Monthly Archives: May 2015

#31 – Rick Rhoden, SP

Rick Rhoden

Rick Rhoden

The 1984 Pittsburgh Pirates had the National League’s best pitching staff, allowing fewer runs than any other opponent.

Leading the charge was the 31-year old veteran, Rick Rhoden.

Rhoden went 14-9 with a 2.72 ERA, 4th best in the NL.

He also finished among the league leaders in WHIP, Walks/9, and Innings Pitched.

Noted as a quality-hitting pitcher, Rhoden gets the #5 Pitcher Hitting Card in 1984, having put up a .333 batting average in 84 at bats.

Fun fact: Rhoden made history in 1988 when he became the first pitcher ever to make a start at designated hitter while playing under Billy Martin for the New York Yankees.

Rhoden made two All-Star appearances in his career – once with the Dodgers in ’76 and the other with the Bucs exactly 10 years later when he also finished 5th in Cy Young voting.

After leaving the game, Rhoden turned to golf where he qualified for the Senior Open and went on to three Top-10 finishes on the Champions Tour.

If the Pirates can outperform their historical 1984 record, Rhoden might make some noise for the Pitcher of the Year.

#32 – Kirk Gibson, RF

Kirk Gibson

Kirk Gibson

Kirk Gibson provided one of the more iconic moments of the 1984 season when he homered off of Goose Gossage in Game 5 of the World Series, putting the Detroit Tigers well on their way to finishing off the San Diego Padres.

Gibson was among the team leaders in batting average (.282), home runs (27), RBI (91) and stolen bases (29).

Gibby had 5 seasons of 20+ homers and 6 seasons of 20+ steals, making him one of the era’s more prolific power/speed players.

Gibson finished 6th in MVP voting in 1984 and would later win the award for his huge ’88 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A 1st round draft pick (#12 overall) of the Tigers in ’78, Gibson spent his first 9 and final 3 seasons playing in the Motor City.

He finished ’84 among the American League’s leaders in Slugging %, OPS, Triples and Stolen Bases.

I fully expect to see his name showing up in the MVP consideration at replay’s end.

#33 – Chili Davis, OF

Chili Davis

Chili Davis

At age 24, Charles Theodore Davis had an All-Star season, batting .315 with 21 HR and 81 RBI for an awful San Francisco Giants team.

“Chili” went on to a 19-year career in the Major Leagues that saw him make 3 All-Star games as well as play in three World Series – 1991 with the Minnesota Twins as well as ’98 and ’99 with the New York Yankees.

He hit double-digit homers every year between 1982 and 1997 and then once again in ’99 when he poked 19 homers at age 39 during his final season.

In 1984, his batting average of .315 was 3rd best in the National League.

He finished among the league leaders in Home Runs, Runs Batted In, On-Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, OPS, and Total Bases.

Perhaps the most remarkable story I can relate about Chili Davis is that I was reading his bio the afternoon of August 30th while writing this out and was he was born in Kingston, Jamaica.

In the background as I read those words was the first game of a Cubs/Cardinals doubleheader and, as I was reading the words “Kingston, Jamaica”, Cubs’ color commentator Jim Deshaies mentioned that the Cards’ starting pitcher Justin Masterson was the first MLB pitcher in history to be born in Kingston, Jamaica.

What the hell kind of crazy coincidence is that?  Freaky.

#34 – Alejandro Pena, SP

Alejandro Pena

Alejandro Pena

Alejandro Pena would go on to a career as a relief pitcher, but from 1983 to ’84, he was a starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

His ’84 season was phenomenal and yet he received nary a single Cy Young vote.

Perhaps done in by only having 12 wins (with 6 losses), Pena led the National League with a 2.48 ERA and 4 shutouts.

He was among league leaders in WHIP, Walks per 9 Innings and Complete Games.

The next season, Pena made just 2 appearances with 1 start, pitching 4 1/3 innings.

He came back as a part-time starter in ’86, pitching poorly.  By ’88, he was a full-time reliever.

Pena finished playing 15 seasons and collecting 74 career saves with a 3.11 ERA.

 

#35 – Gary Ward, CF

Gary Ward

Gary Ward

Straight outta’ Compton, Gary Ward was the starting center fielder for the 1984 Texas Rangers.

With 21 HR and a .284 batting average, Ward was one of the few bright spots in a Rangers’ lineup that finished 13th in American League scoring.

It was Ward’s first season with the team, having spent the prior five years with the Minnesota Twins.

Ward led the team with 97 runs scored and seven triples in ’84 and went on to spend two more decent seasons with Texas before moving on to play with the Yankees and Tigers.

In a 12-year career, Gary was a two-time All-Star, making the squad with the Twins in ’83 (.278, 19 HR, 88 RBI) and Rangers in ’85 (.287, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 26 SB).