Los Angeles Dodgers Hall of Very Good: Fernando Valenzuela
The threshold for pitchers being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame is a steep one. It requires not only sheer dominance, but consistency, healthy, and, quite frankly, a bit of good luck. A pitcher almost needs to ensure that not only do they succeed as a player but that their team is also successful during their career.
Fernando Valenzuela was lucky to be part of the latter, finding himself on two World Series-winning squads. Breaking in during the 1981 season, he was thrust right into the fray and made a mark for himself among Dodgers faithful. After winning both the Cy Young and National League Rookie of the Year award in his first season, he went on to spend 11 of his 17 years toeing the rubber at Chavez Ravine. He would go 141-116 with the Dodgers, chipping in a 3.31 ERA, a 3.28 FIP, and a 6.74 K/9 rate. He even authored a career slash line of .200/.205/.262 with eight home runs and 72 RBI as a hitter.
From a sheer value standpoint, Valenzuela put up a career fWAR of 40.9, and his 38.0 with the Dodgers ranks fifth all-time for the team. Of the Dodgers ahead of his four are in the Hall of Fame currently and the leader of the pack (Clayton Kershaw) has not yet retired. During his peak from 1981 to 1987, Fernando led all MLB pitchers in fWAR (34.2), was 27th in ERA, 10th in FIP (3.06), and 13th in WPA (10.55).
While his Dodgers career is memorable for his impeccable run during his rookie year, his 21 games won in 1986, and his no-hitter in 1990, Fernando’s peak came early in his career and by 1988, he never consistently put up ace-level production worthy of enshrinement in Cooperstown.
When measuring against the pitchers that currently own spots in the Hall of Fame, where the JAWS threshold sits at 61.6, Valenzuela sits 161st all-time with a mark of 37.5. Even his seven peak years, checking in a 33.5 WAR7, fall below the starting pitcher mark of 50.0.
Still, among Dodgers fans, Fernando Valenzuela is royalty and he will never have to pay for another drink in Los Angeles for the rest of his days. For Fernando Mania, two World Series titles, a Cy Young, and a Rookie of the Year award, Fernando deserves a spot in our Dodgers Hall of Very Good.