It was only coincidence that yesterday was April Fool’s Day and I was absent from writing The Rundown, I assure you. I’ve just been busy at work trying to help my company reach its new normal, and running a call center from home while trying to get hundreds of employees work-from-home access to receive all those calls has been keeping me just a little busy.
I’m not complaining since I am very fortunate to have a job in these trying times, and I’m relatively healthy, at least as much as I have been in the last two months.
That said, I will continue my ongoing feature of all-decade teams, with today’s focus on the 1980s.
- Catcher – Gary Carter, Expos/Mets: Consistently great throughout his career, The Kid was spectacular in 1985. Over 149 games, Carter hit .281/.365/.488 with 32 home runs, 17 doubles, 100 RBI, a 139 wRC+, and led the NL in putouts by a catcher with 797, earning his eighth of 11 career All-Star nods.
- First Base – Eddie Murray, Orioles: Steady Eddie made seven All-Star teams while earning three Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards during a career in which he terrorized pitchers to the tune of 3,255 hits, including 504 taters and 1,917 RBI.
- Second Base – Ryne Sandberg, Cubs: You might get an argument if you said Ryno was the best player in team history, but you’d have a strong case. The perennial All-Star was a rock at the keystone, regularly leading the Cubs in offensive production while providing steady defense at second base. And who can forget a coming out party like this one in 1984?
- Shortstop – Robin Yount, Brewers: A tough choice over Ozzie Smith, but I’ll take Yount’s all-around game over Smith’s defensive wizardry. In leading the Brewers to their only World Series appearance in 1982, Yount hit .331 with a league-leading 210 hits, league-leading 46 doubles, 29 home runs, 114 RBI, as well as league-leading .957 OPS, and league-leading 167 OPS+, winning league MVP honors and earning a Gold Glove to boot.
- Third Base – Mike Schmidt, Phillies: The only player to make two of my all-decades lists, Schmidt was as much a force in the 1980s as he was in the 70s.
- OF – Rickey Henderson, A’s/Yankees: Henderson made stealing 100 bases per season almost boring, but he had some pop, too, finishing his career with 3055 hits, 297 home runs, and a .401 OBP. Oh yeah, he swiped 1,406 bases.
- OF – Andre Dawson, Expos/Cubs: Dawson won the MVP in 1987 with 49 home runs, 137 RBI, and an OPS+ of 130, all with a really bad team. Imagine what he’d have done if the Cubs weren’t third-worst in the league in getting on base.
- OF – Dale Murphy, Braves: It’s difficult to say Murphy was underrated with the way he killed the Cubs year after year, but the outfielder quietly amassed a stellar career playing for mostly bad Braves teams. From 1982-87, Murphy made six All-Star appearances and won five Gold Gloves, four Silver Slugger awards and two NL MVP awards, a heroic run by any standards. Atlanta finished no higher than fifth in three of those seasons.
- DH – Wade Boggs, Red Sox: He could drink beer and eat chicken, but the thing that Boggs did most impressively was collect base hits. From 1983-89, Boggs averaged 8.4 WAR while averaging 211 hits per season.
- SP – Jack Morris, Tigers – Earning 171 wins over 10 seasons grants Morris a place on this list, but he is my ace because he was tough as nails, too. His ERA+ for the entire decade was 110.
- SP – Roger Clemens, Red Sox: The Rocket won 95 games and two Cy Youngs in five seasons as a full-time starter with the Red Sox starting in 1985.
- SP – Fernando Valenzuela, Dodgers: El Toro used his magnificent screwball and deviant windup to fool NL hitters all decade, punching out 1,645 batters over 10 seasons, including 240 in 1984. He could handle the bat, too, and won two Silver Slugger awards. No wonder baseball celebrated Fernandomania for most of his career.
- SP – Orel Hershiser, Dodgers: The Bulldog threw 59 consecutive scoreless innings in 1988. Of course he makes the all-decade team.
- SP – Dave Stieb, Blue Jays: Steib quietly pitched to an ERA+ of 122 throughout the decade, including an insane mark of 171 over 265 innings in 1985 when he finished seventh in Cy Young voting because his record was only 14-13 with just 167 strikeouts.
- Closer – Dan Quisenberry, Royals: From 1982-85, Quiz averaged 44 saves per season, finished no lower than third in AL Cy Young voting, and finished in the top 10 of AL MVP voting three times.
- Manager – Tommy LaSorda, Dodgers:With four NL pennants, two Manager of the Year awards, two World Series championships, all while averaging 85+ wins per season, LaSorda is an easy choice.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs-Cardinals series slated to be played in London June 13-14 has been officially canceled.
- Any rush to get the 2020 season started is not worth the risk to Cubs players and other members of their organization.
- The team still sees prospect Manuel Rodriguez as a future force at the back end of their bullpen despite the ongoing delay to the start of the season and the young hurler’s current arm injury.
- Jason Kipnis is worried about injuries and the quality of play once baseball ends its current hiatus.
- In yesterday’s game as part of a simulated season being played by CI’s Ryan Davis, Kyle Hendricks was hit hard in an 8-6 loss to the Pirates.
- The Cubs are now 4-2 and tied for first place with the Cardinals after yesterday’s Strat-O-Matic simulated 7-6 loss to the Pirates. Javier Báez hit his fifth home run of the year in the loss, while Kyle Schwarber blasted his fourth tater of the young season.
- Schwarber is out to prove that his success in 2019 was not just a fluke (subscription to The Athletic required).
- Who can forget over-hyped first base prospect Hee-Seop Choi, whose greatest success as a Cub was being traded for Derrek Lee?
Odds & Sods
You can’t celebrate April Fool’s Day without remembering Sidd Finch and the greatest MLB prank ever.
Remember this “true” #Mets legend? ?
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 2, 2020
Apropos of Nothing
If you are a fan of The Office, this interview of Steve Carell by John Krasinski is definitely worth your time.
MLB News & Notes
Rockies infielder Daniel Murphy is donating $100,000 to assist the families of struggling minor league players adversely affected by COVID-19.
MLB Insider Jared Diamond is preparing for no MLB season at all. If anyone cares, I predict baseball will resume July 1 or thereabouts.
In fact, July 1 looks like a realistic target date, at least for now, with a possible 100-game schedule to follow.
I say let’s make today National Hamburger/Cheeseburger Day. On this date in 2001 Ichiro Suzuki made his MLB debut.
Tim Kurkjian: Ichiro's love of hamburgers, math and his bats https://t.co/UpGcgBohxP
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 2, 2020
They Said It
- “It’s the feel of the swing. Any hitter will tell you, whenever you feel right, you’re not thinking. If you lose the feel a little bit, you think a little bit and the next thing you know you lead to different thoughts.” – Kyle Schwarber
Thursday Walk Up Song
Stacy’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne – COVID-19 claimed FoW lead singer Adam Schlesinger yesterday. You may not know it, but Schlesinger, who was one of pop music’s greatest collaborators, wrote all of the original music for the movie That Thing You Do, including its titular title song.