Dodgers’ All-Time Strikeout Leaders
The Dodgers began play in Brooklyn in 1884, when they were known as the Atlantics. They went through several name changes—Grays, Bridegrooms, Grooms, Superbas and Robins, and even Dodgers in 1911 and 1912 before becoming the Dodgers for good in 1932. Then the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958, where they remain today. The Dodgers are one of baseball’s most storied franchises, with six championships as the Dodgers and a few more pennants under the other names. And they have always had stellar pitching. Here is a list of all-time strikeout leaders for the Dodgers’ franchise:
Don Sutton (2696)—Don Sutton pitched for the Dodgers for most of his career, 16 seasons in all, from 1966 to 1980, and again in 1988 before retiring. Sutton is a Hall of Famer with 324 career wins, and he ranks first in Dodgers’ history with 2696 strikeouts while wearing their uniform (3574 total, ranking seventh in baseball history). Sutton had a career high 217 strikeouts in 1969, but his best overall season was 1972, when he went 19-9 with a career best 2.08 ERA and 207 strikeouts.
Don Drysdale (2486)—Don Drysdale pitched for the Dodgers his entire career, beginning in Brooklyn in 1956, and continuing in Los Angeles until 1969. Drysdale ranks second in franchise history with 2486 strikeouts, a remarkable feat considering he only pitched for 14 seasons. Drysdale had a career high 251 strikeouts in 1963, but his best season by far was when he won the NL Cy Young in 1962. That year, Drysdale went 25-9 with a 2.83 earned run average and 232 K’s, which led the National League.
Sandy Koufax (2396)—Sandy Koufax is considered by many to be one of the greatest lefties to ever play the game. He only played 12 seasons, all with the Dodgers, from 1955 to 1966, and he ranks third in team history with 2396 strikeouts. What is even more remarkable was how dominant Koufax became late in his career—winning 25 games in 1963, 19 in 1964, 26 in 1965 and 27 in 1966. Koufax won the NL Cy Young three times, and his best overall season was 1965. That year, he went 26-8 with a 2.04 ERA and career high 382 strikeouts in just 335 innings.
Dazzy Vance (1918)—Dazzy Vance pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers most of his career, from 1922 to 1932 and again in 1935. He ranks fourth in the team’s history with 1918 strikeouts and Vance’s best season was with Brooklyn in 1924. That year, he went 28-6 with a 2.16 earned run average and 262 strikeouts—with all three categories leading the National League to earn Vance the MVP Award.
Fernando Valenzuela (1759)—Fernando Valenzuela was a Mexican-born, screwball-throwing phenomenon and pitched most of his career with the Dodgers, from 1980 to 1990. He ranks fifth in Dodgers’ history with 1759 strikeouts, and though he won the NL Cy Young in the strike-shortened 1981 season, Fernando’s best season was 1986. That year, he went 21-11 with a 3.14 ERA and career high 242 strikeouts.
Orel Hershiser (1456)—Orel Hershiser pitched for the Dodgers most of his career, from 1983 to 1994, and he ranks sixth in franchise history with 1456 strikeouts. Perhaps most remarkable is Hershiser’s 59 inning scoreless streak in 1988, when he won the NL Cy Young and led the Dodgers to a championship. Hershiser had a career high 190 K’s in 1987, but 1988 was his best overall season—when he went 23-8 with a 2.26 ERA and 178 strkeouts.
Johnny Podres (1331)—Johnny Podres began his career in Brooklyn in 1953 and pitched for the Dodgers until 1966. Podres ranks seventh in Dodgers’ history with 1331 strikeouts, and he had a career high of 178 K’s in 1962. But Podres’ best season was in 1961, when he went 18-5 with a 3.74 earned run average and 124 strikeouts.
Ramon Martinez (1314)—Ramon Martinez is Pedro’s brother, and probably not as well known. But Ramon, who pitched in Los Angeles from 1988 to 1998, ranks eighth in team history with 1314 strikeouts. He finished second in the NL Cy Young voting in 1990, his best season, by going 20-6 with a 2.92 ERA and career high 223 strikeouts. Martinez also had 12 complete games that season to lead the National League.
Bob Welch (1292)—Bob Welch pitched for the Dodgers most of his career, from 1978 to 1987, and ranks ninth in the team’s history with 1292 strikeouts. And though Welch won the AL Cy Young with Oakland in 1990 by going 27-6, his best season for the Dodgers wasn’t too shabby either. That was in 1987, when Welch went 15-9 with a 3.22 ERA and career high 196 strikeouts.
Nap Rucker (1217)—Nap Rucker pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers his entire career, from 1907 to 1916, and he ranks tenth in franchise history with 1217 strikeouts. Rucker had a career best 201 strikeouts in 1909, but his best season was arguably 1911. That year, Rucker went 22-18 with a 2.71 earned run average and 190 K’s.