This week I am creating all-decade teams of the last 50 years, and today’s features the best MLB players by position of the 1970s. Since the AL adopted the DH during this decade, I’ve added that position to the lineup. It’s probably a good time to debate whether the notion of the universal DH has merits, too. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
- Catcher – Carlton Fisk, Red Sox: Johnny Bench is probably the popular choice and Thurman Munson would be the sentimental choice, but Fisk was a rock. I was so enamored with him as a player I almost became a White Sox fan when Pudge donned the number 72 Chisox jersey starting in 1981.
- First Base – Willie Stargell, Pirates: The leader of Pittsburgh’s “Lumber Company” and the franchise’s all-time home run leader (475), Pops was the glue of those 70s Pirates teams that won two World Series titles. He was a seven-time All-Star, won the MVP in 1979, and was one of the most feared hitters in the National League.
- Second Base – Joe Morgan, Reds: It’s hard to include Morgan because of his obvious distaste for Ryne Sandberg, but he is the modern era MLB standard-bearer at the keystone spot. The Hall of Famer hit 173 home runs from 1970-79 and added 488 stolen bases.
- Third Base – Mike Schmidt, Phillies: As Cubs fans, we hated Schmidt. But there’s no denying he belongs here and he’d probably make the all-1980s team, too. Schmidt was consistently great offensively and defensively, averaging 33 taters and 95 RBI over seven seasons starting in 1973 while winning four Gold Gloves.
- Shortstop – Toby Harrah, Rangers: Shortstop was a pretty dull position at the time, so Harrah is the default choice thanks to his 51.4 WAR. Vastly underrated, though spectacular most of the time, Harah was a hit machine for Texas in the 70s. He was tough, too, refusing to be called by a nickname.
- Outfield – Jim Rice, Red Sox: The annual MVP candidate burst on to the scene with the BoSox in 1975, finishing second in Rookie of the Year and third in MVP voting. He finished in the top five in the AL MVP race in four of six seasons, winning in 1978 with 46 home runs, 139 RBI and a .315 batting average.
- Outfield – Fred Lynn, Red Sox: He beat Rice for Rookie of the Year in ’75 and won the MVP to boot. Lynn was flawless in center field for Boston and was a big time clutch hitter, averaging 36 doubles, 25 homers and 90 RBI in six seasons.
- Outfield – Reggie Jackson, A’s/Yankees/Orioles: If a single performance could vault a player to the top of this list, Jackson destroying the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series would have to garner serious consideration. Beyond that, his 260 taters and 922 RBI in 10 seasons says he belongs here. He also earned five championship rings in the 70s.
- DH – Pete Rose, Reds: He’s baseball’s all-time hits leader. Challenge me that Rose does not belong on this list.
- Starting Pitcher – Tom Seaver, Mets: Seaver averaged 20 wins per season from 1970-79 with an ERA+ of 136 and regularly struck out 200+hitters per season.
- Starting Pitcher – Nolan Ryan, Angels: Ryan lost a lot of games, nearly 17 per season, but he won a lot too. He also struck out 2,563 batters with four no-hitters and an ERA of 3.13 in 10 seasons.
- Starting Pitcher – Ferguson Jenkins, Cubs/Rangers/Red Sox: The 1971 Cy Young winner quietly averaged 18 wins per season with 160 complete games in 354 starts for three teams. From 1970-74 he struck out 1,114 opposing batters against just 261 walks. In ’71, he had 263 punchouts while issuing just 37 walks.
- Starting Pitcher – Steve Carlton, Phillies: The tall lefty was impeccably consistent and boasts more hardware than any pitcher in the organization’s history, including seven All-Star selections and four Cy Young awards. He also led the NL in wins four times.
- Starting Pitcher – Catfish Hunter, A’s/Yankees: From 1972-75, Hunter finished in the top four in AL Cy Young voting, winning the award in 1974. He averaged 23 wins in those four seasons, finishing the decade with 169 wins.
- Closer – Rollie Fingers, A’s/Padres: The mustachioed closer won 85 games and saved another 162 games during the 1970s, and he even started twice for Oakland in 1973.
Cubs News & Notes
- Kyle Hendricks is among baseball’s best at working a high fastball.
- Hmmm, a tournament pitting the eight greatest Cubs teams of all-time. Where do you think the 2016 club ranks?
- Jon Lester might have been a professional soccer player had he not chosen baseball.
- Anthony Rizzo has made it clear once again that he wants to finish his career playing with the Cubs. “We’ve got to enjoy these days. every single day,” Rizzo recently told NBC Sports Chicago’s Gordon Wittenmyer. “Because, listen, it’s not Year Two for all of us; it’s coming toward the end for all of us [as a group].”
- As a prospect with the Yankees, José Quintana learned to speak English by watching Jimmy Fallon’s late-night talk show on NBC.
- Ryan Davis continues to simulate the 2020 season for Cubs Insider. Chicago won its home opener Monday, defeating the Pirates 6-5 in walk-off fashion. Willson Contreras was the offensive hero with a 4th inning grand slam.
- Over at Strat-O-Matic, the Cubs improved to 3-1 on the season, winning 6-5 thanks to a two-run walk-off homer by Ian Happ. Reliever Rex Brothers earned picked up the win.
- MLB.com ranked the 2016 Cubs as the third best World Series winner in the last 25 years.
- Cubs prospect Brennen Davis joined the Cubs Related podcast to discuss his development as a hitter.
- Former Cubs catching prospect Jhonny Pereda will go down in history as the first player traded during the current coronavirus pandemic.
- Sammy Sosa was both a history-making and also-ran slugger.
Odds & Sods
Social distancing is working folks. Keep up the good work.
Fevers are dropping across the United States, showing that harsh “social distancing” measures like staying home actually work, according to intriguing new data produced by a medical technology firm https://t.co/TYgMpKPaeK
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 31, 2020
MLB News & Notes
MLB players are worried about their health if the league insists on cramming too many games together.
Today is my 56th birthday. Do something charitable today in my honor, and let’s all cross our fingers I make 57 and beyond.
Womens History Month comes to a close today. Lets celebrate Geena Davis who played Dottie Hinson in A League of Their Own inspired by real-life player Dorothy “Kammie” Kamenshek. IRL she founded The Geena Davis institute in Gender in Media @GDIGM #WHM2020 #seeittobeit #baseball pic.twitter.com/dFXn8HBhW9
— The Other Boys Of Summer (@NegroLeagueFilm) March 31, 2020
They Said It
- “Right now, we would have been 3-and-0. We would have had a nice sweep yesterday on ‘Sunday Night Baseball.’” – Anthony Rizzo
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Stubborn Love by The Lumineers. It’s my birthday, I get to pick one of my favorite songs.