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Best Dodgers against Hall of Fame pitchers

From Rick Monday against Tom Seaver to Reggie Smith against Rollie Fingers, and more

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Sports Contributor Archive 2019
Reggie Smith was very good against just about everyone, but especially so against a few Hall of Famers
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Rick Monday in his career hit 11 home runs against Tom Seaver, his most against any pitcher and Seaver’s most allowed to any player. Monday hit .349/.456/.791 in 102 plate appearances against Seaver.

Monday shared a wonderful story with Andrew Baggarly at The Athletic about their first major league meeting, at the 1968 All-Star Game in the Astrodome. Monday and Seaver were teammates a few years prior in a collegiate summer league in Alaska, and Seaver told Monday and his mother in the hotel lobby in Houston if he faced him, he’d throw a first-pitch fastball.

Seaver threw Monday a curve, and eventually struck him out. From Baggarly:

“You lied!” Monday shouted at him. “You didn’t just lie to me! You lied to my mother! You hooked me, and you’re going to pay for that.”

Seaver was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992, which made me wonder if any other pitchers inducted to Cooperstown from 1980-99 had Dodgers as their nemesis. There were a dozen pitchers elected by the BBWAA in those 20 years. Here are some memorable Dodgers’ performances against them (thanks as always to Baseball-Reference’s handy toolbox):

  • Bob Gibson (1981): Ron Fairly (.302/.369/.440 in 179 PA) hit the most doubles against Gibson (10)
  • Juan Marichal (1983): Maury Wills has the most hits against Marichal (57), hitting .322/.348/.345 in 185 PA. Wills stole 11 bases against him
  • Hoyt Wilhelm (1985): Carl Furillo hit .333/.409/.564 against him with five extra-base hits and 10 RBI in 44 PA
  • Catfish Hunter (1987): Reggie Smith hit .339/.406/.661 with nine extra-base hits in 64 PA, though his only times with the Dodgers facing Hunter were the 1977 and 1978 World Series, going 3-for-9 with a homer and a double
  • Jim Palmer (1990): no notable Dodgers with enough at-bats, but former LA All-Star Billy Grabarkewitz was 2-for-3 with a homer and a walk against Palmer in 1973, while Grabarkewitz was with the Angels
  • Fergie Jenkins (1991): Willie Davis hit .322/.362/.517 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 95 PA
  • Rollie Fingers (1992): Reggie Smith was 14-for-31 (.452/.469/.677) against Fingers, including 10-for-19 (.526) with three doubles and a home run while with the Dodgers from 1977-80.
  • Steve Carlton (1994): Manny Mota hit .333/.361/.484 in 99 PA against Carlton, including just 2-for-4 as a pinch-hitter
  • Phil Niekro (1997): Another Reggie Smith appearance, hitting .349/.417/.683 in 72 PA, including five of his six home runs coming while with the Dodgers
  • Don Sutton (1998): This is a tough one since Sutton pitched 16 seasons with the Dodgers. Davey Lopes was 4-for-10 with two homers against him, though just 1-for-5 with a single as a Dodger
  • Nolan Ryan (1999): No real Dodgers standouts here, so we’ll go with Tracy Woodson, 2-for-5 with a home run, a walk, and four RBI against Ryan