After winning the National League Rookie of the Year for his 1981 season, Dodgers left-hander Fernando Valenzuela was named the NL Cy Young Award winner on this day. Valenzuela became the first player to win both awards in the same season in major league history.
In his rookie season, the then 20-year-old was 13-7 with a 2.48 ERA and 180 strikeouts in 192.1 innings pitched. He led the league in innings pitched, strikeouts, games started (25), complete games (11) and shutouts (8). Valenzuela started the season 8-0 with five shutouts and a 0.50 ERA, but the season was cut short due to a strike and teams played only 110 games.
The Dodgers made the playoffs and Valenzuela had more success in the postseason. He went 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA in five postseason starts. He had 26 strikeouts in 40 innings and the Dodgers went to the World Series where he threw a complete game in Game 3 and earned the victory.
Valenzuela became very popular in his rookie season, especially the way he began the season and his career. His starts drew huge crowds and it became known as “Fernandomania” at Dodger Stadium. He drew a large crowd of Latino American fans, as he was the first significant player from Mexico to play for the Dodgers.
The left-hander would remain with the Dodgers until 1990 before playing with other teams until his retirement in 1997. With the Dodgers, Valenzuela finished 141-116 with a 3.31 ERA and 1,759 strikeouts in 2,348.2 innings pitched. He started 320 games for the Dodgers and had 107 complete games, 29 by way of shutout.
He was a six-time All-Star in Los Angeles and a two-time Silver Slugger (1981, 1983). Valenzuela added a Gold Glove for pitchers in 1986 and threw his first no-hitter in 1990. He currently serves in the Dodgers’ Spanish-language broadcast radio booth and has been on the coaching staff for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
ICYMI: The Mets could be targeting two of the Dodgers high-priced outfielders this winter.