Category Archives: Top 50 Players

#1 – Cal Ripken, SS

Cal Ripken

Cal Ripken

The countdown ends with the #1 most productive player of the 1984 season – Cal Ripken Junior.

When you think of Cal, you immediately think of his consecutive games played streak.

But what might be forgotten is that he was an All-Star selection for 19 straight season, only missing out in the ’81 season (when he only played 23 games) and the ’82 season when he won Rookie of the Year.

Ripken won the MVP award in ’83 and ’91, so he was one of the front-runners for the ’84 season.

Somehow he only finished 27th in AL MVP voting, which speaks largely to voters tendency to vote based on the player’s team more so than the player himself.

True, Ripken did not lead the AL in any major offensive categories in 1984.

However, he finished in the top 10 in batting average (.304), slugging percentage (.510), OPS (.884), runs (103), hits (195), total bases (327), doubles (37), triples (7) and extra base hits (71).

He hit 27 home runs in an era before shortstops did that sort of thing.

Oh, and he finished with a league-best 5.5 range factor / 9 innings at shortstop while also finishing 5th in fielding percentage.

Do his offensive number hold up against teammate Eddie Murray?  Probably not.

But if we adjust those numbers for their position?  There weren’t other shortstops doing what Ripken did in 1984.

Add in the fact that Ripken was playing a vital defensive position while Murray (a Gold Glove winner) was holding down first base and I still give the nod to Cal as 1984’s top player.

#2 – Ryne Sandberg, 2B

Ryne Sandberg

Ryne Sandberg

1984 proved to be 24-year old Ryne Sandberg’s coming out year.

That’s not to say that his prior seasons in the big leagues were duds.

In 1982 he finished 6th in Rookie of the Year voting, hitting .271 with 32 SB for the Chicago Cubs.

He followed up by winning a Gold Glove in ’83 and stealing 37 more bases.

In ’84, he added more dimensions to his game, hitting .314 with 19 HR, 32 SB and picking up another Gold Glove award.

“Ryno” would go on to win 9 straight fielding awards.

Sandberg won the National League MVP award in ’84 and started a run of 10 straight All-Star appearances.

Save for 6 plate appearances with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1981, Sandberg spent his entire career with the Cubs.

He finished with a .285 lifetime batting average, 282 HR and 344 SB.

One must keep in mind that Sandberg came up in a pre-Jeff Kent era.  There weren’t a whole lot of second baseman hitting 20+ homers a season, but Ryno did it six times in his career.

In ’84, he finished among the National League’s leaders in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, hits, total bases, doubles and extra base hits.

He led the league in runs scored and triples.

If you ask me, as a Cubs fan, what I remember most about Sandberg it is somewhat hard for me to answer.

He was definitely my favorite player during his career. He was the team’s best player. He was consistent. He was solid.

But he was also very dull and boring.  And that, I suppose, is also a big part of what I liked about him.

Sandberg just played the game, head down, all out at all times.  There was no show-boating or dramatics or scandals.

Just playing ball.

Sandberg made the Hall of Fame in 2005, his 3rd year of eligibility.

#3 – Gary Carter, C

Gary Carter

Gary Carter

I’m not sure if it’s just because he was (a) good and (b) not on my team, but I used to despise Gary Carter.

Now I’m actually wondering if I had an anti-catcher thing, because one of my other most loathed players of the mid-1980s was the Boston Red Sox backstop Rich Gedman.

I digress.

Carter made it to the All-Star game for a 6th straight time in 1984, powered by a .294 average with 27 HR, 32 doubles, and a National League-leading 106 runs batted in.

Strat-o-Matic  gave him a 1 rating at catcher with a minus-2 arm, so he’s among the best there.  To have an option like Carter at a position that generally isn’t known for this kind of offense and having played 159 games, “Kid” deserves a spot among 1984’s most valuable players.

 

#4 – Lloyd Moseby, CF

Lloyd Moseby

Lloyd Moseby

Lloyd Moseby?  Number Four on the countdown?  Really?

No disrespect to Moseby, who I definitely enjoyed watching during his team with the Jays when they were my favorite American League team.

But it just never occurred to me that he was this valuable.

So where did his value come from in 1984?

For starters, he was speedy.  He led the league in triples, tying teammate Dave Collins with 15 of them.  He stole 39 bases.

He was also among the league’s Top 10 in Walks and Extra Base Hits.

For all that, Moseby didn’t even make the All-Star Game.  Perhaps if there was as much focus on On Base Percentage in 1984 as there is today he might have gotten some attention.

Moseby also rated among the league’s 5 best defensive center fielders in terms of Range Factor / 9 and Fielding %.  Strat awarded him with a 2 rating.

It should be entertaining watching Moseby and some of his teammates pour on the speed numbers during this replay.  I’m not expecting to see him in the Batter of the Year discussion, but he should be a key player for a Blue Jays team that has a chance at winning the AL East.

#5 – Mike Schmidt, 3B

Mike Schmidt

Mike Schmidt

A future Hall of Famer, third baseman Mike Schmidt made the 9th of his 12 All-Star Games in 1984, finishing 7th in MVP Voting, though I’d say he deserved better than that.

Had he played on a team that finished better than .500, perhaps he would have.

In ’84, Schmidt led the league in homers (36), RBI (106) and OPS (.919), while also placing among the league leaders in OBP, SLG, runs, total bases, walks and extra base hits.

He was also no slouch at the hot corner, winning 10 Gold Glove awards.  In 1984, Schmidt placed in the league’s top 4 in range factor / 9 innings as well as fielding percentage.

Schmidt, who finished his career with 548 home runs, led the league in that category eight times.

He won three MVP awards in his career – ’80, ’81 and in ’86 at the age of 36.

Schmidt became a first ballot Hall of Famer when he received 96.5% of the votes in 1995.

 

 

#6 – Eddie Murray, 1B

Eddie Murray (R) knocks out Cal Ripken (L)

Eddie Murray (R) knocks out Cal Ripken (L)

A future Hall of Famer, Eddie Murray had a monster season in 1984, finishing 4th in the American League MVP voting.

Murray, who won Rookie of the Year in 1977, must have had that “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” feeling after having finished 2nd in MVP voting the previous two seasons.  In fact, he finished in the top 5 of MVP voting every year between 1981 and 1985, never actually winning the award a single time in his career.

Murray played all 162 games in ’84, 159 of which were at first base where he won his 3rd straight Gold Glove award.  Among all 1984 AL first baseman, Murray led in range factor / 9 innings and 3rd in fielding percentage.

He led the league in walks (107), on-base percentage (.410) and OPS+ (157).

Perhaps speaking to the O’s lack of offensive depth, he also led the league with 25 intentional passes.

Murray finished among the league leaders in batting average (.306), OPS (.918), runs (97), hits (180), total bases (299), home runs (29) and RBI (110).

An 8-time All-Star, Murray is currently 13th all-time in hits, 10th in RBI, 26th in home runs, 24th in doubles and 10th in total bases.

In 2003, he became a 1st ballot Hall of Famer, selected on 85.3% of the ballots.

#7 – Dwight Gooden, SP

Dwight Gooden

Dwight Gooden

Dwight Gooden was filthy.

The #5 pick of the 1982 draft, Doc debuted in the ’84 season at the tender age of 19.

All he did was go on to light up the league, leading in strikeouts (276), FIP (1.69), WHIP (1.073), Hits/9 (6.6), HR/9 (0.3), and K/9 (11.4).

As you might have guessed, there was hardware that went along with those achievements.  Namely, a Rookie of the Year Award.

Were it not for Rick Sutcliffe’s 16-1 run after coming over to pitch for the Chicago Cubs in the National League, Gooden likely would have won the Cy Young Award as well, but he had to settle for 2nd place.

He would go on to take that coveted award the following season, going 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA in 1985, again leading the league in strikeouts as well as complete games (16) and innings pitched (276.2).

After his age 23 season, Gooden already had 91 wins under his belt to go along with a 2.62 ERA and 1,067 strikeouts.

After an injury-plagued ’89 season, he came back to win 19 games in 1990, but then things soured.

What started out looking like a sure-fire Hall of Fame career didn’t finish up that way, but for those first few seasons there was nothing finer than Dwight Gooden’s pitching.

Expect to see him at the top of the Pitcher of the Year leaderboards during the replay.  Should be a highly entertaining card to play with.