Major League Baseball Yearbook
Major League baseball was another that correctly picked the Phillies to win the division in 1980. Unfortunately for them, they also picked the Giants, Orioles and Angels to join the Phillies in the playoffs, while picking the Royals and Yankees to each finish third, and the Astros to wind up a distant sixth in their respective divisions. I guess one for four isn't bad, especially when the one was the Phillies.
1980 Major League Forecast
Phils Tabbed as Surprise in East; Giants Due to Hit Top
O's Pitching Gives Repeat Chance; Angels May Prevail
Dave Kingman will not be able to bludgeon the Chicago Cubs into the N.L. playoffs in 1980 but neither will George Foster be able to carry the Cincinnati Reds to a repeat of their West title.
That’s the opinion of the editors of Major League Baseball. The winners of the respective races in the senior circuit will be the teams that display the best balance and have the least problems in their pitching rotation.
Our selection for the East title in the first year of the new decade is Philadelphia on the strength of balance. The Phillies have a solid batting attack with Pete Rose maintaining his perennial 200-hit performance, Mike Schmidt backing him up with longball power and the reasonable prospect of a comeback by Greg Luzinski.
Overall, the Phillies can put one of the solidest clubs in the majors on the field- catcher Bob Boone and the outfield of Luzinski, Garry Maddox and Bake McBride is peerless. There does remain a slight lingering doubt about Boone’s knee from off-season surgery and Luzinski’s ability to return to his 100-RBI status.
But the Phillies’ medical staff assures all and sundry that these men are healthy. In the infield, Rose and shortstop Larry Bowa are exceptional at their positions. The third baseman’s fielding lapses are more than covered by his bat.
Pitching is the biggest question in Philadelphia but one has to believe that the Phils will have less difficulty than they did a year ago when everybody in sight was hurt. If Larry Christenson, Steve Carlton, Randy Lerch and Dick Ruthven stay healthy, the Phillies can win it.
Pittsburgh still has the marvelous Dave Parker, a revived Bill Madlock, and the aging Willie Stargell, but the pitching simply isn’t enough even with the great bullpen of Kent Tekulve, Grant Jackson and Enrique Romo. The starters can’t cut it. Montreal will be a close third and could pass the Pirates for second if Dick Williams gets lucky with Ron LeFlore blending into the outfield.
Chicago, St. Louis and New York will bring up the rear although the Cardinals could pose something of a threat if Ken Boyer can bring some order to his pitching rotation. Keith Hernandez is a genuine superstar and deserved to have the MVP alone last year.
In the West, the Dodgers have gone into the free agent market at least and that means that L.A. will be back in the hunt for the flag. But our choice for the N.L. West in 1980 is San Francisco. If the Giants can get average years out of Ed Halicki, John Montefusco, Vida Blue and Bob Knepper, they have the basic starting rotation to do the job. With Ed Whitson in reserve and Gary Lavelle coming out of the bullpen with Randy Moffitt, the Giants have the depth to win.
With the signing of free agents catcher Milt May, second baseman Rennie Stennett and outfielder Jim Wohlford, the Giants also have depth and bench strength all around.
Cincinnati lacks the balance to win although Foster, shortstop Dave Concepcion and young Ray Knight at third are quality players. Tom Seaver is starting to show signs of the thousands of innings his once-great arm have worked and the rest of the pitchers are pedestrian.
San Diego, Houston and Atlanta don’t have the overall balance to win although Houston could be a factor if Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard and Joe Niekro can produce 60 wins among them. There is too little except Ken Forsch to make a solid starting pitching unit. Joe Sambito is the only real reliever although Joaquin Andujar could fit in there.
Many observers are saying that the Yankees will come back from their incredible series of bad breaks in 1979, including the shocking death of their captain Thurman Munson, to sweep the A.L. East this season. We don’t agree.
Baltimore has the major ingredient- pitching. The biggest single problem for Earl Weaver is the replacement of Don Stanhouse in the bullpen. Stanhouse and his 21 saves have gone to Los Angeles via the free agent route. Weaver will try towering 6-foot-7 Tim Stoddard in the stopper role along with Sammy Stewart (if he’s healthy).
Weaver still has Tippy Martinez who will see more work in clutch situations this time around. Then there are the splendid starters- Mike Flanagan, Scott McGregor, Jim Palmer and Dennis Martinez- with Steve Stone working as the fifth man.
Ken Singleton and Eddie Murray provide enough punch to score and the defense is excellent all around. That is a winning combination.
Take the Orioles if you’re a betting man.
Boston has proved for three decades that hitting doesn’t win pennants, but they keep trying. The Red Sox don’t win much, but they are one of baseball’s most exciting teams. Unfortunately for the Fenway Park faithful, their team may be having its last go-around for the half-pennant this season.
Fred Lynn, the defending A.L. batting champion, is playing out his option and may move along to greener pastures (like the Yankees?) in 1981. Carl Yazstremski, the marvelous outfielder-first baseman with the still-potent bat, may begin to age and can’t carry on forever.
Jim Rice will not be able to do it on his own and the pitching just simply doesn’t do it. Gabe Paul was right when he said the Red Sox would not win with Mike Torrez. They won’t win with Dennis Eckersley, either, although he’s one of the league’s best. Skip Lockwood will help the bullpen problems.
New York will be better than they were in 1979. They can’t help it. Munson has been “replaced” by Rick Cerrone from Toronto, but he is no Munson. Reggie Jackson is the long-ball gun, but Graig Nettles may be fading at third. Jim Spencer has a perfect stroke for Yankee Stadium and can play first base as well as anybody.
Pitching at the Bronx ballyard includes two of the best- Ron Guidry and Tommy John, both of whom can win 20 games. Ed Figueroa has been hurt and is now a question mark. Tom Underwood from Toronto may help, but Don Gullett could be finished.
All-in-all, it would take some doing for the Yanks to take it all.
Unfortunately for Milwaukee, the A.L. East is the toughest division in baseball. Despite the pretty good club assembled by George Bamberger, the Brewers will have to fight for fourth. Detroit is a good bet for that position with Sparky Anderson in his first full season and a good, young team.
If Milwaukee sinks to fifth, Cleveland and Toronto will be the only teams behind them. Toronto is over its head in this fast competition but Cleveland has come a long way and would be a threat in the weaker A.L. West.
California will defend its West title only because Texas, which has the personnel, may not have the manager for the tight pennant race and Kansas City (which may have the manager in Jim Frey) no longer has the personnel.
Don Baylor provides a lot of the Angel attack even though he can’t field. The pitching will suffer with Nolan Ryan gone, but should be good enough to survive in this division.
Texas will finish second on sheer talent and Kansas City is the choice for third. Then comes Minnesota, the Chicago White Sox, Seattle and the A’s. Minnesota rates the nod over the others because the Twins are basically better, but could crowd into the pennant race because of Gene Mauch.
1980 Predictions- National League
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
3. Montreal Expos
4. Chicago Cubs
5. St. Louis Cardinals
6. New York Mets
1. San Francisco Giants
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. San Diego Padres
5. Houston Astros
6. Atlanta Braves
1980 Predictions- American League
1. Baltimore Orioles
2. Boston Red Sox
3. New York Yankees
4. Detroit Tigers
5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Cleveland Indians
7. Toronto Blue Jays
1. California Angels
2. Texas Rangers
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Minnesota Twins
5. Chicago White Sox
6. Seattle Mariners
7. Oakland A's
National League East- Philadelphia Phillies
Good Health on Mound Could Spur Phillies' Rebound
With Dallas Green at the helm from the start of the season, the Phillies will be looking to recover the East title they lost to the Pirates last season despite another incredible year for Pete Rose.
Rose, in total defiance of the advancing years, batted .331 (second best in the league), had 208 hits (third best), batted in 59 runs, stole 20 bases, scored 90 runs, played in all 163 Phillie games and was generally amazing.
Still, the Phillies did a nose-dive into fourth after three straight division titles. The reason for this collapse was to be found in several places. Greg Luzinski’s power hit a short-circuit, Larry Bowa’s bat took a 50-point dip, Tug McGraw’s ERA soared, add pitching injuries galore (Warren Brusstar, Larry Christenson, Randy Lerch) and you have a fourth-place team.
What are the chances of having this same combination of ill circumstances repeating? Practically none. Therefore, look for the Phillies to be back in the thick of the race in the N.L. East this time around.
Rose gives every evidence of being able to continue at his high-paced gait and plays an acceptable first base. Manny Trillo is flashy, but adequate, at second and Bowa is one of the best around at short despite his hitting collapse. Trillo hit .260 in 118 games last year while Bowa dropped from .294 to .241.
That brings us to Mike Schmidt at third, definitely.
In the midst of all the confusion last season and with Luzinski’s slump allowing pitchers to work around him, Schmidt delivered an exceptional year. He crashed a career-high 45 homers and batted in 114 runs, 33 more than any other Phillie, and hit .253 in 160 games. His average was perhaps not a true reflection of his season since Schmidt had to chase a lot of bad pitches in an effort to produce runs.
Luzinski was responsible for the problems Schmidt experienced at the plate. The Bull averaged 33 homers and just under 112 RBI over the four previous seasons. His figures in 1979 were 18 homers and 81 RBI. Luzinski struck out 103 times and his slugging percentage deflated to .427 (Schmidt’s was .564 secondly only to Dave Kingman in the N.L.).
If Luzinski’s chronic knee problems don’t permit him to return to his old form, Green could be in for a rough season. The other outfielders- Bake McBride and Garry Maddox, were up to their normal form in 1979. McBride hit .280 with a dozen homers, 60 RBI and 25 steals. Maddox had a .281 season with 13 homers, 61 RBI and 26 steals.
In reserve, the Phillies have young Lonnie Smith, a .330 hitter at Oklahoma City with some power and plenty of speed, and Greg Gross, who batted .333 in 111 games with the Cubs a year ago, but who lacks punch.
Barring another rash of injuries, the pitching could be good enough. Lefty Steve Carlton was strong enough last season to be the star again with an 18-11 record, 3.62 ERA, 213 strikeouts and 13 complete games in 35 starts. At 35, he might be able to (do it again).
Christenson won 19 games in 1978 but collapsed to 5-10 last season when he was shot down by injury. Lerch pitched much of the year with a broken right wrist, but the southpaw was only modestly effective. He finished at 10-13 with a 3.74 ERA in 37 games. Brusstar, one of the aces of the bullpen the year before, worked in only 13 games due to injury and had only one save. McGraw saved 16 games but was only 4-3 with a 5.14 ERA and by his own admission let several games escape where the defeat was charged to the man he relieved.
Philadelphia picked up Paul Thormodsgard from Minnesota over the winter for little-used outfielder Pete Mackanin. Thormodsgard showed flashes of outstanding pitching in 1978 with the Twins and had a 2.94 ERA despite a 7-13 record at Toledo last season. He could add some useful depth to the pitching situation.
One of the big “ifs” facing Green is whether all of the injured hurlers can recover their previous form. Should most of them come back, the Phillies will have adequate pitching.
Another question mark is catcher Bob Boone. A few days after signing a big contract, Boone suffered a knee injury in a collision with Joel Youngblood in New York and had to undergo surgery in the off-season. He will remain a doubtful quantity until the knee is tested in combat although the medical reports are good. Veteran Dave Rader (.204) and young Keith Moreland (.302 at Oklahoma City) could get more work this season if Boonie is slow rounding into shape.
A long line of unresolved questions- Luzinski, Boone, Christenson, Bowa and others- face the Phillies this season. But if all goes well, Rose might finally get the opportunity to do what he came to Philly for: lead the Phillies into the World Series.