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Baseball
Tim Kurkjian
July 01, 1991
Buddy, Can You Spare a Vote?
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July 01, 1991

Baseball

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DOUBLE TROUBLE

Nothing kills a rally faster than a double-play grounder. We looked at all force-out situations from the beginning of the 1990 season through June 22 of this year and found that these were the hitters most likely to drive a stake through a big inning.

DOUBLE PLAYS GROUNDED INTO

OPPORTUNITIES

PCT.

Dan Gladden, Twins 24

110

21.8%

Greg Myers, Blue Jays 21

97

21.6%

Pat Borders, Blue Jays 20

97

20.6%

Jose Lind, Pirates 31

155

20.0%

Dale Murphy, Phillies 32

162

19.8%

Tony Pena, Red Sox 32

167

19.2%

Carlton Fisk, White Sox 21

116

18.1%

Mike Pagliarulo, Twins 17

95

17.9%

Willie Randolph, Brewers 19

106

17.9%

Harold Baines, Athletics 24

138

17.4%

Players with at least 80 opportunities

SOURCE: STATS, INC.

Buddy, Can You Spare a Vote?

Since the All-Star Game is for the fans, it really shouldn't be annoying that the Dodgers' slumping and injured Darryl Strawberry leads National League outfielders in the fans' voting, while the league's top hitter, Tony Gwynn of the Padres, is fourth. Or that the A's Mark McGwire leads American League first basemen in the balloting, while Frank Thomas, who is having a better season for the White Sox, is seventh.

Though we certainly don't want to tell anyone how to vote, we have come up with our own All-Star team of players who could use a little fan support. The players on our list have all played at least five years in the big leagues and have had respectable, if not standout careers, but have never made an All-Star team. Not all of them will make the team this season—and maybe they don't all deserve to—but we would like to suggest that fans, instead of punching out a ballot for someone who's going to receive a million votes, get behind these long-overlooked candidates.

OUTFIELD—Joe Carter, Blue Jays. The major league runs-batted-in leader for the last five years, Carter has four 100-RBI seasons, one more than Billy Williams and as many as Willie McCovey, both Hall of Famers. If Carter drives in 100 runs this year (he had 50 RBIs through last weekend), he will be the first player to do so for three different teams in three consecutive years. Through Sunday he was having a torrid June, hitting .378, with 11 homers and 25 runs batted in. With the All-Star Game in Toronto this year, he is a lock to be named to the team, but a heavy voter turnout will be necessary to move him up to a starting spot from sixth in last week's tally.

OUTFIELD—Brett Butler, Dodgers. He has filled a glaring hole in the Los Angeles lineup by batting .275 with 15 steals as leadoff hitter and has played a Gold Glove centerfield. At week's end he had the most runs (898), the most steals (373) and the second-most career hits (1,496) among the active players who have never been named to an All-Star team.

OUTFIELD—Dave Henderson, A's. Oakland manager Tony La Russa calls him "the least-publicized great player in our league." Henderson is the leading candidate for this year's American League Most Valuable Player award; he was hitting .325 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs at week's end.

CATCHER—Brian Harper, Twins. He deserves a vote for determination alone. Harper, 31, has been released three times since making his major league debut in 1979. But he blossomed after joining Minnesota for the 1988 season. Through Sunday he has batted .311 as a Twin. For this season he was hitting .340.

FIRST BASE—John Kruk, Phillies. He has hit over .290 in four of his five major league seasons and has a career average of .290; at week's end he was batting .289 with 48 RBIs for the season. Among active National League players with 2,000-plus at bats, only Will Clark, Pedro Guerrero, Tony Gwynn, Barry Larkin, Willie McGee, Eddie Murray and Lonnie Smith have higher lifetime averages than Kruk.

SECOND BASE—Jim Gantner, Brewers. He holds the American League record for the highest career fielding percentage (.985) by a second baseman. He has the most hits (1,540 through last week) among active players who have never been All-Stars. A .267 hitter so far this year, he made an amazing recovery in 1990, at age 36, from a serious injury to his left knee.

THIRD BASE—Terry Pendleton, Braves. A solid player for seven years with the Cardinals, Pendleton's intelligent play, sparkling defense and .300 average in his first season with Atlanta have helped turn the Braves around.

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