Monthly Archives: February 2015

#44 – Orel Hershiser, P

Orel Hershiser

Orel Hershiser

Orel Hershiser had two different seasons in 1984.

In the first half of the season, he made only a handful of starts, mainly appearing out of the bullpen in his first full season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Through June 17th, he had a 5.21 ERA.

Then things changed.

He picked up a 2-inning save (his first) on June 21st.  Then a second save with three perfect innings (and four strikeouts) on June 23rd.

His next appearance was June 29th, when he threw a complete game win against the Chicago Cubs.

In July, he made 5 starts, 4 of which resulted in shutouts.

Solid pitching continued for the final two months and Hershiser dropped his ERA to 2.66, good enough for 3rd best in the National League.

Orel finished ’84 among the top 10 in WHIP, Strikeouts per 9 IP, Strikeouts, Complete Games, and Shutouts.

This is all pretty phenomenal for a pitcher who made 45 appearances in 1984, only 20 of which were as a starter.

Hershiser finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting before placing 3rd in Cy Young voting the next season.

He made three consecutive All-Star Games, running from 1987 through 1989.

In ’88, he won the Cy Young award, going 23-8 with a 2.26 ERA while completing 15 games and racking up 8 shutouts.

1984 wasn’t his absolute best season, but it was a really good one.

It was also a sign of what was to come.  Hershiser would go on to be one of the most dominating pitchers of the latter half of the 1980s.

#45 – Frank White, 2B

Frank White

Frank White

With a reputation as one of Major League Baseball’s elite defensive second basemen, Frank White turned in another solid season in 1984, helping the Kansas City Royals win the AL West division.

As usual, White didn’t exactly light it up at the dish, but his 107 OPS+ was one of only three times in his 18-year career that he surpassed 100.

In fact, if you look at his career and try to find occasions when he finished among the league’s top 10 in a common offensive stat, you’d find White finishing in the league’s top 10 doubles hitters twice.  Past that, nada.

Fielding was where it was at for White.  He finished among league leaders in double plays turned 7 times, range factor per 9 innings 9 times, and fielding percentage 10 times.

White won an impressive 8 Gold Glove Awards during his career.

#46 – Tim Wallach, 3B

Tim Wallach

Tim Wallach

Next up in our weekly countdown of 1984’s top contributors is Montreal Expos third baseman Tim Wallach.

Sadly for Strat replayers, Wallach’s 1984 card isn’t going to amount anywhere near to a Top 50.

Most of his value in ’84 came from his play down at the hot corner, where he led National Leaguers in putouts, assists, and double plays.

Among qualifying players at the position, he finished 2nd in range factor/9 innings and fielding percentage.

But for all that, his Strat card only has him with a 3 fielding rating.  A 2 seems like it would have been more appropriate, but Wallach got no love this season.

For the record, I own the 1984 set in APBA format as well, and Wallach received a 4 rating from the company.  So it seems both companies didn’t really deem him worth of their highest ratings for whatever reason.

Granted, these fielding numbers are folded into the pitcher cards for the 1984 Expos, so it’s not as though the team should simulate worse as a result of Wallach’s 3 at third base.

But if you were in a draft league with 1984 cards, you wouldn’t draft Wallach in the top 50.  He hit just .246 with 18 HR.

 

#47 – Storm Davis, SP

Storm Davis

Storm Davis

I recall Storm Davis as a 19-game winner for the mighty 1989 Oakland Athletics.

But Davis also had an impressive season in 1984 with the Baltimore Orioles.

That year, Davis completed 10 of his 31 starts, going 14-9 with a 3.12 ERA, good for 7th best in the American League.

What Davis did better than anybody was prevent balls from leaving the yard, as his 0.28 HR/9 was tops in the league.

(As a glimpse into my “Modified Basic” rules, any HOMERUN reading off of the batter’s card in the 1 column is reduced to a SINGLE** against Davis. This rule is a pretty rare occurrence.)

Davis won two World Series in his career, once with the ’83 Orioles and again with the ’89 Athletics.

In 1988, he won American League Comeback Player of the Year when he set a then-career high with 16 wins.

Like many other ballplayers, Storm went on to a life after Major League Baseball as a coach.  At the time of this writing, he was the pitching coach for the Tennessee Smokies – the Chicago Cubs’ AA team.

R.I.P. Dave Bergman

Dave Bergman (1953-2015)

Dave Bergman (1953-2015)

It’s become something of a dark joke that every time I get into a replay, somebody from that replay dies.

In 2009, I was doing a 6-team, 10-game project with the 1979 NFL. One of those teams was the Los Angeles Rams. On October 13th, running back Cullen Bryant died.

Last fall I was doing a replay with great teams of the past from the late 1960’s American League. One of those teams was the ’68 Detroit Tigers. On September 27th, while stopping by a restaurant during a road trip to head up through Canada with my wife, I spied a USA Today announcing that Gates Brown had died.

The latest victim came yesterday, as another Tigers’ player passed away.

This time it was first baseman Dave Bergman.

I had just posted a recent video clip, one from this past summer, where Bergman was among those present at a 30 year reunion of the 1984 World Series team.

By all accounts, seems like a great guy. Here’s an article from the Detroit Free Press: http://www.freep.com/story/sports/mlb/tigers/2015/02/02/detroit-tigers-dave-bergman/22755701/

Thanks to my brother, Shawn, for alerting me to this. I somehow missed it.

I hope my replays don’t actually bring a curse upon the players of old, but if this keeps up I may have to make it a point to only play with sets of cards from seasons that are at least 80 years in the past.