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 look at the 1980’s all MLB team.
Gary Carter – Montreal Expos, New York Mets
Gary Carter was an absolute stud in the 1980s, winning five Silver Sluggers, three Gold Glove awards, and going to the All-Star game nine times during the decade. The MLB Hall-of-Famer was an integral member of the Mets team that went on to win the World Series in 1986.
Eddie Murray – Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers
Murray is one of the greatest Orioles to ever live and he came onto the scene big time in the 80s. He went to six straight All-Star games and was in the top-five of MVP voting in five straight years. He also amassed three Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards. The Hall-of-Famer ranks 14th all-time in career hits with 3,255 and 28th all-time with 504 home runs.
Ryne Sandberg – Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs
There could be some discussion here as to who should hold down this position, but Sandberg edged out Lou Whitaker in my book. The Hall of Famer was the MVP in 1984 and went on to play in six All-Star games and win four Silver Sluggers and seven Gold Gloves during the decade.
Wade Boggs – Boston Red Sox
An all-time great Red Sox, the fans in Boston hated seeing him win a World Series with the New York Yankees. Boggs was a five-time Silver Slugger in the 80s, putting a powerful bat in the middle of the Sox lineup. He appeared in five All-Star games and gathered 200 hits, or more, seven seasons in a row. The Hall-of-Famer ranks 31st all-time with 3,010 hits.
Cal Ripken Jr. – Baltimore Orioles
The 80s saw the rise of one of the greatest shortstops who has ever played the game. The Hall-of-Famer won a World Series in just his second full year in the league. He went to seven All-Star games, won Rookie of the Year, and MVP, and was a five-time Silver Slugger in the 80s. He compiled 3,184 hits in his career – 16th all-time. His ironman streak of playing in 2,632 will never be broken.
Rickey Henderson – Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees
The speed demon was an All-Star in every year, but two and became an all-time great Oakland Athletic in that decade. The quintessential lead-off batter, the Hall-of-Famer ranks number one in career runs scored (2,295) and stolen bases (1,406). It is highly unlikely that either of those career records will ever be broken, especially the stolen base record as there isn’t an active player within 1,000 steals of Henderson’s mark.
Robin Yount – Milwaukee Brewers
There tends to be more appreciation for guys who play their whole careers with just one team and Yount is in that category. The phenom began his career in 1974 at only 18 years old. By the mid-80s he had switched from shortstop to centerfield. He was a two-time MVP in the 1980s and a first ballot Hall-of-Famer in 1999. His 3,142 hits rank 20th all-time.
Tony Gwynn – San Diego Padres
Mr. Padre is another one who falls on the list of playing for the same team his whole career. Gwynn won four batting titles in the 1980s, was a five-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and a four-time Silver Slugger. He is, without a doubt, the greatest player in San Diego history. The Hall-of-Famer’s career batting average of .338 is 23rd all-time but is the highest of any player who began their career after 1940.
Roger Clemens – Boston Red Sox
Despite not beginning his career until 1984, he is still my pick as the starter. He won three Cy Young awards in the 80’s and in 1986, he had the impressive feat of winning both the Cy Young award and the MVP. His 354 career wins rank 9th all-time. He would undoubtedly be in the Hall of Fame were it not for the steroid use accusations.
Dan Quisenberry – Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals
Quiz was a lockdown reliever in the 80s who went to three All-Star games and was a World Series champion in 1985 with the Royals. He was the Relief Man of the Year winner five times in the 80s and was as dependable as they come. Four times he finished in the top five for the Cy Young award and four times he finished in the top 10 for league MVP.