by Cary Osborne
Things could change. We could see a pitcher in the batter’s box again if it is agreed to in future collective bargaining agreements. But if history gives any indication, it’s not likely since the American League has had the designated hitter rule for 49 years.
If this is the end for Dodger pitchers hitting, then the history book will show some of these hurlers as the greatest hitters at the position in franchise history and these moments as some of the most memorable.
The Greatest Hitting Pitchers
The debate usually begins with two Dons – Drysdale and Newcombe.
Drysdale clubbed 29 home runs in his career. No other Dodger reached double figures. Fernando Valenzuela is second with eight home runs. Drysdale also had 113 RBI, second in franchise history behind Brickyard Kennedy, who drove in 137 runs and batted .261 between 1892 and 1901.
Drysdale and Newcombe share single-season franchise records with seven home runs – Drysdale did it twice in 1958 and 1965. Newcombe hit seven in 1955 in one of the greatest hitting seasons ever by a Major League pitcher.
Newcombe batted .359 / .395 / .633 / 1,028 with 17 extra-base hits and a Dodger record 23 RBI (four as a pinch-hitter) in 1955. Newcombe was used as a pinch-hitter 23 times that season and batted. 381 (8-for-21). He also won 20 games on the mound.
The Silver Sluggers
Valenzuela is the only two-time Silver Slugger Award winner in Dodger history. The award, given to the best offensive performer at each position in each league, was first handed out after the 1980 season.
Valenzuela won it in 1981 and 1983. He was a career .202 hitter with the Dodgers.
Tim Leary won it in 1988. His pinch-hit, walk-off single against the Giants on Aug. 13, 1988, was a highlight moment of the championship season.
Orel Hershiser batted .356 in his Silver Slugger 1993 season, and Zack Greinke batted .328 in his 2013 award-winning season.
Some Memorable Moments
In recent history, Clayton Kershaw’s 2013 Opening Day dynamic performance stands out. With the score tied 0–0 in the eighth inning against the Giants on April 1, 2013, Kershaw hit a solo home run against San Francisco’s George Kontos.
Then he went out and completed a shutout in a 4-0 Dodger victory.
Kershaw became the first pitcher to homer and throw a shutout on Opening Day since Cleveland’s Bob Lemon in 1953.
Drysdale hit a homer and pitched a complete game allowing one run to the Mets on Opening Day 1965 on April 12.
Darren Dreifort, a dual-threat hitter and pitcher in college at Wichita State, hit two home runs on Aug. 8, 2000, and tallied nine total bases. The total bases tied Newcombe’s Dodger record, accomplished on May 30, 1955, and Sept. 19, 1956.
Back to Drysdale, who owns one of two grand slams by a Dodger pitcher (Aug. 9, 1961). The other was hit by Erv Palica for Brooklyn on Sept. 24, 1950.
In Game 2 of the 1988 World Series, Hershiser pitched a shutout against the A’s. He also went 3-for-3 with an RBI double. He is one of eight pitchers all time with three hits in a postseason game and one of only three since 1925.
The Last Moments
The last pitcher at-bat by a Dodger was by Walker Buehler – a third-inning strikeout against Atlanta’s Ian Anderson in Game 6 of the 2021 National League Championship Series.
The last hit was by Tony Gonsolin, a single in the fifth inning of NLCS Game 1 against Max Fried.
For the regular season, it’s Julio Urías with the final hit – a single on Sept. 26 in the top of the fourth at Arizona against Caleb Smith. Urías had nine RBI last season – tied for the best mark among pitchers other than Shohei Ohtani – and batted .203.
Dodger pitchers went hitless in the final six 2021 regular season games.
The last regular-season at-bat was by Andre Jackson, who grounded out in the bottom of the eighth inning on Oct. 3 against Milwaukee.
The last triple was by Kershaw on Sept. 24, 2014.
The last home run was from Hyun-Jin Ryu on Sept. 22, 2019, producing this legendary call by Joe Davis: