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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Portrait of members of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team pose in the dugout, 1954. From left, Americans Carl Furillo (1922 – 1989)
Portrait of members of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team pose in the dugout, 1954. From left, Americans Carl Furillo (1922 – 1989) /

Dodgers Rookie of the Year #6

  • 2B Jim Gilliam, 1953
  • 14 seasons with Dodgers
  • .265/.360/.355, 98 wRC+, 8321 PA
  • 32.7 fWAR, 40.7 bWAR

When Gilliam had a chance at big league play during his rookie season, the Dodgers already had a set infield. To make room for Gilliam, Jackie Robinson was moved from second base to third base, which meant veteran Billy Cox was the odd man out. Cox was a popular player among his teammates and the fans, so this was not an easy situation for Gilliam to come into.

There was an added element of racism. Some people were concerned that the Dodgers could field five African-American players out of the nine men on the field on days when Don Newcombe pitched. Despite all of the controversy surrounding him, Gilliam had a terrific rookie year.

Batting almost exclusively at the top of the lineup, Gilliam led the league in plate appearances and triples. He had a .383 OBP and scored 125 runs. The Dodgers won 105 games, which is still a franchise record. It was an impressive year all around in Brooklyn.

When it comes to the Rookie of the Year Award, Gilliam was the best rookie position player, but rookie pitcher Harvey Haddix of the Pirates was more valuable. He was 20-9 with a 3.06 ERA in 253 innings.

The Pirates went 50-104 that year, finishing 55 games behind the Dodgers. Remove Haddix’ 20-9 record from the team totals and they were 30-95 in games in which he didn’t earn a decision. He really should have won the ROY that season.

A few years into his career, a pattern emerged during Dodgers spring training. Gilliam was always rumored to be challenged for a starting position or being a possible trade candidate. Despite this, other players came and went and Gilliam just did his job. He never was traded and continued to play 90 percent of the team’s games every year until he was 35 years old.

Gilliams was considered a very intelligent ballplayer who was able to do the little things that help a team win. Bill James designed a proxy number for Baseball IQ, which he called “Player Performance Index.” It incorporated batting, running, and defense to determine “percentage players.” Gilliam is third all-time in Bill James’ PPI, behind Joe Morgan and Max Bishop.