The Most Unforgettable Los Angeles Dodgers of the Modern Era
2016 saw the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS for the fourth time since 2008 — their fourth consecutive season in the playoffs. They’ve had a strong run of success, at least in the regular season, finishing under .500 only three times since 1993.
While that success hasn’t translated to any World Series trophies since 1988, the Dodgers have certainly had plenty of individually great players in their history — including some of the best pitchers to ever step on the mound in a baseball game. Here are the 30 greatest Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers of the modern era based on batting and pitching stats and awards won.
1. Kevin Brown
Signed by the Dodgers prior to the 1999 season, 34-year-old starter Kevin Brown had some really good years with the franchise. Brown pitched 872 2/3 innings over five seasons for Los Angeles, putting together a 2.83 ERA and 3.16 FIP over that period. His best season in a Dodgers uniform came in his final season with the team, when he threw 211 innings with a 2.39 ERA in 2003 at the age of 38. He moved on to pitch two more seasons with the New York Yankees before retiring.
2. Andre Ethier
Seeing this name on the list will probably surprise some people, but outfielder Andre Ethier has had a quality career in a Dodgers uniform. He’s played 11 seasons for the franchise — the entirety of his career to date — with 160 home runs, a .822 OPS, and 21.8 WAR. He missed almost the entire 2016 season, but made it back in time to make the postseason roster. He even hit a pinch-hit home run in the NLCS. Ethier is set to make $17 million in 2017, so he’s likely to return for at least one more year.
3. Burt Hooton
Burt Hooton was a starting pitcher that came up in 1971 with the Chicago Cubs and had decent success before being dealt to the Dodgers in 1975. From there, he had the best years of his career. In 10 seasons with the Dodgers, Hooton had a 3.14 ERA in 1,861 1/3 innings. He finished second in the Cy Young voting in 1978, when he had a 2.71 ERA in 32 game starts, and he won the NLCS MVP award in 1981 when he helped lead the Dodgers to a World Series victory over the New York Yankees.
4. Adrian Beltre
Third baseman Adrian Beltre may be in the Hall of Fame when it’s all said and done. If he is, it’ll be a debate as to which hat he should be wearing when he gives his speech. He came up with the Dodgers as a 19-year-old back in 1998, playing in Los Angeles for seven seasons and hitting 147 home runs with a .794 OPS. His best season in a Dodger uniform came in his final year with the team in 2004, when he finished second in the MVP voting in the National League, hitting 48 home runs and leading the Dodgers to the playoffs.
5. Bill Russell
A shortstop and outfielder throughout his career, Bill Russell is a classic example of a player to earn his way on a “greatest players” list simply by playing for a long time. He spent his entire career with the Dodgers, spanning from 1969-1986 and averaging a .648 OPS over that period. That was long enough to accumulate a 31.2 WAR, make three All-Star teams, play in four World Series, and even help win one of them. Russell would probably be a utility player at best in today’s game, but without a doubt earned his spot on the list.
6. Claude Osteen
Left-handed pitcher Claude Osteen came up with the Cincinnati Reds at 17 years old in 1957, but it wasn’t until he joined the Dodgers at 25 years old that his career really took off. He spent 10 years in Los Angeles, starting 335 games with a 3.09 ERA and 100 complete games. He made three All-Star teams with the Dodgers, and while he never won a Cy Young or an MVP, he had several very good years. In 1972, Osteen had a 2.64 ERA in 33 starts and 252 innings pitched.
7. Mike Scioscia
Another lifetime Dodger (at least during his playing career) is catcher Mike Scioscia. He took over as the regular catcher in 1984 after playing a role on the team since 1980. He was never one of the best players in the league, really, but his 1985 season was excellent. That season, he posted a 5.4 WAR with a .296 batting average and .407 OBP. His career tapered off pretty quickly and he ended up retiring in 1992 at the age of 33.
8. Don Newcombe
A right-handed starting pitcher, Don Newcombe played for the Dodgers when they were still in Brooklyn — and briefly after their move to Los Angeles. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 1949, missed the 1952 and ’53 seasons while serving in the military, and returned to win the Cy Young and MVP awards in 1956. Newcombe was an All-Star four times while playing for the Dodgers and was a big part of the 1955 team that won the World Series.
9. Maury Wills
Speedy shortstop Maury Wills lead the Dodgers in the late 1950s and into the 1960s, winning three World Series rings in his time with Los Angeles. He led the league in stolen bases six times in a row, including swiping 104 bags in his 1962 MVP season. He wasn’t much of a power hitter in his career, totaling 20 home runs in 1942 games, but he was good enough to accumulate 31.9 WAR over his 12 seasons with the Dodgers.
10. Johnny Podres
Pitching at about the same time as Newcombe, left-hander Johnny Podres made an excellent complement in the rotation for the previously mentioned right-hander. Just like Newcombe, Podres missed time in his career due to military service, but still found time to win three World Series, including winning a World Series MVP award in 1955. He spent 13 seasons with the Dodgers in total, with a 3.66 ERA in 2,029 1/3 innings over 310 starts. Podres moved on to play for the Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres to finish out his career.
11. Bob Welch
Starting pitcher Bob Welch is yet another member of that 1980 World Series championship team, pitching 10 seasons for the Dodgers from the late 1970s through the 1980s. In his Dodgers career, Welch threw 1820 2/3 innings with a 3.14 ERA. His best season came in 1983, when he had a 2.65 ERA in 204 innings pitched. Interestingly, Welch moved on to play for the Oakland A’s in 1988 — facing off against the Dodgers in the ’88 World Series, and losing the series to his former team.
12. Carl Furillo
Carl Furillo, an outfielder, is another lifetime Dodger. He started with the Brooklyn Dodgers back in 1946 and moved with the team out to Los Angeles prior to the 1958 season. He only made two All-Star teams in his career and was never an MVP or a serious MVP candidate, for that matter. Furillo was still a quality player, hitting for a .813 career OPS and playing 15 seasons in a Dodgers uniform. That’s good enough for him to rise this high on the list.
13. Davey Lopes
Second baseman Davey Lopes didn’t really become a regular for the Dodgers until he was already 28 years old, but he turned out to be a late bloomer. From the ages of 33-36, Lopes made four consecutive All-Star teams and won a Gold Glove in 1978. He led the league in stolen bases twice, stealing 77 in 1975 and 63 in 1976. In his 10 seasons with the Dodgers, Lopes had 32.1 WAR and made four appearances in the World Series — winning it in 1981.
14. Pedro Guerrero
First baseman and outfielder Pedro Guerrero was a power hitter for the Dodgers in the 1980s, hitting 171 homers in his 11 years in Los Angeles. His best season came in 1985, when he hit .320 and led the league in both OBP and SLG%. He also had 33 home runs that year and made the All-Star team, the latter of which he accomplished four times while in Los Angeles. He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle of the 1988 season, missing out on winning the World Series with that Dodgers team.
15. Jim Gilliam
Second baseman Jim Gilliam showed up on the scene in 1953, prompting the Dodgers to move Jackie Robinson to the outfield. Gilliam won the Rookie of the Year award that season, hitting .278 with a .383 OBP and 21 stolen bases that year. He moved out to Los Angeles with the team and played with the franchise until his retirement in 1966, making two All-Star teams and winning a World Series in 1955. In his 14 seasons with the Dodgers, Gilliam had 40.7 WAR in total.
16. Mike Piazza
Catcher Mike Piazza is best remember for his time with the New York Mets, but the early part of career came with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Piazza won the Rookie of the Year award in 1993, posting a .932 OPS for Los Angeles. He was an MVP caliber player for the first several years of his career, hitting .331 in seven years with the Dodgers. His best season with Los Angeles was also his last full year in a Dodger uniform, hitting .362/.431/.638 with 40 home runs in 1997.
17. Orel Hershiser
Starting pitcher Orel Hershiser is a Dodgers legend, in large part because of his performance in the ’88 championship season. He won the National League Cy Young Award that season, with a 2.26 ERA in 267 innings with 15 complete games and eight shutouts. He won both the NLCS MVP and the World Series MVP awards, allowing just five earned runs in 42 2/3 innings in the postseason. Hershiser spent 13 seasons in a Dodgers uniform, finishing with a 3.12 ERA in 2,180 2/3 innings.
18. Fernando Valenzuela
Fernando Valenzuela was a left-handed pitcher that came up at the age of 19 with the Dodgers back in 1980. He won the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards in 1981, making his first All-Star team and posting a 2.48 ERA with 11 complete games and eight shutouts in 192 1/3 innings. He won the World Series with the Dodgers that year, and then again in 1988 — even though he was injured and wasn’t able to pitch in the postseason. In total, Valenzuela spent 11 seasons in a Dodgers uniform.
19. Steve Garvey
Originally called up as a third baseman, Steve Garvey found his place with the Dodgers in the 1970s and 1980s by moving to first base. Originally called up in 1969, he didn’t become an everyday player until 1974. He made the first of 10 All-Star teams that year — eight of those with the Dodgers. Garvey won the National League MVP award in ’74, as well as the first of four consecutive Gold Gloves. He played in the World Series with the Dodgers four times, winning it in 1981.
20. Roy Campanella
Catcher Roy Campanella had a short, but great career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He came into the league in 1948, playing in 83 games for the Dodgers that season. He was a regular starter the next year, making the first of eight consecutive All-Star teams in a Dodger uniform. In his career, he won three National League MVP awards, hit for a .860 OPS, and won a World Series in 1955. He retired in 1957 at just 35 years old, playing 10 seasons in total with the Dodgers.
21. Gil Hodges
A teammate of Campanella’s that arrived right around the same time was first baseman Gil Hodges, who earned his starting job with the Dodgers in 1948. He really developed as a hitter the following season, and from 1949-1959 he would hit 333 home runs and a .877 OPS. In total, Hodges spent 16 seasons with the Dodgers, accumulating 44.4 WAR in that time. He was a part of two World Series teams, winning one in Brooklyn in 1955 and again in Los Angeles in 1959.
22. Willie Davis
Dodgers centerfielder Willie Davis was a very good player for a very long time in Los Angeles, making two All-Star teams and winning the World Series in 1963 and 1965. The speedster led the National League in triples twice and stole 398 bases in his career — with 335 of them coming during his time with the Dodgers. His defense is a big part of what made Davis a good player, helping him accumulate 54.4 WAR in his 14 seasons with the Dodgers.
23. Ron Cey
Ron Cey, a third baseman that was known as “The Penguin” because of his build, played 12 seasons for the Dodgers in the 1970s and 1980s. He made six consecutive All-Star teams for the Dodgers from 1974-1979 and he clubbed 228 home runs in his time in a Dodgers uniform. Cey never finished higher than eighth in the regular season MVP voting, but he was the MVP of the 1981 World Series. He moved on to play a few seasons with the Cubs in the twilight of his career.
24. Clayton Kershaw
Left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw is already one of the best pitchers in the history of the game, and he’s only 28 years old. He’s led the National League in ERA four times, and might have done it a fifth time in 2016, had he been healthy and pitched enough games. He’s also made the last six straight All-Star teams. Kershaw has three Cy Young Awards and an MVP award, and pitched for the Dodgers in the NLCS against the Cubs this year.
25. Don Sutton
Don Sutton makes this list in large part due to longevity, but he was also a really great pitcher in his own right. He made just four All-Star teams in his career, finishing in the top five in Cy Young Award voting five times. Pitching 16 seasons with the Dodgers, Sutton put together a 3.09 ERA in 3,816 1/3 innings with 50.7 WAR. He pitched for Los Angeles from the age of 21 in 1966 all the way until 1980, signing with the Houston Astros in 1981. Sutton pitched 10 more seasons, returning to make 16 starts in his final season of 1988 for the Dodgers and being a part of their World Series winning team.
26. Sandy Koufax
Speaking of great left-handed starting pitchers, there are few better than Sandy Koufax. His career was great, albeit fairly brief. He was merely a decent player in the first half of his career, really taking off with the Dodgers at the age of 26. Leading the National League in ERA each of the last five seasons of his career, Koufax averaged a 1.95 ERA over 1,377 innings. He won three Cy Young Awards and an MVP during that time, winning three World Series rings and two World Series MVPs before retiring at just 30 years old.
27. Don Drysdale
Don Drysdale, a right-handed ace that pitched on many of the same teams as Koufax, also retired relatively early. He only won one Cy Young Award in his 14 year career, in large part because Koufax was hogging them all during Drysdale’s greatest seasons. His best season came in 1964 when he had a 2.18 ERA in 321 1/3 innings, and overall he accumulated 61.2 WAR with the Dodgers. He won three World Series rings for the Dodgers and retired at just 32 years old.
28. Pee Wee Reese
Shortstop Pee Wee Reese played with the Brooklyn Dodgers for three seasons before taking three years off for military service in World War II. He returned to the field in 1946 and picked right up where he left off, making the next nine consecutive All-Star teams and finishing in the top 10 in MVP voting eight times. In 16 years with the Dodgers, Reese had a .743 OPS and 66.4 WAR, making his name as an outstanding defensive player more than as a great hitter.
29. Jackie Robinson
Best known for having broken the color barrier, Jackie Robinson is one of the most revered and iconic players in baseball history. He came up with Brooklyn in 1947 when he was already 28 years old, hitting .297 with a .383 OBP and winning the Rookie of the Year award that season. He won his only MVP award in 1949, making the first of six consecutive All-Star teams. Jackie won the World Series with the Dodgers in 1955 and retired from the game in 1956 at 37 years old. Major League Baseball honored him by universally retiring his number 42 jersey.
30. Duke Snider
Outfielder Duke Snider arrived on the scene about the same time as Jackie Robinson, developing into a power-hitter that would lead the Dodgers offensively in most categories. From 1949-1957, Snider hit 311 home runs — an average of 35 per season. He also had a .955 OPS during those same nine seasons, and overall in his 16-year Dodgers career accumulated 65.8 WAR. Snider was never an MVP winner, but he did finish in the top 10 in voting six times.
All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com.