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Top 10 MLB players of the 1980s

Publish Date: 05/17/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Top 10

10) Dave Stieb

In 1985, when the Blue Jays made their first-ever postseason appearance, Stieb won the ERA crown despite an uneventful 14-13 record. After four years of averaging 275 innings, Stieb in 1986 began a two-year hiccup in which his effectiveness suffered, leading the Jays to shop him to another team actively. Instead, they stuck with him, and their patience was rewarded with some of his best work, recording a 51-22 mark over the next three years. The 1988-89 seasons were memorable for his frustration in excellence; he threw five one-hitters, including taking two no-hitters in back-to-back starts into the ninth inning.

Video: The Legend of Dave Stieb's Slider

The Legend of Dave Stieb’s Slider

9) Wade Boggs

Boggs was a pure hitter and an on-base machine. He had a.352 average batting and a.441 on-base percentage. He had seven straight 200-hit seasons from 1983 to 1989 and won five batting championships. Six times, he was the league’s leader in on-base percentage. In 1987 The Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer was at his best. He hit.363 with 24 homers and 89 RBIs. He also scored 108 runs. His league-leading 1.049 OPS was his highest career total. Boggs was a five-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger and a five-time All-Star for the decade.

Video: Boggs gets 200 hits in sixth straight year

Boggs gets 200 hits in sixth straight year

8) Andre Dawson

Dawson started the decade in Montreal, where he played with the Expos. The five-tool outfielder was a versatile player who won six Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger Awards. He led the NL in 1983 with 189 hits, 341 total bases and hit.299 with 32 runs, 113 RBIs and 104 runs. In 1987, “The Hawk” moved south and won the MVP award with the Chicago Cubs. He had 49 homers, 353 total bases, and 137 RBIs. Dawson tied the record for most home runs by any player during the decade with 49.

Video: Awesome Dawson! (The Hawk was an underrated superstar)

Awesome Dawson! (The Hawk was an underrated superstar)

7) Ryne Sandberg

Sandberg was one the most versatile and talented players of the 1980s. The Hall of Famer was a whiz at the plate and field, winning seven Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger Awards. He was the NL MVP in 1984 and helped lead the Chicago Cubs to their first postseason appearance since 1945. He hit.314 and had 19 homers, an impressive 84 RBIs, 114 runs scored 19 triples, and 32 stolen bases. The Cubs made it back to the postseason in 1989, thanks to Sandberg’s 30 homers. He also had 76 RBIs and scored 104 runs. Sandberg’s playoff performances were a success, with Sandberg hitting.385 with an.457 on base,641 slugging, and 1.098 OPS.

Video: Ryne Sandberg Highlights | The Sandberg Game & More From Ryno's Hall of Fame Career

Ryne Sandberg Highlights | The Sandberg Game & More From Ryno’s Hall of Fame Career

6) Eddie Murray

Steady Eddie finished first in the decade with 996 RBIs, second in hits (1,642) and third in home runs (274). Six-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove Winner and two-time Silver Slugger was the Baltimore Orioles’ switch-hitting first baseman. Murray hit.306 in 1983 with 33 home runs and 111 RBIs. He scored 115 runs and was named World Series MVP when he led the Orioles’ five-game win over Philadelphia.

Video: Eddie Murray Highlights

Eddie Murray Highlights

5) Dale Murphy

Murphy was the best player in baseball from 1982 to 1987. In 1982-83, Murphy won back-to-back MVPs. He also had a 36-home run–30 stolen base season. In 1984-85, he won consecutive home run titles. Murphy completed the six-year streak with a record-breaking 44 homers in 1987. Murphy, a multi-talented centerfielder, ended the decade with seven All-Star selections for Atlanta Braves, five Gold Gloves, and four Silver Slugger Awards. His 308 home runs, 929 RBIs and 399 RBIs are second in the decade.

Video: Murphy collects his 300th career homer

Murphy collects his 300th career homer

4) Rickey Henderson

Henderson is the player who has caused more chaos at the top of a lineup than any other player in the decade. Opposing pitchers will be frightened by Henderson’s power and ability to reach base. Henderson was the top player with 838 stolen bases, 1,122 runs and 130 runs. His 1982 total of 130 steals is a record that will probably never be broken. He was the league’s leader in steals nine times and first in runs scored four times. He hit.314 with 24 runs, 80 RBIs and 146 runs. 1985 was his best season. He led the Oakland A’s to a World Series title in 1989. He hit.441 with three homers and eight RBIs. In 14 postseason games, he also had 11 runs and 11 stolen bases. His OPS was a staggering 1.509. Henderson finished the decade with eight All-Star appearances.

Video: The Stolen Base King! Rickey Henderson was an Electrifying Player

The Stolen Base King! Rickey Henderson was an Electrifying Player

3) Robin Yount

Yount is the only American League player who won two MVPs during the decade. He also holds the record for being the only player in American League history to have been awarded MVP at two different positions. The first MVP was won as a shortstop in 1982. He hit.331 and had 29 home runs. His 210 hits, 46 doubles and 367 total bases led the league. He also had a.578 slugging percentage and a.957 OPS. Yount was also the Milwaukee Brewers star in the 1982 World Series as he hit.414 and had six RBIs, six runs, and a home run in a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Hall of Famer was awarded his second MVP in 1989 as a centrefielder. Yount hit.318 and had 21 homers. He also had 103 RBIs. His leadership led the Brewers’ to the best start in Major League history, 13-0. He ended the eighties with 1,731 runs and 337 doubles. This was the most hits of any player in the decade.

Video: Yount's two homers lift Brewers to AL East

Yount’s two homers lift Brewers to AL East

2) George Brett

The 1980 season ended with Brett’s.390 batting average was the highest since Ted Williams’ who in 1941 batted 406. Brett’s flirtation with .400 was huge news in 1980. That same season Brett helped lead the Royals to their first-ever World Series. In 1985, Brett and his Royals team won the World Series. Brett was a.373 hitter with 19 hits in his two World Series appearances. He was a nine-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger and three-time Silver Slugger Winner for the entire decade. He was the league’s leader in slugging, OPS and OPS three times apiece.

Video: George Brett tribute- career highlights, greatest plays, games.

George Brett tribute- career highlights, greatest plays, games.

1) Mike Schmidt

Schmidt started the decade with the 1980 NL MVP. He led the league with 48 homers, 121 RBIs, and 342 total bases. He won a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, and a World Series MVP. This led to the Philadelphia Phillies’ first-ever world championship. Schmidt was named MVP again in 1981 and won a third title in 1986. Schmidt was an eight-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove recipient. He also won six Silver Slugger awards during the decade. Schmidt was a leader on the league’s leaderboards throughout the eighties. He led the league in OPS, home runs five times, RBIs, walks, and slugging four times. His 313 homers rank second in the eighties behind his 929 RBIs.

Video: Mike Schmidt career highlights

Mike Schmidt career highlights

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