06 February 2012

one year from their destiny - the 1978 topps dodgers in 1977 (part 2)

here's part 2 of the 1977 installment of the 1978 topps dodgers' evolution.  it was supposed to run last week but blogger had other ideas.  on with the show.

rick monday, who as a cub famously saved an american flag from being burned on the field at dodger stadium in 1976, joined the dodgers for the 1977 season and never really got hot
playing center field for the dodgers, monday's home run total was just about halved from his 32 bombs of 1976 while his average dropped over 40 points to .230. to top it off, he played in only 118 games as he missed most of july and some of september with injuries. mo was back and healthy for the postseason, but he appeared in only 3 of the nlcs games against the phillies and 4 of the world series games against the yankees. he had no homers or rbi in the postseason.

manny mota appeared in 49 games for the 1977 dodgers and had 50 plate appearances.
he hit .395 on the year with 15 hits, 14 of which came as a pinch-hitter. he also hit the final home run of his major league career - a pinch-hit bomb off of jr richard on the last day of the season. in the nlcs, mota doubled in the 'black friday' game (game 3) to score vic davalillo who had bunted safely with two outs in the 9th. mota then scored the tying run on davey lopes' controversial infield hit.

johnny oates made 38 starts behind the dish for the 1977 dodgers after he was acquired in an offseason deal for ted sizemore.
he hit .269 with 3 homers and 11 rbi in his 60 games for the blue, and then was 0 for 1 in his lone postseason at bat - a game 5 pinch-hit appearance against catfish hunter.

doug rau went 14-8 in 32 starts in 1977
he posted an era of 3.43 and had 4 complete games and 2 shutouts. he was called upon out of the dodger bullpen in the nlcs, making just one appearance in the series, which happened to be in game 3 when he retired larry bowa, mike schmidt, and greg luzinski in order, preserving what was then a tie game in the 7th inning. in the world series, however, rau got the call to start game 4 and was famously pulled in the second inning after giving up three straight hits (a double to reggie jackson, a run-scoring single to lou piniella, and a double to chris chambliss) to lead off the frame. rau argued with lasorda about being relieved, stating that he could strike out the next batter, lefty graig nettles whom he referred to as a, well, to use the term dick williams coined, 'mawdicker'. indeed, it was "f-ing great for [rau] to be standing out [there] talking to [tommy] like that." rau came back to pitch 1.1 innings of scoreless relief in game 6 of the and did indeed strike that "m-f"er (nettles) out, but it was too late.

rick rhoden was the guy who relieved rau in game 4 of the series against the yankees
he had a good season of his own, winning a career high 16 games and swatting a career high 3 homers. one of his long balls came at the expense of jr richard, just like manny! although rhoden started all 31 games in which he appeared during the regular season, he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in the postseason. in addition to the world series game 4 appearance (in which he went 7 strong innings), he was tagged with the loss in game 1, giving up the winning run in the 12th inning without recording an out. he also threw 4+ innings of scoreless relief against the phillies in the 'black friday' game.

bill russell played in 153 games for the dodgers in 1977
tommy moved him to the number 2 spot in the batting order, and ropes hit .278 and set career highs in runs scored (82) and stolen bases (16), even while leading the league in outs made. three of his four home runs on the season came within a 9-day span in june. in october, russell matched his season average, going 5 for 18 in the nlcs. in the world series, he hit .154 with a triple.

reggie smith, in his first full season with the dodgers, mashed out of the number 3 spot in the order.
he hit 32 homers to round out the first teammate foursome to do so, and also scored 104 times. his .427 on-base percentage led the league, and his ops for the year was 1.003 (second to mvp george foster). he finished 4th in the league mvp voting and made the all-star team for good measure. smith hit 2 home runs in a game 3 times, doing it twice against joaquin andujar. smith struggled in his first postseason since the 1967 world series, hitting a paltry .188 in the nlcs. he turned things around in the world series, however, swatting 3 home runs and posting an ops of 1.112 over the 6 games.

elias sosa pitched in 44 games for the dodgers during the 1977 regular season
he pitched well in those games, too. his era on the season was 1.98, and he had a miniscule whip of 0.85 to go with his record of 2-2 and a save. in 63.2 innings of work, he struck out 47 while walking only 12. good stuff. he, of course, saw some action in the postseason but did not match his regular season success. he took the loss in game 1 of the nlcs and gave up the goahead runs to the phillies in the bottom of the 8th of the 'black friday' game. in the world series, he also appeared twice, and is best remembered for serving up home run number 2 to reggie in game 6. that turned out to be the last pitch sosa would throw as a dodger.

don sutton made 33 starts for the dodgers in 1977
unfortunately, he got a no-decision in a full third of those starts. for the season, his record was 14-8, although he could have easily been 22-8, at least. those no-decisions likely cost him a 6th straight season with a top-5 placement in the cy young voting. still, sutton started the season 6-0 and was chosen to start the all-star game for the national league. he was 10-4 at the break and then was credited with the win in the midsummer classic after throwing 3 scoreless innings. just for good measure, he 1-hit the giants in august after throwing a 3-hit shutout against them in july, and also struck out 12 padres in a game. once the postseason started, sutton continued his good season. he threw a complete game while beating the phillies in game 2 of the nlcs and then threw another complete game against the yankees in the dodgers' blowout victory in game 5 of the world series. in between, he pitched 7 innings in game 1 of the fall classic, but had a no-decision in the dodgers' loss.

steve yeager played in 125 games for the dodgers in 1977
he caught in 123 of those contests. at the plate, he slugged a career high 16 homers and raised his average by over 40 points from 1976 when he hit just .214. he also threw out 39% of the folks who tried to steal a base against him. his postseason performance included a couple of home runs and a .316 average in the world series. in fact, yeager had an offensive series in 1977 statistically similar to the one he had in 1981 when he was named a co-mvp. this time, however, it was in a losing effort.

here's the evolutionary tally so far:

22/27 members of the 1978 topps dodgers featured by topps in 1977

total appearances:

baker 7 (1971-1977)
cey 6 (1972-1977)
davalillo 12 (1963-1974)
forster 6 (1972-1977)
garman 6 (1971-1973, 1975-1977)
garvey 7 (1971-1977)
goodson 5 (1973-1977)
grote 13 (1964-1976)
hooton 6 (1972-1977)
hough 6 (1972-1977)
john 14 (1964-1977)
lacy 5 (1973-1977)
lasorda 4 (1954, 1973-1974, 1977)
lopes 5 (1973-1977)
martinez 8 (1971-1976)
monday 11 (1967-1977)
mota 15 (1963-1977)
oates 6 (1972-1977)
rau 5 (1973-1977)
rhoden 3 (1975-1977)
russell 8 (1970-1977)
smith 11 (1967-1977)
sosa 4 (1974-1977)
sutton 12 (1966-1977)
yeager 5 (1973-1977)

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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