1972 Los Angeles Dodgers
1972 Los Angeles Dodgers / Franchise: Los Angeles Dodgers / BR Team Page
Managed by Walter Alston
The 1972 Los Angeles Dodgers began the season locked in the first regular season player strike in Major League Baseball history, forcing the cancellation of several games for all teams. The season finally did begin with the Dodgers facing the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium on April 15th with a 3-1 win. The starting lineup for the Dodgers that opening day was:
- Maury Wills, ss
- Bill Buckner, 1b
- Willie Davis, cf
- Frank Robinson, rf
- Jim Lefebvre, 2b
- Willie Crawford, lf
- Duke Sims, c
- Billy Grabarkewitz, 3b
- Don Sutton, p
This lineup was to undergo many changes throughout the season. The much-heralded arrival of Frank Robinson from the Baltimore Orioles never really panned out as Robby hit just 20 home runs while nagging injuries held him to 103 games. Aging star Maury Wills could no longer produce offensively and was replaced at shortstop by Bill Russell on April 28th; Russell held the position for the remainder of the season with the exception of a two-week military commitment in July. Veteran Wes Parker would come back to man first base most of the season with Bill Buckner seeing some time in the outfield. Bobby Valentine replaced Jim Lefebvre at second base by mid-May and then lost that job to rookie Lee Lacy in July. Billy Grabarkewitz was nagged with injuries and was replaced at third base by Steve Garvey with Valentine also seeing considerable time at the hot corner after the arrival of Lacy. Manny Mota would see most of the duty in left field. Sims shared the catching chores with Chris Cannizzaro after Dick Dietz went down with a back injury. Steve Yeager arrived on the scene in August, after Sims was traded to the Detroit Tigers. Only Willie Davis held his starting spot from opening day until the end of the season. September saw the debut of half of what would be the Dodger infield for years to come as Ron Cey and Davey Lopes were called up to play third base and second base, respectively.
The starting rotation consisted of Don Sutton, Claude Osteen, Bill Singer, Tommy John, and Al Downing. Osteen went 20-11 and Sutton 19-9. Jim Brewer was the leading bullpen workhorse with 17 saves and just a 1.26 ERA in 51 games. Also in the bullpen were Pete Richert, Pete Mikkelsen, Mike Strahler, and 49-year-old Hoyt Wilhelm, who was released in July, having finally reached the end of the line. Former Dodger star Ron Perranoski was re-acquired late in the season to take Wilhelm's place. Rookie Doug Rau showed promise in a late-season promotion.
The Dodgers remained in the race throughout most of the season but never could catch the Reds. In the end, the Dodgers were themselves caught by the Houston Astros, who finished one-half game in front of L.A. The Dodgers had to settle for third place.
Following the season, Parker, Wills and Lefebvre were released and never played in the majors again. Parker and Lefebvre continued their careers in Japan. Robinson was traded across town to the California Angels along with Valentine, Grabarkewitz, Singer and Strahler in a blockbuster deal for Andy Messersmith and Ken McMullen. The Dodgers would look for better days in 1973.
Awards and Honors