Dodgers History: Rookies of the Year in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Dodgers have dominated the Rookie of the Year award (ROY), producing some of the most impressive young talents in the league. Since the award’s inception in 1947, the Dodgers have had 18 players win the title, 14 while in Los Angeles, more than any other team in MLB history.

Some might say having ROY in any given year is like winning a lottery jackpot. However, the Dodgers have consistently demonstrated their ability to identify and cultivate top prospects, creating a pipeline of talent that has helped them maintain their position as one of the strongest teams in the league.

The Dodgers’ recent string of winners is a testament to their commitment to player development and the effectiveness of their farm system. The team’s ability to nurture young talent has been crucial to its success, as many of these players have become key contributors to the team’s winning efforts.

Here’s a list of Dodgers to win the award since they moved to Los Angeles.

1. Frank Howard, 1960

In his remarkable debut season, Frank Howard made history as the first Los Angeles Dodgers player to be honored with the prestigious Rookie of the Year award. Joining the Dodgers’ roster in May 1960 after receiving a call-up from the minor leagues, Howard quickly became a valuable addition to the team. Howard played in 117 games and batted .268 with a .464 slugging percentage while recording 15 doubles, 23 home runs, and 77 RBIs during his rookie season.

2. Jim Lefebvre, 1965

Jim Lefebvre’s rookie season in 1965 with the Los Angeles Dodgers was a success, as he demonstrated his impressive hitting abilities. He recorded a .250 batting average, a .337 on-base percentage, and a .369 slugging percentage, which included 21 doubles, four triples, 12 home runs, and 69 RBI. His 12 home runs tied for the team lead that year, showcasing his power and contribution to the team’s success. As a result of his outstanding performance, Lefebvre was awarded the Rookie of the Year award for the National League.

3. Ted Sizemore, 1969

Three years after being drafted by the Dodgers in the 15th round, Ted Sizemore made his mark in the Major Leagues. In his award-winning rookie campaign, Sizemore hit .271/.328/.342 with 20 doubles, five triples, four home runs, and 46 RBIs while demonstrating versatility by playing both second base and shortstop.

4. Rick Sutcliffe, 1979

In his first full MLB season, right-handed pitcher Rick Sutcliffe began a remarkable streak for the Dodgers, where the team saw three consecutive years of Rookie of the Year winners. Sutcliffe posted a 17-10 record with a 3.46 ERA in 39 games, including 30 starts.

5. Steve Howe, 1980

Steve Howe, the Dodgers’ first-round pick in the 1979 Draft, quickly impacted the Major Leagues. In his rookie season, Howe appeared in 59 games, recorded 17 saves, and posted a 2.66 ERA, earning the Rookie of the Year award in 1980. Unfortunately, Howe’s career was also marked by numerous suspensions for drug use. Despite his talent on the field, his off-field issues ultimately led to his retirement from the sport. Howe passed away in 2006 at 48 due to injuries sustained in a car accident.

6. Fernando Valenzuela, 1981

In 1981, Fernando Valenzuela took the baseball world by storm with his remarkable performance during the first half of the season. He became an instant sensation and was dubbed “Fernandomania” by the media and fans alike. Valenzuela started the season with eight consecutive complete games, five of which were shutouts, setting an unprecedented record that still stands today. His outstanding performance on the field led to his status as a cultural icon and a symbol of hope for the Mexican-American community.

Although the 1981 season was cut short by a players’ strike, Valenzuela’s statistics for the season were still impressive. He finished the year with a 13-7 record, a 2.48 ERA, 11 complete games, and eight shutouts in just 25 starts. These numbers earned him the Cy Young Award, making him the first rookie to win the award since 1976.

7. Steve Sax, 1982

Steve Sax took over as the Dodgers’ starting second baseman in 1982 and hit .282/.335/.359 with 23 doubles, seven triples, four home runs, and 49 stolen bases over 150 games. Sax’s Rookie of the Year win gave the Dodgers four consecutive winners, a record they later broke.

8. Eric Karros, 1992

Despite the Dodgers struggling as a team, Eric Karros shined in 1992, batting .257/.304/.426 with 30 doubles, 20 home runs, and 88 RBI. Karros’ win marked the beginning of a second Dodgers streak of Rookie of the Year Award winners, surpassing the franchise’s previous record.

9. Mike Piazza, 1993

Mike Piazza made history as the only Dodgers catcher to win Rookie of the Year and the team’s first unanimous selection. In 1993, the Hall-of-Fame catcher hit .318/.370/.561 with 24 doubles, 35 home runs, and 112 RBI over 149 games. Piazza’s 35 homers set a Dodgers rookie record, and he earned six straight All-Star Game selections starting that year.

10. Raul Mondesi, 1994

During his 1994 rookie season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Raul Mondesi won the 1994 Rookie of the Year Award. Mondesi hit .306 with a .516 slugging percentage while recording 27 doubles, 16 home runs, and 56 RBI in just 112 games before the season was cut short by a strike in August. However, in 2017, Mondesi’s reputation was damaged when he was sentenced to eight years in prison for embezzling public funds during his time as mayor of San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic. He was found guilty of misusing more than $200,000 of public funds for personal gain, which included purchasing luxury cars, paying for vacations, and giving government jobs to family members.

11. Hideo Nomo, 1995

Hideo Nomo, a Japanese-born player who successfully transitioned to the Major Leagues, further cemented his legacy with a phenomenal rookie season in 1995. Nomo went 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA in 28 starts for the Dodgers, leading the NL with 236 strikeouts and three shutouts.

12. Todd Hollandsworth, 1996

Todd Hollandsworth marked the end of the Dodgers’ five consecutive Rookie of the Year winners in 1996. He batted .291/.348/.437, recording 26 doubles, 12 home runs, 59 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. Hollandsworth’s win was somewhat upset, as he narrowly edged out the Florida Marlins’ Edgar Renteria.

13. Corey Seager, 2016

Corey Seager ended the Dodgers’ decade-long Rookie of the Year drought with an emphatic 2016 season. With a batting line of .308/.365/.512, he notched 40 doubles, five triples, 26 home runs, and 72 RBI over 157 games. Seager became the Dodgers’ second-ever unanimous Rookie of the Year winner, earning a Silver Slugger Award and finishing third in MVP voting.

14. Cody Bellinger, 2017

Cody Bellinger burst onto the scene in 2017, despite beginning the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City and only joining the Dodgers near the end of April due to a string of injuries. Initially expected to be with the team briefly, Bellinger’s outstanding performance kept him in the lineup permanently. He broke Mike Piazza’s NL rookie home run record with 39 (later surpassed by the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso in 2019), making him the clear choice for Rookie of the Year.