Tuesday, May 10, 2011

1974 Topps - Jim Spencer.

Jim Spencer, seen here on card number 580 of the 1974 Topps set, had a little bit of a problem in 1974. He was competing with Mike Hargrove, the eventual Rookie of the Year for playing time. The contest would not end in Spencer's favor. Two stints on the Disabled List for a total of 18 days didn't help his cause.

Not that Jim was a bad first baseman, in 1970 he had won a Gold Glove and in 1973 he had been an All-Star. In the 388.2 innings he played at first base in 1974 Jim's .998 fielding percentage was six points over the league average. In fact, Jim committed just one error in the field in 1974.

Where Spencer lost playing time to Hargrove was at the plate. Not enough to completely fall out of the lineup - he would get 53 starts at Designated Hitter. In his 384 trips to the plate he would post a .278 batting average and a .323 on-base percentage. He hit eleven doubles, four triples, and seven home runs.

None of these numbers were out of line for a normal year for Spencer but Hargrove had turned in a spectacular offensive performance. The result was a lot of DH'ing and backup duties for Jim. If he wanted to get first base back in 1975 he was in for a challenge. Health and increased offense would be where he needed to improve.

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