1979 Los Angeles Dodgers
1979 Los Angeles Dodgers / Franchise: Los Angeles Dodgers / BR Team Page
Managed by Tommy Lasorda
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1979 Los Angeles Dodgers were a low point in a great era for the Dodgers. In the period 1969-1983, the Dodgers finished under .500 only once, in 1979. In the period 1973-1983, the Dodgers finished lower than second in the NL West division only once, in 1979. To add insult to injury, the other team in town, the California Angels, won their division for the first time.
Still, the Dodgers team wasn't terrible. Although they finished under .500, they scored more runs than they gave up, and had a Pythagorean of 83-79. Five players hit at least 20 home runs as the team was second in the National League in slugging. Davey Lopes had his best power season, with 28 homers. Young players such as Pedro Guerrero and Mickey Hatcher started to get a little playing time. Young pitchers such as Rick Sutcliffe, 17-10 and Bob Welch, 5-6, started to show what they could do, Sutcliffe being named the 1979 National League Rookie of the Year for his performance. Manny Mota, a 41-year-old pinch-hitter, hit .357.
The problem was the overall strength of the pitching staff. The 1979 team's batters scored more runs than in 1978, a year the team went to the World Series. But the pitchers as a group gave up 150 runs more in 1979 than in 1978. In 1978, Terry Forster saved 22 games for the Dodgers, but in 1979 no reliever had more than 7 saves, with Bobby Castillo reaching that unimpressive total. Indicative of the season, the Dodgers would battle back to tie a game, only to lose in the late innings. As for starting pitching, the loss of Tommy John (signed by the New York Yankees as a free agent) and injuries to Andy Messersmith and Doug Rau were critical. Burt Hooton (11-10, 2.97) and Don Sutton (12-15, 3.82) had less-than-ideal seasons, but proved their consistency as winners once again in a difficult year. However, Jerry Reuss, acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a trade for Rick Rhoden was a major disappointment, going 7-14. The lack of starting pitching was such a problem that reliever Charlie Hough had to make 14 starts; little did anyone know at the time that he would have an excellent second career as a starter in the American League!
Awards and Honors