Monthly Archives: July 2015

#22 – Robin Yount, SS

Robin Yount

Robin Yount

From beautiful Danville, Illinois, Robin Yount was the #3 pick overall in the 1973 draft and paid off by spending 20 years with the Milwaukee Brewers en route to the Hall of Fame.

Okay, I grew up near Danville.  I have been to Danville.  It isn’t beautiful.

But everything else up there was factually correct.

Maybe it’s from having played in a small market, but I see here that Yount only made 3 All-Star Games in his career and that boggles my mind.

He won the American League MVP Award twice – once in 1982 and another time in 1989.

That ’82 season, in particular, was a monster one.  He led the Brew Crew to an American League pennant, leading the league in hits (210), doubles (46), slugging (.578), OPS (.957) and total bases (367).

He led the league in doubles (’80 and ’82) and triples (’83 and ’88).

Our focus here, of course, is on the ’84 season.

Yount led a pretty horrific Milwaukee Brewers team that season, hitting a solid .298 with 50 extra-base hits, driving in 80 while swiping his customary 14 bases.

Playing in 160 games, Yount ranked among AL leaders in runs scored, hits and triples.

In the field, Yount placed 2nd in range factor / 9 innings among AL shortstops, placing far behind the Orioles’ Cal Ripken.

Robin was also 5th in double plays turned.

I occasionally see lemonade at Madison-area grocery stores with Yount’s name on them and it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

#23 – Kent Hrbek, 1B

Kent Hrbek

Kent Hrbek

He wasn’t a Hall of Famer, but Kent Hrbek is a sure-fire All-Time Great for the Minnesota Twins franchise.

A 17th round pick, Hrbek broke in as a 21-year old in 1981 and then spent the next 13 years manning first base for the team.

He made only one All-Star Game in his career, when he finished 2nd in 1982 Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .301 with 23 HR.

Despite that, Hrbek posted an OPS+ over 100 every season between his 2nd year (’82) and 2nd to last year (’93).  And in ’94 his OPS+ was 99, so…  Big deal.

In the ’84 season, Hrbek finished 2nd in MVP voting, batting .311 with 27 HR and 107 RBI.

He never led the league in a batting category, but his numbers were consistent, year in and year out.  Just about every year he hit somewhere between .280 and .300 with 20-some homers and an On Base Percentage of .360 or higher.

If you know a guy is going to give you those numbers every season for a dozen straight years, you sign him up!

I look forward to penciling Hrbek’s name into the lineup cards.  He was one of the all-time greats from the 1980s.

#24 – Dale Murphy, CF

Dale Murphy

Dale Murphy

Dale Murphy came into the 1984 season seeking his third straight National League MVP award.

He had first appeared in the MLB in 1976 at age 20 and this was his 9th year in the league, all spent with the Braves.

Remarkably, for a 3rd consecutive season, Murphy hit 36 home runs, each time leading the National League.

After leading the league in RBI during the MVP seasons, he drove in an even 100 in 1984.  He also hit .290 with 19 stolen bases, playing in all 162 games for a 3rd straight year.

He led the league with a .547 slugging percentage, finished a fraction of a percentage point behind Mike Schmidt in OPS and finished one ahead of the Cubs’ Ryne Sandberg in Total Bases with 332.

The ’84 season was in the middle of Murphy’s peak years.  Between age 26 and 31 (1982-1987), The Murph averaged .289 with 36 HR, 105 RBI and 18 SB.

Murphy finished 9th in MVP voting while also winning a 3rd straight Gold Glove.

To look at the results of the MVP voting, it’s clear that the era was one in which voters put more stock on which team a player was on than how they performed as an individual.  Murphy clearly deserved higher than 9th place in the voting.

Yes, there were strikeouts.  134 of them, to be exact.  That was 2nd most in the NL, though still another full 34 behind the Phillies’ Juan Samuel.

But what a season it was.

#25 – Tony Pena, C

Tony Pena

Tony Pena

Let’s talk defense.

Coming in at #25 on our list is Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Tony Pena.

It’s not that Pena was a slouch at the plate.  He wasn’t.  He hit a respectable .286 with 15 HR, making his 2nd All-Star Game as a 27-year old.

He would go on to represent the Pirates in the All-Star Game again in ’85 and ’86, then once more in ’89 after moving to the Cardinals.

A four-time Gold Glover, Pena led National League catchers in putouts , assists (95), double plays (15), and runners caught stealing (63).

He threw out 39.9% of would-be base-stealers, trailing only the Reds’ Dann Bilardello (41.5%).

Pena appeared in 146 games behind the plate, tied with the Cubs’ Jody Davis for 2nd most and finishing just 1 shy of the total put up by the Padres’ Terry Kennedy.

#26 – Dwight Evans, RF

Dwight Evans

Dwight Evans

In 1984, Dwight Evans led the American League with a .920 OPS as well as several “counting stats” – games (162), plate appearances (738) and runs scored (121).

He also pulled down his 4th straight Gold Glove award, which at that point gave him 7 for his career.  He would go on to earn one more the following season.

Evans hit .292 with 32 HR and 104 RBI, also showing decent speed by legging out 8 triples and 37 doubles.  Those extra-base hit numbers and runs batted in were each good enough to rate among the 10 best in the AL.

He wasn’t without his problems, however, as he whiffed 115 times and grounded into 19 double plays – each ranking 10th most in the league.

Still, a league-best OPS coupled with a 1 rating in right field makes him one of the more valuable players of the 1984 season.

And, no, I’m not going to make it through this post without mentioning how awesome his mustache is.