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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 13 Hitters of the 1980s

Top 13 Hitters of the 1980s

Publish Date: 01/31/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

1980s

13) Dwight Evans

Evans was more known for his rocket throwing skills than his hitting in the 1970s. However, Evans won the 1981 home run title with Eddie Murray and Tony Armas. He smashed 22 runs in a strike-shortened campaign. Evans’ performance improved as he reached (and passed) his 30s. Evans hit over 30 home runs three times. He also scored more than 100 runs four times and drove in over 100 runs four times. This includes three straight seasons that closed the decade. Evans’ keen eye for pitching made him an even bigger problem for his opponents. He drew over 100 walks three times. Only Rickey Henderson had more walks in the 1980s. It’s a shame that he is only well-known to loyal Red Sox fans.

Video: Detroit Tigers vs Boston Red Sox (8-13-1988)

Detroit Tigers vs Boston Red Sox (8-13-1988) “Dwight Evans Torments The Tigers”

12) Keith Hernandez

Keith Hernandez hit over .300 six times in the eighties. He was a patient hitter and had an on-base rate of over.400 five times. During this time, ‘Mex’ was a four-time All-Star player and won two Silver Slugger Awards. He and his fellow New York Mets won both the 1986 World Series.

Video: Keith Hernandez Mets Career Highlights

Keith Hernandez Mets Career Highlights

11) Jim Rice

Jim Rice was a powerful-hitting outfielder with the Boston Red Sox during the eighties. He hit an average of 21 homers a year during the decade and was.300 for most of his career. He was a major run producer for the BoSox. He racked up over 100 RBIs from 1983 to 1986. He was awarded two Silver Slugger Awards and was a five-time All-Star in the 1980s.

Video: Jim Rice Baseball Career Highlights

Jim Rice Baseball Career Highlights

10) Paul Molitor

Paul Molitor, Milwaukee Brewers’ infielder, had a tremendous run in the nineties. But his achievements in the eighties are not to be forgotten. He reached a high of.300 five more times in that period. He was capable of hitting extra bases and home runs and was often a threat to steal from opposing pitchers. In 1982, “Molly”, who scored 136 runs and 114 in 1987, was the AL’s top-scoring player.

Video: Remembering Paul Molitor's incredible 39 game hit streak

Remembering Paul Molitor’s incredible 39 game hit streak

9) Eddie Murray

Murray was the first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles as well as the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 1980s. Murray was a great switch hitter and was able to hit home runs from both sides of the plate. The American League had never seen such a hitter since Mickey Mantle.

In five of his ten years of playing, he averaged more than.300. All but one year (1986), he had hit over 20 home runs. During this time, Murray was named All-Star six more times.

Video: Eddie Murray Highlights

Eddie Murray Highlights

8) Rickey Henderson

In baseball history, extraordinary leadoff men have been rare. Rickey Henderson was one such rare man. The speedy Henderson was a skilled left fielder who played for the Oakland Athletics as well as the New York Yankees. He hit over.300 four times in the 1980s.

Henderson’s ability to get hits and draw walks meant that he had an on-base rate of.400 six times during the decade. His legs were strong, and he was able to lead in stolen bases in the American League nine times out of ten. He was also able to use his strong legs to generate power with his bat. Henderson was able to hit 28 and 24 home runs in 1985, respectively.

Video: Rickey Henderson Highlights

Rickey Henderson Highlights

7) Wade Boggs

Wade Boggs, a left-handed third baseman for Boston Red Sox during the 1980s. He was a dominant player in the American League for ten years, a more slap-hitting Ted Williams. Boggs won five batting championships during that decade. He was the AL’s leader in on-base percentage six more times.

Although Boggs wasn’t a great home run hitter in his eight years of playing during the 1980s, he managed to hit an incredible 314 doubles. Boggs was an AL All-Star between 1985 and 1989. In the 1980s, he won five Silver Slugger Awards.

Video: Boggs gets 200 hits in sixth straight year

Boggs gets 200 hits in sixth straight year

6) Dale Murphy

He was All-Star-worthy by 1982. He evolved into the Braves’ prime player, combining power (36 homers), patience (93/3) and speed (23 steals) For the next three seasons, he maintained that level of power, winning MVP honors in 1982-83. He was also the youngest player to win back-to-back honors. All this while gaining prime national exposure, as the Braves were broadcast live on WTBS, a popular basic cable channel. In 1987, he hit a career high 44 homers. However, he was soon followed by subpar years with batting averages that were in the.220s at the decade’s end. This signaled his inevitable decline. Murphy still commanded the 1980s, with seven All-Star Game appearances and five 100-RBI seasons.

Video: New York Mets vs Atlanta Braves (7-15-1988)

New York Mets vs Atlanta Braves (7-15-1988) “Dale Murphy Is The Hero “

5) Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly did not play his first full season until 1984. He won the AL batting championship that year. Mattingly was known as known as “Donnie Baseball”,  he was a powerful threat. He won the MVP award in 1985 and hit.324 with 35 homers and 145 RBI. Even more remarkable was the fact that he also led the AL in doubles that season.

Video: Don Mattingly | Career Highlights

Don Mattingly | Career Highlights

4) Tony Gwynn

Tony Gwynn was a great pure hitter. Although he wasn’t athletic looking, he was a great hitter. Gwynn, a five-tool player, took slap hitting up a notch.

Gwynn, a left-handed hitter, won four batting title in the 1980s and four more in the 1990s. The only year he was below.300 was the one of his call-up (1982), when he hit.289.

Video: The Legend of Tony Gwynn | Career Highlights

The Legend of Tony Gwynn | Career Highlights

3) Mike Schmidt

Schmidt was baseball’s most feared sledgehammer in the 1980s, winning NL MVPs each of the decade’s first two seasons. Schmidt and the Phillies had a great 1980 season. He set career records with 48 home runs, 121 RBIs and then triumphed over postseason doubts by going 8-21 with a pair of jacks and seven RBIs to help secure the franchise’s first ever world title. Schmidt’s game was elevated even more in 1981 when he hit over.300. If not for the strike by the players, his totals might have reached 50 homers or 140 RBIs. As Schmidt reached his 30s, this burst in near-superhuman performance slowed down. However, he remained a formidable threat. He led the NL with home runs three times more, won two additional RBI crowns and was awarded his third MVP in 1986 at the age of 37.

Video: Mike Schmidt career highlights

Mike Schmidt career highlights

2) Robin Yount

Robin Yount, Milwaukee Brewers shortstop/outfielder, had a similar batting style to Brett’s. However, it was from the right side of plate. In the 1980s, Robin Yount, a fellow Hall of Famer, hit over.300 six times out of ten. Although he wasn’t a great home run hitter the ball flew off his bat many times and found outfield gaps. He was the league’s leader in doubles in 1982 and 1980, and the AL’s top scorer in triples in 1983 & 1988. He hit 29 homers in 1982 with 114 RBI and had a.331 average.

In the 1980s, Yount was named an All-Star three more times. He won twice the AL MVP award (1982 and 1989), once as a shortstop and the second as a center fielder.

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

Yount’s two homers lift Brewers to AL East

1) George Brett

George Brett, third baseman for the Kansas City Royals, flirted with.400 in 1980 and won the AL batting title with a.390 average. He also hit 24 home runs and had 118 RBI. He also posted a league-leading slugging percentage, at.664.

Brett was an All-Star for nine of the ten years. The Royals won the World Series in 1985 and Brett was awarded a Gold Glove. He also won three batting titles during the 1980s and three Silver Slugger Awards. Brett was a first baseman and third baseman in the 1980s, positions from which teams need some power. Although he wasn’t a great home run hitter from 1980 to 1989, he still gave the Royals an average of 19.3 homers.

Video: George Brett Baseball Career Highlights

George Brett Baseball Career Highlights

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