Dodgers Rookie of the Year winners, all 18 of them

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Cody Bellinger
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Cody Bellinger /
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Dodgers Rookie of the Year #8

  • SP Hideo Nomo, 1995
  • 12 seasons with seven teams (7 seasons with Dodgers)
  • 123-109, 1976.3 IP, 4.24 ERA
  • 27.3 fWAR, 21.8 bWAR

After pitching for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in the Japan Pacific League for five years, Hideo Nomo came to the states in 1995 and “Nomomania” was born. He was 13-6, with a 2.54 ERA and 236 strikeouts in 191.3 innings in his first year, winning the Rookie of the Year Award over Chipper Jones, who finished second.

On July 11, 1995, Nomo started the All-Star game for the National League and was terrific. He used his twisting, winding motion to baffle AL hitters for two scoreless innings, which included three strikeouts. This would be the only All-Star team he would appear in, but it was a memorable appearance.

In a September issue of the L.A. Times, writer Mike Downey wrote about the origin of “Nomomania,” which he admits he stole from the “Fernandomania” phenomenon more than a dozen years earlier. This is how he described “Nomomania:”

"“It is a craze, a cult, a fad that makes an individual all the rage. It is, by way of example, whenever Hideo Nomo pitches a game of baseball, people pay for the privilege of witnessing him in double or treble the numbers that another pitcher would ordinarily lure to the gate. Understand? Nomo excitement! Nomo fever! Nomo mania! Like the Beatles.”"

Nomo came along the year after the 1994 strike that resulted in the first season in 90 years without a World Series at the end. The strike and continued friction the following year meant the 1995 season would be shortened to 144 games. Nomo was the perfect antidote. It wasn’t only Dodgers fans who loved him, it was all of baseball.

Along with the Rookie of the Year Award in 1995, Nomo finished fourth in Cy Young voting. He was nearly as good the next year when he went 16-11 with a 3.19 ERA and 234 strikeouts in 228.3 innings. He finished fourth in Cy Young voting once again.

Unfortunately, Nomomania didn’t last. His first two seasons were his best two seasons. He was traded to the Mets in July of 1988 and released by the Mets the following March. He struggled with walks and home runs. He pitched for the Brewers, Tigers, and Red Sox from 1999 to 2001 and had a 4.59 ERA.

The Red Sox allowed Nomo to become a free agent after the 2001 season and the Dodgers came calling. It was a very nice reunion for the first two years. Nomo was 32-19, with a 3.24 ERA in 438.7 innings across two seasons. It was just like old times. Who says you can’t get back together with an old flame?

It would have been a happy ending if the book closed after the 2003 season, but happy endings only exist in movies. Nomo started 18 games for the 2004 Dodgers and went 4-11 with an 8.25 ERA in 84 innings. He pitched the 2005 season with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and had a 7.24 ERA in 100.7 innings. After two seasons away from the big leagues, Nomo pitched in three games with the Royals in 2008 before finally calling it quits.

Nomo’s career ended poorly but his overall success led to many more Japanese players coming to the states. He is one of only five players to have pitched a no-hitter in both leagues and the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter at Coors Field. He was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014