Tuesday, March 2, 2010

1981 New York Yankees

This is it, the Yankees only World Series appearance in the 1980s and the last until 1996. Perhaps because the Yankees didn't have a dominant team during this period, the 1980s would be the most competitively balanced decade in baseball history. Here is one way to compare the competitiveness of the last 4 decades of baseball, by looking at the number of different teams in each decade to make the playoffs:
1970s - 14/26 different teams (no appearances by the Indians, Brewers, Blue Jays, White Sox, Rangers, Mariners, Braves, Expos, Cardinals, Astros, Cubs, or Padres)
1980s - 21/26 different teams (no appearances by the Indians, Rangers, Mariners, Reds, or Pirates)
1990s - 24/30 different teams (no appearances by the Tigers, Brewers, Royals, Angels, Devil Rays, or Expos)
2000s - 23/30 different teams (no appearances by the Orioles, Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers, Expos/Nationals, Reds, or Pirates)

By this way of looking at the issue, the 1980s are only slightly more balanced than the 1990s...but consider that baseball switched to 3 divisions in the 1990s with the wild card, there were many more opportunities for teams to get into the playoffs in the 1990s. So another way of looking at it, which also shows the '80s were the most competitive decade.
1970s - 14 different teams in 40 possible playoff spots
1980s - 21 different teams in 44 possible playoff spots (4 more because of '81 strike)
1990s - 24 different teams in 56 possible playoff spots
2000s - 23 different teams in 80 possible playoff spots

Why were the 1980s the most competitive? The amateur draft had a full decade by this point to even things out, the expansion teams had plenty of time by this point to get better organized, free agency at this point may have evened things out as there seems to be no concern over big market/small market teams in the 1980s or it could be more sinister like drugs breaking up potential dynamos....it could be a combination of all of these things.

The key thing was there was no dominant team in this decade. There was no team with dominant pitching like the 1990s Braves or a lineup like the Big Red Machine or even a little of both like the late '90s Yankees. It seemed every team had some weakness that wouldn't allow them to dominate for more than a year or two.

__ TO 335 C Rick Cerone NYY
__ TO 690 1B Bob Watson NYY
__ TO 60 2B Willie Randolph NYY
__ TO 365 3B Graig Nettles NYY
__ TO 650 SS Bucky Dent NYY
__ TT 855 LF Dave Winfield NYY
__ TT 808 CF Jerry Mumphrey NYY
__ TO 400 RF Reggie Jackson NYY
__ TO 139 DH Oscar Gamble NYY
__ TT 802 SS Larry Milbourne NYY
__ TO 724 UT Lou Piniella NYY

Starting Pitchers
__ TO 250 SP Ron Guidry NYY
__ TO 550 SP Tommy John NYY

SP Dave Righetti
__ TT 822 SP Rick Reuschel NYY
__ TO 179 SP Rudy May NYY

Relief Pitchers
__ TO 460 CL Rich Gossage NYY
__ TO 16 RP Ron Davis NYY
__ TO 516 RP Doug Bird NYY
__ TT 789 RP Dave LaRoche NYY
__ TT 809 SP Gene Nelson NYY
__ TO 114 SP Tom Underwood NYY

Other Players
__ TT 763 C Barry Foote NYY
__ TO 602 DH Bobby Murcer NYY
__ TT 823 1B Dave Revering NYY
__ TO 435 1B Jim Spencer NYY
__ FL 102 UT Dennis Werth (or DO 466)
__ TO 418 UT Bobby Brown NYY
__ TO 34 UT Aurelio Rodriguez NYY
__ TO 303 C Johnny Oates NYY

MI Andre Robertson

OF Mike Patterson

UT Steve Balboni

2B Tucker Ashford
__ DO 310 RP George Frazier STL
__ TO 271 RP Bill Castro MIL

RP Dave Wehrmeister

RP Andy McGaffigan

RP Mike Griffin

__ TO 414 MN John Pacella NYM

__ DO 500 MG Gene Michael NYY

MG Bob Lemon
__ DO 351 CO Yogi Berra NYY

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