Dodgers Rookie of the Year winners, all 18 of them

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LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 01: Former Los Angeles Dodgers players Don Newcombe and Sandy Koufax walk on the field for the ceremonial first pitch before game seven of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 01: Former Los Angeles Dodgers players Don Newcombe and Sandy Koufax walk on the field for the ceremonial first pitch before game seven of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Dodgers Rookie of the Year #4

  • SP Don Newcombe, 1949
  • 10 seasons with three teams (8 seasons with Dodgers)
  • 149-90, 2154.7 IP, 3.56 ERA
  • 35.9 fWAR, 38.6 bWAR

Before making his major league debut in 1949, Newcombe pitched two seasons as a teenager in the Negro Leagues and two more seasons in the Dodgers’ minor league system.

In fact, Big Newk was in the Dodgers minor league system the year before Jackie Robinson broke the modern color barrier in the big leagues. He pitched for the Nashua Dodgers in the New England League in 1946.

He joined a Dodgers team that had Jackie Robinson at second base and Roy Campanella at catcher and he became one of the team’s top pitchers right from the start. In his rookie year, he was 17-8 with a 3.17 ERA in 244.3 innings.

He received 21 of the 24 first-place votes for the Rookie of the Year Award because three voters somehow voted for the Boston Braves’ Del Crandall, who only played in 67 games and hit .263/.291/.368.

Newcombe continued to pitch well over the next two seasons. He was an All-Star in each of his first three years while averaging 19 wins and 261 innings per season. Then, right in the prime of his career, he missed two seasons because of the Korean War. He returned in 1954 but struggled to a 9-8, 4.55 ERA season.

That down season was just temporary for Newk. He came back strong in 1955 with a 20-5 season that earned him an All-Star appearance and some MVP votes. He was even better in 1956 when he went 27-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 268 innings. He won the Cy Young and MVP Awards.

That 1956 season was the last great year that Newcombe had. He pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers in their last year in New York in 1957 and moved with the team across the country for the first year in L.A. When he started the year 0-6, he was traded to the Cincinnati Redlegs. This proved yet again that there’s no loyalty in baseball.

Newk finished his major league career with parts of three seasons with the Redlegs and a partial season with Cleveland in 1960. He had always been one of the better hitting pitchers in baseball, so when the Chunichi Dragons of the Japan Central League called, he agreed to play overseas. Another African-American player, Larry Doby, joined him. Newcombe mostly played first base and the outfield and hit .262/.316/.473. He was third on the team in home runs and RBI.

Since the early 1970s, Newcombe has been affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers in one capacity or another. He can still be seen behind home plate in his trademark Panama Hat on game days and he was one of four former Dodgers to throw out the first pitch before World Series Game 7 this year.