Wednesday, February 8, 2012

All-Decade Team: The 1970s

The 1970s saw a lot of great starting pitchers in their peaks, creating a very low offensive environment for the decade.  As a result, there will be an extra starting pitcher selected, while taking away a reliever.  As expected, the lineup is heavily represented by the Big Red Machine.  Much like the 80's team, its strong point is the OBP abilities of the top of the order.  The entire starting rotation is (finally) in the Hall of Fame, along with one reliever and five of the position players.

C- Johnny Bench
Encompassing the peak years of the best catcher of all-time, Bench was an easy choice.  His 60 WAR are by far the most of any catcher so far, combining revolutionary defense and, for the times, a big power bat.  This was a strong decade for catchers, with Ted Simmons, Thurman Munson, and Gene Tenace all eclipsing 40 WAR, and Carlton Fisk accumulating 35 WAR.

1B- Rod Carew
Playing almost 5000 innings at first base, Carew qualifies for the starting spot.  Much like Ichiro, Carew used a BABIP-based hitting approach to total 55 WAR in a non-premium position.  With a .343/.408/.454 slashline, the BA and OBP being the best in the decade, he beat out Gene Tenace, Willie Stargell, and Carl Yastrzemski.

2B- Joe Morgan
The best player of the decade, Morgan put up 70 WAR powering the Big Red Machine.  His .282/.404/.455 slashline highlighted his great walk rate and good power, despite his 5'7" frame.  Carew spent more of the decade at second base, and Bobby Grich, at 45 WAR, was the only other second baseman above 30 WAR.

3B- Mike Schmidt
Despite having nearly 2000 less PA during the 70's, Schmidt sneaks into the starting spots ahead of Graig Nettles and Sal Bando, all of whom were right around 50 WAR.  Each had a .255 batting average, but Schmidt had more walks and power to give him the edge.  Nettles had the worst OBP but the best defense, and Bando had the worst defense, which was still above average.

SS- Bert Campaneris
The weakest position player so far in the series, Campaneris makes the team only amassing about 32 WAR.  His .255/.310/.335 slashline was only good for a 92 wRC+, but his +86 TZ gives him the nod.  Toby Harrah was the best offensive competition, but was a -62 defender.  Mark Belanger was the best defender, but had a wRC+ of 74.  Dave Concepcion was more balanced, but didn't quite get the PA to pass Campy.

LF- Pete Rose
Falling short at third base, Rose makes the cut in left.  His offensive profile was essentially Carew but with a lower BABIP.  He also had 7400 PA, over 800 more than anyone else in the decade.  Stargell and Yaz were also the closest competition for this position.

CF- Cesar Cedeno
An overlooked player of the era, Cedeno gets the start in center.  He combined his great speed with good power in a tough hitter's park (the Astrodome) to accumulate about 45 WAR in the decade.  Another forgotten name, Amos Otis produced about 40 WAR with a similar skill set to Cedeno.

RF- Reggie Jackson
Mr. October stood up to some stiff competition, riding his confidence to the top.  His prodigious power led him to about 52 WAR for the decade, just surpassing Bobby Bonds and Reggie Smith.  Bonds could not keep up with the power and Smith was too far behind in PA to catch up.

SP- Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, Bert Blyleven, Ferguson Jenkins, Jim Palmer
This group is as good as it gets.  Seaver was one of the most consistent pitchers ever, totaling 65 WAR for the decade.  Perry deceived his way to about 60 WAR, bouncing around on four different franchises.  Niekro fluttered his way to about 60 WAR on some awful Braves teams.  Another very consistent performer, Blyleven amassed nearly 60 WAR.  Jenkins provided over 50 WAR despite ending the decade in his mid-30's.  Amazingly, the last spot came down to Palmer and Steve Carlton, with Palmer just eeking it out.  Palmer's ERA was 0.71 runs lower than his FIP, due to cavernous Memorial Stadium and the outstanding defense behind him.  Nolan Ryan and Rick Reuschel also had very productive decades, but this decade went seven deep at a very high level.

RP- John Hiller, Goose Gossage, Sparky Lyle
Despite missing 1971 after a heart attack, Hiller nearly reached 25 WAR in relief, all with the Tigers.  His 1973 season saw him allow 21 runs in 125 innings, coming out to nearly 7 WAR.  The next season, he finished 17-14 in 59 relief appearances, a decision total current closers are likely to have in a five year span.  Gossage had his own 7 WAR season of relief in 1975 then a 6 WAR season in 1977, while spending '76 as a 3 WAR starter.  Lyle had a good stretch of seasons with the Yankees to produce 16 WAR in the decade.  Just missing the cut were Rollie Fingers and Mike Marshall.

1B  Rod Carew
LF  Pete Rose
2B  Joe Morgan
3B  Mike Schmidt
RF  Reggie Jackson
C  Johnny Bench
CF  Cesar Cedeno
SS  Bert Campenaris
P  Tom Seaver

The lineup is pretty good 1-7, but this team would win with their pitching.


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