Baseball is America’s Favorite Pastime, so it feels natural that we go back in time and pay respect to some of the greatest players the game has ever seen. In a new series, we are identifying the best players from each of the last five decades. Let’s begin with the 1970’s all MLB team. Spoiler alert: You might see a couple of Reds players on this list.
Johnny Bench – Cincinnati Reds
The Big Red Machine was incredible during this time frame, winning two World Series and appearing in two others. Johnny Bench was a HUGE part of that. He was named to the All-Star game in every single season during this decade and had a career 75.1 WAR which puts him in the top 80 all-time. Albert Pujols and Mike Trout are the only current players to crack the top 80. Oh, I should also mention he was also a two-time MVP and five-time Gold Glove winner in the decade. Arguably the greatest catcher of all time.
Willie Stargell – Pittsburgh Pirates
There were a couple of different names that I was considering here, including Reds star Tony Perez and the well-traveled, but incredibly talented Dick Allen. I am going with the Pirate who won the MVP award in 1979 and was an All-Star in four different seasons during that time. The Pirates won two World Series in the 70s, but the 1979 “We are Family” team was truly special and Stargell was the undisputed leader. He ranks 32nd all-time with 475 career home runs.
Joe Morgan – Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros
Joe Morgan was a 100.4 career WAR player, which puts him in the top 30 all time. During the 70s he appeared in eight All-Star games and won five Gold Glove awards. He played with Houston for nine seasons before heading to Cincy in ‘72 where he stayed until he went back to the ‘Stros in 1980. Morgan was a two-time MVP in this decade and a vital cog of the Big Red Machine. Did we mention his broadcast career.
Mike Schmidt – Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies star began his career in the 1970s and really exploded in the 1980s. But there is no denying that he became a star during this decade with his four All Star game appearance and four Gold Gloves. His WAR this decade was over 50 and he was a 141 OPS Plus hitter. Schmidt had the bat and the glove and was one of the game’s greatest sluggers with 548 career home runs – 16th on the all-time list.
Dave Concepción- Cincinnati Reds
Another Red on the list. Imagine that. Concepción spent his entire career in Cincy. With six All Star game appearances and five Gold Gloves, he gave the Reds something much more than just a glove. He was a speedy on-base guy who stole 20 or more bases each season from 1973 to 1978 and hit .267 for his career. While overshadowed by some of his teammates, “Davey” was the glue that held the middle infield together for the Big Red Machine.
Pete Rose – Cincinnati Reds
Duh. During the 1970s alone, Rose had 2,045 hits and 580 RBI. He stole 105 bases and had an OPS of .819. Rose spent all but one year during this decade with the Reds, spending 1979 with the Phillies. He was an All-Star in each year, but one and won the MVP award in 1973. That year, he had 230 hits. In the 70s, he recorded more than 200 hits in a season six times and led the league in hits four different seasons. It’s a travesty that he is not in the MLB Hall of Fame. Sure, he bet on games. He bet on his team to win!
Cesar Cedeno – Houston Astros
His rookie season was in 1970 and we quickly saw a star develop right before our eyes. Cedeno hit .289 with 148 home runs and 671 RBIs during the 70s. He was named to four All-Star games and was a doubles-machine, leading the league twice. He stole 50 bases, or more, six seasons in a row and he also won five Gold Gloves manning the outfield for some very mediocre Houston teams.
Reggie Jackson – Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees
Mr. October spent his time with three teams during this decade, but his most memorable stint was with the Athletics where he won an MVP in 1973 and three World Series rings. He was an All-Star in each year but two, and he won all five of his World Series rings during this decade. His 563 career home runs rank 14th all time.
Tom Seaver – New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds
This is an awfully hard pick, especially with all the dominant pitchers from this decade.
We’re looking at all-time aces such as Jim Palmer, Ferguson Jenkins, Nolan Ryan, Catfish Hunter, Steve Carlton, and a slew of other Hall of Famers. However, Seaver led all pitchers in WAR during the decade with 67.1. Tom Terrific was a dominant pitcher who won two different Cy Young awards during this time, was an All-Star eight times, and was the NL ERA leader three times. Seaver was in his prime this decade and no batter ever wanted to see him on the mound. His 3,640 strikeouts rank 6th all time.
Rollie Fingers – Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres
Famous for his handlebar moustache, Fingers was one of the greatest relievers of all-time. The 70s was a total boom for Fingers who recorded 209 saves and 973 strikeouts in over 1200 innings pitched. A five-time All Star, he won three World Series during this time frame with the Oakland Athletics and was the 1974 World Series MVP. His 341 career saves rank 15th all time. Truly set the bar for what it means to be a reliever on the 1970’s all MLB team.