It's been a while since I've posted an article about the Oakland Athletics. They went from the AL runner-up in 1981 to being the 5th worst team in baseball in 1982. It's little wonder as the team featured Rickey Henderson-led outfield that was solid, a burned out pitching staff, and little else.
Robin Yount won the AL MVP award and rightly so as he was the best player on the best team. But Rickey Henderson represents the biggest no brainer selection for team MVP out of all of the teams I have reviewed so far. 1982 was of course the year that he set the single season record for stolen bases with 130. This is a record that doesn't seem in danger of falling anytime soon. Henderson only had a .267 batting average, but had 116 walks, so he got on base a lot. As much as what has been written about how valuable a walk is from the stat people, which I am not in agreement with, this is an exception, as Henderson batted lead off and with the stolen bases, his walks were as good as a double and sometimes a triple. He doubled every teammates runs scored total, except for Dwayne Murphy.
Besides his actual playing ability, this 1982 Topps card is one of my all time favorite cards. It is a nice action shot of Henderson leading off of first base getting ready to do what he did best, steal a base.
On the other side, it is difficult to decide who was this teams best pitcher. A lot of pitchers with losing records and bad ERAs. I will give it to a long reliever/spot starter, Tom Underwood. He was 4th on the team in innings pitched, had the lowest ERA, was 2nd in strikeouts, and had a winning record. To get an idea how he was used, he also had 2 complete games and 7 saves.
Rookie Card of the Year
Most Interesting Non Topps Card
There were only two rookie cards to choose from, Dave Beard and Kelvin Moore. Neither one made much of an impact in the game. Besides Billy Martin, they were the only two A's to be featured on a non-Topps card. So I will give both awards to Dave Beard. He was considered the closer for this team in that he finished the most games and had the most saves. He played for the A's in 1983, the Mariners in 1984, the Cubs in 1985 and then didn't appear in the major leagues again until appearing in two games for the 1989 Tigers. 1982 was his best season in the majors.
Note: Preston Hanna and Fernando Arroyo played for the A's and other different teams in 1982. They were both pictured on cards with the other teams that they played for in 1982, but both got more playing time with the A's, so I placed them here on the checklist.