Group Retrospective: Rookie Dodger Pitchers, 1982 through 1990
Tom Niedenfuer, RHP. Age 22, hard-throwing short reliever. Went 3-4, 2.71 in 70 innings with 60/25 K/BB ratio, picking up nine saves. Successful career in the bullpen, though he burned out at age 30.
Alejandro Pena, RHP. Age 23, another hard-throwing reliever. Went 0-2, 4.79 in 36 innings, with 20/21 K/BB. Good stuff but control problems held him back at first. Moved to the rotation in 1983 and won 12 games with a 2.75 ERA.
Orel Hershiser, RHP. 25 years old, used as a swingman, went 11-8, 2.66 with a 150/50 K/BB in 190 innings over 45 games, 20 starts. Possibly the best pitcher in the National League in the late 1980s. Was not considered a top prospect in the minors.
Ken Howell, RHP. 23 years old, fireballing power reliever, went 5-5, 3.33 in 51 innings with 54/9 K/BB ratio. Burned out by age 30 but very successful at times.
Dennis Powell, LHP. 22 years old, finesse guy. Went 2-7, 4.27 in 27 games including six starts, 31/25 K/BB in 65 innings. A Quadruple-A type, did well in the minors but never solved major league hitters.
Brian Holton, RHP. 27 years old, a Dodger farmhand since 1978 but not considered a prospect, finally got a chance and did OK, posting a 3.89 ERA in 53 games, 83 innings. Career ERA of 3.62 over 185 games in the late 1980s, 371 innings. Useful utility pitcher.
Shawn Hillegas, RHP. 22 years old, considered a top prospect, went 4-3, 3.57 in 10 starts, 51/31 K/BB in 58 innings. Control was a problem, but he held his own. Traded to the White Sox in 1988, ended up as a journeyman.
Tim Belcher, RHP. 26 years old, threw hard, erratic track record in the minors but considered a top prospect at times. Went 12-6, 2.91 in 27 starts, 152/51 K/BB in 180 innings. Had a long and reasonably successful career.
John Wetteland, RHP. 22 years old, threw hard, considered a top prospect, used as a swingman. Went 5-8, 3.77 in 31 games, 12 starts, with a 96/34 K/BB in 103 innings. Ended up as a closer eventually, a fine pitcher overall.
Ramon Martinez, RHP. 21 years old, considered a top prospect. Went 6-4, 3.19 in 15 starts, 89/41 K/BB in 99 innings. Dominant at times, if erratic, had a successful career but eventually overshadowed by his younger brother.
Mike Hartley, RHP. 28 years old, minor league journeyman. Earned relief job in spring training and did well, going 6-3, 2.95 in 32 games, 76/30 K/BB in 79 innings. Didn't last very long but effective at times, 3.70 ERA in 319 innings.
Jim Neidlinger, RHP. 25 years old, not considered a hot prospect. Made 12 starts, went 5-3, 3.28. Didn't throw hard but threw strikes. Never pitched in the majors again.
Pitchers Developed by the Dodgers, 1982-1990, 500 or more career innings.
Orel Hershiser, RHP. 204-150, 3.48 ERA in 3130 innings. Style: Finesse, although early in his career he had above-average stuff. Origin17th round 1979 draft, Bowling Green State University.
Tim Belcher, RHP. 146-140, 4.16 ERA in 2443 innings. Style: Power. Origin: Drafted by the Yankees in the first round of the January 1984 draft, from Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Ramon Martinez, RHP. 135-88, 3.67 ERA in 1896 innings. Style: Power. Didn't adjust well when velocity tailed off as he aged. Origin. Signed by the Dodgers out of the Dominican Republic in 1984.
Alejandro Pena, RHP. 56-52, 74 saves, 3.11 ERA in 1058 innings. Style: Power. Origin: Signed by the Dodgers out of the Dominican Republic in 1978.
John Wetteland, RHP. 48-45, 330 saves, 2.93 ERA in 764 innings. Style: Power. Origin: Drafted by the Dodgers in the 2nd round of the January 1985 draft, out of the College of San Mateo.
Tom Niedenfuer, RHP. 36-46, 97 saves, 3.30 ERA in 652 innings. Style: Power. Origin: 36th round 1977 draft, out of high school in Washington state.
Ken Howell, RHP. 38-48, 3.95 in 613 innings. Style: Power. Origin: Drafted by the Dodgers in the third round of the 1982 draft, out of Tuskegee University.
Shawn Hillegas, RHP. 24-38, 4.61 in 515 innings. Style. Power at first, turned into a finesse pitcher when velocity faded quickly. Origin. Drafted by the Dodgers in the first round of the 1984 January draft, out of Middle Georgia College.
Notice the predominance of power pitchers in this group.
Question: how much of an advantage is it for a young pitcher to begin his career in a place like Dodger Stadium, as opposed to a pinball machine like the Metrodome, in the old days with the bouncy turf? I mean, everyone SAYS it is an advantage, but how much of an advantage is it? A big one? A small one?