The 15 greatest L.A. Dodgers of all time, No. 8: Fernando Valenzuela
Continuing our countdown of the greatest L.A. Dodgers of all time, as chosen by our readers:
No. 8: Fernando Valenzuela (79 first-place votes, 29,693 points)
Before Mannywood, before Nomomania, there was the original and the best: Fernandomania.
After an injury to Jerry Reuss prevented him from starting the Dodgers' 1981 season opener, the Dodgers turned to 20-year-old rookie Fernando Valenzuela. He pitched a shutout, and Fernandomania was off and running. He began the season 8-0 with five shutouts, and was the runaway winner of the rookie of the year and Cy Young Awards after finishing 13-7 with a 2.48 earned-run average.
Valenzuela's last great season with the Dodgers was in 1986, when he went 21-11 with a 3.14 ERA. In that year's All-Star game, he tied a record by striking out five consecutive batters.
Valenzuela's last great moment with the team came on June 29, 1990, when he pitched his first and only no-hitter, against the St. Louis Cardinals. He was released by the Dodgers during spring training in 1991.
On the all-time Dodgers list, Valenzuela is fifth in wins (141), fourth in strikeouts (1,759), fourth in losses (116), ninth in games (331), fourth in complete games (107), fourth in innings pitched (2,348.2), second in walks (915) and fifth in shutouts (29).
-- Houston Mitchell
No. 9: Mike Piazza
No. 10: Don Sutton
No. 11: Walter Alston
No. 12: Ron Cey
No. 13: Walter O'Malley
No. 14: Tommy Davis
No. 15: Kirk Gibson
Photo: Fernando Valenzuela in the middle of his signature windup. Credit: AP.