Tuesday, May 21, 2013
1977 Topps - Juan Beniquez.
Juan Beniquez, shown here on card number 81, had done well in 1976 with the Rangers. His defense was especially good. He needed to improve on his offense a bit going into 1977.
Functioning primarily as the team's center fielder Juan played in just 123 games due to missing about a month of the season with a hamstring problem. He was still able to get 478 plate appearances.
In those appearances he compiled a .269 batting average and a .336 on-base percentage. Both were small improvements from the previous season. The long ball is where Beniquez showed the most improvement at the plate. In 1976 he had none, in 1977 he sent ten balls over the fence. Combine that with his 19 doubles and three triples and his slugging percentage made a large jump up. Probably due in part to the hamstring injury, Juan slowed some on the base paths. He stole 26 bases, nine more than the previous season, but also got caught 18 times, 12 more than the previous season.
It was more of the same excellence in the outfield for Beniquez. In 1060.1 innings he made just four errors and posted a .988 fielding percentage. Both were an improvement from the year before and both were much better than the league averages. His outfield assists dropped to nine on the season but that was probably partly due to runners deciding not to challenge his arm.
Base runners weren't the only ones who noticed Juan's outfield performance. He was awarded a Gold Glove for his 1977 campaign.
Fewer times caught stealing would be nice but Juan Beniquez seemed to be moving in the right direction. He defense was holding steady and he was improving on offense. He just needed to keep the train moving in the right direction in 1978.