Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I Love the 80s : 1981 Boston Red Sox

Another Week, another installment in "I Love the 80s!" This week we're looking at the Boston Red Sox. In 1980, the Sox had a winning record, but finished 5th in AL East. The following season saw some significant turnover on the roster, the record improved, but not their place in the standings.

The 1980 squad featured a solid lineup of hitters with contributions from top to bottom. Former big Red Machine part Tony Perez led the team with 25 Homers and 105 runs batted in. Not far behind was future Hall of Famer Jim Rice. The team had seven players with double digit homers, many of whom are now enshrined in Cooperstown - Rice, Perez, Carlton Fisk, and Carl Yastrezmski. The team also had a future Hall member in the rotation, 25 year old hurler Dennis Eckersley. The offense clicked, but the pitching was battered and the result was they gave up more runs than they scored.

In 1981, Fisk left for the White Sox, Lynn to the Angels. They added Carney Lansford (who led the AL in batting), and got a tremendous season from Dwight Evans, who led the AL in WAR. He finished 3rd in the MVP voting behind Rickey Henderson and winner Rollie Fingers. The Red Sox did have a strong second half, finishing just a few games behind the Brewers. A new crop of young arms (Stanley, Ojeda, Bruce Hurst) would start making an impact in the rotation and the bullpen.

The Cards:

Donruss #94  Carl Yastrzemski -  Yaz missed the All-Star game in 1980 for the first time since 1964. He had been the face of the franchise for the past twenty years, the 1967 AL MVP, and a doubles machine. by 1980, it was time for Yaz to become a mentor to a new generation of Red Sox like Dwight Evans and Jim Rice.

Topps #575 Tony Perez - The Big Dog was no slouch either. A lifetime National Leaguer, Perez came to the Red Sox in 1980 and seemed to find the fountain of youth, posting his highest HR and RBI totals since 1974 and most hits since 1971. Perez anchored first base in '80 and '81 for the Sox, providing serious pop in a powerful lineup. He would give way in 1982 to relative youngster Dave Stapleton before returning to the National league to finish out his career.

Donruss #218 Fred Lynn - Few players had come so far so quickly as Fred Lynn. He burst onto the scene in 1975, won the Rookie of the Year and the MVP award, while leading the AL in Doubles, Runs Scored, and slugging percentage. In 1980 Lynn led the Sox with a .301 average, and won his 4th Gold Glove. The only knock on his game that year was that he only played in a career low 110 contests.

Fleer #232 Dwight Evans - Evans had a pretty typical season in 1980, by his standards. His batting average was a bit low; but he got on base at a high rate, played well in RF, had 37 doubles, and produced exactly 3 Wins Above Replacement. His 1981 season was a high water mark, leading the AL in Homers (in a strike shortened season), walks, times on base, WAR, and OPS. He earned a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award.

Topps #110 Carl Yastrzemski -  Listed on the card as OF-1B, Yaz was almost exclusively used as a DH by 1980.

Fleer #238 Jerry Remy -  Remy was used in a limited role from 1979 through 1981 by the Red Sox, primarily at second base. He came over to Boston from the Angels in 1978 and had a career year - he made his only All-Star team that year. He showed a great deal of speed to that point in his career, stealing over 30 bases in each of his first four MLB seasons. He had a brief renaissance in 1982 and 1983, posting solid numbers for the Sox. He is now the main color commentator for the Red Sox T.V. broadcasts.

Topps #421 Bob Stanley - Stanley was used as a starter and a reliever in 1980, starting 17 games and finishing 21 out of the bullpen. He pitched 5 complete games with one shutout. He had 14 saves. Following the 1980 season, he transitioned to the bullpen more or less full time. He was the team's closer in 1983, making the All-Star team and saving a career high 33 games. He had identical 10-8 records in both 1980 and 1981. 

Topps #720 Fred Lynn - In 1980, Lynn was in the middle of 9 straight All-Star Appearances to start his Career. His first season in California was a rough one, seeing his batting average plummet nearly 100 points and was essentially a replacement level player. He would rebound and have several solid seasons in SoCal, though none quite matched the promise of his early career numbers.

Fleer #638 Carl Yastrzemski - As shown on the card, Yaz became a member of the 400 home run club in 1979 - hitting a 2-run bomb off Oakland's Mike Morgan in July at Fenway. His first came in May of 1961 off Los Angeles Angel Jerry Casale, and his last (#452) came in September 1983 off Rick Sutcliffe. Both of those homers were two run shots. He drove in Chuck Schilling in 1961, Jim Rice in 1979, and Wade Boggs in 1983. Now that's what makes Yaz a once in a generation talent, and he did it over three generations of players!

Next week: some other team. Who do you wanna see?


  1. Love it! Perfect that you have that '81 Topps Yaz front and center, I always liked that photograph as far as non-action shots go. Great read as always, looking forward to the next one.

  2. Can't wait until I complete my 81 Donruss, Fleer, and Topps sets!