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20 Greatest Players for the Los Angeles Dodgers

Kelley has been a fan of Major League Baseball since the 1960s, and his favorite team is the Los Angeles Dodgers.

LA Dodgers win the World Series in 2020

LA Dodgers win the World Series in 2020

Dodger Blue Has Seen Many of the Best Stars of MLB

This list includes players who spent most of their careers, or at least a significant portion of it, with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This article won't feature players who were stars on the Brooklyn Dodgers, although a few entries on this list began their careers in Brooklyn before moving west with the team in 1958. This compilation will only include retired players, and it is not written in any particular order.

Please keep reading!

Maury Wills

Maury Wills

1. Maury Wills

  • Position: Shortstop
  • Dodgers Career: 1959-1966, 1969-1972
  • Accolades: Seven-time All-Star, two Gold Glove Awards, NL MVP (1962), three-time World Series champion

Maury Wills was a switching-hitting shortstop during the glory years of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the late 1950s to middle 1960s. In that period, the team won three world championships. Wills usually batted lead-off and did what he could to get on base. He compiled a lifetime batting average of .281 and an on-base percentage (OBP) of .330.

An excellent fielder, Wills won two Gold Gloves. Wills’ greatest year was in 1962 when he broke Ty Cobb’s stolen base record by swiping 104, helping revive that part of the game in MLB. He also batted .299, had 208 hits, and scored 130 runs. For Wills’ feats that year, he won the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award.

Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax

2. Sandy Koufax

  • Position: Pitcher
  • Dodgers Career: 1955-1966
  • Accolades: Seven-time All-Star, three Cy Young Awards, NL MVP (1963), two-time World Series MVP, four-time World Series champion, Hall of Fame inductee

Nicknamed the “Left Hand of God,” left-handed starting pitcher Sandy Koufax is legendary in the lore of Dodger Blue. Koufax was one of the best pitchers in MLB from 1961 to 1966. He compiled awesome statistics with his two-pitch arsenal—a 100 MPH fastball and a curveball that may have been the best of all time. Over Koufax’s relatively short career, he won three Cy Young Awards (when only one was given) as well as an MVP Award.

For three seasons, he won the Triple Crown for starting pitchers by leading the league with the most wins, strikeouts, and lowest earned run average (ERA). He also threw four no-hitters, one of which was a perfect game, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972. Tragically, Koufax retired at age 30. He could have pitched longer if he had Tommy John surgery. Unfortunately, the medical procedure hadn’t been invented yet in 1966.

Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza

3. Mike Piazza

  • Position: Catcher
  • Dodgers Career: 1992-1998
  • Accolades: NL Rookie of the Year, 10 Silver Slugger Awards, 12-time All-Star, Hall of Fame inductee

Not since the days of Roy Campanella in Brooklyn had the Dodgers seen such an awesome, power-hitting catcher. In fact, Piazza not only hit for power, he also hit for a high batting average. In 1993, Piazza hit 35 home runs, knocked in 112 runs (RBIs), and batted .318. This production led to him winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award.

Piazza continued putting up Triple Crown numbers for the Dodgers, particularly in 1997, when he hit 40 home runs, knocked in 124 runs, and batted .362, nearly winning the batting title. Moreover, having hit more home runs than any catcher in MLB history (396, 427 in total), as well as achieving other impressive batting achievements, Piazza was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2016.

Orel Hershiser

Orel Hershiser

4. Orel Hershiser

  • Position: Pitcher
  • Dodgers Career: 1983-1994, 2000
  • Accolades: One Silver Slugger Award, one Gold Glove Award, two-time LCS MVP, one-time World Series MVP, one NL Cy Young Award, three-time All-Star, one-time World Series champion

Orel Hershiser, nicknamed “The Bulldog” by manager Tommy Lasorda, in spite of having a slender frame and a mild manner, attained multiple achievements in a single season that most MLB pitchers could only dream about. During the 1988 season, Hershiser compiled a record of 23-8, threw 8 shutouts, and pitched 15 complete games. He also pitched 59 straight scoreless innings, breaking Don Drysdale’s MLB record. (He also won a Gold Glove award.)

Not surprisingly, Hershiser easily won the Cy Young Award that year and then led the Dodgers to the playoffs, becoming the NL Championship Series MVP. He then took the Dodgers to a victorious trip to the World Series. He won the World Series MVP Award as well. Hershiser also had many other fine seasons with Dodger Blue over 13 years.

Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker

5. Dusty Baker

  • Position: Outfielder
  • Dodgers Career: 1976-1983
  • Accolades: Two Silver Slugger Awards, one Gold Glove Award, NLCS MVP, two-time All-Star, one-time World Series champion

Traded from the Atlanta Braves to the LA Dodgers before the 1976 season, Dusty Baker, after having knee trouble that year, eventually became a fixture in left field. He won two Silver Slugger Awards, one Gold Glove, and generally batted third in the lineup, where the best overall hitter usually resides. In 1977, Baker was one of four Dodgers who hit over 30 home runs that season.

Showing an excellent combination of hitting for average, power, speed, and defense, Baker helped the Dodgers win the National League pennant in both 1977 and 1978, as well as the pennant and the World Series in 1981. Baker played eight seasons for the Boys in Blue.

Fernando throws a screwgee

Fernando throws a screwgee

6. Fernando Valenzuela

  • Position: Pitcher
  • Dodgers Career: 1980-1990
  • Accolades: Six-time All-Star, two Silver Slugger Awards, one Gold Glove Award, NL Rookie of the Year, one NL Cy Young Award, one-time World Series champion

Nicknamed “El Toro” (the bull) or, jokingly, “El Gordo” (the big one), Fernando Valenzuela had a legendary season in 1981. He the won the NL Cy Young Award and the NL Rookie of the Year Award; this has been the only time an MLB player has achieved such a feat. Generating what came to be known as Fernandomania, at least in Los Angeles, Valenzuela helped the Dodgers win the NL pennant that year, as well as the World Series.

Generally referred to as Fernando, his best pitch was the screwball or “screwgee,” an off-speed offering that confounded many hitters. He threw a no-hitter for Big Blue in 1990. Fernando was definitely a good hitter for a pitcher. He won two Silver Slugger Awards while playing for 11 seasons as a Dodger. Fernando is considered by many fans to be one of the best MLB players from Mexico.

Steve Garvey

Steve Garvey

7. Steve Garvey

  • Position: First baseman
  • Dodgers Career: 1969-1982
  • Accolades: Four Gold Glove Awards, two-time NLCS MVP, NL MVP (1974), 10-time All-Star, one-time World Series champion

Nicknamed “Mr. Clean,” because of the straight image he showed while playing baseball, Steve Garvey had many accomplishments while playing for Dodger Blue. He won the National League MVP Award in 1974, he was selected to the All-Star team eight times, he won four Gold Glove Awards, he was the MVP of the NL Championship Series in 1978, he played in 14 seasons for the Dodgers, and he established a new NL record by playing in 1,207 straight games from September 3, 1975 to July 29, 1983. The streak was stopped when Garvey broke his thumb while playing for the San Diego Padres. This is the fourth longest consecutive game record in MLB history!

Don Drysdale

Don Drysdale

8. Don Drysdale

  • Position: Pitcher
  • Dodgers Career: 1956-1969
  • Accolades: One Cy Young Award, nine-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion, Hall of Fame indictee

Nicknamed “Big D” because of his 6'5" frame and competitive manner, Don Drysdale liked to pitch inside to batters and hit a total of 154, establishing a modern NL record. In 1962, Drysdale compiled a record of 25-9 with 19 complete games and an ERA of 2.83. In that year, he won the Cy Young Award (only one was given in those days). He was elected to the All-Star team nine times, and in 1968, he pitched 58 and 2/3 innings without giving up a run.

Drysdale was also one of the best hitting pitchers of his era. He batted .300 in 1965, and he hit 29 home runs for his career. Interestingly, Sandy Koufax and Drysdale were considered to be one of the most potent pitching duos of all time. In 1984, Drysdale was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Ron Cey

Ron Cey

9. Ron Cey

  • Position: Third baseman
  • Dodgers Career: 1971-1982
  • Accolades: Six-time All-Star, one-time World Series MVP, one-time World Series champion

Nicknamed “The Penguin” because he was short, stout, and waddled somewhat as he ran the bases, Ron Cey was an outstanding player for the Dodgers from 1971 to 1982. Cey played third base when the Dodgers had an All-Star infield that included Steve Garvey, Dave Lopes, and Bill Russell. This impressive unit played together for eight and a half seasons, which is an MLB record.

In 1977, the team won the NL pennant, and that year's starting lineup may have been the best LA Dodger lineup of all time. That year, Cey hit 30 home runs and knocked in 110 runs. These were the best yearly totals of his career. Cey would be selected to six All-Star teams.

Don Sutton

Don Sutton

10. Don Sutton

  • Position: Pitcher
  • Dodgers Career: 1966-1980
  • Accolades: Four-time All-Star, Hall of Fame inductee

Nicknamed “Little D,” associating him with Don Drysdale’s nickname of "Big D," Don Sutton arrived in the majors in 1966. He joined a starting rotation featuring Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Claude Osteen. Many have considered this group to be the LA Dodgers’ best starting rotation of all time.

Although Sutton never won a Cy Young Award and won 20 games only once—he went 21-10 in 1976—he achieved career numbers that are truly impressive. Sutton won a total of 324 games, including 58 shutouts and 178 complete games. He struck out 3,574 batters; this puts him at the seventh spot on the all-time list. Playing 15 seasons for the Dodgers, Sutton’s career spanned 23 years. In 1998, he was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Eric Karros

Eric Karros

11. Eric Karros

  • Position: First baseman
  • Dodgers Career: 1991-2002
  • Accolades: One Silver Slugger Award, NL Rookie of the Year

Eric Karros, a right-handed hitting first baseman, entered the majors in 1992. He immediately posted impressive power numbers; he had 20 home runs and 88 RBIs. This was good enough for him to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Karros continued driving the ball as he won the Silver Slugger Award in 1995. He also hit 30 home runs and knocked in over 100 runs five times during his Dodgers career. These hitting stats are a record for the LA Dodgers (Duke Snider and Gil Hodges did hit these numbers for the Brooklyn Dodgers.)

Karros also hit 270 homers while playing for the Dodgers, the most ever for the franchise. His greatest year was in 1999 when he hit 34 home runs, with 112 RBIs, a batting average of .304, and an on-base percentage plus slugging average (OPS) of .912.

Davey Lopes

Davey Lopes

12. Davey Lopes

  • Position: Second baseman
  • Dodgers Career: 1972-1981
  • Accolades: One Gold Glove Award, four-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion (one as a coach)

Davey Lopes was a member of the Dodgers’ famous infield during the 1970s and ‘80s. Playing second base, he provided a good combination of speed, defense, and hitting for average. He also hit for power as he knocked 28 homers in 1979.

One of Lopes’ greatest claims to fame was that he stole many bases, including 77 in 1975. In 9 out of his 10 years with the LA, Lopes stole at least 20 bases per season. He also achieved an OBP that was well above .300 each season. Another hallmark for Lopes’ Dodger career is that he batted lead-off for a team that won four NL pennants and one World Series championship.

Hideo Nomo

Hideo Nomo

13. Hideo Nomo

  • Position: Pitcher
  • Dodgers Career: 1995-1998, 2002-2004
  • Accolades: One-time All-Star, NL Rookie of the Year

Nicknamed “The Tornado” because of the twisting action of his windup and delivery, Hideo Nomo was the first Asian player to become a star in Major League Baseball. In his rookie season in 1995, Nomo’s game record was 13-6. He had an ERA of 2.54 and 236 strikeouts; he was also selected to the All-Star team and won the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Playing in eight seasons for the Dodgers, Nomo won 10 or more games in 5 seasons; he won a total of 16 games in three of those seasons. He also pitched over 200 innings in four seasons.

Nomo pitched two no-hitters in his MLB career, one of which was for the Dodgers against the Colorado Rockies in September 1996.

Kirk Gibson after hitting his historic home run in the 1988 World Series

Kirk Gibson after hitting his historic home run in the 1988 World Series

14. Kirk Gibson

  • Position: Outfielder
  • Dodgers Career: 1988-1990
  • Accolades: One Silver Slugger Award, one-time ALCS MVP, one-time NL MVP, two-time World Series champion

Kirk Gibson didn’t have a long, illustrious career with the LA Dodgers, but he certainly became one of their greatest heroes and perhaps their greatest free agent. In 1988, he hit a walk-off home run to win Game One of the 1988 World Series. This is often regarded as one of the most iconic moments in MLB history. Of course, this blast propelled the Dodgers to a world championship that year.

Gibson snatched another honor that year by winning the NL MVP Award as he batted .290 with 25 home runs, 76 RBIs, 106 runs, and 32 stolen bases. These aren't incredibly great numbers, but the value of his leadership for a championship team was undeniable.

Tommy John

Tommy John

15. Tommy John

  • Position: Pitcher
  • Dodgers Career: 1972-1974, 1976-1978
  • Accolades: Four-time All-Star

Left-handed starting pitcher Tommy John is probably best known for the revolutionary surgery that was performed on his pitching arm in September 1974. Now known as Tommy John surgery, this procedure, invented by Dr. Frank Jobe, replaces the ulnar collateral ligament in the arm with a tendon taken from another part of the body.

Few people thought the procedure would work—but it did! In fact, Tommy John won another 164 games after the surgery! A sinkerball specialist, John had six great years for Dodger Blue, particularly in 1977 when he went 20-7 with a 2.78 ERA and 11 complete games. He was runner-up in the voting for the Cy Young Award that season.

Willie Davis

Willie Davis

16. Willie Davis

  • Position: Center fielder
  • Dodgers Career: 1960-1973
  • Accolades: Two-time All-Star, three Gold Glove Awards, two-time World Series champion

Willie Davis replaced Duke Snider in center field when he came to the LA Dodgers in 1960. He had a great combination of speed, defense, and hitting. In fact, Davis was considered to be one of the fastest players during the 1960s. He had his best year in 1962 when he batted .285 with 21 home runs, 85 RBIs, and 32 stolen bases.

Davis was notably a great triples hitter. In 1970, he hit 16; he hit 110 for his career as a Dodger. In 1969, he had a 31-game hitting streak, the longest ever for any LA Dodger. Davis leads all LA Dodgers in many hitting categories, including hits, runs, and extra base hits. Playing 14 seasons for the LA Dodgers, Davis may have been their greatest all-around center fielder.

The Martinez brothers, Pedro (left) and Ramon (right)

The Martinez brothers, Pedro (left) and Ramon (right)

17. Ramon Martinez

  • Position: Pitcher
  • Dodgers Career: 1988-1998
  • Accolades: One-time All-Star

When Ramon Martinez, at age 20, debuted with the LA Dodgers in August 1988, he was the youngest player in the National League. Having two great pitches, a blazing fastball and mesmerizing change-up, he was a strikeout pitcher from the get-go. In 1990, he struck out 18 batters in one game and threw a no-hitter against the Florida Marlins in July 1995. Martinez pitched in 11 seasons for the Dodgers; he compiled a record of 123-77 with a 3.45 ERA and 1,314 strikeouts.

Martinez’s best year with the Dodgers was in 1990 when he went 20-6 with a 2.92 ERA. He had 12 complete games, 3 shutouts, 223 strikeouts, and finished second in the voting for the Cy Young Award.

Ron Perranoski

Ron Perranoski

18. Ron Perranoski

  • Position: Pitcher
  • Dodgers Career: 1961-1967, 1972
  • Accolades: Four-time World Series champion

Ron Perranoski was one of the best relief pitchers in Major League Baseball from 1961 through 1973. Playing for the Dodgers from 1961 to 1967 (and for a short time in 1972), Perranoski, a southpaw, compiled a Dodgers’ record of 54 wins and 41 loses. He had an ERA of 2.56 and saved 100 ballgames.

Perranoski's best year was in 1963 when he went 16-3 with an ERA 1.67 and 21 saves. He also finished fourth in MVP voting that season, a year when the Dodgers won the World Series by sweeping the New York Yankees in four games. After retiring as a player in 1973, he became a pitching coach for the Dodgers' minor league team. He served as the Dodgers’ pitching coach from 1981 to 1994.

Tommy Davis

Tommy Davis

19. Tommy Davis

  • Position: Left fielder
  • Dodgers Career: 1959-1966
  • Accolades: Three-time All-Star, one-time World Series champion

An outfielder and third baseman, Tommy Davis played for the Dodgers from 1959 to 1966. He won three World Series championships with the Dodgers in 1959, 1963, and 1965. While he was not a great home run hitter, he did hit for a high average and knocked in a plethora of runs. In 1962, Davis led MLB in batting average, hits, and RBIs. His .346 batting average that year helped him win the NL batting title, and his 230 hits are a team record for a right-handed batter. His 153 RBIs are also a franchise record.

In 1963, Davis won another NL batting title and helped the Dodgers beat the NY Yankees in the 1963 World Series. He broke his ankle in 1965 and was never quite as good for the Dodgers thereafter. He left Big Blue in 1967 and played on 10 different teams for the next 11 seasons.

Bill Russell

Bill Russell

20. Bill Russell

  • Position: Shortstop
  • Dodgers Career: 1969-1986
  • Accolades: Three-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion

Bill Russell played shortstop, second base, and the outfield with the Dodgers for 18 seasons (1969-1986). He wasn’t a great fielder, but he showed up just about every day. He played in 162 games in 1973, and he was selected to three All-Star teams. Russell wasn’t a great hitter, but his career batting average was .263. In 1978, he hit .286. In 1976, he knocked in 65 runs.

Russell was a member of the Dodgers’ famous infield from 1973 to 1981. That squad included Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, and Davey Lopes. Russell also played in 49 postseason games for the Dodgers while batting .294. He was known for his clutch hitting in those crucial matchups. After retirement, Russell managed the LA Dodgers from 1996 to 1998. He compiled a record of 173-149.

Questions & Answers

Question: How could you leave out Tommy Davis from this list of the greatest Los Angeles Dodgers?

Answer: Tommy Davis was a very good player for a couple of years, until he broke his ankle, after which he wasn't nearly as good. Dodger players have to be very good for five years or more before they can make this list. Winning a major award such as the MVP or the Cy Young Award would make a difference as well.

© 2017 Kelley Marks

Comments

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on June 18, 2019:

This list only includes retired players!...

pgf on June 17, 2019:

where is Clayton Kershaw?

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 29, 2019:

Why isn't Jackie Robinson on this list? It only includes players who played most, if not all, of their careers with the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Robinson retired before the Dodgers moved to LA.) Since I'm not old enough to remember seeing the Brooklyn Dodgers play, I don't feel qualified to assess their greatness. Later!...

Syck ryck on May 23, 2019:

Nothing like growing up seeing Mike Piazza, Eric Karros, Martinez,Heido Nomo my era of the best dodger line up.

Ed on August 03, 2018:

I can think of 30 dodgers in front of baker. There were 5 players better then him on any of the teams in l a that he ever played on. Grandma must have herd conver and made this list. Wheres R. Smith at that time. Baker, I could outplay him.

Kosmo Kelley on December 16, 2017:

Hey, Mario Furnari, Duke Snyder's power numbers decreased after he moved to LA, but many fans would probably pick him anyway. I almost did. Anyway, thanks for the comment!

Mario Furnari on December 14, 2017:

How about Duke Snider? I know most of his playing career was in Brooklyn but still it’s the Duke! Baker, Lopes don’t belong on that list. I’d would have rather seen Eric Gagne, Tommy Davis. Honorable mention Pedro Guerrero, Steve Yeager, Mike Scioscia.

Rivercity on October 18, 2017:

What a deal - as a Reds fan, being in the same division with the Dodgers in the 70's & 80's. What a memorable bunch of players!

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on February 07, 2017:

Thanks for the comment, catfish33! This list is only for retired players; otherwise, Kershaw would be on it, of course. Later!

Jeffrey Yelton from Maryland on February 07, 2017:

No Clayton Kershaw???