Monday, September 29, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #206 - 1977 Strikeout Leaders

  • Fans of the Atlanta Braves didn't have much to cheer about in 1977. Phil Niekro led the NL in strikeouts for the only time in his career. He easily outdistanced hard-throwing J.R. Richard.
  • Nolan Ryan led the AL in strikeouts for the fifth time in 1977. Ryan led the AL in strikeouts nine times and led the NL in strikeouts twice.
  • Hall of Fame count:
    • National League: 3 - Phil Niekro, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver
    • American League: 4 - Nolan Ryan, Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven, Gaylord Perry

Sunday, September 28, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #209 - Dock Ellis

  • Dock Ellis spent the entire 1978 season with the Texas Rangers. This was a much more stable year than 1977 (pitched for three teams) or 1979 (his final year - pitched for three teams). Ellis still wasn't happy about his 1977 trade from the New York Yankees during spring training in 1978.
  • Dock's stats started to fall off late in his career because he wasn't striking out as many batters. His walks per nine innings stayed pretty constant throughout his career, but Dock struck out only three batters per nine innings in 1978.
  • Dock clashed with Texas manager Billy Hunter during the 1978 season. Ellis disagreed with a team rule prohibiting players from drinking in the hotel bar on road trips. Dock also disagreed with an edict from Hunter saying that players couldn't bring bottles of alcohol in their suitcases on team flights.
  • Ellis had a groin injury that kept him out for a month in July and August. It also hindered his effectiveness for the rest of the season. Hunter also told Dock not to bother making the last road trip in late September.
  • Ellis died of liver disease on December 19, 2008.
  • 1978 Stats: 9-7, 4.20 ERA in 22 starts
  • 1978 Highlights:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #205 - 1977 Victory Leaders

  • I've been gone for a few weeks tending to some home matters. We have two new foster boys (2 and 4) in the house and they've been keeping us pretty busy. Things are starting to settle down into a routine so I should be able to start blogging again :).
  • Steve Carlton led the NL in victories four times during his Hall of Fame career. Lefty was the NL Cy Young Award winner in each of those seasons (1972, 1977, 1980, and 1982)
  • There was a three way tie for the AL lead in victories. Jim Palmer led the AL in wins three straight years (1975, 1976, and 1977). Palmer was the Cy Young Award winner in 1975 and in 1976 and he finished second to Sparky Lyle in the 1977 balloting. Dave Goltz and Dennis Leonard had their only taste of the league lead in wins in 1977, although Leonard won 20 or more games in two other seasons.
  • Hall of Fame count:
    • American League: 2 - Jim Palmer and Nolan Ryan
    • National League: 2 - Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #204 - 1977 Stolen Base Leaders

  • Freddie Patek had a career high of 53 stolen bases in 1977. This was toward the end of a run of eight straight seasons of 30 or more stolen bases from 1971-1978.
  • Frank Taveras also had a career high in stolen bases in 1977. After falling a little short in 1976, Frank got his only stolen base crown in 1977.
  • Hall of Fame count:
    • National League: 2 - Joe Morgan and Lou Brock
    • American League: 0

Sunday, September 7, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #203 - 1977 Runs Batted In Leaders

  • George Foster led the NL in RBI for the third straight year.
  • The Cincinnati Reds had a player lead the NL in RBI in six seasons during the 1970s - Johnny Bench (1970, 1972, 1974) and Foster (1976, 1977, 1978).
  • The Boston Red Sox had four players with at least 100 RBI in 1977.
  • Hall of Fame count:
    • National League: 2 - Johnny Bench and Mike Schmidt
    • American League: 4 - Jim Rice, Reggie Jackson, Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski

Friday, September 5, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #202 - 1977 Home Run Leaders

  • George Foster obliterated the rest of the field in the home run race in 1977. George had one of those "once in a decade" seasons, leading the NL in home runs and in RBI.
  • Foster led the NL in home runs twice -- 1977 and in 1978.
  • Jim Rice led the AL in home runs three times -- 1977, 1978, and 1983.
  • Hall of Fame count:
    • National League - 3 (Mike Schmidt, Johnny Bench, and Gary Carter)
    • American League - 2 (Jim Rice and Reggie Jackson)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #201 - Batting Leaders

  • Rod Carew won the 1977 AL batting title by 52 points. That was the largest difference between the leader and the runner-up since 1901. Nap Lajoie batted .426 to win the title by 86 points over runner-up Mike Donlin.
  • This was the sixth of Carew's seven AL batting titles. Rod would win his final batting title in 1978.
  • Dave Parker won the NL batting championship in both 1977 and in 1978. Parker was a very dangerous hitter when you combine his batting average with his power. If it weren't for those lost years in the early 1980s Dave would have been a sure Hall of Famer.
  • Hall of Fame count:
    • National League - none.
    • American League - four (Rod Carew, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, George Brett)

Monday, September 1, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #200 - Reggie Jackson

  • I still remember that night (game 6 of the 1977 World Series) when Jackson hit three home runs against the LA Dodgers. For me that World Series was like choosing between HIV or ebola. I didn't care for him at the time, but now I have a greater appreciation for Reggie. I'm surprised Topps didn't mention that game on the back of this card.
  • This card has a great picture of Jackson at the end of his swing. It looks like he hit a long ball in Yankee Stadium.
  • Reggie caught some flak for his defense (and early in his career he was below average), but at this stage of his career he was right at league average in range factor and slightly above average in fielding percentage. His fielding didn't start to drop off until about 1980.
  • 1978  Stats:
    • Regular season: .274, 27 HR, 97 RBI in 146 games
    • AL Championship Series: .462, 2 HR, 6 RBI in 4 games
    • World Series: .391, 2 HR, 8 RBI in 6 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 13 - Homered twice and knocked in three runs in New York's 5-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.
    • Oct 2 - Hit a home run in the 8th inning to put the Yankees ahead 5-2 in the playoff game that decided the AL East championship. New York eventually beat the Boston Red Sox 5-4.
    • Oct 3 - Went 3 for 3 with a 3-run home run to help the Yankees beat the Royals 7-1 in game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
  • Here is Reggie's at bat in game 2 of the 1978 World Series when Bob Welch struck him out to end the game.

  • And here's the famous play where Jackson may or may not have interfered with a throw to first base, allowing a run to score. Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda sure thinks he interfered.