The year was 1992, and expectations were high. The team had a blend of seasoned vets, Daryl Strawberry, Brett Butler, Eric Davis, and some young talent. The pitching staff was led by 33 year old Orel Hershiser, with knuckleballer Tom Candiotti, Kevin Gross, and lefty Bobby Ojeda anchoring the rotation. A couple of kids, Ramon Martinez and Pedro Astacio backed them up.
The bullpen had Roger McDowell as the closer with some experienced arms, Jim Gott, Tim Crews, Steve Wilson, and John Candelaria. Jay Howell, Kip Gross and a rookie, Pedro Martinez would also get some time in. So what happened?
First off, Davis was not the Eric Davis of old. He was nowhere near the player he had been with the Reds. He would play in only 76 games. Strawberry, who the season before had been signed as a free agent, had drug problems and ended up playing in only 43 games. These problems would bleed over into 1993 and he would be released.
The offensive catalyst was 35 year old centerfielder, Brett Butler. Butler would play in 157 games and hit .309. One of the problems with the loss of Strawberry and the offensive decline of Davis was no power. ROY Eric Karros, would lead the team with 20 and was the only player with double digit homers.
The starting staff turned out to be very beatable. None of the starters had a record of better than .500. Astacio was the only one at .500 with a 5-5 mark. Hershiser, Gross, Martinez, Candiotti and McDowell all lost in double figures.
Mitch Webster, a reserve outfielder, was the only other outfielder who played in more than 100 games. 135. Dave Hansen and Webster hit six homers. No other player had more than 5.
The bench was loaded with talented players: Mike Sharperson, Todd Benzinger, and Carlos Hernandez was Mike Scioscia’s backup. But overall, the offense was very weak.
From the very beginning of the season, they were playing from behind and having a large hill to climb. They had one winning month. May when they went 13-10. There is little doubt that injuries and the loss of Strawberry to his drug addiction played a huge role.
But the team, even with Lasorda at the helm, just never seemed to jell. Yet here is the kicker, they were still second in the league in attendance with 2.473,266. That to me is a total testament to how Dodger fans loved their team win or lose. Of course, that would change a lot when McCourt came into the picture.
By the end of June, they would have 31 wins. They would win only 32 the rest of the way. They made no big moves at the deadline except to trade Kal Daniels to the Cubs for basically nothing.
Karros would be the first of five consecutive Rookies of the Year, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, Hideo Nomo and Todd Hollandsworth would follow, and the team’s fortunes would improve going forward.