Monthly Archives: October 2015

#9 – Alan Trammell, SS

Alan Trammell

Alan Trammell

A 6-time All-Star and 4-time Gold Glove winner, Alan Trammell became the Detroit Tigers full-time starting shortstop in 1978 and stayed there for 19 seasons.

As he headed into his upper 30s, his playing time diminished considerably, but Trammell and double play partner Lou Whitaker were the faces of the franchise in the 1980s.

The 1984 season was no exception, of course, as Trammell made the All-Star Game, won a Gold Glove, and took 9th in MVP voting.

Trammell hit .314 (5th best in the American League) with 14 HR and 19 SB.

He also rated among the league leaders in On-Base Percentage (.382) and doubles (34).

In the field, his .980 fielding percentage was bested only by the Angels’ Dick Schofield.

Trammell took the 1984 World Series MVP award after batting .450 with a pair of home runs and 6 RBI in the 5-game series.

That came on the heels of a .364 performance (with 1 homer) in a 3-game sweep of the American League Championship Series.

Trammell’s feats during the 1984 season are more impressive when you consider that he had to miss 23 games due to shoulder tendinitis issues that plagued him throughout the year.

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#10 – Tim Raines, CF

Tim Raines

Tim Raines

It’s hard for me to believe, but Tim Raines was still just 24 years old for the 1984 season.

He both played in the All-Star Game and led the league in stolen bases for a 4th straight season, swiping 75 of them while batting .309 with a .393 on base percentage.

Raines 38 doubles led the league, his 106 runs scored were 2nd best, and 192 hits 3rd highest.

“Rock” was one of the most dynamic players in a hot and cold lineup for the 1984 Montreal Expos.  He was one of my favorite players to watch growing up, in no small part because of how much I used to enjoy base-stealers of that era.

Raines deservedly received a AA steal rating on his 1984 Strat-o-Matic card but is a slight defensive liability with a 3 rating in center field.

I’m still holding out hope that he finds his way into the Hall of Fame.  I tend to be in the “Small Hall” camp, but I still think Raines deserves a spot there.  In my mind he was one of the best at his position in that era.

#11 – Buddy Bell, 3B

Buddy Bell

Buddy Bell

David Gus Bell, better known as Buddy, was one of the elite third basemen of the early 1980s, winning six consecutive Gold Glove awards at the hot corner between 1979 and 1984.

He was also a consistent hitter, batting between .277 and .315 every season between ’76 and ’84.

He led the 1984 Texas Rangers in batting average with a .315 mark which was good enough for 4th best in the American League that season.

He was also among the league leaders in on-base percentage (.382) and doubles (36).

While he led the league in errors at third base, he also played 147 games there, so his sum fielding percentage of .958 was actually good enough for 5th best in the junior circuit.

Bell’s range factor / 9 innings of 3.18 was the AL’s best and he finished 2nd to Boston’s Wade Boggs for most double plays turned by a third baseman.

The son of another major leaguer, Gus Bell, Buddy spent 18 seasons in the big leagues, playing most of those years with the Rangers and Cleveland Indians.

Bell is 2nd only to Brooks Robinson in career Total Zone Runs for third basemen.

On Kirk Gibson’s Battle with Parkinson’s Disease

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I have to confess that, while I haven’t stopped rolling games, my pace has slowed down a bit.

There have been some reasons for that, but the biggest one is that I’ve been so wrapped up in the MLB postseason.

Instead of getting, say, 12 games rolled in a week, the last couple of weeks have seen me rolling closer to 6.

I’m just trying to enjoy the moments a bit more.

Speaking of just that, Bleacher Report recently shared an in-depth story on one of 1984’s star players – Detroit Tigers right fielder Kirk Gibson.

Scott Miller’s long-form column details Gibson’s ongoing fight with Parkinson’s.

I freely admit that I wasn’t a Gibson fan during his career.

In fact, I’d say that as a 10-year old during the 1984 season, I actively disliked him.

As a 14-year old in 1988 I still disliked him when he hit that memorable home run off of Dennis Eckersley in the World Series.

And in my 30s, I disliked him as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

There was just something gruff and off-putting about him. He certainly never appeared likable to me.

But now, knowing what he’s going through, there’s a change of heart for sure.

And each time he steps up to the plate in a simulated game, I linger on his card for just a beat longer than I might for other cards, hoping that he might unleash a bit of magic and take me back to times that were more care-free.

I’m 30 games into a 64-game season right now, and can say without playing too much of a spoiler that Gibby is certainly right there in the hunt for American League Most Valuable Player in my replay.

And, yes, at this point, I’m probably sort of rooting for him to get it.

Best of luck to Kirk Gibson and his family.

Read Miller’s column in full here.

#12 – Tony Gwynn, RF

Tony Gwynn

Tony Gwynn

Gosh, where do you start with Tony Gwynn?

Okay, I first want to point out that when I choose a new project to start up, I don’t technically choose it.  It choose me.

By that I mean I have a large collection of sets that I haven’t played with yet, but would someday like to.  And, I know…, I will never get around to all of them.

But that’s besides the point.

I was wrapping up a 1934 MLB project when I decided to – as usual – roll dice to randomly determine which project I was going to tackle next.

Lo and behold, this roll came within a week of Tony Gwynn passing away.

And up came 1984, so I was actually pretty excited to be reunited, as it were, with Mister Gwynn.

When he passed away, I felt a little bummed.  My wife asked me who he was.

I wasn’t really sure of an accurate way to describe him other than to just say that he was a professional hitter.

She started following baseball in the late 1990s, and I wasn’t sure who a good comparable player would be from, say, 2000-2009.

But I just said that, when I was growing up, in the 1980s and 90s, Tony Gwynn was pretty much “the man” at the plate.  When I think of that era and I think of “hitters”, my mind goes to Wade Boggs in the American League and Gwynn in the National.

He received MVP votes in 12 different seasons.

He made 15 All-Star games.

He led the league in hitting eight times, including in 1997 when he hit .372 at age 37!  In fact, that made it four straight seasons that he led the league.

He spent his entire career, playing 2,440 games and amassing 3,141 hits, with the same team – the San Diego Padres.

He hit .338 for his career, which is currently 20th best of all time.  (Take away players who played pre-1920 and he moves up into the top 5.)

My wife was a big Ted Williams fan, so that seemed like a good comp as well.  Just a professional “hitter’s hitter”, a guy you knew was going to be among the league leaders in batting average, year in and year out.

1984 wasn’t the best season of his career, but it was still (of course) a great one.

Gwynn led the NL in batting average (.351) and hits (213).

He was also among the league leaders in on base percentage (.410), OPS, total bases, and triples.

He was a 1st ballot Hall of Famer in 2007, pulling in 97.6% of votes.

I have no idea what the other 2.4% were thinking, but that was a no-brainer.

Gwynn was a pro.

#13 – Don Mattingly, 1B

Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly

After getting 305 plate appearances with the New York Yankees in 1983, Don Mattingly was handed a full-time job in ’84.

He responded by leading the league in batting average, hits and doubles, making the All-Star game and placing 5th in MVP voting.

So…  that was a success, I guess.

Not bad for a 19th round draft pick, either.

Mattingly went on to make the All-Star Game for all the remaining years of the 1980s, leading the league in OPS and hits (again) in 1986, doubles and total bases in ’85 and ’86, and RBI in ’85.

The AL MVP winner in ’85, he also finished 2nd in MVP voting the following season.

Looking at Mattingly’s numbers in ’84, it’s almost hard to believe we only have him ranked #13 on this list.

Not only did he lead the American League in batting average, hits and doubles, he also finished 2nd in slugging percentage, 3rd in OPS, 4th in total bases and 5th in runs batted in.

He was also a terrific defensive first baseman, finishing with the best fielding percentage in the league as well as placing 2nd in assists and double plays turned.

Also, that poster.  I mean…  come on.  That’s awesome.