Ranking the 10 Greatest Dodgers Players of All Time

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2018

Ranking the 10 Greatest Dodgers Players of All Time

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    Clayton Kershaw is already one of the greatest Dodgers in history, but who stands above him?
    Clayton Kershaw is already one of the greatest Dodgers in history, but who stands above him?Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Dozens of All-Stars and Hall of Famers have donned the Los Angeles Dodgers uniform throughout the franchise's long, illustrious history.

    Our challenge was narrowing that massive field to 10 of the greatest players who ever put on the blue-and-white jersey. The result was a fascinating mix of superstars across several eras, from the 1930s to the 1970s and all the way to today.

    An important note: The list is limited to players. Otherwise, legendary broadcaster Vin Scully and longtime manager Tommy Lasorda would be included.

    And with names such as Mike Piazza, Orel Hershiser and Maury Wills not making the cutoften because of longevity, in their casesyou know it's a stacked group among the top 10. Awards, records and All-Star nods all factored into the choices.

10. Dazzy Vance

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    More than 100 years ago, Dazzy Vance made his major league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates. And in 1922, he began a prosperous 11-year career with the Brooklyn Robins.

    The right-handed pitcher led the National League in strikeouts for seven straight seasons, including the 1924 campaign when he earned the Triple Crown. Vance posted a 28-6 record with a 2.16 ERA and 262 strikeouts and won MVP honors.

    Vance, who paced the NL in ERA three times, ranks third in franchise history with 190 wins and fifth at 1,918 strikeouts. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.

9. Pee Wee Reese

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    Associated Press

    Remembered for his support of Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese was more than a kind friend and teammate to a legendary player.

    The infielder garnered 10 All-Star nods and finished among the top 10 in MVP voting eight times. Reese, who hit pause on his budding baseball career to serve in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1945, led the National League in walks, runs and stolen bases one time apiece.

    Reese is the Dodgers' record-holder for walks (1,210)also the 58th-most in league historyand runs (1,338). He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.

8. Fernando Valenzuela

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    Sam Jones/Associated Press

    Fernando Valenzuela wasted little time endearing himself to Dodgers fans. During the first eight starts of his career in 1981, he threw eight straight complete games with five shutouts.

    And there's more: He became the first player ever to win Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young in the same season. For good measure, Valenzuela hit .250 and won the Silver Slugger Award. He won another Silver Slugger two years later.

    Valenzuela totaled 107 complete games and 29 shutouts with the organization. The southpaw led the NL in those categories three times and once, respectively.

    A frequent sight on the franchise's top-10 leaderboards, Valenzuela ranks sixth in strikeouts, shutouts and starts. The six-time All-Star is also ninth in wins and innings pitched.

7. Don Sutton

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    Although he never won a Cy Young or MVP, Don Sutton became an icon thanks to longevity. In each of his first 15 seasons, the right-hander eclipsed the 200-inning mark, starting at least 30 games in all but one of those seasons.

    Sutton won double-digit games every year from 1966 to 1980, recording an ERA below 3.00 seven times. His 2.20 ERA led the National League in 1980, his final season in Los Angeles until a brief return eight years later prior to his retirement.

    The franchise's all-time leader in wins (233), games played (550), strikeouts (2,696), innings (3,816.1) and shutouts (52), Sutton headed into the Hall of Fame with the 1998 class.

6. Roy Campanella

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    Associated Press

    Roy Campanella only played 10 seasons, but he packed a 20-year career of accomplishments into that decade.

    An eight-time All-Star catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Campanella celebrated three MVP awards in 1951, 1953 and 1955. His most prolific season came in '53, when he bashed a personal-best 41 homers with a then-franchise-record 142 RBI on a .312 average.

    Campanella's career ended because of an automobile accident following the 1957 season. He suffered a fracture of the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae and was paralyzed from the shoulders down, though he eventually regained use of his arms.

    The Hall of Fame enshrined Campanella in 1969.

5. Duke Snider

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    John Lindsay/Associated Press

    During a 16-year career with the organization, Duke Snider suited up for both the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers.

    The seven-time All-Star swatted 389 homers, smacked 814 extra-base hits and drove in 1,271 runs, all of which remain franchise records. Snider's .553 slugging percentage is fourth-best.

    "Duke was a fine man, a terrific hitter and a great friend, even though he was a Dodger," Willie Mays said after Snider's death in 2011. "It was great playing center field in New York in the 1950s, along with Mickey [Mantle] and Duke."

    A member of the 1980 Hall of Fame class, Snider also earned the 1955 Major League Player of the Year award.

4. Don Drysdale

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    Don Drysdale was a workhorse. From 1962 to 1965, he eclipsed 300 innings while leading the majors in games started each season.

    He received All-Star nods eight times and earned the 1962 Cy Young. That year, Big D posted a 25-9 record with a 2.83 ERA and an MLB-high 232 strikeouts. Drysdale also led the National League in hit by pitches five times and ranks 19th in MLB history.

    "The pitcher has to find out if the hitter is timid," he said in 1979, according to the New York Times. "And if the hitter is timid, he has to remind the hitter he's timid."

    After retiring as the franchise's then-all-time leader in wins (209) and innings pitched (3,432), Drysdale entered the Hall of Fame in 1984.

3. Clayton Kershaw

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    The Hall of Fame-bound southpaw has solidified himself as baseball's most dominant pitcher of the 2010s.

    Clayton Kershaw has paced the National League in ERA five times, wins thrice and strikeouts thrice this decade. Since 2011, he's finished lower than third in Cy Young voting only onceand won the honor three times. He took home a pitching Triple Crown in 2011 (21-5, 2.28 ERA, 248 SO) and MVP after a dominant 2014 (21-3, 1.77 ERA).

    Kershaw is already fourth in Dodgers history with 2,228 strikeouts and seventh at 149 wins. His career 2.37 ERA only trails closer Kenley Jansen, Zack Greinkewho played three years in LAand Jeff Pfeffer.

    After his retirement, the seven-time All-Star won't be waiting long to receive his call from the Hall.

2. Jackie Robinson

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    In terms of impact on baseball as a sport, Jackie Robinson is the runaway winner for the No. 1 spot. That is undeniably true. On the field, though, he put together a tremendous 10-year career narrowly eclipsed by a Hall of Fame pitcher.

    Robinson won Rookie of the Year honors in 1947, claimed the MVP in 1949 and made six consecutive All-Star teams from 1949 to 1954. His .342 batting average paced the National League during his MVP season.

    He also led the majors in on-base percentage (.440) in 1952 and twice stood atop the NL steals chart (1947, 1949).

    In 1962, the legend who broke Major League Baseball's color barrier received a deserved spot in the Hall of Fame.

1. Sandy Koufax

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    Reed Saxon/Associated Press

    One of three players ever to win three pitching Triple Crowns, Sandy Koufax stands narrowly above the rest in franchise history.

    The southpaw achieved the feat in 1963, 1965 and 1966, three of the final four seasons in his career. Severe arthritic pain caused Koufax to retire following the '66 campaign.

    "Sandy pitches in extreme pain that can only be overcome by his motivational urge," team physician Dr. Robert Kerlan said at the time, per the New York World-Telegram and Sun (h/t Thomas Lawrence of the National Baseball Hall of Fame).

    But what a motivational urge it was. Koufax ended his career as a three-time Cy Young winner with two World Series MVPs and one league MVP. He led the National League in ERA five straight years to end his career, pitched four no-hitters and one perfect game.

    Koufax entered the Hall of Fame in 1972.

         

    Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.