Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sid Fernandez

Anyone who took the time to review his brilliant minor league numbers in the early 1980s must have thought he was the second coming of Dodger great Sandy Koufax.

In 1981 at age 18, he dominated the rookie-level Pioneer League, posting a 5-1 record and a 1.54 earned run average while fanning 128 batters in 75.2 innings.

The following season, he breezed through the Class-A Florida State League with an 8-1 won-lost mark, a 1.91 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 84.2 innings before earning a promotion to Triple-A.

And in 1983, he toyed with Double-A hitters, registering a 13-4 record and a 2.82 ERA while whiffing 209 batters in 153 innings.

Among the many highlights of his three minor league seasons in the Los Angeles Dodgers' organization, included striking out 21 batters in a single game twice and hurling two no-hitters, a one-hitter and four two-hitters.

But, unfortunately, the Dodgers appeared to be more concerned with Charles Sidney Fernandez' ever-expanding wasitline than they were impressed by his minor league statistics.

They didn't think "El Sid" was the next Koufax.


Instead, they thought he was the second coming of the the Michelin blimp or the Pillsbury doughboy.

So, they peddled their chunky left-hander to the New York Mets during the winter of 1983 for Carlos Diaz, a left-handed relief pitcher, and Bob Bailor, a utility infielder.

In hindsight, this turned out to be a horrendous deal for Los Angeles. Diaz and Bailor were both out of baseball by the 1987 season, while Fernandez went on to pitch another 14 years in the big leagues, winning 114 games, losing 96 and posting a respectable 3.36 ERA.

His best season was 1986 when he set career highs in wins with 16 and strikeouts with 200 for the world champion Mets.

Although his fastball wasn't considered especially fast, Fernandez was extremely difficult for batters to hit. He led National League pitchers in fewest hits allowed per nine innings in 1985, 1988 and 1990. His career 6.82 hits per game ratio ranks fourth best all-time, behind Nolan Ryan, Koufax, and Pedro Martinez.

Fernandez pitched in just two games as a Dodger during the tailend of the 1983 season, striking out nine batters in only six innings of work, but yielded seven hits, seven walks and four runs and was charged with a loss.

[1] Nightingale, Dave. "Super Smoke: Super Prospect Fernandez May Have Climbed Too Fast." The Sporting News, August 2, 1982, 41 and 44.
[2] Gammons, Peter. "'84 Rookie Crop Looks Good." The Sporting News: 1984 Baseball Yearbook. TSN, 1984, 115-120.


At 5:58 PM, Blogger JT said...

I was at Dodger Stadium for Sid's major league debut in a blow out game against the Giants. I remember pretty clearly the fans in my secion giving him a standing ovation when he struck out a batter. His control was pretty bad in that game! Too bad the Dodgers let him get away tho.


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