Examining the Hall of Fame case for Los Angeles Dodgers legend Orel Hershiser

28 Apr 1991: Pitcher Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws the ball during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport
28 Apr 1991: Pitcher Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws the ball during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 3
Next
Orel Hershiser, Baseball Hall of Fame, Los Angeles Dodgers
LOS ANGELES – JUNE 24: Orel Hershiser #55 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium on June 24, 1993 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bernstein Associates/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Dodgers SP Orel Hershiser dealt with injuries and poor run support

With the exception of the 1988 season, the Los Dodgers’ offense rarely supported Orel Hershiser. For example, he was nearly as good in 1987 and 1989 as he was in 1988, but he had a .500 record in both seasons.

In 1987, he went 16-16 with a 3.06 ERA in 37 games (35 starts). He led the NL in innings (264 2/3 IP) and he had an ERA+ of 131, a FIP of 3.21. In 1987, the average team scored 4.52 runs per game.

In the games that he started and was saddled with the loss (15 of his 16 total losses), the Dodgers scored more than three runs in three of his starts.

In 1989, it was even worse. Hershiser went 15-15 (the losses led the league) with a 2.31 ERA. He led the league in innings pitched for the third straight season (256 2/3). He also led the league in ERA+ (149) and FIP (2.77).

Offense was down in 1989, as the average NL team only scored 3.94 runs per game but in his 33 starts), the Dodgers scored more than four runs just eight times. They scored three or fewer runs in 23 times and were shut out six times. You can’t win if your team doesn’t score. The Dodgers, as a team, had a 2.95 ERA, which was the best in baseball and they still only won 77 games.

The other main area of bad luck that Hershiser had was with injuries. In April 1990, he was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his shoulder so he had to have shoulder reconstructive surgery. By doing so, he was the first MLB player to ever have shoulder reconstruction surgery. Coincidentally, the Dodgers team doctor at the time performed the procedure. The doctor? Dr. Frank Jobe, who, 15 years prior, was the doctor that created what is now known as Tommy John surgery.

The problem was that it wiped out the rest of his 1990 season and the first two months of the 1991 season. He was effective after that but never the same. Add in the 1994-95 MLBPA strike and Hershiser had four of his six fairly prime-age seasons (31-36) cut short.

After the surgery, he never was an All-star or received Cy Young votes again.