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Ramon Martinez burst onto the scene in 1990

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20 wins, an 18-strikeout game, 2nd in Cy Young voting, all at age 22

Ramon Martinez

Ramon Martinez had his coming out party for the Dodgers in 1990, excelling in his first full year in the majors. Just 22 that year, he is the youngest 20-game winner for the franchise since moving to Los Angeles.

Martinez was the last Dodgers 20-game winner before Clayton Kershaw reached the milestone in 2011.

On June 4 against the Braves, Martinez matched Sandy Koufax’s club record with 18 strikeouts in a shutout of Atlanta.

That started a 10-1 stretch for Martinez into early August. He led the majors with 12 complete games that year, and was third in the National League with 234⅓ innings. Here are some other NL statistical ranks for Martinez in 1990:

  • t-2nd with 223 strikeouts (David Cone led with 233)
  • t-2nd with 20 wins (Doug Drabek, 22)
  • 3rd with a 23.5% K rate (Cone, 27.1%)
  • 5th with 3.03 FIP (Dwight Gooden, 2.44)
  • 6th with 4.9 fWAR (Gooden, 6.8)
  • 7th with a 2.92 ERA (Danny Darwin, 2.21)
  • 8th with a 126 ERA+ (Darwin, 169)
  • 14th with 3.9 rWAR (Ed Whitson, 7.0)

Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, not surprisingly, backed his ace for the Cy Young Award at the end of the season. From Alan Drooz in the Los Angeles Times:

“I mean nothing demeaning to (Doug) Drabek or (Frank) Viola or (Dwight) Gooden, but this young man should be voted the Cy Young Award and I’ll tell you why,” Lasorda said.

“He was winning early when we were really struggling. He was the only (Dodger) winning. That’s what should get it for him. Pittsburgh’s played good all year for Drabek, and the Mets also were in it all the way with Viola and Gooden. I don’t know what criteria you’re using (for the Cy Young vote), but I gotta say something nice about my guy.”

It didn’t happen for Martinez, or for the Dodgers, who won 86 games but finished five games behind in the division. Out east, the Pirates had the best record in the NL with 95 wins, and Drabek coasted to the Cy Young Award, gaining 23 out of 24 first-place votes. Martinez finished second:

1990 NL Cy Young Award voting

Pitcher Team Points 1st votes 2nd votes 3rd votes W-L ERA rWAR fWAR
Pitcher Team Points 1st votes 2nd votes 3rd votes W-L ERA rWAR fWAR
Doug Drabek Pirates 118 23 1 22-6 2.76 4.2 4.2
Ramon Martinez Dodgers 70 1 21 2 20-6 2.92 3.9 4.9
Frank Viola Mets 19 2 13 22-12 2.67 6.4 5.8
Dwight Gooden Mets 8 8 19-7 3.83 2.5 6.8
Randy Myers Reds 1 1 31 saves 2.08 3.1 2.0
Source: Baseball-Reference & New York Times

I wrote this partially to prove I could write about the 1990 Dodgers and not have the main focus be Eddie Murray, who led the major leagues with a .330 batting average but failed to win a batting title.

But also, this is under Doug week at SB Nation, and Ramon Martinez fit the theme.