Tuesday, August 30, 2016

#425-426 Ken Singleton

Up and coming star...debuted in 1970....despite promise and more power figures in 1971 was traded by Mets to Montreal on the eve of 1972...Bittersweet in Ken’s case because he he was born in NYC and grew up a Mets fan....but more playing time resulted in turning heads…Took control of Expos offense in 1973…scored  100 runs only time in career....drove in  more than 100 runs for first time in career…Lead NL in OBP…with a down 1974 was swapped  by the Expos to Orioles while it was still early in career….. trade can best described as a steal....Star qualities shone brightest with Baltimore and he was a reason the Orioles were able to be competitive despite being a lesser player in free agent market....started in outfield but took over for Tommy Davis in the DH spot….hallmark was his ability to draw walks, making the league top 10 in all his seasons as a regular....after 1976 signed a big contract and responded with a then Baltimore city best BA in 1977…his .328 mark is still  30th in franchise history….Great seasons continue to follow….was 2nd in MVP voting 1979 in what may have been his best season….3 All games sprinkled throughout his career….Production eventually declined and left the game in 1984...nevertheless a fine career.




Saturday, August 27, 2016

#427-428 Tito Fuentes

Very solid body of work....a fixture at San Francisco’s 2nd base for 6 out of 9 seasons  starting in 1966....a poor 1967 resulted spending all of 1968 in minors then a split time between levels in 1969....became the established  2nd baseman in 1970 to 1974....line drive hitter and consistent for 9 seasons....Traded to Padres prior to 1975.....played for two seasons and his numbers met expectations....but most interestingly had his best season in 1977 while playing for the Tigers.... hit .309 and was 2nd in AL in singles....next season was sold to Expos in order for Tigers to make room for a young Lou Whitaker...Never played in Montreal....released before season started..... mid season ended career with a few at bats and awkward .140 average in veteran hungry Oakland....Career totals were 45 home runs, 438 RBIs, and .268 batting average.




Wednesday, August 24, 2016

#429-430 Bob Robertson

Bulky 1st baseman had two fine initial seasons with Pittsburgh...then lost it....culprit was back problems...Not the first go round with health problems...missed 1968 minor league season with kidney surgery....prior to that put up excellent low minor home run figures...Post surgery rebounded nicely with 34 home runs in AAA leading the IL....1970 no longer a rookie, took his bat to big club not missing a beat...hit 55 home runs in two seasons....Went gangbusters against the Giants in NLCS playoff with 4 home runs....FYI no MVP named but title should have went to Bob....never regained starter status after .193 BA figure in 1972....stayed with Pirates for four more campaigns but was released prior to 1977....Did not play at all that year....Resurfaced with Toronto 1978 then Seattle 1979....never drafted or traded, always signed as a free agent.




Sunday, August 21, 2016

#431-432 Clarence Gaston

Like Tony LaRussa more known as a manager....a bit more accomplished as a player than Tony.... better known as Cito Gaston....Started in the Braves organization, taken by the Padres in expansion draft with 27 MLB at bats under his belt....Rookie season could best be called unimpressive....Next year kicked it into high gear 29 home runs, 93 RBIs and .318 BA....made All Star Team....the sophomore sensation of 1970 was brought to earth in 1971...drop of nearly 90 BA points...some power still remained...1972 and 73 represented a moderate comeback of sorts....the former year having a better BA, later improved power numbers...bottom dropped out in 1974 with .213 BA....traded back to the Braves, his franchise of origin...served a sub for a couple of years...once retired coaxed into coaching by Hank Aaron...somewhere down this journey Clarence became Cito...became part of Bobby Cox entourage in Toronto...won WS 1992 and 1993....managed four more years in his first go round with Toronto....stepped down from top job after relationship and play of Blue Jays soured....Resurfaced with Blue Jays 11 years later....In Canadian Baseball  Hall of Fame.





Thursday, August 18, 2016

#433-434 Johnny Bench

Arguably the best ever at his position...or at least of his time....Bench made this author as a child believe a catcher can be all out dominant force offensively and defensively ...not just a perpetual 8th spot in batting order....or a position where the less talented person plays.... The NL MVP of 1970 and 1972.... The beginnings in Oklahoma draws Mickey Mantle comparisons....drafted 2nd round 1965....Fast forward to 1968, capturing ROY honors and the start of 10 consecutive gold gloves awards....More than a good glove man, he was innovative...catching with one hand sparring the throwing hand from injury...threw lasers to second base .....just got better for next two seasons taking the home run and RBI crown by storm by his third full season....the sky was the limit but during 1971 he experienced his worst year of his career with a drop of 60 BA points and RBIs cut by over one half....Reds went down with him that year...Bench and his Reds resurfaced 1972...Made the cover of Time Magazine  7/10/72....after 1972, retains superstar status with 4 out of 5 great  seasons...the one off season, 1976, is redeemed by WS MVP....solid season continued but wear and tear of catching became evident...tried at third in last three seasons which turned him into a liability in the field...Not once what he once was but held his own at the bat...probably could have gone to the AL as a DH but retired as always a Red...easily in the Hall of Fame.





Monday, August 15, 2016

#435-436 Reggie Jackson

AKA Mr. October....or according to Darryl Knowles “There isn't enough mustard in the whole world to cover that hot dog”...however despite the taunts, overcame great hardships in his youth and over the top noterity that rose in conjunction to his salary...21 seasons most of them controversial....from the beginning....came out of Arizona State baseball factory...drafted #1 by Kansas City A’s...1967 was a tumultuous year, starting out playing in the deep south with occasional call up to the A’s...KC results were poor but get in over 100 at bats....made an impact in the new Oakland digs....29 home runs and establishing himself as the team offensive leader....also career high of 171 strike outs...stepped up his game in 1969....early home run leader....over time caved in to Killebrew and Howard finishing third best figure with 47...had a down year in 1970, the worst until late his career....improved his stats in 1971 but most notable event was memorable all star home run that nearly got out of Tiger Stadium...next significant season 1973, winning dual AL and WS MVPs....finishing up  his first go round in  Oakland 1975, hit 36 home runs....1976 traded to Baltimore on the eve of new season...But Reggie and so many others like were him awaiting the big payday that 1977 would bring....Took the big money for the Big Apple....plus a namesake candy bar....A strong season despite a spotlight of extreme emotions either loving or hating....World Series was where he shined....5 home runs and his second series MVP....Yankees repeated WS win 1978....1980 was probably Reggie’s best year in pinstripes...2nd in MVP voting....suffered a considerable decline in strike shortened 1981....took the free agency road again....returned to West coast with Angels...responded with solid comeback season 1982....subsequent 4 seasons ranged from poor to average (for Reggie) indicating skills deteriation....finished with one last return to Oakland 1987....in so many top 100 of offensive career records...holds firm to the #1 spot 2597 strikeouts....500 home run club member with a 536 mark...So much more can be said...Say what you will but he only player I’ve seen climb a chain link fence (risking injury) during BP to retrieve a ball for a fan....true story     




Thursday, August 11, 2016

#437-438 Maury Wills

Before Rickey and before Lou there was Maury....5 consecutive year leader for  stolen bases starting in 1960.....Busted the all time season mark of Ty Cobb with 104 in 1962...technically broke the mark by swiping 97 in 156 games avoiding a Ruth/Maris asterisk situation....Broke in with the Dodgers during the Sophomore year in L.A....prior to that toiled in minors for 8 seasons..... A Chavez Ravine fixture when it opened... experienced the Dodger threepeat of WS wins 1959, 1963, and 1965...worked at his game, actually hitting better in majors than in minors...Took in the L.A. celebrity scene too singing and playing the banjo ....traded to Pittsburgh who took him away from his natural shortstop position to third base...not quite sure what the Bucs were expecting in production, but Maury was offered up for expansion draft...taken by Expos....less than stellar start resulted in swap with and return to  L.A.....Gave Dodger several solid years sans the massive stolen base figures...hit .281 with the Dodgers and .281 for a career....father of Bump Wills....short lived managing with Seattle 1980-81...holds a record of oddity appearing in 165 games in one season in his MVP which took place 1962....his in action card is in the right place now.




Monday, August 8, 2016

#439-440 Billy Williams


More Superstars....Billy the NL iron man....Oh so great Cub....Some said the best lefthanded hitter of his time....of average stature but such a sweet consistent swing....fun began 1961 with solid season and ROY honors...Then improved and started a NL record 1117 consecutive game streak...best year of the sixties was 1965 with 35 home runs, 108 RBIs, and .315 BA....Was offensive juggernaut in 1970 and 1972, but those were the career years of one John Bench who was also happened to be on a pennant winner...Johnny  took the MVPs...time took a slow toll afterward....but in 1974 harbored enough trade value to bring the Cubs 3 players in swap with Oakland A’s who felt he was tailor made for the DH rule...on the west coast, home runs and RBI’s increased but BA took a sizeable drop to .244 mark in 1975....did get in his only post season work however....struggled in his last year of 1976 and lost playing time....Retired thereafter....inducted HOF in 1987....quiet, disciplined man never got outwardly angry...this may have been a factor why he was often overlooked for all star consideration....5 time all star in a 13 year prime....one would think he’d had more.





Saturday, August 6, 2016

#441-442 Thurman Munson

The Yankee icon for  the entire 1970’s....a life tragically cut short in a plane crash...it remains one of the most shocking and sudden deaths in baseball history......excellent player tough competitor wrapped up in a blue collar, Joe Lunchpail exterior....mentioned in line with great Yankee backstops, Dickey, Berra, Elston Howard, and most recently Posada....not in HOF but his locker is on display...ROY 1970....his appearance escalated the NYY franchise from distant also ran to first division status .....a model of consistency....Prime years were 1975-77....averaged 103 RBIs and a .308 BA ....Took MVP honors 1976...needless to say a fine collection of all star game appearances and handful of gold gloves...Although the fourth selection in 1967 draft Munson far exceeded expectations based on very limited minor league playing time....never had a bad post season...in fact his game seem to improve in every World Series appearence...his legend and memorial does not fade and continues to this day....292 career BA.







Tuesday, August 2, 2016

#443-444 Ken Henderson

Just a tad above average MLB outfielder... Started baseball in San Francisco getting call ups for fair number of years..... could have a nice season or two but never a star...career stats of .257 BA and 122 homers were buoyed by 1970 and 1974 numbers....hit .294 for Giants and .292 for White Sox respectively....1974 was also a comeback coming off three years of diminished numbers...Output declined thereafter and eventually became a well traveled reserve...Braves, Rangers,  Mets, Reds, and Cubs were his addresses, which stopped in 1980...Could do multiple things adequately....Was considered a very fine defensive player with a strong arm...also showed surprising speed early in career.