MLB Players We Miss From the 1980s
The 1980s were a fun time in baseball. Sure, the decade had some scandals and controversy, but it also had great talent, parity and moments.
One thing the decade didn't have was huge power numbers. According to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), players hit 40 or more home runs 13 times in the 1980s, the lowest output for a decade since the 1920s. As steroids entered major league clubhouses and ballparks got smaller, sluggers hit 40 homers 77 times in the 1990s and 91 times in the 2000s.
As a result, the 1980s have become baseball's forgotten era. But we haven't forgotten about the MLB players who made that decade special. They're not all the best players from the 1980s. Just the ones who stole the Show.
Honorable Mention: Orel Hershiser, Right-Handed Pitcher
Born: Sept. 16, 1958 (Buffalo, New York)
Years: 1983-2000 (18 seasons)
Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (1983–94), Cleveland Indians (1995–97), San Francisco Giants (1998), New York Mets (1999), Los Angeles Dodgers (2000)
Stats: 204-150 W-L, 3.48 ERA, 3,130.1 IP, 2,014 K
Career highlights: World Series champion (1988), NL Cy Young (1988), World Series MVP (1988), three-time All-Star (1987-89)
Bottom Line: Orel Hershiser
Orel Hershiser put together one of the finest seasons by a pitcher in major league history in 1988.
He became the only player to win the Cy Young Award, NLCS Most Valuable Player and World Series Most Valuable Player in the same season. He also broke the major league scoreless innings record by pitching 59 consecutive scoreless innings to pass former Dodgers legend Don Drysdale, who pitched 58 2/3 straight scoreless innings.
Hershiser was nicknamed "Bulldog," and his demeanor and toughness endeared him to fans. It also helped that Hershisher looked like he might have been better suited to be a junior high school science teacher than a superstar pitcher.
50. Chet Lemon, Center Field
Born: Feb. 12, 1955 (Jackson, Mississippi)
Years: 1975-90 (16 seasons)
Teams: Chicago White Sox (1975-81), Detroit Tigers (1982-90)
Stats: .273 BA, 1,988 G, 1,875 H, 205 HR, 884 RBI, 55.6 WAR
Career highlights: Three-time All-Star (1978, 1979, 1984), World Series champion (1984)
Bottom Line: Chet Lemon
If you ever need evidence that the Gold Glove Award is a joke, just look at the career of longtime major league outfielder Chet Lemon.
Nobody — nobody — was better than Lemon in center field for the better part of a decade, including five seasons with over 400 putouts.
One cool, obscure fact about Lemon is he was a star football player at Fremont High in Los Angeles and played in the same backfield as future NFL No. 1 overall pick Ricky Bell.
49. Ramon Martinez, Right-Handed Pitcher
Born: March 22, 1968 (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
Years: 1988-2001 (14 seasons)
Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (1988-98), Boston Red Sox (1999-2000), Pittsburgh Pirates (2001)
Stats: 135-88 W-L, 3.67 ERA, 1,927 K, 1,895.2 IP
Career highlights: All-Star (1990), NL Cy Young runner-up (1990)
Bottom Line: Ramon Martinez
The stories about Ramon Martinez when he broke into the majors in 1988 compared his arm to Nolan Ryan — homeboy had a lightning bolt attached to his shoulder.
Ramon threw a no-hitter in 1995 against the Marlins, with only an eighth-inning walk keeping him from a perfect game. One thing we loved about Ramon was that when he broke through, he told everyone (including the Dodgers) that he wasn't even the best pitcher in his own family.
That was younger brother Pedro, the future three-time Cy Young Award winner. The Blue Crew did eventually sign Pedo in 1988, then traded him to the Montreal Expos in 1994 after he pitched in only 67 games. You can't win 'em all.
48. Dwight Evans, Right Field
Born: Nov. 3, 1951 (Santa Monica, California)
Years: 1972-91 (20 seasons)
Teams: Boston Red Sox (1972-90), Baltimore Orioles (1991)
Stats: .272 BA, 2,606 G, 2,446 H, 385 HR, 1,384 RBI, 67.1 WAR
Career highlights: Three-time All-Star (1978, 1981, 1987), eight Gold Gloves (1976, 1978, 1979, 1981-85)
Bottom Line: Dwight Evans
A case can be made that Dwight Evans should be on the "Players We Miss From the 1970s List." But despite breaking into the majors in 1972, he didn't really hit his stride until the 1980s.
Evans' 67.1 WAR really jumps off the page when you consider he played 19 years for the Red Sox and was just so consistent throughout, winning eight Gold Glove Awards.
He's our 1980s "Steady Eddie" — a rock-solid player who deserves all the respect we can give him.
47. Andre Dawson, Outfield
Born: July 10, 1954 (Miami, Florida)
Years: 1976-96 (21 seasons)
Teams: Montreal Expos (1976–86), Chicago Cubs (1987–92), Boston Red Sox (1993–94), Florida Marlins (1995–96)
Stats: .279 BA, 2,627 G, 2,774 H, 438 HR, 1,591 RBI, 64.8 WAR
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (2010), NL MVP (1987), eight-time All-Star (1981-83, 1987-91)
Bottom Line: Andre Dawson
Andre Dawson was one of the players who helped define the 1980s — first with the Montreal Expos, then with the Chicago Cubs.
Casual baseball fans might remember Dawson for his ability to hit for power, but his ability to play outfield at an elite level was the thing that pushed him into the Hall of Fame in 2010 on his sixth try.
Dawson was as athletic an outfielder as the major leagues had during his era, winning eight Gold Glove awards.
46. Alan Trammell, Shortstop
Born: Feb. 21, 1958 (Garden Grove, California)
Years: 1977-96 (20 seasons)
Teams: Detroit Tigers
Stats: .285 BA, 2,293 G, 2,365 H, 185 HR, 1,003 RBI, 70.7 WAR
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (2018), World Series champion (1984), World Series MVP (1984)
Bottom Line: Alan Trammell
When Alan Trammell led the Detroit Tigers to a World Series title in 1984, he did it by taking down his hometown team, the San Diego Padres. Which is pretty cool.
Trammell and second baseman Lou Whitaker both played their entire careers for the Tigers, which you can make a valid argument was probably more an act of collusion on the part of MLB owners than any loyalty either player had to the franchise.
In the most 1980s thing ever, Trammell and Whitaker guest-starred on an episode of "Magnum P.I." in 1983, where Tom Selleck's main character, Thomas Magnum, constantly wore a Tigers hat.
45. Bo Jackson, Left Field
Born: Nov. 30, 1962 (Bessemer, Alabama)
Years: 1986-91, 1993-94 (8 seasons)
Teams: Kansas City Royals (1986–90), Chicago White Sox (1991, 1993), California Angels (1994)
Stats: .250 BA, 694 G, 598 H, 141 HR, 415 RBI, 8.3 WAR
Career highlights: All-Star (1989), Heisman Trophy (1985), Pro Bowl (1990)
Bottom Line: Bo Jackson
The promise of Bo Jackson's career and all the amazing things we thought he might do in the NFL and MLB came to a screeching halt with a catastrophic hip injury in 1991.
But what we got before he hurt himself playing football was truly something to behold, and his highlights from four seasons with the 1980s are ones that people still go back and watch on YouTube.
The throw to home to get Harold Reynolds out. The run straight up the wall after a catch in center field. The All-Star home run. You get the picture.
44. Eric Davis, Outfield
Born: May 29, 1962 (Los Angeles, California)
Years: 1984-2001 (18 seasons)
Teams: Cincinnati Reds (1984–91), Los Angeles Dodgers (1992–93), Detroit Tigers (1993–94), Cincinnati Reds (1996), Baltimore Orioles (1997–98), St. Louis Cardinals (1999–2000), San Francisco Giants (2001)
Stats: .269 BA, 1,626 G, 1,430 H, 282 HR, 934 RBI, 36.1 WAR
Career highlights: World Series champion (1990), two-time All-Star (1987, 1989), three Gold Gloves (1987-89)
Bottom Line: Eric Davis
Eric Davis dreamed of being an NBA shooting guard when he was growing in Los Angeles. Watching Davis play baseball, and seeing what an amazing athlete he was, it was easy to imagine him playing pro basketball.
The pickup games at Baldwin Hills Park in the late 1970s would've featured Davis, his best friend and future MLB star Darryl Strawberry, and future Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Byron Scott.
How good was Davis at his peak in baseball? He averaged at least 30 home runs and 40 stolen bases a season from 1986 to 1990, capped by a World Series for the Reds.
Davis had Hall of Fame talent, but injuries took their toll.
43. Dan Plesac, Left-Handed Pitcher
Born: Feb. 4, 1962 (Gary, Indiana)
Years: 1986-2003 (18 seasons)
Teams: Milwaukee Brewers (1986–92) Chicago Cubs (1993–94), Pittsburgh Pirates (1995–96) Toronto Blue Jays (1997–99, 2001-02), Arizona Diamondbacks (1999–2000), Toronto Blue Jays (2001–02), Philadelphia Phillies (2002-03)
Stats: 65-71 W-L, 158 Saves, 3.54 ERA, 1,072 IP, 1,041 K
Career highlights: Three-time All-Star (1987-89), North Carolina State University Athletics Hall of Fame (2010)
Bottom Line: Dan Plesac
One of the great things about Dan Plesac was adaptability.
He began his career in the starting rotation and transitioned to the bullpen in his second season and immediately became a star. Then, for almost the last decade of his career, he was essentially a left-handed specialist in mostly middle relief.
Another impressive thing about Plesac was his durability, which was downright stunning. In 18 seasons in the majors, Plesac never went on the disabled list and never needed to have surgery, during the season or in the offseason.
42. Bret Saberhagen, Right-Handed Pitcher
Born: April 11, 1964 (Chicago Heights, Illinois)
Years: 1984-1999, 2001 (17 seasons)
Teams: Kansas City Royals (1984-91), New York Mets (1992-95), Colorado Rockies (1995), Boston Red Sox (1997-99, 2001)
Stats: 167-117 W-L, 3.34 ERA, 2,582.2 IP, 1,715 K
Career highlights: World Series champion (1985), AL Cy Young (1985, 1989), World Series MVP (1985), three-time All-Star (1987, 1990, 1994)
Bottom Line: Bret Saberhagen
Bret Saberhagen took the path a lot of dominant pitchers of the 1980s did — overwhelmingly phenomenal starts to their careers followed by workmanlike careers.
Saberhagen took baseball by storm in 1985, his second season, winning the Cy Young Award, World Series and World Series MVP for the Royals. Saberhagen's career in the 1980s followed a weird pattern. He was among the best pitchers in baseball in odd-numbered years and struggled in even-numbered years.
In the 1990s, he was rendered largely ineffective due to injuries. It's not a stretch to think without those injuries Saberhagen may have been a Hall of Famer.
41. Wade Boggs, Third Base
Born: June 15, 1958 (Omaha, Nebraska)
Years: 1982-99 (18 seasons)
Teams: Boston Red Sox (1982-92), New York Yankees (1993-97), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998-99)
Stats: .328 BA, 2,439 G, 3,010 H, 118 HR, 1,014 RBI, 91.4 WAR
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (2005) World Series champion (1996), 12-time All-Star (1985-96)
Bottom Line: Wade Boggs
Wade Boggs always had some Paul Bunyan qualities about him during his playing career. Aside from the fact he looked like a general circa 1863, he also hit and fielded the ball like a machine and seemed almost indestructible over two decades in the majors.
And then there's the beer. Man, the beer. Boggs once allegedly drank 70 beers on a cross-country flight from Boston to Los Angeles and drank 107 beers in a single day, according to his own account.
Was Boggs even human?
40. Tony Pena, Catcher
Born: June 4, 1957 (Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic)
Years: 1980-97 (18 seasons)
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates (1980-86), St. Louis Cardinals (1987-89), Boston Red Sox (1990-93), Cleveland Indians (1994-96), Chicago White Sox (1997), Houston Astros (1997)
Stats: .260 BA, 1,988 G, 1,687 H, 107 HR, 708 RBI, 24.7 WAR
Career highlights: Five-time All-Star (1982, 1984-86, 1989), four Gold Gloves (1983-85, 1991), Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame (2016), AL Manager of the Year (2003)
Bottom Line: Tony Pena
It seemed like Tony Pena had a smile on his face the entirety of his 18-year MLB career. He was a gregarious catcher who was a fan favorite wherever he played.
If you really paid attention to Pena's career — especially in the 1980s — you'll know that his bat wasn't always consistent, but that didn't really matter. You had to have him in the lineup because he was one of the greatest defensive catchers to ever play the game.
One metric to back this up is Pena's Total Zone Runs Allowed for his career. He's at plus-46. The average for MLB catchers over his entire career was plus-3.
39. Kirby Puckett, Center Field
Born: March 14, 1960 (Chicago, Illinois)
Died: March 6, 2006 (Phoenix, Arizona)
Years: 1984-95 (12 seasons)
Teams: Minnesota Twins
Stats: .318 BA, 1,783 G, 2,304 H, 207 HR, 1,085 RBI, 51.1 WAR
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (2001), two-time World Series champion (1987, 1991), 10-time All-Star (1986-95)
Bottom Line: Kirby Puckett
Minnesota Twins center fielder Kirby Puckett was just 5-foot-7 but became one of the game's biggest legends during his too-short major league career.
The first-ballot Hall of Famer led the Twins to two World Series titles in 1987 and 1991 and was known for his thrilling catches in center field, where he won six Gold Glove Awards.
Puckett's career ended early when he woke up blind in his right eye one morning and was forced to retire. After a series of off-field legal problems, he died in 2006 at just 45 years old from a massive stroke.
38. George Brett, Third Base
Born: May 15, 1953 (Glen Dale, West Virginia)
Years: 1973-93 (21 seasons)
Teams: Kansas City Royals
Stats: .305 BA, 2,707 G, 3,154 H, 317 HR, 1,596 RBI, 88.6 WAR
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (1999), AL MVP (1980), World Series champion (1985), 13-time All-Star (1976-88)
Bottom Line: George Brett
Few players in MLB history have hit the ball or been associated with just one franchise like George Brett was over his 21 years in the big leagues.
He accomplished everything imaginable for a ballplayer — batting titles, All-Star games, a World Series title and a Most Valuable Player award.
But no single day in Brett's career cemented his legacy more than "The Pine Tar Incident" on July 24, 1983, against the New York Yankees. Brett's ejection from the game after a home run triggered one of the more epic meltdowns in sports history.
37. Harold Baines, Right Field/Designated Hitter
Born: March 15, 1959 (Easton, Maryland)
Years: 1980-1999 (20 seasons)
Teams: Chicago White Sox (1980–89 , 1996-97, 2000-01), Texas Rangers (1989–90), Oakland Athletics (1990–92), Baltimore Orioles (1993–95, 2000), 1997–99), Cleveland Indians (1999), Baltimore Orioles (2000)
Stats: .289 BA, 2,830 G, 2,866 H, 384 HR, 1,628 RBI, 38.7 WAR
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (2019), six-time All-Star (1985-87, 1989, 1991, 1999), Silver Slugger Award (1989)
Bottom Line: Harold Baines
Harold Baines' career in the American League as a superstar player for a terrible team in the 1980s was almost the mirror image of Atlanta Braves outfielder Dale Murphy's career during the same era.
The difference is Baines transitioned to a designated hitter role later in his career and didn't experience the steady decline Murphy did after he turned 30 years old.
Baines' induction into the Hall of Fame in 2019 might be one of the biggest debates of all time. He never received greater than 6.1 percent of the vote while he was on ballots before the Today's Game Committee put him in Cooperstown.
36. Mickey Hatcher, Infield/Outfielder
Born: March 15, 1955 (Cleveland, Ohio)
Years: 1979-90 (12 seasons)
Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (1979–80, 1987-90), Minnesota Twins (1981–86)
Stats: .280 BA, 1,130 G, 946 H, 38 HR, 375 RBI, 2.9 WAR
Career highlights: World Series champion (1988)
Bottom Line: Mickey Hatcher
If you're trying to judge Mickey Hatcher's career, don't look at his 2.9 WAR. Because that's really bad. And it also doesn't indicate what a key player he was on some pretty great teams, including the world champion Dodgers in 1988.
Why we loved Hatcher so much was that he seemed to really enjoy playing baseball and was notorious for being the "ultimate clubhouse guy," but that doesn't give him enough credit.
In 1988, he hit one home run during the regular season. In the World Series against the Athletics that year, he hit two home runs.
35. Juilo Franco, Infielder/Designated Hitter
Born: Aug. 28 1953 (Hoto Mayor, Dominican Republic)
Years: 1982-94, 1996-97, 1999, 2001-07 (23 seasons)
Teams: Philadelphia Phillies (1982), Cleveland Indians (1983–88, 1996-97), Texas Rangers (1989–93), Chicago White Sox (1994), Milwaukee Brewers (1997), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1999), Atlanta Braves (2001–05, 2007), New York Mets (2006–07)
Stats: .298 BA, 2,527 G, 2,586 H, 173 HR, 1,194 RBI, 43.6 WAR
Career highlights: Three-time All-Star (1989-91), five-time Silver Slugger (1988-91, 1994), All-Star MVP (1991)
Bottom Line: Juilo Franco
Few batting stances have been as unique as Julio Franco's — the over-the-top wagging of the bat, the knees bent inward at weird angles, the rest of his frame seemingly immobile. And the dude could really hit.
Franco was amazing in the 1980s, but it's what he did after that's truly amazing. He's the oldest player in major league history to hit a grand slam, home run and steal a base, doing it all when he was 47 years old.
Franco went 6-for-27 playing Independent League baseball for the Fort Worth Cats in 2014 when he was 56 years old.
34. B.J. Surhoff, Catcher
Born: Aug. 4, 1964 (Bronx, New York)
Years: 1987-2005 (19 seasons)
Teams: Milwaukee Brewers (1987–95), Baltimore Orioles (1996–2000, 2003-05), Atlanta Braves (2000–02)
Stats: .282 BA, 2,313 G, 2,326 H, 188 HR, 1,153 RBI, 34.4 WAR
Career highlights: All-Star (1999), Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame (2007), Olympic Silver Medal (1984)
Bottom Line: B.J. Surhoff
B.J. Surhoff's numbers are pretty good. It's kind of amazing his career isn't held in much more esteem when you look at how they hold up against other catchers from his era.
Surhoff's legacy seems to have been more defined by being the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 MLB draft out of the University of North Carolina. He was picked ahead of Will Clark, Barry Larkin, Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro, who all also went in the first round.
But we appreciate Surhoff's versatility more than anything, as he played eight of nine positions during his career.
33. Dale Murphy, Outfield
Born: March 12, 1956 (Portland, Oregon)
Years: 1976-93 (18 seasons)
Teams: Atlanta Braves (1976–90), Philadelphia Phillies (1990–92), Colorado Rockies (1993)
Stats: .265 BA, 2,180 G, 2,111 H, 398 HR, 1,266 RBI, 46.5 WAR
Career highlights: NL MVP (1982, 1983), seven-time All-Star (1980, 1982-87), five Gold Gloves (1982-87)
Bottom Line: Dale Murphy
True baseball heads know Dale Murphy was a dominant star. But his career has gotten kind of lost to the ages because he played on some horrible Braves teams in the 1980s.
One of just four players to win multiple MVP awards and not be in the Hall of Fame, Murphy got off to a slow start in his career after spending his first two seasons as a backup catcher, then his third season as a first baseman before being moved to the outfield, where he blossomed.
One thing about Murphy that never showed up in the stat column? He was one of MLB's all-time good guys — a player who appreciated the game, the fans and his role with both.
32. Vince Coleman, Left Field
Born: Sept. 22, 1961 (Jacksonville, Florida)
Years: 1985-97 (13 seasons)
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals (1985-90), New York Mets (1991-93), Kansas City Royals (1994-95), Seattle Mariners (1995), Cincinnati Reds (1996), Detroit Tigers (1997)
Stats: .264 BA, 1,371 G, 1,425 H, 28 HR, 12.5 WAR
Career highlights: NL Rookie of the Year (1985), six-time NL Stolen Bases leader (1985-90), two-time All-Star (1988, 1989)
Bottom Line: Vince Coleman
If you watched baseball in the 1980s, you know the absolute thrill it was to see Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson go back and forth on the basepaths. Coleman is still sixth on MLB's career stolen bases list, and his 110 stolen bases in 1985 is the record for rookies.
It's kind of wild to think he also could have had a long career as a punter and kicker in the NFL after he was a star at Florida A&M, where he helped lead the team to a Division 1-AA national title.
Coleman wasn't a great dude — this isn't a list of choirboys — and you can't talk about his career without mentioning that he threw a lit firecracker into a group of fans asking for autographs in 1994.
31. Willie Wilson, Outfield
Born: July 9, 1955 (Montgomery, Alabama)
Years: 1976-94 (19 seasons)
Teams: Kansas City Royals (1976-90), Oakland Athletics (1991-92), Chicago Cubs (1993-94)
Stats: .285 BA, 2,154 G, 2,207 H, 41 HR, 585 RBI, 46.1 WAR
Career highlights: World Series champion (1985), two-time All-Star (1982, 1983), Gold Glove (1980)
Bottom Line: Willie Wilson
Willie Wilson was an awesome athlete. He didn't hit for power and didn't rack up RBIs, but he was an amazing center fielder who originally signed to play football for the University of Maryland before switching to pro baseball.
Wilson was one of the core group of players for the Royals that won an ALCS pennant in 1980, then won the World Series in 1985.
He also was one of a core group of players for the Royals — and a larger group in MLB — who got caught up in several massive cocaine scandals in the 1980s, with Wilson serving federal prison time for trying to purchase drugs.
30. Lou Whitaker, Second Base
Born: May 12, 1957 (Brooklyn, New York)
Years: 1977-1995 (19 seasons)
Teams: Detroit Tigers
Stats: .276 BA, 2,390 G, 2,369 H, 244 HR, 1,084 RBI, 75.1 WAR
Career highlights: World Series champion (1984), AL Rookie of the Year (1978), five-time All-Star (1983-87)
Bottom Line: Lou Whitaker
When there's a discussion about the greatest double-play combos of all time, just remember that it's not legit until you hear the names of Detroit Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell and second baseman "Sweet" Lou Whitaker.
It's kind of a mystery why Whitaker hasn't made more of a run at being in the Hall of Fame. His 75.1 WAR jumps off the page. But it's also a mystery how he hasn't even garnered respect from the franchise he played his entire career for.
Shame on the Tigers for not retiring his iconic No. 1 jersey until 2020.
29. Shawon Dunstton, Shortstop
Born: March 21, 1963 (Brooklyn, New York)
Years: 1985-2002 (18 seasons)
Teams: Chicago Cubs (1985-95, 1997), San Francisco Giants (1996, 1998, 2000, 2001-02), Pittsburgh Pirates (1997), Cleveland Indians (1998), St. Louis Cardinals (1999), New York Mets (1999)
Stats: .269 BA, 1,814 G, 1,597 R, 150 HR, 11.5 WAR
Career highlights: MLB draft No. 1 overall pick (1982), MLB All-Star (1988, 1990), NL East Division champion (1989)
Bottom Line: Shawon Dunston
If you've ever had the opportunity to hang around Bill James, we're sorry. Dude's not a lot of fun. And the sabermetrics guru's criticism of Shawon Dunston — "an eternal rookie, making eternal rookie mistakes throughout his whole career" — speaks a lot to what a stick-in-the-mud James has been and always will be.
Because if you watched Dunston play, you know that was part of the appeal. He always seemed to genuinely love playing the game, like a rookie does. Watching him and Ryne Sandberg play together was just fun.
Which James knows little about.
28. Eddie Murray, First Base
Born: Feb. 24, 1956 (Los Angeles, California)
Years: 1977-97 (21 seasons)
Teams: Baltimore Orioles (1977-88, 1996), Los Angeles Dodgers (1989-91, 1997), New York Mets (1992-93), Cleveland Indians (1994-96), Baltimore Orioles (1996), Anaheim Angels (1997)
Stats: .287 BA, 3,026 G, 3,255 H, 504 HR, 1,917 RBI, 68.7 WAR
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (2003), World Series champion (1983), eight-time All-Star (1978, 1981-86, 1991)
Bottom Line: Eddie Murray
Eddie Murray is one of the greatest hitters of all time, even if his name doesn't get mentioned in such conversations. The reason for that, likely, is because he played alongside Cal Ripken Jr. for his best seasons.
Not that Murray would say that. One of his best qualities was that he was an amazing, selfless teammate.
How good of a teammate? When Murray was charged with insider trading in 2012 by the Securities and Exchange Commission, he refused to testify against former teammate Doug DeCinces, who'd allegedly given him the tip on a stock purchase.
27. Tom Henke, Right-Handed Pitcher
Born: Dec. 21, 1957 (Kansas City, Missouri)
Years: 1982-95 (14 seasons)
Teams: Texas Rangers (1982-84, 1993-94), Toronto Blue Jays (1985-92), St. Louis Cardinals (1995)
Stats: 41-42 W-L, 311 saves, 2.67 ERA, 789.2 IP, 851 K
Career highlights: World Series champion (1982), NL Relief Pitcher of the Year (1995), two-time All-Star (1987, 1995), Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (2011)
Bottom Line: Tom Henke
One image that stirs up memories of major league baseball in the 1980s is relief pitcher Tom Henke glaring down at batters from the mound behind thick, large-rimmed glasses. What jumps out when you look at Henke on paper is his size. He was 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds.
The story of how Henke even became a pro is pretty amazing in itself. Playing for tiny East Central (Missouri) Junior College, Henke was goaded into going to an open tryout for MLB prospects by his friends, who offered him a free case of beer if he showed up.
That's what friends are for. Henke ended up pitching in 642 career MLB games.
26. Mike Scott, Right-Handed Pitcher
Born: April 28, 1955 (Santa Monica, California)
Years: 1979-91 (13 seasons)
Teams: New York Mets (1979–82), Houston Astros (1983–91)
Stats: 124-108 W-L, 3.54 ERA, 2,068.2 IP, 1,469 K
Career highlights: NL Cy Young (1986), three-time All-Star (1986, 1987, 1989), NLCS MVP (1986)
Bottom Line: Mike Scott
Why do people still hate Mike Scott? Usually, it's because they think he cheated.
The story behind his run of success in the late 1980s, when he became the game's most dominant pitcher, is a great baseball debate. Scott's story: Astros pitching coach Roger Craig taught him how to throw a split-finger fastball in 1985, and in 1986, he was baseball's best pitcher.
Craig's story: Scott began scuffing balls. Scott hasn't exactly denied this over the years, but he was a pretty great MLB villain while it lasted, and his time at the top was short-lived because of injuries. He was out of baseball five years after he won the 1986 Cy Young Award.
25. Tim Raines, Left Field
Born: Sept. 16, 1959 (Sanford, California)
Years: 1979-2002 (24 seasons)
Teams: Montreal Expos (1979-90, 2001), Chicago White Sox (1991-95), New York Yankees (1996-98), Oakland Athletics (1999), Baltimore Orioles (2001), Florida Marlins (2002)
Stats: .294 BA, 2,502 G, 2,605 H, 170 HR, 980 RBI, 69.4 WAR
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (2017), two-time World Series champion (1996, 1998), seven-time All-Star (1981-87)
Bottom Line: Tim Raines
Tim Raines defined the 1980s for the Montreal Expos, becoming one of the best players in the majors over that stretch for his combination of speed and power.
What's more amazing was that Raines did it while battling some pretty overwhelming personal demons. When testifying in the now-infamous Pittsburgh Drug Trials, Raines admitted he spent $40,000 on cocaine during the 1982 season and during that time used the drug before and after games, and on some occasions used it between innings.
He overcame those demons and went on to have a Hall of Fame career.
24. Ron Kittle, Outfield/Designated Hitter
Born: Jan. 5, 1958 (Gary, Indiana)
Years: 1982-91 (10 seasons)
Teams: Chicago White Sox (1982–86, 1989–90, 1991), New York Yankees (1986–87) Cleveland Indians (1988), Baltimore Orioles (1990)
Stats: .239 BA, 843 G, 648 H, 176 HR, 460 RBI, 4.7 WAR
Career highlights: AL Rookie of the Year (1983), All-Star (1983)
Bottom Line: Ron Kittle
Ron Kittle is one of several players on this list that we may or may not have put there in large part because of their affinity for wide-rimmed glasses.
Kittle had a cool backstory. He was an Indiana steelworker who didn't break into the majors until he was 25 years old. Once he got there, Kittle was a power hitter whose numbers seem downright bizarre. Kittle only finished his career with 648 hits, but had a whopping 460 RBI.
His .239 career batting average was nothing to write home about, his 4.7 WAR is shocking low, but we don't care. We still love Kittle.
23. Kirk Gibson, Outfield
Born: May 28, 1957 (Pontiac, Michigan)
Years: 1979-95 (17 seasons)
Teams: Detroit Tigers (1979-87), Los Angeles Dodgers (1988-90), Kansas City Royals (1991), Pittsburgh Pirates (1992), Detroit Tigers (1993-95)
Stats: .268 BA, 1,635 G, 1,553 H, 255 HR, 870 RBI, 38.4 WAR
Career highlights: NL MVP (1988), ALCS MVP (1984), two-time World Series champion (1984, 1988)
Bottom Line: Kirk Gibson
Kirk Gibson was an All-American wide receiver at Michigan State who set Big Ten receiving records, but he decided to walk away from football for a career in baseball. It was the right choice.
Had Gibson tried to play in the NFL, we would've been denied one of the most dramatic home runs in postseason history — Gibson's walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 of the World Series, sparking the Los Angeles Dodgers to the title in his only at-bat of the series.
Gibson, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2015, was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
22. Dave Righetti, Left-Handed Pitcher
Born: Nov. 28, 1958 (San Jose California)
Years: 1979-95 (17 seasons)
Teams: New York Yankees (1979–90), San Francisco Giants (1991–93)
Oakland Athletics (1994), Toronto Blue Jays (1994), Chicago White Sox (1995)
Stats: 82-79 W-L, 252 saves, 3.46 ERA, 1,403.2 IP, 1,112 K
Career highlights: AL Rookie of the Year (1981), two-time All-Star (1986, 1987), two-time AL Relief Pitcher of the Year (1986, 1987)
Bottom Line: Dave Righetti
Opponents of San Jose City College in 1976 weren't aware of the buzzsaw they were walking into when they faced the Jaguars. That's because at any given point that season, SJCC had future MLB stars Dave Righetti and Dave Stieb on the mound. Which could make you rethink playing college baseball.
Righetti was an amazing starter for the Yankees to begin his career, even throwing a no-hitter against the Red Sox on July 4, 1983.
Righetti moved to the bullpen in 1984 and became one of the signature, dominant relief pitchers in major league history.
21. Darryl Strawberry, Outield
Born: March 12, 1962 (Los Angeles, California)
Years: 1983-99 (17 seasons)
Teams: New York Mets (1983–90), Los Angeles Dodgers (1991–93), San Francisco Giants (1994), New York Yankees (1995–99)
Stats: .259 BA, 1,583 G, 1,401 H, 335 HR, 1,000 RBI, 42.2 WAR
Career highlights: Four-time World Series champion (1986, 1996, 1998, 1999), NL Rookie of the Year (1983), eight-time All-Star (1984-91)
Bottom Line: Darryl Strawberry
We put a lot of pressure on young sports superstars, and a lot of that comes with comparisons we make between them and past greats. In Darryl Strawberry's case, the comparisons between himself and Ted Williams ratcheted up the expectations to an almost unbearable level.
Strawberry largely delivered on that promise early in his career until substance abuse issues derailed his career for a short time.
While Strawberry won three World Series titles with the Yankees in the 1990s, it's his time with the Mets in the 1980s that defined his career.
20. Jesse Barfield, Right Field
Born: Oct. 29, 1959 (Joliet, Illinois)
Years: 1981-92 (12 seasons)
Teams: Toronto Blue Jays (1981–89), New York Yankees (1989–92)
Stats: .256 BA, 1,428 G, 1,219 H, 241 HR, 716 RBI, 39.4 WAR
Career highlights: All-Star (1986), two Gold Gloves (1986, 1987), Silver Slugger Award (1986)
Bottom Line: Jesse Barfield
Every game Jesse Barfield played in during the 1980s was an adventure. You didn't know what was going to happen, but you knew it would be entertaining.
Barfield liked to swing for the fences, which meant a lot of home runs and a lot of pretty magnificent strikeouts. The real show was when Barfield was in the outfield. He had a cannon that is comparable with any great arm of any outfielder in MLB history.
How good? He led all American League outfielders in assists from 1985 to 1987.
19. John Candelaria, Left-Handed Pitcher
Born: Nov. 6, 1953 (Brooklyn, New York)
Years: 1975-93 (19 seasons)
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates (1975–85, 1993), California Angels (1985–87), New York Mets (1987), New York Yankees (1988–89), Montreal Expos (1989), Minnesota Twins (1990), Toronto Blue Jays (1990), Los Angeles Dodgers (1991–92)
Stats: 177-122 W-L, 29 saves, 3.33 ERA, 2,525.2 IP, 1,673 K
Career highlights: World Series champion (1979), All-Star (1977)
Bottom Line: John Candelaria
John Candelaria, aka "The Candy Man," was a major league mainstay for two decades with eight different teams. His backstory is something you probably couldn't come up with a team of Hollywood script doctors.
Candelaria, 6-foot-7, was a New York City prep basketball star who could've starred at any Division I powerhouse. Instead, he went and played professional basketball in Puerto Rico for two years before he returned to the U.S. to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Candelaria eventually pulled off a feat that likely never will be matched. He played for both New York teams (Mets and Yankees), both Los Angeles teams (Dodgers and Angels) and both Canadian teams (Blue Jays and Expos).
18. Will Clark, First Base
Born: March 13, 1964 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Years: 1986-2000 (15 seasons)
Teams: San Francisco Giants (1986–93), Texas Rangers (1994–98), Baltimore Orioles (1999–2000), St. Louis Cardinals (2000)
Stats: .303 BA, 1,976 G, 2,176 H, 284 HR, 1,205 RBI, 56.5 WAR
Career highlights: Six-time All-Star (1988-92, 1994), NLCS MVP (1989)
Bottom Line: Will Clark
Will Clark was nicknamed "Will the Thrill" for good reason. He first gained fame as a college superstar for Mississippi State in the 1980s, when he played alongside another future MLB star in Rafael Palmeiro.
It's not a stretch to say Clark was one of the best hitters in baseball starting from the moment he became an everyday player for the Giants in 1987, and it's also not a stretch to say Clark was one of baseball's most hated players in that same stretch. And he probably deserved it.
But hey, we need bad guys, too. It's not as much fun without them.
17. Willie McGee, Outfield
Born: March 21, 1963 (Brooklyn, New York)
Years: 1982-99 (18 seasons)
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals (1982–90), Oakland Athletics (1990), San Francisco Giants (1991–94), Boston Red Sox (1995), St. Louis Cardinals (1996–99)
Stats: .295 BA, 2,201 G, 2,254 H, 79 HR, 856 RBI, 34.2 WAR
Career highlights: World Series champion (1982), NL MVP (1985), four-time All-Star (1983, 1985, 1987, 1988)
Bottom Line: Willie McGee
Willie McGee was one of baseball's elite players through almost the entirety of the 1980s. Did you know he won a National League MVP award in 1985? He also was a three-time Gold Glove winner in the outfield, where he became known for his great catches.
The tragedy of McGee's career came with a blown call that cost the St. Louis Cardinals the 1985 World Series against the Kansas City Royals. But in the 1982 World Series, especially Game 3, you can see why McGee was so amazing — two home runs and a home-run saving catch that won the game for the Cardinals.
That was McGee's rookie season, and he played until 1999.
16. Mickey Tettleton, Catcher
Born: Sept. 16, 1960 (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
Years: 1984-97 (14 seasons)
Teams: Oakland Athletics (1984-87), Baltimore Orioles (1988-90), Detroit Tigers (1991-94), Texas Rangers (1995-97)
Stats: .241 BA, 1,485 G, 1,132 H, 245 HR, 732 RBI, 29.4 WAR
Career highlights: Two-time All-Star (1989, 1994), three-time Silver Slugger Award (1989, 1991, 1992), College World Series All-Tournament Team (1981)
Bottom Line: Mickey Tettleton
Mickey Tettleton had a great backstory — a kid from Oklahoma named after the state's greatest athlete, Mickey Mantle, who also made it to the majors. Templeton was born in Oklahoma City and helped lead Oklahoma State to the College World Series in 1981.
Tettleton was a true throwback player. He was known almost as much for the massive amount of chewing tobacco he could fit in his mouth at one time as for his patience at the plate and power hitting.
The latter helped him win three Silver Slugger Awards and make two All-Star teams.
15. Dave Stieb, Right-Handed Pitcher
Born: July 22, 1957 (Santa Ana, California)
Years: 1979-93, 1998 (17 seasons)
Teams: Toronto Blue Jays (1979-92, 1998), Chicago White Sox (1993)
Stats: 176-137 W-L, 3.44 ERA, 2,895.1 IP, 1,669 K
Career highlights: Seven-time All-Star (1980, 1981, 1983-85, 1988, 1990)
Bottom Line: Dave Stieb
Dave Stieb is a name lost on most of today's baseball fans, which is too bad. You can make an argument that he was one of the most dominant pitchers in the 1980s. Stieb won 140 games in the decade, which was the second-highest total behind Jack Morris.
The greatest pitcher in Blue Jays history, Stieb threw the only no-hitter in franchise history against the Cleveland Indians on Sept. 2, 1990.
One weird thing about Stieb is he was scouted as a left fielder, where he failed to impress, but caught the Blue Jays' eye with his performance as an emergency relief pitcher.
14. Chili Davis, Outfield/Designated Hitter
Born: Jan. 17, 1960 (Kingston, Jamaica)
Years: 1981-1999 (19 seasons)
Teams: San Francisco Giants (1981–1987), California Angels (1988–1990, 1993-1996), Minnesota Twins (1991–1992), Kansas City Royals (1997), New York Yankees (1998–1999)
Stats: .274 BA, 2,435 G, 2,380 H, 350 HR, 1,372 RBI, 38.3 WAR
Stats: W-L Record/Saves, ERA, K
Career highlights: Three-time World Series champion (1991, 1998, 1999), three-time All-Star (1984, 1986, 1994)
Bottom Line: Chili Davis
Chili Davis was dominant at times during the 1980s, and proved invaluable to a string of teams over his 19-year career thanks to his elite switch-hitting ability.
Davis was always playing for winners. He won three World Series rings and a handful of division titles outside of that.
How'd he get that nickname? Born Charles Theodore Davis in Jamaica, one bad haircut from his father led his friends to say his hair looked like a chili bowl had been placed on top of it, then cut around that.
13. Lee Smith, Right-Handed Pitcher
Born: Dec. 4, 1952 (Jamestown, Louisiana)
Years: 1980-97 (18 seasons)
Teams: Chicago Cubs (1980–87), Boston Red Sox (1988–90), St. Louis Cardinals (1990–93), New York Yankees (1993), Baltimore Orioles (1994), California Angels (1995–96), Cincinnati Reds (1996), Montreal Expos (1997)
Stats: 71-92 W-L, 478 saves, 3.03 ERA, 1,289.1 IP, 1,251 K
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (2019), seven-time All-Star (1983, 1987, 1991-95), three-time Relief Pitcher of the Year (1991, 1992, 1995)
Bottom Line: Lee Smith
Not too many pitchers in baseball history instilled as much fear in batters as Lee Smith. The 6-foot-6 former college basketball player seemed to play with a perpetual scowl.
As a relief pitcher, Smith had a low total of innings pitched, and that number was the imbecile's argument that kept him out of the Hall of Fame for almost two decades, despite being MLB's career saves leader from 1993 (he played until 1997) until fellow Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman broke the record in 2006.
He got the call to Coopertown in 2019, and he deserved it.
12. Wally Joyner, First Base
Born: June 16, 1962 (Atlanta, Georgia)
Years: 1986-2001 (16 seasons)
Teams: California Angels (1986-91), Kansas City Royals (1992-95), San Diego Padres (1996-99), Atlanta Braves (2000), Anaheim Angels (2001)
Stats: .289 BA, 2,033 G, 2,060 H, 204 HR, 1,106 RBI, 35.8 WAR
Career highlights: All-Star (1986), Home Run Derby champion (1986), AL West Division champion (1986), NL champion (1998)
Bottom Line: Wally Joyner
Wally Joyner took the major leagues by storm as a rookie in 1986, becoming the first player in MLB history to be voted an All-Star starter by the fans.
How amazing was that year for Joyner? Anaheim Stadium was dubbed "Wally World" at one point, he broke up two no-hitters with hits in the ninth inning and, most incredibly, led the Angels to within one stinking strike of making it to the World Series against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.
Since retirement, Joyner, a devout Mormon, has helped finance several Church of Latter-Day Saints-themed movies.
11. Jack Morris, Right-Handed Pitcher
Born: May 16, 1955 (Saint Paul, Minnesota)
Years: 1977-94 (18 seasons)
Teams: Detroit Tigers (1977-90), Minnesota Twins (1991), Toronto Blue Jays (1992-93), Cleveland Indians (1994)
Stats: 254-186 W-L, 3.90 ERA, 3,824 IP, 2,478 K
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (2018), four-time World Series champion (1984, 1991, 1992, 1993), World Series MVP (1991)
Bottom Line: Jack Morris
There were a lot of great baseball mustaches in the 1980s. Jack Morris is the GOAT. He also had a great agent and was the highest-paid MLB pitcher for four different seasons.
He's also an interesting case study on a player who should've been a Hall of Famer way before his actual induction. For that, Morris has no one to blame but himself.
His treatment of female reporters was abhorrent and likely led to him having to wait 24 years after his retirement before he was inducted, in 2018.
10. Robin Yount, Shortstop/Center Field
Born: Sept. 16, 1955 (Danville, Illinois)
Years: 1974-93 (20 seasons)
Teams: Milwaukee Brewers
Stats: .285 BA, 2,856 G, 3,142 H, 251 HR, 1,406 RBI, 77.3 WAR
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (1999), two-time AL MVP (1982, 1989)
Bottom Line: Robin Yount
Robin Yount's world-class, flowing blond mullet was only eclipsed by his once-in-a-generation baseball talent. A true prodigy, Yount was drafted No. 3 overall by the Brewers in 1973 at just 17 years old and was playing every day in the majors at 18.
Yount played a decade at shortstop before shoulder problems forced his move to the outfield, and you have to wonder what his career numbers would have been if he hadn't dealt with those injury issues.
Just to clarify, he was still a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
9. Jose Canseco, Outfield/Designated Hitter
Born: July 2, 1964 (Havana, Cuba)
Years: 1985-2001 (17 seasons)
Teams: Oakland Athletics (1985–92, 1997), Texas Rangers (1992–94), Boston Red Sox (1995–96), Toronto Blue Jays (1998), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1999–2000), New York Yankees (2000), Chicago White Sox (2001)
Stats: .266 BA, 1,887 G, 1,877 H, 462 HR, 1,407 RBI, 42.4 WAR
Career highlights: Two-time World Series champion (1989, 2000), AL MVP (1988), AL Rookie of the Year (1986)
Bottom Line: Jose Canseco
Most athletes don't get so famous that their fame extends beyond their playing career, for better or worse. But that is the case with Jose Canseco, who became a household name while playing for the Oakland Athletics in the late 1980s.
There wasn't much Canseco couldn't do on a baseball field. He was the first player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in 1988.
And there hasn't been much Canseco could do off of a baseball field that didn't draw attention to himself. The list of his transgressions and legal incidents might make a good movie one day.
8. Fred McGriff, First Base
Born: Oct. 31, 1963 (Tampa, Florida)
Years: 1986-2004 (19 seasons)
Teams: Toronto Blue Jays (1986–90), San Diego Padres (1991–93), Atlanta Braves (1993–97), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998–2001, 2004 ), Chicago Cubs (2001–02), Los Angeles Dodgers (2003)
Stats: .284 BA, 2,460 G, 2,490 H, 493 HR, 1,550 RBI, 52.6 WAR
Career highlights: World Series champion (1995), five-time All-Star (1992, 1994-96, 2000), three-time Silver Slugger Award (1989, 1992, 1993)
Bottom Line: Fred McGriff
Fred McGriff, aka the "Crime Dog," was a great player beginning in the 1980s, where he made his name while playing with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The thing McGriff really did well was hit for power, which he began doing from the moment Toronto put him in its starting lineup in 1986, the first of seven straight years he hit at least 30 home runs.
Those Tom Emanski baseball fundamentals commercials? They didn't start running until 1991.
7. Dan Quisenberrry, Right-Handed Pitcher
Born: February 7, 1953 (Santa Monica, California)
Died: Sept. 30. 1998 (Leawood, Kansas)
Years: 1979-90 (12 seasons)
Teams: Kansas City Royals (1979-88), St. Louis Cardinals (1988-89), San Francisco Giants (1990)
Stats: 56-46 W-L, 244 saves, 2.76 ERA, 1,043.1 IP, 379 K
Career highlights: World Series champion (1985), three-time All-Star (1982-84), five-time AL Relief Pitcher of the Year (1980, 1982-85)
Bottom Line: Dan Quisenberry
If you knew baseball in the 1980s, you knew the name Dan Quisenberry. He changed his throwing motion to the "submarine" style of pitching to compensate for a lack of velocity early in his career and became one of the most dominant relief pitchers ever.
Quisenberry remains one of the most beloved Royals and was as unique a person as he was a pitcher, publishing several books of poetry after his retirement in 1990.
Quisenberry died in 1998, of brain cancer, at just 45 years old.
6. Keith Hernandez, First Base
Born: Oct. 20, 1953 (San Francisco, California)
Years: 1974-90 (17 seasons)
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals (1974-83), New York Mets (1983-89), Cleveland Indians (1990)
Stats: .296 BA, 2,088 G, 2,182 H, 162 HR, 1,071 RBI, 60.3 WAR
Career highlights: Two-time World Series champion (1982, 1986), NL MVP (1979), 11 Gold Gloves (1978-88), five-time All-Star (1979, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1987)
Bottom Line: Keith Hernandez
There are a lot of great players and great mustaches (as we mentioned before) on this list. Keith Hernandez represents the best of both worlds.
One of the best Hall of Fame debates in recent memory centers around Hernandez, who seems like he should be a Hall of Famer on paper. So what's the holdup?
Baseball purists say it's his power numbers. First basemen traditionally are home run hitters, and Hernandez wasn't, clubbing only 162 round-trippers in his career.
Common sense also tells us that Hernandez's prolific use of cocaine throughout the 1980s (like everyone else in baseball) still is being held against him.
5. Don Mattingly, First Base
Born: April 20, 1961 (Evansville, Indiana)
Years: 1982-95 (14 seasons)
Teams: New York Yankees
Stats: .307 BA, 1,785 G, 2,153 H, 222 HR, 1,099 RBI, 42.4 WAR
Career highlights: AL MVP (1985), six-time All-Star (1984-89), nine Gold Gloves (1985-89, 1991-94)
Bottom Line: Don Mattingly
Only one player in New York Yankees history has had his number retired without winning a World Series — first baseman Don Mattingly.
"Donnie Baseball" helped define the 1980s as much as any MLB player. It's hard to explain to the modern baseball fan exactly how popular Mattingly was in the 1980s (he's featured in probably the most famous episode of "The Simpsons") and how sad it was to watch injuries decimate his career.
This leads us to the two big questions surrounding Mattingly. How did he hurt his back in the first place? And how many more seasons would he have had to play to become a Hall of Famer?
4. Gary Carter, Catcher
Born: April 8, 1954 (Culver City, California)
Died: Feb. 16, 2012 (Palm Beach Gardens, Florida)
Years: 1974-92 (19 seasons)
Teams: Montreal Expos (1974-84, 1992), New York Mets (1985-89), San Francisco Giants (1990), Los Angeles Dodgers (1991)
Stats: .262 BA, 2,298 G, 2,092 H, 324 HR, 1,275 RBI, 70.1 WAR
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (2003), World Series champion (1986), 11-time All-Star (1975, 1979-88), Roberto Clemente Award (1989)
Bottom Line: Gary Carter
Gary Carter was one of the most well-respected players to ever play in the majors — the captain of the 1986 World Series champion New York Mets and the first player inducted into the Hall of Fame as a member of the Montreal Expos.
Known as "The Kid" for his gregarious nature, Carter loathed cursing and actually invented the term "f-bomb."
Carter dedicated his post-career life to helping the less fortunate in Palm Beach County, Florida, and died of brain tumors in 2012.
3. Fernando Valenzuela, Left-Handed Pitcher
Born: Nov. 1, 1960 (Navojoa, Sonora, Mexico)
Years: 1980-92, 1993-97 (17 seasons)
Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (1980-90), California Angels (1991), Baltimore Orioles (1993), Philadelphia Phillies (1994), San Diego Padres (1995-97), St. Louis Cardinals (1997)
Stats: 173-153 W-L, 3.54 ERA, 2,074 K, 2,930 IP
Career highlights: NL Cy Young (1981), NL Rookie of the Year (1981), World Series champion (1981), six-time All-Star (1981-86)
Bottom Line: Fernando Valenzuela
No athlete in the history of professional sports ever had a year like Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela did in 1981.
That was the year "Fernandomania" took over the nation, with Valenzuela becoming the first player to win Rookie of the Year and Cy Young honors in the same year, and he capped it by helping the Dodgers win the World Series.
At a time when the most popular sport was baseball and nothing else was even close, he ruled over it as its king for a few awesome months.
2. Rickey Henderson, Left Field
Born: Dec. 25, 1958 (Chicago, Illinois)
Years: 1979-2003 (25 seasons)
Teams: Oakland Athletics (1979-84, 1994-95, 1998), New York Yankees (1985-89), Toronto Blue Jays (1993), San Diego Padres (1996-97), Anaheim Angels (1997), New York Mets (1999-2000), Seattle Mariners (2000), San Diego Padres (2001), Boston Red Sox (2002), Los Angeles Dodgers (2003)
Stats: .279 BA, 3,081 G, 3,055 H, 297 HR, 1,115 RBI, 111.2 WAR
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (2009), two-time World Series champion (1989, 1993), AL MVP (1990)
Bottom Line: Rickey Henderson
Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson was the greatest leadoff hitter and baserunner in MLB history and still holds the all-time major league record for stolen bases (1,406), runs (2,295) and leadoff home runs (81).
Henderson was as eccentric as he was electric, and his personality fascinated sports journalists and fans for the entirety of his career.
Henderson was famous for talking about himself in the third person, and Bill James was once famously asked if Henderson was a Hall of Famer. "If you split his career in two," James said. "You'd have two Hall of Famers."
James might be boring, but he's hardly wrong.
1. Tony Gwynn, Right Field
Born: May 9, 1960 (Los Angeles, California)
Died: June 16, 2014 (Poway, California)
Years: 1982-2001 (20 seasons)
Team: San Diego Padres
Stats: .338 BA, 2,440 G, 3,141 H, 135 HR, 1,138 RBI, 69.2 WAR
Career highlights: Baseball Hall of Fame (2007), 15-time All-Star (1985-87, 1989-99), five Gold Gloves (1986-87, 1989-91)
Bottom Line: Tony Gwynn
ESPN's Chris Berman once said Tony Gwynn's laugh was "the best thing I ever heard" while standing in the Padres' locker room.
How good was Gwynn? He won eight National League batting titles, tied for the most in history, never hit below .309 in a single season during his 20-year career and was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility with a whopping 97.6 percent of the vote.
How good of a guy was Gwynn? One of the best who ever played the game.
For more about the 1980s in baseball, visit SABR.