Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The First L.A. Dodger Born in Each Decade

Nathan Eovaldi is the first Los Angeles Dodger born in the 1990s to play for the club.  Interestingly, the first player to play for the Dodgers born in each decade has had a relatively fine career, with a few exceptions.  Let’s take a look at the first Los Angeles Dodger player born in each decade:
Willie Davis 
Born: April 15, 1940. 
Debut as a Dodger: September 8, 1960 (20 years old)
Three Dog ran like a deer, was a sleek fielding center fielder that never seemed to play up to his perceived potential.  Buzzie Bavasi said that nobody could get from first to third base faster than Willie.  A World Series hero in 1963, his two-run double in the first inning of game two was instrumental in helping the Dodgers sweep the Yankees in the series.
Aside from Willie Mays, he was the best fielding center fielder in the game.  A 3-time gold glover and 2- time all star, it’s unfortunate that Davis is often remembered for a 3-error inning in the 1966 World Series when he lost a couple of fly balls in the afternoon sun.  Davis is the all-time Los Angeles Dodgers leader in hits, at bats, runs, triples and total bases.

Willie Davis makes an amazing catch in the 1966 World Series, game 4, robbing Boog Powell of a home run
A troubled soul that had gambling and substance abuse problems.  Willie died last year after having returned to the Dodgers and worked with their speakers bureau.  Davis was embraced back in to the organization after getting help from Don Newcombe and Lou Johnson.
Bobby Valentine 
Born: May 13, 1950 
Debut as a Dodger: September 2, 1969 (19 years old)

A three sport high school star out of Stamford, CT.  Valentine was destined for the big leagues at an early age, being a favorite of minor league manager Tom Lasorda.  By the age of 19 he was leading the Spokane Indians Triple A team that was laden with future stars, (Garvey, Lopes, Paciorek, Buckner, Hutton, Joshua,Doyle Alexander, Vance, Zahn), and Valentine was their MVP.
The son-in-law of Dodger great, Ralph Branca, it seemed that Bobby was a perfect fit for the Dodgers.  But then Campanis dealt him to the California Angels in a blockbuster deal along with Frank Robinson, Mike Strahler, Bill Grabarkewitz and Bill Singer for Ken McMullen and Andy Messersmith.  The trade was good for Valentine who started seeing significant playing time as a Halo in 1973, that was until he suffered a horrific injury in the Anaheim outfield, catching his cleat in the chain linked fencing and severely breaking his leg.  Valentine made several comebacks, but he never was the same again.
Fernando Valenzuela 
Born: November 1, 1960 
Debut as a Dodger: September 15, 1980 (19 years old)

What can be said about the Pride of Etchohuaquila, Mexico?  Fernando’s 1980 September debut was perfect. He entered 10 games during the pennant stretch drive and failed to give up a run in over 17 innings.  Many to this day are upset that Lasorda didn’t start him in the 1 game playoff vs. Houston for the division championship instead of Dave Goltz.  Who knows what sort of history would have been written had Fernando started that game?

Valenzuela was a lights out starter for the Dodgers for 6-7 years.  A victim of little run support for much of his Dodger career, he probably should have won 20 games more than once.
Who knows how many years were whittled off of his career by a manager that simply left him out there to pitch many 140-150 pitch games.  One being that game three masterpiece against the Yankees when his screwball wasn’t working.
Valenzuela was a craftsman on the mound.  He had that nasty screwgie, and if that wasn’t working, he had the smarts to win games with his secondary stuff.  A fan favorite and he deserved to be one.  It was a joy to watch Fernando pitch in his prime.
Billy Ashley 
Born: July 11, 1970 
Debut as a DodgerL September 1, 1992 (22 years old)

The best batting practice hitter I ever saw.  Ashley would hit monstrous batting practice homers.  Watching Ashley and Piazza back-to-back was a sight to behold.  He never lived up to his billing, probably because he saw very few batting practice fastballs in real game situations.  Billy was an absolute butcher in the outfield.  Ashley’s career quickly fluttered away by the mid-90’s.  He attempted a comeback as a knuckleballer, but it never panned out.
His Albuquerque Duke numbers got us all excited, which is something to remember today when looking at prospects hitting well with the Isotopes.
Cesar Izturis 
Born: February 10, 1980 
Debut as a Dodger: April 2, 2002 (22 years old).
 Note* Izturis made his major league debut the year before as a Blue Jay on June 23, 2001.

I was excited by Izturis when he arrived because he was the slickest fielding shortstop that the Dodgers ever had.  I just thought if he could hit respectively and bat in the 8th spot, he’d be a perfect fit.  Unfortunately, during Izturis’ years with the Dodgers, they had more than one starter that was an adequate number 8 hitter.
You can’t blame Izturis for being what he was though.  A gold glove shortstop with a below average bat.  Not a bad pick-up for Dan Evans who dealt Luke Prokopec and Chad Ricketts to the Blue Jays in exchange for Izzy and Paul Quantrill, truly a steal of a deal for the Dodgers.
Nathan Eovaldi 
Born: February 13, 1990 
Debut as a Dodger: August 6, 2011 (21 years old)

Not a bad debut for young Nathan.  In two starts so far, 11 IP, 2ER, 1.64 ERA, 10 strikeouts and 6 walks.  Yes, it’s a small sample size and he faced a weak Astros team in the second game, but the kid has shown poise and promise.  I’m pleased with what I’ve seen so far.

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