Top 5 Most Dominant Pitching Seasons In Dodger History
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Here are the top-five most dominant pitching seasons by a Dodger of all time.
5. Clayton Kershaw, 2014
Kershaw won the National League Cy Young Award as well as the NL's Most Valuable Player Award during his impressive 2014 campaign, as he compiled a major league leading 21 wins.
Kershaw also only lost a meager three games on his way to one of the best seasons for a pitcher in Dodgers history. His 1.77 ERA, .875 Winning Percentage, .857 WHIP, 6 Complete Games and 10.8 strikeout to walk ratio all led the National League.
Kershaw became the 10th player in the history of the MLB to win both the MVP and Cy Young Award in the same season, joining Sandy Koufax and Don Newcombe as the only Dodger pitchers to complete that feat.
Kershaw struck out 239 batters and walked just 31 in 198 1/3 innings pitched during the 2014 season.
4. Fernando Valenzuela, 1986
Fernando-Mania began in 1981 when the 20-year old phenom led the Dodgers as they won the World Series, while Valenzuela himself took home the NL Rookie of the Year Award and the NL Cy Young Award.
However, his best season, statistically, came in 1986, when he won an NL-leading 21 games and threw an amazing 20 Complete Games. Fernando had three shutouts in 269 1/2 innings pitched, while he struck out a career-high 242 batters while walking 85.
Valenzuela won 2 World Series titles with the Dodgers, and is one of the best left-handers to pitch for the Dodgers of all-time.
3. Don Newcombe, 1956
Don Newcombe won 27 games in 1956 for the Dodgers while only losing seven. His ERA was an impressive 3.06 which ranked fourth in the NL, while his .989 WHIP ranked first in the senior circuit.
Newcombe started 36 games, and pitched 268 innings, both good for 4th in the NL that year.
When the Cy Young Award was created in 1956, Newcombe was named the Award's first-ever winner for his remarkable season he had compiled. Newcombe won the World Series with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955, but pitched the best season of his career a year later, in 1956.
Newcombe was a four-time All-Star and he won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1949.
2. Don Drysdale, 1962
Drysdale was an imposing figure on the mound, standing at 6-foot-5, and terrified hitters with his fastball. He would throw over 90 mph, which in 1962 was not even as close to as common as it is today.
Drysdale won an NL-leading 25 games on his way to winning the 1962 Cy Young Award. He only tallied 9 losses in an NL-leading 41 games started and 314 1/3 innings pitched. "Big D" was a 9-time All-Star, three-time World Series Champion, and led the MLB in strikeouts three separate times during his career.
He also set a record for the most batters hit by pitch of all time, striking 154 batters during his 14-year career. He led the league in HBP five different seasons, so needless to say he was not afraid to challenge hitters inside. Drysdale finished his Hall of Fame career with 209 wins, a 2.95 career ERA and 2,486 strikeouts in 14 seasons.
1. Sandy Koufax, 1966
Koufax's 1963, 1965, and 1966 seasons could all have been on this list. However, 1966 was his most impressive season because just one-year earlier, he was told his arm could not take the stress of pitching another season, when he was diagnosed with severe arthritis in this throwing arm.
Koufax did not listen to the team doctor's advice, as he would pitch every four days for the Dodgers during the 1966 season, and put together a 27-9 record. He also posted an absurd 1.73 ERA that season, in 323 innings pitched and 41 games started. He went on to strike out 317 batters, and led the Dodgers to the World Series.
Koufax won the World Series with the Dodgers in 1963 when he went 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA, and in 1965 when he went 26-8 with a 2.04 ERA. He led the NL with 27 complete games in both the 1965 and 1966 season.
He struck out over 300 batters three separate occasions during his injury-shortened career, and was selected to seven All-Star teams in his 12 big league seasons.
He won the Cy Young in 1963, 1965, and his last season, in 1966. He won the pitching triple crown in each of those three seasons as well (Led NL in Wins, ERA, and K).
Koufax threw four no-hitters and one perfect game in 1965, and was named to the MLB's All-Century team.
He led the Dodgers to two World Series championships in 1963 and 1965, winning the World Series MVP Award in both years as well. After the Dodgers lost the World Series in 1966, he announced his retirement due to his arm ailments.
His 1963, 1965, and 1966 seasons still remain some of the best pitching performances by a Dodger of all-time. He finished his career with a record of 165-87, with a career 2.76 ERA and a remarkable 2,396 strikeouts in just 12 seasons.
HONORABLE MENTION: Orel Hershiser, 1988
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