Fernando Valenzuela will become the newest Dodgers great to have his jersey number retired, as the team will retire his No. 34 jersey prior to Friday’s game against the Rockies. While he will forever be exalted within Dodgers lore, it remains to be seen whether or not he will have another chance to be inducted in Cooperstown.
Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times writes about Valenzuela’s chances to make the Hall of Fame and his impact on the Mexican community on both sides of the border, noting how longtime Spanish radio broadcaster Jaime Jarrín and current Dodger Julio Urías view the 62-year-old’s legacy:
From Jarrín: “Everything he did for baseball. He created more fans than any other player. Above all, people who didn’t care about baseball before. People who didn’t care about baseball began watching because of him.”
From Urías: “For [my family], he’s the God of baseball in Mexico... He always has that standing because of what he did, what he lived, from where he came from, and how he accomplished it.”
Valenzuela might not have the career numbers to support a Hall of Fame case, as he posted a career record of 173-153 with a 3.54 ERA, 2,074 strikeouts, 31 shutouts, an ERA+ of 104, and a WAR of 41.4. He does have numerous accolades, being named an All-Star six times while winning the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award, and World Series championship all in the 1981 season.
Valenzuela spent two years on the Hall of Fame ballot, but was removed after garnering 3.8 percent of the vote in 2004, ending his time on the writers’ ballot. Even though he fell off the ballot and doesn’t carry the statistical advantage to his support his case, his impact on the game reached international levels, as he helped popularize the sport in his native country of Mexico.
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