It’s always fun to read posts that name all-decade teams throughout baseball’s rich history. One twist I don’t think I’ve seen is an all-decade team of non-HOFers. As it’s not only the decade I fell in love with baseball but also a decade that’s particularly overlooked by HOF voters, the 1970s feels like the right place to start.
- Starter – Thurman Munson – 1970 AL Rookie of the Year, 1976 AL MVP, 7 all-star selections, and 3 Gold Gloves–all by the age of 32. I remember him as having more pop than his stats actually show. But maybe that’s because 15 HRs for a catcher used to be a lot.
- Backup – Ted Simmons – 5 all-star selections in the decade (8 overall) for this switch-hitting backstop who seemingly flirted with .300/20/100 every year of the decade.
- Starter – Steve Garvey – His 1974 NL MVP season kicked off the first of 6 all-star seasons in the decade (10 overall) to go with 4 straight Gold Gloves. A threat every season to bat .300, collect 200 hits, and drive in 100 runs.
- Backup – Dick Allen – While some of his best years came in the 1960s, Allen still took home the 1972 AL MVP and made four all-star teams in the 1970s.
- Starter – Bobby Grich – The 1970s included 4 all-star selections and 4 Gold Gloves. Particularly notable was his 1979 season in which Bobby batted .294 with 30 HR and 101 RBI.
- Backup – Davey Lopes – With “only” two all-star selections and Gold Gloves during the decade, Lopes is included mainly for his speed. From 1973-1979, Lopes averaged 53 steals per year, and–as his 1976 Topps Record Breaker card shows–almost never got caught!
- Starter – Pete Rose – Averaged 205 hits per year over the decade, which is pretty insane. Now for good measure throw in 9 all-star selections (!) and the 1973 NL MVP award. Based on games played, Rose probably belongs atop the list of outfielders, but memories of his 1976, 1977, and 1979 Topps all-star cards are too burned in my memory to take him off third base.
- Backup – Bill Madlock – Batted .320 for the decade and won two of his four batting titles. Also batted .375 for the Bucs in the 1979 World Series.
- Starter – Dave Concepcion – 6 of his 9 all-star selections came in the 1970s, along with 5 Gold Gloves. The one year Concepcion wasn’t an all-star between 1973 and 1982 came in his best season, 1974, when he batted .281 with 14 HR and 41 SB.
- Backup – Bert Campaneris – 5 all-star selections in the decade along with the final 2 of his 6 stolen base titles.
- Starter – Dave Parker – The Cobra remains in my mind one of the top all-around baseball talents anywhere. His 1978 NL MVP season was one of the best of the decade, and his back-to-back batting titles in 1977-1978 contributed to a .317 mark for the decade.
- Starter – George Foster – Three straight RBI titles between 1976-1978 highlighted what might have been the decade’s top three-year peak, and his 1977 season (.320, 52, 149) was easily the decade’s finest.
- Starter – Fred Lynn – The first 5 of Lynn’s 9 consecutive all-star selections came in the 1970s, started off by his famous 1975 ROY/MVP campaign and book-ended by a 1979 campaign that was even better.
- Backup – Amos Otis – The man known as A.O. was a five-time all-star and three-time Gold Glover in centerfield for the Royals. Otis also twice topped the A.L. in doubles and in 1971 stole bases to pace the junior circuit.
- Backup – Don Baylor – Groove finished the decade with a bang, taking home the 1979 AL MVP award with a .296/36/139 season that led his Halos to their first ever division title. Baylor’s 1970s accomplishment also included four of his eight “hit by pitch” titles and a personal high of 52 stolen bases in 1976.
- Backup – Dave Kingman- Here is a man who would fit right into today’s “feast or famine” approach to hitting, able to hit tape measure homers or whiff with the very best of them. While his batting average toiled around .230 for much of the decade, Kingman finished with a fantastic .288/48/115 season in 1979 that included one of the top slugging averages of the decade (.613).
- Starter – J.R. Richard – Here is a pitcher whose career trajectory was not unlike that of Sandy Koufax over his first ten years–five or so pedestrian seasons followed by total domination of the league followed by career-ending medical issues in his prime. Particularly noteworthy was his dominance of the Dodgers, going 13-0 with a 1.57 ERA over the final 17 contests of his career.
- Starter – Vida Blue – Three 20-win seasons, two more 18-win seasons, the 1971 AL MVP and Cy Young Awards, four all-star selections, three World Series rings, and a 300 K season made Blue one of the most accomplished pitchers of the 1970s.
- Starter – Luis Tiant – Among pitchers with over 100 wins in the 1970s, Tiant’s .607 winning percentage for the decade is right up there near the top. His three 20-win seasons also put him in select company among non-HOFers.
- Starter – Mike Cuellar – Cuellar won 102 games over the five year stretch from 1970-1974, including a career high 24 in 1970.
- Backup – Ron Guidry – Louisiana Lightning only pitched three full seasons in the 1970s, but they were so good that he still made my all-decade team. His 1978 AL Cy Young Award season (25-3, 1.74) remains one of the best pitching seasons of the modern era, and his postseason record for the decade was a perfect 4-0.
- Backup – Wilbur Wood – Used primarily in relief over the first decade of his career, Wood won 20+ games each of his first four seasons as a starter, including two 24-win seasons. Also one of the few pitchers of the modern era to top 20 losses more than once.
- Backup – Tommy John – Known these days more for the surgery and high-end underwear that bears his name, John also posted a .613 winning percentage for the decade, along with two 20-win seasons.
- Backup – Jim Kaat – Most of Kaat’s best seasons came in the 1960s, but the decade of the 1970s still featured seven of Kaat’s then-record 16 Gold Gloves and a pair of 20-win seasons with the White Sox.