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Los Angeles Dodgers: Power Ranking the Greatest Aprils in Dodgers History

Perry SchwartzCorrespondent IIIMarch 29, 2011

Los Angeles Dodgers: Power Ranking the Greatest Aprils in Dodgers History

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    In the 127-year history of the Dodgers franchise, there have been many great seasons and Hall of Fame players, and several outstanding Aprils.

    Originally from Brooklyn, the Dodgers not only switched cities, but they also changed team names, including wacky names like the Robins, Atlantics, Grays, Superbas, Grooms and Bridegrooms.

    The Major League Baseball season begins in late March or early April, and it can be tough to have a successful season without a strong start. As a franchise, the Dodgers have won 22 pennants, the second most of any team behind the New York Yankees, due in big part to a plethora of great Aprils.

    Here are the 10 greatest Aprils in Dodgers history.

10. 1952, Brooklyn Dodgers

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    April record: 8-2

    With players like Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges and Pee Wee Reese all at or near their primes, this was an all-time great Dodger team.

    Led by second baseman Robinson, who hit .448 in April of 1952, the Dodgers had an excellent month offensively, scoring nearly six runs per contest.

    The Dodgers' pitching was just average in April, but out of the Dodgers' eight wins that month, three of them were won by Preacher Roe, who compiled an impressive 1.33 ERA in those starts.

    However, like so many years between the 1940s and the 1970s, the Dodgers came up short against the New York Yankees in the World Series.

9. 1892, Brooklyn Grooms

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    April record: 9-3

    As the only team on this list prior to 1932, when the franchise became known as the Dodgers for good, this was one of the best offensive clubs in team history, particularly in April.

    Brooklyn averaged over nine runs per game in April of 1892, including six double-digit victories in their first 10 games.

    Little data is available from 1892 as far as individual game and month splits, but we do know that Hall-of-Fame first baseman Dan Brouthers led all Dodgers hitters that season with a .335 batting average and 124 RBI, becoming the first Dodger to win a batting title. 

    Despite the 9-3 start and 95-59 finish to the 1892 season, the Dodgers could not compete with the Boston Beaneaters (the original Braves), which won 102 games to capture the pennant. 

8. 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers

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    April record: 8-3

    This was not only one of the more successful Aprils in Dodgers history, but arguably the most memorable.

    Second baseman Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier on April 15th, 1947, and he went on to have a very successful season, earning Rookie of the Year honors.

    The Dodgers had a great month offensively, highlighted by outfielder Dixie Walker, who led all Dodgers with a .421 batting average and 12 RBI in April.

    Brooklyn finished the season 94-60, but lost the World Series in seven games to the New York Yankees. 

7. 2009, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    April record: 15-8

    While the majority of the greatest seasons in Dodgers history took place between 1941 and 1988, the 2009 Dodgers were very good, especially early in the season.

    Los Angeles got off to a great start offensively, led by Manny Ramirez, who hit .372 in April with nine home runs and 15 RBI.

    To go along with Manny's offense, the Dodgers were carried by their young guns like Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Russell Martin, as well as pitchers Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton.

    Billingsley had a great April, going 4-0 with an ERA of 2.14. Meanwhile, closer Broxton gave up just one run and had seven saves in the first month of the season.

    The Dodgers went on to win 95 games in 2009, their most since 1985, earning home-field advantage in the postseason, but they lost to the defending-champion Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS.

6. 1940, Brooklyn Dodgers

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    April record: 9-0

    With an incredible team ERA of 1.44 and an average margin of victory of 4.44 runs, the Dodgers had one of their most impressive Aprils in team history.

    However, as the only undefeated April team in Dodgers history, they may have peaked too early during Pee Wee Reese's rookie year.

    Hugh Casey led all Dodgers with a 2-0 record and an ERA of 0.50 in April, but he went just 9-8 with an ERA of over 4.00 the rest of the way. Meanwhile, third baseman Cookie Lavagetto posted a .353 batting average and 11 RBI, but hit just .257 for the season.

    As a team, the Dodgers finished 88-65, 12 games back of the Cincinnati Reds.

5. 1988, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    April record: 13-7

    Los Angeles dominated opponents in 1988 with great pitching, led by Cy Young-winner Orel Hershiser.

    Besides pitching a record 59.1 consecutive scoreless innings at the end of the 1988 season, Hershiser pitched very well in April, going 5-0 with an ERA of 1.56.

    Los Angeles played consistently well throughout the 1988 season, with a better-than-.500 record each month.

    After a 94-68 regular season, the Dodgers went on to pull off a huge upset in the World Series against the 104-win Oakland Athletics.

4. 1981, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    April record: 14-5

    When you think of the 1981 Dodgers, you immediately think of Fernandomania.

    Rookie left-hander Fernando Valenzuela started on Opening Day for the Dodgers and he went on to pitch a complete-game shutout.

    The Mexican southpaw's Opening Day performance was just a preview of things to come. Valenzuela started five games in April, completing and winning all five, while giving up just one earned run in the process.

    After a strike in the middle of the season that wiped out 52 regular-season games, the Dodgers beat Houston and Montreal in the playoffs, then defeated the New York Yankees in the World Series.

3. 1974, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    April record: 17-6

    Los Angeles not only went 17-6 in April of 1974, but they also outscored their opponents by 60 runs. Much of their April success can be attributed to starting pitchers Tommy John and Don Sutton, who combined to win nine games with an ERA below 2.30 between them.

    The April of 1974 also marked the first time that first baseman Steve Garvey, second baseman Davey Lopes, third baseman Ron Cey and shortstop Bill Russell all shared the infield for the first of a record eight-consecutive seasons.

    Quite possibly the best Dodgers team to not win a title, Los Angeles won 102 games in 1974, but lost to the Oakland Athletics in the World Series.

2. 1977, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    April record: 17-3

    The Dodgers got off to a stellar start in 1977, outscoring their opponents by 55 runs in April.

    Starting pitchers Don Sutton, Rick Rhoden and Charlie Hough combined to go 13-0 for the Dodgers, with Sutton posting an impressive 1.09 ERA.

    Los Angles also had a very productive offense that April, hitting .306 as a team, highlighted by third baseman Ron Cey, who hit .425 with nine home runs and 29 RBI.

    But like so many other years, the Dodgers couldn't get past the New York Yankees in the World Series, losing in six games.

1. 1955, Brooklyn Dodgers

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    April record: 14-2

    The 1955 season was one of the best in Dodgers history, beginning with a very impressive April in which Brooklyn outscored its opponents by 48 runs.

    Brooklyn averaged more than seven runs per game in April as catcher Roy Campanella, center fielder Duke Snider and right fielder Carl Furillo each hit at least .345, while hitting 16 home runs and driving in 54 RBI between them.

    The Dodgers also received very good starting pitching from Clem Labine and Carl Erskine, who combined to win five games with a collective ERA of 1.40.

    After losing to the Yankees five times in the World Series in 13 seasons, the Dodgers finally beat New York in seven games, capturing the franchise's first World Series title. 

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