Baseball Illustrated 1980

Baseball Illustrated's 16th Annual, published in 1980, did not forsee greatness for the Phillies.  BI picked the Phillies to finish fourth this year, due mainly to a mediocre pitching, both in the starting staff and in the bullpen.  The Phillies were picked to finish behind the Expos, Pirates and Cardinals in 1980.

National League Preview

National League Preview


by Dan Schlossberg


Major personnel changes by also-rans should tilt the balance of power in the National League this summer.


While the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds, playoff opponents last fall, did little to tamper with championship clubs, the Dodgers and Astros of the West, plus the Expos and Cardinals of the East, made major changes.


As a result, the crowns of both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati seem to be in jeopardy.

In the Eastern Division, the Montreal Expos landed Ron LeFlore and plan to add his 78 stolen bases to a potent lineup that already includes Larry Parrish, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Ellis Valentine. All four holdovers are young, multi-talented players who slammed at least 20 home runs last summer.


Manager Dick Williams has a strong pitching staff which passed a depth test last September when doubleheaders piled up. Bill Lee and Steve Rogers form a strong left-right tandem, and David Palmer and Scott Sanderson were brilliant down the stretch. Elias Sosa lead the bullpen.


While Pittsburgh is no pushover, the Pirates can't match Montreal's front-line pitching- despite possessing a trio of workhorses in the relief corps- and age could be a factor. Willie Stargell, MVP for the season (tied with Keith Hernandez) as well as the playoffs and World Series, is 39, and a number of other Pirates are on the wrong side of 30.


But who can argue with a starting lineup that includes Bill Madlock, Dave Parker, Omar Moreno, and Phil Garner, among others? The bench is as strong as a bullpen that features Kent Tekulve, Enrique Romo and Grant Jackson. Many observers felt Tekulve should have been MVP for winning 10 and saving 31 while working 94 times last season.

Front-line hurlers include Bert Blyleven and John Candelaria, a fine right-left combine, plus Jim Bibby and Don Robinson.


Like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia may be a victim of age. Steve Carlton, the team's best pitcher, and Larry Bowa, the sparkplug shortstop, are in their mid-30s and have seen better days. Pete Rose, like Stargell, is 39 but continues to confound Father Time.


Mike Schmidt had his best hone run year in '79 with 45, but Greg Luzinski, with 18, produced less than half of what management expected. Comebacks by the Bull and by Bowa, who slipped to .241, would help, but even more important are physical rebounds by injured pitchers Dick Ruthven and Larry Christenson.


The Phils are probably the division's best club up the middle, with Bob Boone catching, Bowa and Manny Trillo around second base, and Garry Maddox in center field.


But the bullpen is as shaky as the infield is solid, and with the pitching uncertain, St. Louis is likely to beat out the Phils again.


Hitting is the strength of the Cardinals, who added Bobby Bonds to a lineup that produced a league-best .278 BA last summer. Co-MVP and batting champ Keith Hernandez (.344) leads an offense that features Ted Simmons, Garry Templeton, and George Hendrick, plus Bonds.


Two 15-game winners, Silvio Martinez and Pete Vukovich, head the pitching staff, with Bob Forsch and John Fulgham other sure starters. A lefty is needed. Mark Littell remains king of the bullpen but needs better support.


Pitching is a problem for Chicago after sinkerball pitcher Rick Rueschel and Cy Young award winner Bruce Sutter, the bullpen ace who tied an N.L. record with 37 saves last year. The Cubs also lack speed, but the potent offense includes home run king Dave Kingman (48) and rookie Karl Pagel, American Association MVP who is billed as a "left-handed Kingman."


Mike Tyson lends some stability to second and should team with Ivan DeJesus to give the Cubs a better double play combination.


Switch-hitter Lee Mazzilli and the New York Mets will try to escape the cellar with an injection of new blood. The club's prime rookie crop includes centerfielder Mookie Wilson, Minor League Player of the Year Mark Bomback (22-7 at Vancouver), and several pitching arms. Newcomer Frank Taveras thrived at short last year and played well alongside steady Doug Flynn. Comebacks by Steve Henderson, idled two months by injuries, and John Stearns, rebounding from a bad year, would help.


In the West, multi-million-dollar Los Angeles investments in A.L. refugees Dave Goltz and Don Stanhouse should pay off in a division title for the Dodgers. Goltz, Rookie of the Year Rick Sutcliffe, and Burt Hooten gave Tom Lasorda a powerful Big Three, while Stanhouse provides solid relief- a missing commodity last summer.


Both hitting and defense abound, with Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, and Ron Cey among several Dodgers with All-Star credentials. Rookies Rudy Law and Pedro Guerrero cound join Dusty Baker in the outfield.


Houston's big addition, fireballer Nolan Ryan, gives the Astros the strikeout kings of both leagues. Holdover J.R. Richard, also the National League ERA leader, and Cy Young runner-up Joe Niekro are other Astro aces, with lefthander Joe Sambito a star relief specialist. Ken Forsch is the fourth starter, but beyond these five, the pitching thins out considerably.


The Astros thrive on bunts, steals, sacrifices, and mistakes by opponents. They outscored their rivals by only one run last year, yet finished second, only a game-and-a-half behind Cincinnati. There are no home run hitters, but Jeff Leonard, Terry Puhl, Jose Cruz, Enos Cabell, and Craig Reynolds know how to manufacture all the runs the club needs.


Cincinnati has more "name" players than Houston, with hitters Johnny Bench, George Foster, Dave Concepcion, and Ray Knight, plus pitcher Tom Seaver, all potential All-Stars of 1980. But the Reds, no longer the run-producing steamroller of the early '70s, need more speed and more consistent offense to support a young, inexperienced pitching corps. A comeback by fireman Doug Bair, paired with Tom Hume, would be a great help but the ability of shortstop Ron Oester to replace Joe Morgan at second is even more important.


Fueled by the winter acquisitions of first baseman Chris Chambliss and reliever Al Hrabosky, both lefthanders, the Atlanta Braves seem ready to make up the four-game gap that separated sixth and fourth place in '79.


Manager Bobby Cox still has pitching shorts behind 21-game winner Phil Niekro, supported by Larry McWilliams and Doyle Alexander on the front line, but the left-right tandem of Hrabosky and Gene Garber is strong.


Even stronger is a lineup that includes Gary Matthews, Bob Horner, Chambliss, and Dale Murphy in order. Switch-hitting rookie Eddie Milner stole 91 bases last year and will be a fine "tablesetter" in tandem with Jerry Royster.


San Francisco plugged holes by signing free agents Rennie Stennett, a second-baseman, and Milt May, a catcher, but pitching problems persist and the infield, except for slugger Mike Ivie at first, may qualify for federal aid. Manager Dave Bristol, used to finishing last with the Braves and Brewers, may do it again. He desperately needs a comeback by rightfielder Jack Clark, better power production from Darrell Evans, and a major league shortstop.


Though San Diego changed faces, its status remains the same: not good. Rick Wise and John Curtis, right-left free agent pitchers, join a shaky staff which lost its chief support when Rollie Fingers was felled by elbow problems last summer.


A mediocre infield has improved with the additions of Dave Cash at second and Aurelio Rodriguez at third, but enormous problems face rookie manager Jerry Coleman once he gets past superstar outfielder Dave Winfield, who finished third in the MVP balloting.



Murray Chass’s 1980 Predictions

Rich Kucner’s 1980 Predictions



N.L. East

A.L. East

1. Montreal Expos

1. Milwaukee Brewers

2. Pittsburgh Pirates

2. Baltimore Orioles

3. St. Louis Cardinals

3. Detroit Tigers

4. Philadelphia Phillies

4. New York Yankees

5. Chicago Cubs

5. Boston Red Sox

6. New York Mets

6. Cleveland Indians


7. Toronto Blue Jays



N.L. West

A.L. West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers


2. Houston Astros

1. Kansas City Royals

3. Cincinnati Reds

2. California Angels

4. Atlanta Braves

3. Texas Rangers

5. San Francisco Giants

4. Minnesota Twins

6. San Diego Padres

5. Chicago White Sox


6. Seattle Mariners


7. Oakland A's



National League Playoffs:

American League Playoffs:

Montreal over Houston

Milwaukee over Kansas City



Phils Defend Honor With Dynamic Defense

by Dan Schlossberg


Clearwater, Fla.- Defense! Defense!


It sounds like a football rallying cry, but it's the baseball byword of the Phillies.


Four Philadelphia won Gold Glove Awards for fielding excellence last year, and one who didn't- shortstop Larry Bowa- had a record .991 fielding percentage at his position.


Bowa, 34, has made only 128 errors in 10 years- a lifetime .982 fielding mark, the best ever by a shortstop. But he's won only two Gold Gloves despite five All-Star appearances (three starts) in the last decade.


With the switch-hitting Bowa leading the way, the Phils committed only 106 miscues last season, fewest in the league. Second baseman Manny Trillo, third baseman Mike Schmidt, catcher Bob Boone and centerfielder Garry Maddox won Gold Gloves to give the Phils a fine defensive unit, but neither the hitting or the pitching could keep the club in contention.


Despite the pre-season signing of free agent first baseman Pete Rose, the Phils fell from first to fourth in the East, manager Danny Ozark was dropped in favor of farm director Dallas Green, and club brass spent the winter trying to bolster sagging speed and power production.


Rose, 39, joins Trillo, Bowa, and Schmidt in the infield, which figures to be a cohesive unit defensively but needs more punch from the middle-men. Though Bowa was one of four Phils to steal at least 20 bases in 1979, his batting average slipped all the way to .241, while Trillo hit .260 in an injury-riddled campaign.


Schmidt, 30, was runner-up in the home run derby (45) and third in runs batted in (114), but hit .253 and stole only nine times, a low figure for him.


The club's other big power threat, Greg Luzinski, was a major disappointment (.252, 18, 81), while Bake McBride (.280, 12, 60, 25 SB) was a minor one. Maddox (.281, 13, 61, 25 SB) has also done better.


Del Unser, an excellent fourth outfielder, hit a record three straight pinch-homers last summer, while Greg Gross excelled with a .333 mark. Philly brass believes Lonnie Smith (.330, 34 SB at AAA Oklahoma City) is ready for daily duty in the big leagues, and teammate John Poff, primarily a first baseman, could also stick after hitting 20 homers in Triple-A.


Behind the plate, rookie Keith Moreland, who can also handle third, will give Boone plenty of rest. Armed with a new four-year contract, Boone is seeking to rebound from winter knee surgery.


Several other Phils also went under the knife during the winter. Dick Ruthven had elbow surgery and Larry Christenson had a bone spur removed from his right collarbone. If healthy, they will join lefthanders Steve Carlton and Randy Lerch and fellow righthander Nino Espinosa in a solid starting rotation.


Carlton, now 35, won 18 games last season, including a 2-0 victory over Montreal in the crucial final game of the year. The lanky lefthander was 5-0 in September, the same month that Pete Rose fashioned a 23-game hitting streak to finish at .331. He hit .415 in September and became the first player to produce ten 200-hit season.


If any of the projected starters fail, the Phils will turn their attention to Dickie Noles, who split 1979 between the N.L. and AAA, or Eastern League ERA king Bob Walk (12-7 at Reading).


Last year's bullpen crew, which suffered a simultaneous collapse, may have some new faces. Ron Reed (13-8, 5 SV, 4.15) was the best of a bad lot. Tug McGraw had four wins and 16 saves but allowed more than five earned runs per game.


There's talent in Philadelphia, but more pitching and fewer injuries are keys to improvement.


Predicted finish: 4th