Category Archives: ’31 in 31′ – The 1970’s

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #9

 “31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #9

Andre Dawson – 1977 Topps – #473

No player better personified the title of ‘5-tool Player’ in the 1970’s than Andre Dawson.  Hitting for average, hitting for power, base running skills, defensive ability and arm strength are all areas of the game of baseball that Andre Dawson has been linked to over the course of his 21 seasons in the big leagues.  Had it not been for his first 11 seasons being played in Montreal, we have no idea how much larger of a star Dawson could have become.  As a rookie in 1977, Dawson won the league’s ROY award in which he hit .282 with 19 home runs and 22 stolen bases.  For his career, Dawson accumulated 2,774 hits with a .279 batting average.  He also managed to blast 438 home runs, steal 314 bases, score 1,373 runs, and drive in 1,591 runs.  In Dawson’s best season as a pro in 1987, he won the league’s MVP award when he hit .287 with 49 home runs and tallied 137 RBI.  After winning this award, Dawson was the first player in the history of professional baseball to win the MVP while playing for a last place team.

By the end of his career, Dawson landed in the Top 20 for the MVP award 7 times while winning the award once and finishing in second place 2 more times.  He was an 8-time All-star, 8-time Gold Glove winner and 4-time Silver Slugger winner.

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“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #10

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #10

Rich “Goose” Gossage – 1973 Topps – #174

Rich Gossage doesn’t have the numbers of some of the other pitchers on this list, but his performance during his 22-year career is extremely impressive.  With 124 career wins and 310 saves to his credit, ‘Goose’ managed to perform at All-star levels both as a starting pitcher and a reliever.  Gossage has 1,502 career strikeout and an ERA of 3.01.  His dominant pitching performances landed him in the top 6 for the Cy Young award 5 times and in the Top 17 for the MVP award 5 times. 

‘The Goose’ participated in 3 World Series match-ups.  In 1978 he played for the Yankees, 1981 for the Yankees as well, and in 1984 as a member of the San Diego Padres.  In 3 series’, Gossage won 1 title as a member of the 1978 Yankee team.  In 8 post season contests, ‘The Goose’ has a 2-1 record with 8 saves.  His dominance can be measured by his 2.87 ERA with 29 strikeouts and only 7 walks.

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“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #11

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #11

Gary Carter – 1975 Topps – #620

Had it not been for a player named Johnny Bench, Gary Carter may be considered the best catcher in baseball history.  In this case, 2nd place is not too bad of a spot to be in when you’re behind one the greatest players in major league history.

Gary Carter brought a level of offensive and defensive consistency to the catching position for 19 seasons.  An 11-time All-star, Carter was the team leader during his days with the Montreal Expos and New York Mets.  His solid offensive play, highlighted by winning 5 Silver Slugger awards, and his dominant defense in which he won 3 Gold Gloves established him as one of the most complete players during the 1970’s and into the 1980’s.  With a career batting average of .262, Carter captured 2,092 hits during his playing days.  And with 324 homers, 1,225 RBI, and 1,025 runs scored, Carter provided punch to the offense that was rare from the catcher’s position during those times.  Due to the rarity of this kind of production by a catcher, Gary Carter finished in the Top 17 for the MVP award 7 times during his career.

Gary Carter played in 1 World Series match-up in 1986 and his New York Mets won the title in 7 games.  During that series, Carter batted .276 while hitting 2 home runs and knocking in an amazing 9 runs.

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“31 in 31″ – The 1970′s – Card #12

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #12

Dennis Eckersley – 1976 Topps – #98

The man simply known as ‘The Eck’ was one of baseball’s brightest stars in the 1970’s and carried his success through 24 seasons as a big league player.  Dennis Eckersley began his career as a starting pitcher.  In fact, one of the game’s greatest relief pitchers in the history of baseball was a starter during his first 12 seasons.  As a starter, ‘Eck’ did well as he had (9) 10+ win seasons in 12 years.  That all changed in 1987 when Eckersley was traded to the Oakland A’s and was converted into a closer for the Athletics.  ‘Eck’ began to dominate.  And in 12 seasons after that trade, he piled up 387 saves.  Eckersley’s best season came in 1992 when he won the league’s MVP and Cy Young awards.  In ’92 he pitched 80 innings and saved 51 games.  With an ERA of just 1.91 and the control to strikeout 93 batters while walking just 11 and it is easy to see why ‘Eck’ was tagged as one of the best closers in baseball history.  Dennis Eckersley finished in the top 7 for the Cy Young award 6 times in his career – 4 of which came as a closer.

Eckersley has played in 11 post season match-up and 3 World Series championships.  He won the title with the Oakland A’s in 1989 and finished his career with 1 championship ring and 15 saves in post season play.

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“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #13

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #13

Bert Blyleven – 1971 Topps – #26

Bert Blyleven can best be described as an unsung baseball hero that fell victim to always playing for ‘small market’ teams.  Over the course of his 22-year career, Blyleven played for the Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, and California Angels.  Bert still managed to put together an incredible career full of pitching stats that equal some of the best by any pitcher that debuted in the 1970’s.  With a 287-250 win-loss record, and an ERA of 3.31 it’s easy to see that Blyleven was a solid performer that offered consistency to the teams he pitched for.  With 242 complete games to his credit, including 60 shut outs, Blyleven’s effort was solid no matter what team he suited up to play for.  Bert has amassed 3,701 strikeouts over the course of his 22-seasons in the big leagues while giving up just 1,322 walks – good for a 2.8 K:walk ratio. 

Blyleven played in 2 World Series match-ups – in 1979 as a member of the Pirates and then in 1987 with the Twins.  Winning both championship titles and having a record of 5-1 in the post season, Bert Blyleven out-played his opponents on baseball’s biggest stage.  And when dominance mattered most, Bert struck out 36 batters while just walking 13.

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“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #14

 “31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #14

Dale Murphy – 1977 Topps – #476

Although he never got the chance to shine on baseball’s biggest stage, Dale Murphy was a baseball superstar.  This quiet, soft-spoken player let his play do the talking for him and it screamed – “MVP”!!!

Murphy is a 2-time MVP winner with the Atlanta Braves.  In the 1982 and 1983 seasons, Murphy put together 2 of the most spectacular back-to-back seasons in Brave’s history.  In 1982 Murphy went for .281/36/109 and then followed that up in 1983 going .302/36/121.  He was also solid on the base paths as he stole 23 and 30 bases in those two seasons.   In each of those seasons, Murphy also won the Gold Glove – true all-around baseball stud!!  In total, Murphy finished in the Top 21 for the league MVP award 7 times.  And with 7 All-star game appearances, 5 Gold Gloves, and 4 Silver Slugger awards to his credit, Murphy’s numbers draw the perfect picture of a ‘5-tool player’. 

In total, Murphy finished his 18-year career with a .265 batting average along with 398 home runs and 1,266 RBI.  Who knows how Murphy’s hall of fame status would have changed if he eclipsed the 400 home run milestone…  Although he never made it to the World Series to display his talents in front of baseball’s biggest crowd, he sure did entertain his loyal fans!!

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“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #15

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #15

Bruce Sutter – 1977 Topps – #144

Bruce Sutter’s short 12-year career was enough to get him elected into baseball’s Hall of Fame.  He was that good!!

As a relief pitcher, Sutter has 300 career saves.  His record is just below .500 at 68-71.  But it was Sutter’s daily dominance that established him as one of baseball’s finest closers.  Sutter won the Cy Young award in 1979 and finished in 7th place for the MVP as well during that season.  With 37 saves, 101 strikeouts, and a 2.22 ERA, Sutter was a huge part of the success that the Cubs had in 1979.  In his career, Sutter has finished in the Top 6 for the Cy Young in 5 of his 12 years as a major league player.  In addition to that, Sutter has finished in the top 8 for the MVP in 5 seasons as well.  These are remarkable numbers for a pitcher, and a reliever at that.  Over the course of his career, Bruce Sutter struck out 861 batters while walking just 309.  That’s good for a 2.79 K:walk ratio which is solid for a player that pitched his innings during ‘crunch time’.

Bruce Sutter was part of the 1982 championship winning team in St. Louis.  In the 4-game series, Sutter won 1 game and saved 2 more.  He was one of many key cogs in the wheel that gave the Cardinals their 4-game sweep and World Series title.

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“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #16

 “31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #16

Vida Blue – 1970 Topps – #21

Not only did Vida Blue win the Cy Young in his first full-time season as a starter, he also was the league’s MVP.  Beat that!!!  Blue had a monster year in 1971 for the Oakland A’s.  He went 24-8 with 24 complete games and 8 shutouts.  Add that impressive record to his 1.82 ERA with 301 strikeout and you have one of the most impressive seasons by a pitcher during the decade of the 1970’s. 

Vida Blue finished his career with a 209-161 record and 1,185 strikeouts.  He finished in the Top 7 for the Cy Young award 5 times and was a 6-time All-star.  Blue was part of the legendary Oakland A’s teams that won 3 consecutive World Series titles in 1972, 1973, and 1974.  Blue pitched in 8 games in the Fall Classic and went 3-0, a perfect record on baseball’s biggest stage!!

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“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #17

“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #17

Thurmon Munson – 1970 Topps – # 189

It’s very fair to say that Thurmon Munson could have ranked much higher on this list if his life were not tragically taken from him at the age of 32.

In just 11 seasons with the New York Yankees, Munson managed to win the team and it’s fans over with his intense play and leadership.  In his first full season with the team in 1970, Munson won the league’s Rookie of the Year award and finished in the Top 20 for the MVP as well.  Munson had 7 Top 26 finishes for the MVP award and won the title in 1976 with a .302 batting average while smacking 17 homers and driving in 105 runs.  In 11 seasons, Thurmon Munson had a career average of .292 with 113 home runs, 701 RBI, and 1,558 hits.  A 7-time All-star and 3-time Gold Glove winner, Munson’s all-around play led to the Yankees giving him the title of ‘Captain’.

Munson played in 3 World Series match-ups with the Yankees in 1976, 1977, and 1978.  Winning 2 titles in ’77 and ’78, Munson hit .373 in 16 World Series games.

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“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #18

 “31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #18

Jim Rice – 1975 Topps – #616

Jim Rice may be one of the best examples of a great hitter that could also hit for power or you can classify him as a power hitter that was a great contact hitter too.  Either way, it works!!  Although we cannot clearly say Rice was a better hitter for average than power or vice-versa, we can surely say that his number are mighty impressive.  After 16 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Rice ended his career with a .298 batting average while launching 382 home runs.  Rice’s best season came in 1978 when he won the Most Valuable Player award while hitting .315 and belting 46 home runs and driving in 139 runs.  Rice was a MVP candidate annually and finished in the Top 5 for voting in 6 total seasons.  Jim Rice competed in 1 World Series championship match-up in 1986 against the New York Mets.  Although his team ultimately lost in 7 games, Rice did extremely well as he hit .333 and scored 6 runs.

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