This Day In Dodgers History: Fernando Valenzuela Named 1981 National League Rookie Of The Year

On December 2, 1981, Fernando Valenzuela was named the National League Cy Young Award winner, becoming the third consecutive Los Angeles Dodgers player to earn the yearly honor following Steve Howe in 1980 and Rick Sutcliffe in 1979.

Valenzuela strung together eight consecutive victories, including five shutouts, to start the season, which fell one shy of tying Dave Ferris’ MLB record for most starts in a row won by a rookie.

Valenzuela posted a 13-7 record with a 2.48 ERA, 2.44 FIP and 1.05 WHIP in 25 starts during the strike-shortened 1981 MLB season. He was an All-Star and led the NL in strikeouts (180), complete games (11), shutouts (8) and innings pitched (192.1).

Valenzuela’s 13 wins were tied for second in the Majors with Steve Carlton. They finished one victory shy of Tom Seaver, who led the league with 14.

Valenzuela went on to have a dominant postseason as he allowed just two runs in 17 innings pitched against the Houston Astros in the NL Division Series.

The left-hander also found success against the Montreal Expos in the NL Championship Series and threw a complete game in his only World Series start against the New York Yankees.

Among other accolades, Valenzuela won the 1981 NL Cy Young Award, Silver Slugger and TSN Rookie of the Year honors. He additionally finished fifth in NL MVP voting.

Steve Sax would go on to be named the 1982 NL Rookie of the Year, making it four winners in a row for the Dodgers. The team later had a stretch of five consecutive NL Rookie of the Year Award winners from 1992-1996.

Dodgers Rookie of the Year history

Cody Bellinger (2017)
Corey Seager (2016)
Todd Hollandsworth (1996)
Hideo Nomo (1995)
Raúl Mondesi (1994)
Mike Piazza (1993)
Eric Karros (1992)
Steve Sax (1982)
Fernando Valenzuela (1981)
Steve Howe (1980)
Rick Sutcliffe (1979)
Ted Sizemore (1969)
Jim Lefebvre (1965)
Frank Howard (1960)
Jim Gilliam (1953)
Joe Black (1952)
Don Newcombe (1949)
Jackie Robinson (1947)

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