Category Archives: ’40 in 40′ The 1980’s

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – A Review

This was very fun, and very exhausting.  I am going to take a break from these kinds of ‘themed’ posts so I can focus a little more on cards and the upcoming season.

I hope you enjoyed my recap of the best players to debut during the 1980’s as much as I enjoyed writing about them.

And now for 1 last time, I give you the ’40/40′ club…

Date Rank Year Player
31-Mar 1 82 Cal Ripken, Jr.
30-Mar 2 87 Barry Bonds
29-Mar 3 87 Greg Maddux
28-Mar 4 85 Roger Clemens
27-Mar 5 80 Rickey Henderson
26-Mar 6 89 Ken Griffey, Jr.
25-Mar 7 87 Rafael Palmeiro
24-Mar 8 83 Tony Gwynn
23-Mar 9 88 Tom Glavine
22-Mar 10 84 Kirby Puckett
21-Mar 11 89 Craig Biggio
20-Mar 12 89 Randy Johnson
19-Mar 13 83 Wade Boggs
18-Mar 14 88 John Smoltz
17-Mar 15 85 Mark McGwire
16-Mar 16 83 Ryne Sandberg
15-Mar 17 86 Jose Canseco
14-Mar 18 87 Barry Larkin
13-Mar 19 88 Roberto Alomar
12-Mar 20 89 Gary Sheffield
11-Mar 21 87 Bo Jackson
10-Mar 22 85 Dwight Gooden
9-Mar 23 85 Orel Hershiser
8-Mar 24 84 Don Mattingly
7-Mar 25 86 Fred McGriff
6-Mar 26 84 Darryl Strawberry
5-Mar 27 89 Curt Schilling
4-Mar 28 81 Tim Raines
3-Mar 29 86 Vince Coleman
2-Mar 30 81 Fernando Valenzuela
1-Mar 31 86 Andres Galarraga
28-Feb 32 87 Will Clark
27-Feb 33 86 Cecil Fielder
26-Feb 34 82 Lee Smith
25-Feb 35 85 Eric Davis
24-Feb 36 88 Mark Grace
23-Feb 37 85 Bret Saberhagen
22-Feb 38 83 Willie McGee
21-Feb 39 87 David Cone
20-Feb 40 89 Jim Abbott

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Honorable Mention

Ah, the old Honorable Mention award.  You never want it, but are still happy when recognized for your efforts.

My ’40/40 club’ couldn’t cover all of the rookies that debuted during the 1980’s so here are a few guys that just missed the cut.  A few more bounces of the ball in their direction and they may have been in, but for now thery are on the outside looking in.

Matt Williams – A solid offensive threat with a knack for hitting home runs.  Williams has 378 career homers to go with his 1,218 RBI.  His low batting average of .268 does not do him justice as he was a constant threat for most of his career.  Williams finished in the Top 6 for the MVP award 4 times with his best finish coming in 1994 at second place.  Williams is a 5-time All-star, 4-time Silver Slugger winner, and 4-time Gold Glove winner.  He won a World Series title in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.


Kirk Gibson – ‘Gibby’ is best known for one of the greatest World Series home runs in baseball’s tremendous history.  His resume includes 1,553 hits, 255 homers, 870 RBI, and 985 runs scored.  Gibson won the MVP award in 1988 en route to taking his LA Dodgers team to the World Series.  Gibson has won 2 championships – 1 with the 1984 Detroit Tigers and another with the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers.


Dave Stewart – The man with the most intimidating presence on the mound, Dave Stewart was a classic pitcher who could have been just as dominant in the decades that preceeded him.  ‘Stew’ has 168 career wins which includes 4 straight 20-win seasons.  Stewart finished in the Top 4 for the Cy Young award in those 4 seasons as well.  Dave Stewart is a 3-time World Series champion.  He won titles in 1981 with the Dodgers, 1990 with the Oakland A’s, and then in 1993 with the Toronto Blue Jays.


Joe Carter – Carter is another player known for 1 swing of the bat versus his entire body of work.  Carter’s work was impressive and with career stats like 396 home runs, 1,445 RBI, and 2,184 hits, it’s easy to see that Carter is more than a ‘1-trick pony’.  Joe Carter finished in the Top 20 for the MVP award 8 times.  He is a 5-time All-star, 2-time Silver Slugger winner, and a 2-time World Series champion.


‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #1

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #1

Cal Ripken, Jr. – 1982 Topps

Cal Ripken personifies what baseball is all about.  The game is a team sport and there is no better player to represent the game than Cal.  While his individual statistics are comparable with the game’s best from his era, it is his image that makes him my choice as the #1 baseball player to debut during the 1980’s.

Cal played his entire career as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.  His 21 seasons as the team’s leader led to his love for the city and people of Baltimore and they reciprocated that love right back to Cal.  Ripken is known as one of the classiest guys in the game and spends much of his time, even years after his retirement, working on making the game better for the next generation.

Cal is probably best known for ‘The Streak’.  During the 1995 season, Cal broke a 56-year old record by playing in 2,130 consecutive games.  In easier numbers, Cal didn’t miss a single game for more than 13 baseball seasons.  The streak ended at 2,632 and will likely stand for centuries to come.  His dedication to his team, the sport, and his health made Cal an easy guy to cheer for.

Cal Ripken has collected 3,184 hits over the course of his career.  He has a lifetime batting average of .276, with 5 seasons hitting above the .300 mark.  He has also amassed 431 home runs, 1,695 RBI, and has scored 1,647 runs.

Cal Ripken won the Rookie of the Year award in 1982.  In that year, he hit .264 with 28 home runs and 93 RBI.  The following season he won the MVP award for the first time as he went .318/27/102.  In his finest season, back in 1991, Ripken won his second MVP award as he hit .323 while crushing 34 home runs and driving in 114 runs.  He also scored 99 runs, collected 210 hits, and 46 doubles.   In total Cal Ripken finished in the Top 20 for the MVP award 7 times.

Cal was also a 19-time All-star, an 8-time Silver Slugger award winner, and a 2-time Gold Glove winner.

Cal Ripken has played in and won 1 World Series championship.  In 1983, his Orioles team won the title in 5 games.  During that match-up, Cal batted just .167 while collecting 3 hits in 18 at-bats. 


‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #2

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #2

Barry Bonds – 1986 Topps Traded

Barry Bonds is easily the most intimidating force to debut during the 1980’s.  With unmatched offensive talent, Bonds is considered to be the greatest baseball player of his generations.  When mixing his stellar offense with his amazing defensive skills you have the ultimate baseball player.

The numbers are staggering.  As of the end of the 2007 season, Bonds has 2,935 career hits, 1,996 RBI, 762 home runs, and the list goes on and on.

Just 65 hits shy of the 3,000 hits milestone, Bonds combined the rare talents of power and contact hitting into his swing.  With a lifetime batting average of .298, that includes 11 seasons above .300, Bonds’ offensive game was a well-rounded one.  He has been walked 2,558 times which is a baseball record.  Amazingly for a power hitter, Bonds was able to keep his strikeout numbers down as he only struck out 100+ times once in his career(his rookie season).

Barry Bonds is baseball’s all-time home run king.  His 762 homers is a record that should stand for several years to come.  And if he makes a return to baseball, 800 is not out of the question. 

Barry Bonds has won the MVP award 7 times during his 22 year career. He has finished in the Top 5 for the award an incredible 12 times.  Bonds is also a 14-time All-star, a 12-time Silver Slugger winner, and a 8-time Gold Glove winner.

In his best season, in 2002, Bonds hit .370.  In addition to his amazing batting average his on-base percentage was a staggering .582.  Other incredible numbers from that tremendous season include 46 homers, 117 runs scored, 110 RBI, 198 walks with just 47 strikeouts, and of course another MVP trophy.

Barry Bonds has played in 1 World Series contest.  As a member of the San Francisco Giants in 2002 his team lost in 7 games to the Angels.  In that series, Bonds was awesome.  He batted .471 while amassing 4 home runs, 6 RBI, 8 runs scored and an unbelievable .700 on-base percentage.


‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #3

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #3

Greg Maddux – 1987 Donruss

No drama.  No frills.  Greg Maddux was the epitome of a hard-working pitcher.  His talent was immense and he often came across as a calm and relaxed guy.  But once Maddux took the mound, he was all about business and he excelled at a record pace.

After 23 seasons in the big leagues, Greg Madduxretired with 355 wins and 277 loses.  He has pitched over 5,000 innings during the course of his career while starting 740 games.  In his 23 seasons, Maddux threw 35 shutouts and pitched 109 complete games.

For his career, Maddux won 15 or more games in 18 of his 23 seasons; 17 of them being consecutive.  Maddux won 20 or more in 2 seasons.  He also eclipsed the 3,000 strikeout plateau with 3,371 career K’s.  His ERA at the end of his career was 3.16.

As a pitcher in the National League for the course of his career, Maddux had a career batting average of .171.  While considered to be a pretty good hitting-pitcher, Maddux hit 5 home runs and drove in 84 runs.  He has 272 hits, 103 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases to his credit.

Greg Maddux won 4 consecutive Cy Young Awards.  And in 9 straight seasons from 1992-1990, he placed in the Top 3 for the award 8 times.  Greg Maddux is an 8-time All-star and has won 18 Gold Gloves for his dominance as a defensive pitcher.

In his best season of 1995, Maddux went 19-2 while throwing 10 complete games and 3 shutouts.  In that season, his ERA was an amazing 1.63 and he struck out 181 batters while walking just 23.  In that year Maddux won his 4th and final Cy Young award, a Gold Glove, and was an All-star.

Greg Maddux was played in 3 World Series contests while winning 1 championship title.  In 1995 his Atlanta Braves were victorious.  Maddux started 2 games in that match-up as he won 1 game and lost 1 game.  In 16 innings of work, he struck out 8 batters and allowed 4 runs. 


‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #4

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #4

Roger Clemens – 1984 Fleer Update

Undoubtedly the fiercest competitor to debut during the 1980’s, Roger Clemens brought an intensity to the game each and every time he stepped onto the pitching mound.

In 24 years, Roger Clemens showed little signs of slowing down and regressing as a pitcher.  His power pitching was on display during his 24th season in the big leagues just as it had been during his rookie season.  Sure, the innings were decreased intentionally to save his legs for a playoff push, but that is a natural occurrence with older players.

With 24 years of pitching to his credit, Roger Clemens won 354 games while losing 184.  He has 118 complete games and 46 shutouts on is resume as well as a career ERA of 3.12.  ‘Rocket’ has pitched over 4900 innings and started 707 total regular season games.  He has struck out 4,672 batters which is good for 3rd all time in baseball history. 

Roger Clemens has won 18 or more games 10 times during his career.  In 6 seasons he has reached the 20-win plateau with the highest single season victory count being 24 in 1986.  Rocket has struck out 200 or more batters in 12 of his 24 seasons as a professional baseball player. 

Roger Clemens has won the Cy Young Award 7 times.  He has finished in the Top 3 three more times.  Roger Clemens also won the leagues MVP award in ’86.  In what could be considered his finest season, 1986, Clemens went 24-4 while striking out 238 batters and finishing the year with a 2.48 ERA.  Rocket was also an 11-time All-star.

Rocket has appeared in 6 World Series contests and has won 2 championships.  In 1999 as a member of the New York Yankees, Roger helped the Yankees as he won 1 game for the team while pitching through the first 7 innings and only allowing 1 run.  Then in the following year, 2000, he won a second title with the Yankees.  In that World Series match-up, Clemens won another game for the team as he pitched 8 strong innings while striking out 9 batters and allowing no runs.clemens

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #5

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #5

Rickey Henderson – 1980 Topps

Rickey Henderson is easily the flashiest player to debut during the 1980’s.  With a smile and charisma that was unmatched, everyone stayed tuned when Rickey was at the plate.  And for very good reason…

Rickey Henderson is a heart-breaker.  81 times in his career, he has started the game with a lead-off home run.  He has delivered the ultimate heart-breaking experience for an opposing team and it’s fans 81 times. 

As a hitter, Rickey had an excellent eye and a calm, but intense approach at the plate.  With 3,055 career hits and a lifetime batting average of .279, Henderson was able to disrupt opposing pitchers as he found his way on base at a clip of 40%.  Ranking 2nd all-time with 2,190 career walks, Rickey took advantage of each opportunity when he was on base.  The greatest base stealer in baseball history, Henderson has tallied 1,406 total swipes which is almost 500 more than the man in 2nd place.  In addtion to that, Rickey has stolen 100 or more bases 3 times in a single season. 

With his amazing speed, Henderson offered quite a bit of power for a lead-off hitter.  With 297 career home runs, Rickey is 3 dingers shy of reaching the infamous 300/300 club which is occupied by just 6 players in baseball history.  Over the course of his career, Rickey Henderson has tallied 1,115 RBI while also scoring 2,295 runs which is also a baseball record.

Defensively, Rickey Henderson has been recognized as a Gold Glove outfielder one time.  Never considered to be stellar, Rickey was a showman and often turned a routine play into a theatrical move as he swiped fly balls out of mid-air.  Rickey entertained like no other…

Rickey Henderson’s best season came in 1990 as a member of the Oakland Athletics.  He won the MVP award with his amazing numbers of .325/25/61.  Added to his impressive numbers were 65 steals, 159 hits, 119 runs scored, and an on-base percentage of 44%.  Rickey Henderson is also a 3-time winner of the Silver Slugger award as well as a 10-time All-star.

Henderson has played in 3 World Series match-ups and was the winner of 2 championship titles.  In 1989 with the Oakland A’s, Rickey hit an amzing .474 while also collecting 3 stolen bases, 9 hits, 3 RBI, and 1 home run in the 4-game series.  In 1993 with the Toronto Blue Jays, Henderson was less effective as he hit .227 with 5 hits, 1 stolen base, and 2 RBI in the 6-game series. 



‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #6

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #6

Ken Griffey, Jr. – 1989 Upper Deck

I have never seen a player enter the league with the fanfare that Ken Griffey Jr. had.  A hobby legend before he even took a swing in the major leagues, Junior was destined for greatness.  He may not reach each and every lofty goal that fans and experts pegged him for at the young age of 18, but ‘The Kid’ has had a brilliant career.

Where do you start?  With a swing that is comparable to the most skilled hitters of all-time or the brilliance of a defensive genius?  Let’s change it up a little and go defense first this time.

At a young age, Griffey was found on highlight reels for his remarkable play in the field.  Never tagged as one of the fastest guys in the game, Griffey had a nose for the ball and was able to make unbelievable catches look common.  His arm strength was good but it was his ability to get to the ball and create outs, which would have been hits or home runs otherwise, is what made Griffey stand alone.  A winner of 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards, beginning with his second year in the league, Griffey dominated center field for a decade with the Seattle Mariners.  Making impossible catch after impossible catch, Griffey played defense superbly and made it his mission to make outs of of possible hits.

Offensively, Griffey is dynamic.  Through the 2008 season, Griffey had already eclipsed the baseball milestone of 600 home runs.  Today he stands at 611 and if he can remain healthy and has a desire to play for another 4 years, 700 is not improbable.  In addition to his power hitting, Griffey is a very good contact hitter.  With a career batting averge of .288, with 2,680 total hits, Griffey has hit .300 or better in 8 seasons.  And along with the hits, the RBI pour in.  Junior has 1,772 RBI and has also scored 1,612 runs.  He was also a base stealing threat during the first 10 years of his career.  To date, he has 184 stolen bases on his resume.

Ken Griffey, Jr. won 1 MVP award while placing in the Top 10 6 other times.  In his MVP season of 1997, Griffey hit .304 while smacking 56 home runs and collecting 147 RBI.  In that season, he also stole 15 bases and scored 125 runs.

As  mentioned prior, ‘The Kid’ has won 10 Gold Gloves.    He is also the winner of 7 Silver Slugger awards and is a 13-time All-star.

Ken Griffey, Jr. has never played in a World Series.  In his limited post-season experience, just 18 games in 20 years, ‘The Kid’ has been phenomenal.  With a .290 average, Griffey has crushed 6 home runs while collecting 11 RBI and scoring 12 runs. 


‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #7

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #7

Rafael Palmeiro – 1987 Topps

Rafael Palmeiro quietly put together an amazing career as he reached several baseball milestones that define greatness as an offensive player.  While never considered to be the best player in the league, and even on his team at times, Palmerio’s numbers are rare.

No batting titles.  Only 1 season of 200 or more hits.  But, consistency was Palmeiro’s game.  In his 20-season career, Palmerio collected 3,020 hits.  Hitting between 140-170 hits a year is all it took for Palmeiro to become one of the game’s most consistent offensive players.  His career batting average is .288, and he has 6 seasons of hitting .300 or better. 

Palmeiro also had a power game that was rare for such a disciplined contact hitter.  ‘Raffy’ has 569 career home runs which places him in 10th place in baseball history.  Off to a relatively slow start in the beginning of his career, Palmeiro’s power numbers began to take off during the 1991 season.  From 1999-2004, Palmeiro hit at least 22 homers per season with his maximum output being 47 in both the 1999 and 2001 seasons. 

‘Raffy’ has also collected 1,835 RBI and has scored 1,663 runs during his playing days.

Palmeiro has finished in the Top 19 for the MVP award 10 times.  He is a 4-time All-star, a 3-time Gold Glove award winner, and a 2-time Silver Slugger winner.

Palmeiro never made it to the World Series during his 20-year career as a major league baseball player. 


‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980′s – Card #8

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #8

Tony Gwynn – 1983 Donruss

A true student of the game, Tony Gwynn studied the game with such fire and energy he was bound to succeed.  Gwynn is categorized with the greatest hitters to ever suit up for a major league baseball team.  His hitting was dominant, but Gwynn was more well-rounded that given credit for during his playing days.

Tony Gwynn has won 8 batting titles during his 20 year career as a member of the San Diego Padres.  With a career average of .338, Gwynn mastered his craft and left others behind as he topped the batting charts year after year.  In 20 seasons, the lowest Gwynn batted for a full season was .289(during his rookie season).  For the next 19 years, Gwynn remained above .300.  In his best statistical season in 1994, Gwynn flirted with .400 only to fall 6 points shy and end the year at .394.  Tony Gwynn retired with 3,141 career hits and (5) 200-hit seasons.

Although Gwynn was known as a contact hitter, he did offer a little power at times.  For his career, Gwynn has hit 135 home runs with the highest single-season tally being 17.  He also has 319 stolen bases on his resume along with 1,383 runs scored and 1,138 RBI.

Tony Gwynn is a 15-time All-star.  He has finished in the Top 20 for the MVP award 10 times.   He also won 7 Silver Slugger awards along with 5 Gold Glove trophies.

Gwynn has played in 2 World Series match-ups and lost both.  In 9 career games during World Series play, Gwynn hit .371 as he collected 13 hits.  He has also accounted for 3 runs scored, 3 RBI, and 1 home run during the ‘Fall Classic’.