Time with Dodgers: 1944-1953, 1956
Stats: 80-58, 3.70 ERA, 283 G, 166 GS, 1,324 IP, 64 CG, 757 SO, 107 ERA+. 4.07 FIP, 1.35 WHIP
Baseball Reference WAR: 16.2
FanGraphs WAR: 13.2
Combined WAR: 14.7
In 1944, Ralph Branca debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers at the age of 18. He appeared in 21 games that season, with all but one of them coming out of the bullpen. He struggled greatly, as he had an ERA of above seven.
Branca began to turn things around over the next two seasons. He made more starts, but he was still being used out of the bullpen for almost half of the games. From 1945 through 1946, he went 8-7 with a 3.36 ERA. All across the board, he had very good numbers for the Dodgers.
His breakout season came in 1947, when he was an All-Star for the first time and finished 11th in MVP voting. He made 36 starts, which led the league, while going 21-12 with a 2.67 ERA. His 21 wins were the second most in the league, and his ERA was the third best. He also threw the second most innings (280) and had the second most strikeouts (148).
In 1948, Branca was an All-Star yet again and also received MVP votes. He won 14 games, posting a 3.51 ERA. His numbers took a hit the following season, as his ERA, FIP, WHIP and ERA+ all got worse. However, he was still an All-Star, and his .722 winning percentage was the best in the league.
His numbers yet again took a hit the following season in 1950, as it was overall his worst season since 1944. Branca bounced back nicely over his final two seasons with the club, as from 1951-1952 he went 17-14, posting a 3.40 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 1.27 WHIP and 114 ERA+.
Branca struggled to begin 1953, as he allowed 12 runs in 11 innings to begin the year. He was claimed off waivers by the Tigers. Branca re-signed with the Dodgers in 1956, but threw only two innings before retiring.
Unfortunately, this is what Branca is most-known for from his baseball career.
Only 30 pitchers have made at least 166 starts in Dodgers franchise history. Here’s where Branca ranks:
- 757 strikeouts (23rd)
- 64 complete games (19th)
- .580 winning % (11th)
- 13.4 strikeout % (18th)
- 107 ERA+ (22nd)