .323 batting average in 116 games. Lennon played in 64 more games during the 2005 season before electing to hang up the cleats. By the time his four seasons with the Flock were complete, the six-year Major League veteran had totaled a .314 batting average, 45 home runs, 226 RBIs, 197 runs, 335 hits, and 73 doubles in 282 games. Not to mention, he garnered two All-Star Game nods, two contract purchases by MLB clubs and a championship.
The first of two, non-related Rodriguez’s on this list came to Long Island in 2005 after playing 11 seasons in the Major Leagues with five different clubs. He made an immediate impact in helping Long Island to the playoffs, posting an Atlantic League-best .322 batting average. The lefty also ranked second in the league with a .413 on-base percentage and a .603 slugging percentage. Rodriguez led the team with 27 home runs, tying what was then a franchise single-season record, and posted team-high totals with 72 RBIs and 56 walks as well. 2006 represented another strong year for H-Rod and another postseason berth for the Flock. The Dominican Republic native played in 90 games, clubbing 12 home runs, driving in 59 runs, totaling 19 doubles, and posting a .287 batting average. Though he did not play in an Atlantic League All-Star Game, he was chosen as an Atlantic League Post-Season All-Star in 2005.
Every time he stepped up in the buildin’, everybody’s hands went UP! Ducks fans will surely remember John Rodriguez using “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled as his walk-up song with the Ducks and raising their hands in unison when he stepped up to the plate. The lefty slugger from New York City spent two strong years with the Flock in 2010 and 2011 and showcased an ability to get on base and hit the ball over the fence. Rodriguez proved to be one of the brightest spots on a 2010 team that had its ups and downs. He posted a .304 batting average and a .392 on-base percentage during the year, accumulating 10 homers, 43 RBIs, 50 runs, 100 hits and 21 doubles in 89 games. One year later, many of those numbers jumped up despite playing in seven less games. The former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder hit .313 with 18 homers, 81 RBIs, and a .398 on-base percentage. He was one of several outstanding hitters on a team that won the first half, second half and Liberty Division. In both of his seasons with the Flock, J-Rod earned an All-Star Game selection, and the slugger also claimed a Second Team Post-Season All-Star nod in 2011.
There are three big-time sluggers to choose from, but just one will earn the spot on our 20th Anniversary Team. Cast your vote throughout the week to help determine if Patrick Lennon, Henry Rodriguez or John Rodriguez will make the squad. Don’t forget: you can vote as often as you’d like over the next week, but only one player can be chosen with each ballot. The winner, along with the remainder of the 20th Anniversary Team, will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2019 season!
Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll reveal our three nominees for the utility infielder spot.