Ramon Martinez was the last Dodgers pitcher to win 20 games before Clayton Kershaw did so in 2011. Martinez was also the last Dodger to finish second in the National League Cy Young Award voting, in 1990. (Getty Images)
The National League Cy Young Award will get announced at 11 a.m. PST today, and we will find out whether or not Clayton Kershaw takes home top honors. A lot has been written through the years about the Dodgers who have won the Cy Young Award — Don Newcombe (1956), Don Drysdale (1962), Sandy Koufax (1963, 1965, 1966), Mike Marshall (1974), Fernando Valenzuela (1981), Orel Hershiser (1988), and Eric Gagne (2003) — but not much has been said about those who have come up just short.
Here is a look at the Dodgers who finished second in the Cy Young balloting.
Sal Maglie, 1956
This was the very first year of the Cy Young Award, and there was only one award for all the major leagues. Don Newcombe won this award with 27 wins and a 3.06 ERA for the pennant-winning Dodgers, and his teammate Maglie finished second.
Maglie was a long-time Giant and might have won the Cy Young Award had there been one in 1952 (he finished fourth in NL MVP voting, the highest pitcher on the ballot). In 1956, Maglie was 39 years old and was purchased from the Cleveland Indians in May. Maglie with the Dodgers went 13-5 with a 2.87 ERA and pitched a no-hitter in his second-to-last start of the season, against the Philadelphia Phillies, while the Dodgers were in the middle of a tight pennant race with both the Milwaukee Braves and Cincinnati Reds.
Andy Messersmith, 1974
Messersmith was awesome atop the rotation in 1974, going 20-6 with a 2.59 ERA in 39 starts for the pennant-winning Dodgers. But he lost the award to a teammate, as super reliever Mike Marshall set records by pitching 106 games in relief and 208 innings giving the Dodgers a unique weapon out of the bullpen.
The Dodgers had three of the top four finishers, with Marshall receiving 17 first-place votes, Messersmith getting five, and Don Sutton getting one.
Tommy John, 1977
In just his second season back from an elbow surgical procedure that would bear his name, John was 20-7 with a 2.78 ERA in 31 starts for the Dodgers. Through his age-33 season John had 134 career wins, and beginning with 1977 he would win 154 games from age 34 through the end of his career.
Steve Carlton was 23-10 for the division winning Phillies and got 17 of 24 first-place votes to win the trophy. But John pitched a complete game to eliminate Carlton and the Phillies in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series to send the Dodgers to the World Series.
Burt Hooton, 1978
Hooton won 19 games with a 2.71 ERA for the pennant-winning Dodgers, and went 12-3 with a 2.12 ERA over his final 16 starts of the season. Gaylord Perry of the San Diego Padres won the award with 21 wins, garnering 22 of 24 first-place votes and becoming the first player to win a Cy Young Award in each league, having already won the award in 1972 with the Cleveland Indians.
Hooton didn't receive any first-place votes, but he easily finished second thanks to 10 second-place votes and eight third-place votes.
Jerry Reuss, 1980
The Dodgers traded Rick Rhoden to the Pittsburgh Pirates in April 1979 for Reuss, substantially worsening the clubhouse handicap but improving the pitching staff. The 31-year old Reuss went 18-6 with a 2.51 ERA and tied for the major league lead with six shutouts. In five June starts, Reuss allowed four runs in 44 innings, capped off by a no-hitter at Candlestick Park against the hated San Francisco Giants.
In the final weekend of the regular season, the Dodgers swept the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium to force a one-game playoff (that the Dodgers would lose). Reuss pitched the Saturday game of that final weekend, allowing one run in nine innings and outdueling Nolan Ryan in a 2-1 Dodgers win.
Steve Carlton won the award easily, capturing 23 of 24 first-place votes (the other first-place vote went to Reuss), as he led the majors in innings (304) and strikeouts (286). Carlton was second in ERA (2.34) to a Dodgers pitcher, but it wasn't Reuss. Don Sutton led MLB with a 2.20 ERA in 1980, but his 13-5 record and 13 no-decisions meant not even a single third-place vote for Sutton.
Fernando Valenzuela, 1986
Valenzuela had a 3.14 ERA, led the National League with 21 wins and led the majors with 20 complete games. He made the All-Star team for the sixth season in a row. But Valenzuela lost the award in a close vote to Mike Scott of the Houston Astros, who went 18-12 and led the majors in ERA (2.22), innings pitched (275), and strikeouts (306). To top things off, Scott clinched the NL West division for the Astros with a no-hitter.
Scott received 15 first-place votes, seven second-place votes, and two third-place votes for 98 points, out-polling Valenzuela, who received nine first-place votes, 14 second-place votes, and one third-place votes. Points were awarded on a 5-3-1 basis in those days. Scott and Valenzuela were the only two pitchers to appear on all 24 ballots.
"I don't think he enjoyed the news, but he took it calmly and matter of factly," Valenzuela's agent Tony DeMarco told Ross Newhan of the Los Angeles Times. "I personally thought Fernando would win, but our attitude is that he will have a long career and many chances to win."
Ramon Martinez, 1990
Martinez had shown flashes of brilliance in his brief appearances with the Dodgers in 1988 and by midseason 1989 he was in the rotation to stay. Through six starts, the 22-year old Martinez was 2-2 with a 4.63 ERA, but then began to settle in. Over his final 27 starts of the season, Martinez was 18-4 with a 2.62 ERA, highlighted by an 18-strikeout performance against the Atlanta Braves on June 4. At 20-6, Martinez was the last 20-game winner for the Dodgers before Kershaw this season.
Doug Drabek was 22-6 with a 2.76 ERA for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team with the best record in the National League. Drabek captured 23 of 24 first place votes to easily win the award, but Martinez picked up the other first place tally.
Clayton Kershaw will likely become the eighth Dodger to join one of these clubs later today. Will he finish in first or second place, or lower?