30 December 2011

the 1978 topps dodgers who were, in fact, dodgers in 1976. at least according to topps.

the dodgers did indeed 'get dusty baker from braves' as his 1976 topps traded card proclaims.
as i mentioned yesterday, dusty hit only four home runs in his debut season as a dodger, but he perservered and rebounded very nicely in 1977.

the penguin was going nowhere in 1976
that is to say, the dodgers weren't in need of a new third baseman, nor were they interested in losing the one they had, despite the fact that topps used a hatless photo of cey on his 1976 card, with the team name conveniently obscured.  cey hit only two fewer home runs in 1976 (23) than he had in 1975 (25), but his rbi total was down by 21.  still, he made the all-star team again, although he lost the starting vote to pete rose.

steve garvey didn't miss out on starting the all-star game in 1976
in fact, he tripled in the game's first run after rose led off the national league's first inning with a single.  he then scored the winning run two batters later on a george foster groundout.  like cey, garvey's power numbers were down in 1976 - even more significantly so.  he managed just 13 home runs with 80 rbi.  he still had 200 hits and hit .317, however, and finished 6th in the nl mvp vote.  he also stole a career high 19 bases and continued his consecutive games played streak by playing in all 162 games.

one of the guys who lacked playing time thanks to garvey's streak was ed goodson, featured as a dodger on a topps card for the first time in 1976
goodson was acquired from the braves in the dusty baker trade, but was airbrushed into a dodgers' hat in time for the flagship set's printing.  it's as if topps knew goodson wasn't going to play much first base as a dodger, as they show him as a third baseman even though he spent most of his playing time as a first baseman the previous two seasons.  topps was right, though, as walter alston used goodson mostly as a third baseman.  he made only 3 appearances at first base, along with 2 as an outfielder. two of his three home runs hit in 1976 were as a pinch-hitter.

burt hooton's first full season with the dodgers came in 1976
after winning 18 games for the dodgers following the trade from the cubs in early 1975, hooton went 11-15 in 1976.  his era rose to 3.26 and his whip was up a tick to 1.16, but his record was more due to the fact that 8 of his losses came in games in which hooton allowed 3 earned runs or less.  in total, he made 33 starts, and had 8 complete games with 4 shutouts, including a pair of two-hitters.

charlie hough was still in the dodger bullpen in 1976
he appeared in 77 games and had 18 saves to go along with his 12 wins.  he also threw 9 wild pitches.  hough averaged about 2 innings per appearance, and had 2 5.2-inning stints in 1976.

it was nice of topps to make a card for tommy john in 1976
especially with dodger stadium as the backdrop for the photo.  john had missed the entire 1975 season thanks to his ligament replacement surgery.  he came back in april of 1976, and wound up pitching 207 innings.  his record was 10-10, but he also posted a 3.09 era with 6 complete games and 2 shutouts. for his troubles, john was awared the 'hutch' award, given to the player who embodies the 'fighting spirit' of fred hutchinson.  he also was named the national league's comeback player of the year.

lee lacy was a comeback player of a different sort in 1976
shown above as a dodger in the 1976 base set, lacy got the traded treatment later in the year thanks to the deal that sent him to the braves in the dusty baker deal
however, lacy was traded back to the dodgers during the 1976 season with elias sosa for dr. mike marshall.  lacy's season was pretty evenly split between the two teams, as were his stats except that all three of his home runs were hit for the braves.

i suspect one of the reasons the dodgers re-acquired lacy was that davey lopes appeared in only 117 games for the dodgers in 1976
still, he led the league in stolen bases for the second straight year, guaranteeing him a second card in the 1977 set, so long as topps continued to make cards for league leaders.  speaking of extra cards, lopes was given a record breaker card in the 1976 set thanks to his streak of successful stolen base attempts.
it's too bad that his record breaker wasn't card number 1 in the set.  that way, lopes' cards would have bookended the set.  he also sat atop the pyramid on the nl stolen base league leader card
at least topps had him turn his head for the photo.  i like how they used the shortstop logo (with a ball) on the card.  check out bill russell's card below to see what i mean.

manny mota's 1976 topps card was a preview of 1981 donruss
thanks to a dark photo and wrigley field as a backdrop.  for the fourth year in a row, mota's playing time diminished.  he appeared in 50 games in 1976, and played in the field in only 6 of them.  he hit an even .300 as a pinch-hitter (12 for 40 with 6 walks and a sacrifice fly).

the bell curve of doug rau's career peaked in 1976
he won a career high 16 games and had a personal best 2.57 era in 32 starts.  he threw 8 complete games and had 3 shutouts with a couple of 3-hitters.

rick rhoden got a card of his very own in 1976
he deserved it, too, as he was 12-3 with a 2.98 era in 26 starts.  he had 10 complete games and 3 shutouts with two of those being 3-hitters like rau.  rhoden was named to the all-star team for the first time in his career, and pitched a scoreless inning in the game.  after allowing a single to mickey rivers, rhoden got carl yastrzemski to ground into a double play and then retired rod carew to end the inning.

here's bill russell, who came back from injury to play in 149 games for the dodgers in 1976
russell played pretty well, hitting .274 with 5 homers.  he made the all-star team for the second time in his career, and grounded into a double play in his only at bat.

don sutton did not make the all-star team in 1976.
but he did win 20 games (21 to be exact) for the first and only time in his career.  20 of those wins came as a starter, and the other came in his only relief appearance of the season.  it looks like he was used in relief around the all-star break as a way to get him some work and avoid a longer layoff.  anyway, his 21-10 record, along with his 3.06 era, 15 complete games, 4 shutouts, a 2-hitter, and 161 strikeouts were good for a third place finish in the cy young voting.  it was his fifth straight season in which he placed in the top 5 in the voting for the award.  although he never won the cy young, he did win the lou gehrig award in 1976 for his sportsmanship on and off the field.  i guess in the clubhouse didn't count, or else steve garvey didn't get a vote. 

finally, we have steve yeager showing off his neck that bill russell's bat tried to puncture later in the season
that injury, suffered in the on-deck circle, led yeager and dodger trainer bill buhler to come up with the catcher's throat protector.  while he wasn't tinkering in the workshop, yeager was playing in 117 games behind the plate for the dodgers.  he hit 11 home runs on the year, but more importantly threw out 40% of the runners who tried to steal against him.

here's the evolutionary tally so far:

23/27 members of the 1978 topps dodgers featured by topps in 1976

total appearances:

baker 6 (1971-1976)
cey 5 (1972-1976)
davalillo 12 (1963-1974)
forster 5 (1972-1976)
garman 5 (1971-1973, 1975-1976)
garvey 6 (1971-1976)
goodson 4 (1973-1976)
grote 13 (1964-1976)
hooton 5 (1972-1976)
hough 5 (1972-1976)
john 13 (1964-1976)
lacy 4 (1973-1976)
lasorda 3 (1954, 1973-1974)
lopes 4 (1973-1976)
martinez 6 (1971-1976)
monday 10 (1967-1976)
mota 14 (1963-1976)
oates 5 (1972-1976)
rau 4 (1973-1976)
rhoden 2 (1975-1976)
russell 7 (1970-1976)
smith 10 (1967-1976)
sosa 3 (1974-1976)
sutton 11 (1966-1976)
yeager 4 (1973-1976)

teams represented so far:

17 (dodgers, indians, colt .45's, pirates, white sox, astros, mets, a's, red sox, angels, expos, cardinals, braves, cubs, orioles, giants, phillies)

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