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

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #9

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #9

Tom Glavine – 1988 Score

Tom Glavine could be classified as the most consistent pitcher to debut during the 1980’s.  From 1988-2007, Glavine started at least 29 games per season.  With the remarkable ability to stay healthy and remain in shape through each season, Glavine put up exceptional numbers.

Going into the 2009 baseball season Tom Glavine has 305 career wins.  In his 22-year career in the major leagues Glavine has won 20 or more games 5 times and 13 or more games 16 times.  His consistent play has provided his teams with 11 seasons of pitching 200 innings or more.  With 2,607 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.54 for his career, Glavine is primed for Hall of Fame entry after his playing days come to an end.

Tom Glavine has won 2 Cy Young awards.  He has also placed in the Top 3 for the award 4 more times during his career.  Glavine’s first Cy Young award came in 1991 when he went 20-11 with a 2.55 ERA.  Glavine pitched 9 complete games in 1991 and struck out 192 batters while walking just 69.  His second Cy Young award was won in 1998 where he went 20-6 with a 2.47 ERA. 

Tom Glavine is a 10-time All-star.  He has also won 4 Silver Slugger award and was often considered to be the best hitting pitcher in the game.  Oftentimes, he and his pitching peers on the Atlanta Braves would compete to see who could turn in the best hitting performances and Glavine finished on top quite a bit.

Glavine has made it to post-season play 12 times in his career while earning 4 trips to the World Series.  In 4 attempts, Glavine won 1 World Series title in 1995 as a member of the Atlanta Braves.  He was tremendous in that championship series as he won 2 games and had an ERA of just 1.29.  In 14 innings of play, Glavine allowed just 2 runs while striking out 11 batters and giving up only 4 hits.  Glavine’s performance was so dominant in that series that he was named the World Series MVP. 

glavine

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #10

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #10

Kirby Puckett – 1985 Topps

What could have been.  Man do I miss Kirby Puckett.  Easily one of the most enjoyable players to watch that debuted during the 1980’s, Puckett injected fun into the game that few could replicate. 

In what is considered to be a relatively short career, just 12 seasons, for a Hall of Fame player one has to wonder what more Kirby Puckett could have done in the game if he played for 20 years like many of his counterparts were able to do.

Kirby Puckett has a lifetime batting average of .318.  In his 12 years Puckett hit .300 or better 8 times.  And in 3 of the 4 years that he did not eclipse the .300 milestone he hit at least .290.  With 2,304 hits to his credit while playing in just 12 seasons Puckett amassed some incredible numbers at a torrid pace.  Kirby also has 207 home runs and 134 stolen bases on his impressive resume.  And in just 12 seasons, Kirby was able to score 1,071 runs while driving in 1,085.

Kirby Puckett placed in the Top 7 for the MVP award 7 times.  His best statistical season was in 1992 when he hit .329 while blasting 19 home runs, driving in 110 runs, and stealing 17 bases.  Kirby Puckett was also a 10-time All-star, a 6-time Silver Slugger winner, and a 6-time Gold Glove winner.

Kirby Puckett shined brightly on baseball’s grandest stage.  He played in 2 World Series championship match-ups in 1987 and 1991 and won 2 titles.  In 14 total World Series games, Kirby batted .308 while collecting 16 hits, 9 runs scored, 7 RBI, and 2 home runs.  Most importantly, he and his Minnesota Twins teammates collected 2 World Series rings.

kirby

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #11

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #11

Craig Biggio – 1989 Donruss

It could be argued that there was no more versatile player in the big leagues that debuted during the 1980’s than Craig Biggio.  Debuting as a catcher and spending 4 seasons in that role Biggio was than transitioned to second base for the next 11 years.  In those 11 years, Biggio excelled and captured 4 Gold Glove awards for his defensive excellence at second base.  Then at the age of 37 and in his 16th season in the majors Biggio was made into an outfielder, a position he would fill for 2 years before returning to second base for 3 more seasons before his retirement in 2007.

Equally as impressive as his defense was Biggio’s offense.  Extremely versatile at the plate, Biggio offered the combination of speed and power that is rarely found in a second baseman.  Biggio has 291 career home runs and 414 stolen bases.  While never leading the league in either category during his 20-season career, Biggio’s consistency in both aspects of the game made him a constant offensive threat.  Biggio’s career batting average is .281.  And with 3,060 career hits, his well-rounded offensive game gave opposing teams nightmares during each at-bat.  Biggio has also scored 1,844 runs and is responsible for driving in 1,175.

In addition to his 4 Gold Glove awards, Craig Biggio is a 7-time All-star and a 5-time winner of the Silver Slugger award. 

Biggio only made it to 1 World Series championship.  In 2005, his Astros were swept by the Chicago White Sox.  In those 4 games, Biggio batted .222 while collecting just 4 hits, scoring 3 runs, and driving in 1 run. 

biggio

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #12

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #12

Randy Johnson – 1989 Upper Deck

In a literal sense, at 6 feet and 10 inches tall this guy stands heads and shoulders above all pitchers in the game.  Figuratively speaking, there are very few pitchers that debuted during the 1980’s that have had a bigger impact on the game than Randy Johnson. 

Randy Johnson debuted in the major leagues is 1988 with the Montreal Expos.  Larger than life and the competition, Johnson stood out for his physical presence long before he stood out for his dominating pitching skills.  Soon after, the baseball world took notice and by the early 1990’s Johnson had become a household name for baseball fans.  With his dominating fastball and penchant for strikeouts, ‘The Big Unit’ was living up to his stature and taking hitters out with ease.

Playing for mostly small market teams like the Expos, Mariners, and Diamondbacks, Johnson was able to escape the media spotlight for most of his career.  But in the baseball world, he was too strong of a presence to ignore as he racked up wins and strikeouts year after year for 21 seasons.  Going into the 2009 baseball season, Johnson is just 5 wins short of 300 career victories which is usually used to define pitching greatness.  He also ranks in second place all-time for career strikeouts with 4,789.  If healthy all season, he has an outside shot of reaching the 5,000 K plateau this season.  And if he does not hit that mark and plans to pitch in 2010 when he is 46 years old he will certainly reach that milestone too.

Randy Johnson is a 5-time Cy Young Award winner, with 3 2nd place finishes to his credit as well.  His best statistical season came in 2002 as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.  In that season he started 35 games while winning 24 and losing just 5.  Amazingly at the age of 38, he was able to pitch 260 innings en route to striking out 334 batters while accounting for just a 2.32 ERA.  Johnson is also a 10-time All-star.

Randy Johnson has participated in just 1 World Series match-up.  As a member of the Diamondbacks in 2001, Johnson won his lone World Series championship title.  His performance against the Yankees was brilliant as he went 3-0 while pitching 17 innings.  In those 17 innings of work, Johnson struck out 19 batters while allowing just 3 walks and 2 earned runs.  Johnson went on to win the Co-MVP of the World series that year with teammate Curt Schilling.

johnson

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #13

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #13

Wade Boggs – 1983 Topps

One of the greatest contact hitters that the game of baseball has ever seen, Wade Boggs breaks into the ’40/40′ club at position #13.

With a lifetime batting average of .328, Boggs won 5 batting titles.  During his 18-year career, Boggs hit .300 or better 15 times and eclipsed the .330 mark 9 times.  Boggs ended his career with 3,010 hits – 2,253 of which were singles.  Boggs amassed 578 doubles and 118 home runs during his professional career, often using the ‘Green Monster’ to his advantage at his home ballpark.  Boggs also collected 1,014 RBI and scored 1,513 runs in the majors.

Always with a keen eye, Wade Boggs was an incredibly controlled hitter.  And for someone who averaged 500+ at-bats per season, Wade Boggs made the most out of each at-bat.  With just 745 career strikeouts to his credit, Boggs struck out on average just 41 times per season – just 1 time in every 12 at-bats.

Wade Boggs is a 12-time All-star.  He has won the Silver Slugger award 8 times.  Wade Boggs has collected 2 Gold Glove trophies.  He has finished in the Top 22 for the MVP award 9 times. 

Boggs has played in 2 World Series match-ups.  He was part of the forgettable Red Sox team that lost to the New York Mets in 1986.  Luckily he was rewarded for his hard work and dedication to the sport in 1996 as a member of the New York Yankees and their championship team.  During that championship series in 1996, Boggs hit .273 while collecting 3 hits, 2 RBI, and of course 0 strikeouts!!!

 

boggs

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #14

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #14

John Smoltz – 1988 Fleer

The stats don’t line up to the amazingly talented John Smoltz.  Part of this is due to the fact that as a starting pitcher, Smoltz missed up to 120 starts during his career due to being shifted to the closer role to secure victories for his Atlanta Braves team.

Right out of the gate, John Smoltz began racking up starts and innings for the Braves.  In his first full season in 1989, Smoltz started 29 games and pitched 208 innings.  In that year, he went 12-11 with 168 strikeouts and an ERA of just 2.94.  This year-long effort was enough to secure Smoltz a roster spot on the All-star team which would be his first of 8 appearances. 

The hard work continued as Smoltz became an important cog in the Brave’s starting rotation.  Averaging 30 starts a season along with 220+ innings of work became the standard for Smoltz and soon his individual stats began to flourish.  In 20 big league seasons, Smoltz has double-digit victories in wins in 13 seasons and when you consider that 4 years were spent in the bullpen, his numbers shine even brighter.  And the innings added up as he tallied 200+ innings of work in 10 of his 16 years as a starting pitcher. 

During his most successful individual season in 1996, John Smoltz was the best pitcher in baseball.  In 35 games, he won 24 while just losing 8.  Smoltz struck out 276 batters and walked just 55 which is good for a 5.02:1 K:walk ratio.  Smoltz’s tremendous season earned him the Cy Young award of which he placed in the Top 7 for the award 5 times throughout his career.

In 2001, John Smoltz was shifted to the bullpen to take over as the closer for the Braves.  This resulted in one of the greatest 3-season careers that baseball has ever seen by a closer.  Dominant as ever, Smoltz was closing games at a record pace and when done he saved 144 games in just 210 appearances. 

After the 2004 season, Smoltz was moved back to the starting rotation and picked up right where he left off.  In his first season back as a starter, Smoltz threw 230 innings while posting 14 wins and a 3.06 ERA.  His success continued over the next 2 seasons as he captured 16 and 14 more wins en route to 210 career wins.

John Smoltz has pitched in 5 World Series match-ups, but has won just 1 championship.  In 1995 his Braves finally won the title giving John his only championship ring. 

smoltz

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #15

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #15

Mark McGwire – 1985 Topps

No man carried the sport of baseball on his back in the last 20 years the way that Mark McGwire did during the summer of 1998.  ‘Big Mac’ had non-sports fans tuning in to watch him play.  Crowds in ballparks all across the country grew larger and larger during his home run chase in hopes of seeing baseball history.  Mark McGwire revolutionized the baseball world in 1998.

McGwire’s debut in the big leagues was epic.  As a member of the Oakland A’s, Mark McGwire was creating baseball history at the young age of 23.  In his rookie season of 1987, ‘Big Mac’ set a rookie record by blasting 49 home runs.  A unanimous choice for the Rookie of the Year award in ’87 , he collected 118 RBI while batting .289 along with his 49 dingers.  He also made the All-star team in his rookie season which would be the 1st of 12 appearances.

Mark McGwire has finished in the Top 25 for the MVP award 10 times over the course of his 16-year career.  His highest finish was second place during his amazing season of 1998.  In ’98, as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, McGwire chased down and then broke Roger Maris’ record of 61 home runs hit in a baseball season.  At the time, it was thought that ‘Big Mac’ put the record out of reach as he crushed 70 that year.  He also contributed 147 RBI, scored 130 runs, and hit .299 that year.  He followed up the 1998 season with another incredible year.  In ’99, he hit .278/65/147 which quickly gave him 135 home runs in 2 very short years.  Had it not been for injuries that quickly took him away from the sport, there is no telling how many more home runs McGwire could have added to the 583 that he retired with.

While with Oakland in the late 80’s, McGwire played in 3 conescutive World Series contests.  From, 1988-90, ‘Big Mac’ was a constant presence in baseball’s postseason.  Ultimtalely, McGwire would go on to win just 1 championship – in 1989.  During that series, he hit .294 while driving in 1 run and scoring 0 times.  However, the incredible pitching of the A’s prevailed and the A’s were World Series champions!!! 

mcgwire

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #16

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #16

Ryne Sandberg – 1983 Fleer

Easily the most popular player to put on a Cubs uniform since Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg revolutionized offensive stats for a 2nd baseman during his career.

‘Ryno’ was the first second baseman to hit 40 or more home runs in a single season.  And he really was never known to be a power hitter either.  What ‘Ryno’ was known for was his all-around skill level that classified him as a 5-tool player.

With a career batting average of .285, Ryne was a good contact hitter that kept the ball in play.  During the course of his 16-season career, Sandberg hit .300 or better 5 times.  And with his average, came a little pop in his bat too.  ‘Ryno’ has 282 career home runs and topped 25 or more homers in 6 seasons.  Adding 344 stolen bases to his resume as well as 2,386 hits, 1,061 RBI, and 1,318 runs scored rounds out Sandberg’s offensive stats.

Defensively, Ryne was incredible.  The winner of 9 consecutive Gold Glove awards from his second season of 1984-1991, Sandberg put on a show each time he took to the field.  Ryne Sandberg was also a 10-time All-star, a 7-time Silver Slugger winner, and a league MVP.  In his MVP season of 1984, ‘Ryno’ went for .314/19/84 while stealing 32 bases and scoring 114 runs.

Ryne Sandberg never played in a World Series.  He did play in 2 NLCS match-ups and did extremely well.  In 10 games between the 2 series’, ‘Ryno’ hit .385 while also collecting 6 RBI, 3 stolen bases, and hitting 1 home run. 

sandberg

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #17

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #17

Jose Canseco – 1986 Donruss

Ah, we finally make it to the player that this series was named for – Mr. Jose Canseco!

When his name is mentioned today, it’s very possible that Canseco’s baseball career is not even mentioned.  But, back in the late 1980’s and through the 90’s Canseco was king of the baseball world. 

Jose Canseco debuted with the Oakland A’s in 1985 and played in just 29 games.  His efforts earned him a full-time position with the team for the ’86 season and Canseco took full advantage of his playing time.  Although his batting average was relatively poor, at .240, Canseco was crushing monstrous home runs and driving in runs regularly.  With a stat line that read .240/33/117, Canseco earned the Rookie of the Year award as well as his first All-star berth.

1988 is the year that Jose Canseco blew the baseball world out of the water.  As the offensive star of the team, this member of the ‘Bash Brothers’ put together the most dominant power hitting and base stealing season of any player prior.  With 42 home runs and 40 stolen bases, Canseco became the first member of the ’40/40 Club’.  With these incredible feats, Canseco also hit .307 that year, his highest ever during his 17-season career.  And with 120 runs scored and 124 RBI, Canseco was an obvious and unanimous choice for the MVP Award.

By the end of his career, Jose Canseco had tallied 462 home runs and 200 stolen bases.  Like many aging stars, his power and speed wore off as he got older but Jose still managed to display flashes of his greatness.  In 1998 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays and 14 years after his debut, Jose was able to amass an incredible 46 home runs and 29 steals.  He ended his career as a 6-time All-star and 4-time Silver Slugger winner.

Over the course of his career, Jose Canseco made 4 trips to the World Series, winning 2 championships.  With Oakland in 1990, Canseco hit .357 with 1 home run, 5 runs scored, and 3 RBI.  And then in 2000 as a member of the New York Yankees, Jose won his 2nd title while appearing in just one game and getting 1 at-bat. 

canseco

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #18

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #18

Barry Larkin – 1987 Fleer

Known around the baseball world as one of the classiest players from his rookie year through retirement, Barry Larkin should also be remembered as one hell of a ball player!!

Larkin was the anchor of the Cincinnati Reds offense and defense for 19 amazing seasons.  His solid play and leadership helped lead the team to several winning seasons and eventually to a World Series title.  Individually, Larkin put up some amazing numbers and he was rewarded for his successes often.

With a career batting average of .295, along with 2,340 hits, Larkin often found himself as the catalyst for the Reds’ offense.  Couple that with his 379 stolen bases and 1,329 runs scored and you begin to see how dynamic Larkin was on the base paths.  Never known for his power at the plate, Barry Larkin bashed 198 home runs in his career and also drove in 960 RBI. 

With 3 consecutive Gold Glove winning years at short-stop from 1994-96, Larkin developed his game into a well-rounded one.  A winner of 9 Silver Slugger trophies and a 12-time All-Star, Larkin’s all-around abilities were often recognized as some of the greatest in the sport.

Barry Larkin won the MVP award in 1995.  His amazing season was capped off by a .319 batting average.  In addition to his solid hitting, Larkin stole 51 bases and scored 98 runs that year.  He also won the Silver Slugger award and a Gold Glove while also making the All-star team.

Larkin’s greatest team success came in 1990 when his Reds swept the mighty Oakland A’s in the World Series.  In the 4-game match-up, Larkin hit .353 as he collected 6 hits in 17 at-bats while also scoring 3 runs for the Reds en route to their World Series championship. 

larkin