Philadelphia Inquirer - November 12, 1980
Honors pile up
Schmidt wins AP vote as NL player of the year
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Mike Schmidt fooled with success and won.
Schmidt, already one of the premier long-ball hitters and RBI producers in baseball, altered his batting style in 1980.
The change made Schmidt a more consistent batter, and yesterday he added to his honors when the Associated Press named him its National League player of the year.
Also honored yesterday was Phillies rookie Lonnie Smith, named by the Sporting News as its National League rookie of the year.
Schmidt earlier had won the World Series Most Valuable Player award and the Sporting News' NL player of the year award.
Schmidt led a Phillies sweep of the first four places in the voting by a nationwide panel of sportswriters and broadcasters for the Associated Press award. He received 368½ votes, finishing far ahead of teammate Steve Carlton, the Cy Young Award winner as the league's best pitcher.
Carlton received 81½ votes, followed by bullpen ace Tug McGraw, with 13, and first baseman Pete Rose, with nine.
Other players with more than one vote were Dale Murphy, Garry Templeton, Keith Hernandez, Bill Buckner, Steve Garvey, Jose Cruz, Dave Parker, Gary Carter, Ron LeFlore, Andre Dawson, Dusty Baker and George Hendrick.
Schmidt's credentials included a .286 batting average, 48 home runs and 121 RBIs. He set a record for homers by a third baseman, breaking the mark of 47 set in 1957 by Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews. It was the fourth time in the last seven years that Schmidt has led the NL in home runs. His RBI total also was a league high.
Schmidt, 31, also is one of the top defensive players in baseball, having won four gold gloves for his play at third base. This year, he was named to the NL All-Star team for the fifth time, and either led or was among the leaders in total bases, sacrifice flies, slugging percentage, runs scored and game-winning RBIs.
Schmidt, known for his detached approach to his business, generated some personal excitement this season as he joined manager Dallas Green's team concept and grind-it-out tactics.
"Everywhere I go I'm recognized now," said Schmidt, an Ohio University graduate who has played in relative obscurity during his eight-year major league career. "It's unbelievable."
He said that the Phillies' final three weeks, including the season-ending, division-clinching series over Montreal, the five-game playoff triumph against Houston and the first-ever Series victory, over Kansas City, were incredible.
"Each one made the other possible," said Schmidt, who might have been the goat of the NL playoffs had his teammates not bailed him out.
"We re-established the concept of a team, and I was proud to be the goat of the playoffs because it gave some of my teammates a chance to be heroes. It's been an unbelievable year in my life."
As for the batting change that made a .286 hitter of a lifetime .255 swinger, Schmidt said that he just stood farther back in the batter's box, which gave him more time to see and decide what to do with pitches. It changed him from a pull-hitting slugger to a spray hitter who used all fields.
Smith, who stole 33 bases and hit .339 for the Phillies this year, was one of four rookies honored yesterday by the Sporting News, the St. Louis-based magazine. Bill Gullickson of the Montreal Expos was named the NL rookie pitcher of the year, Joe Charboneau of the Cleveland Indians the American League rookie of the year, and Britt Burns of the Chicago White Sox the AL rookie pitcher of the year.