Tuesday, April 19, 2016

1980 Topps - Mickey Rivers.

Well, with the rain out on Sunday and the day off yesterday, there isn't much current Rangers news to talk about today. The club did announce a two-year extension for third baseman Adrian Beltre. That's good news for sure but I would prefer to save my Beltre cards to post when the team is playing.

Going to take the down time to knock out another card in the 1980 Topps set, number 485 today. Mickey Rivers came to Texas in a mid-season trade on July 30, 1979. The Rangers sent Oscar Gamble to the Yankees in return. Several minor leaguers also went back and forth between the two clubs as part of the trade.

Nailing down the center field job in 1980, Rivers would appear in 147 games for the Rangers. He played center field (his only defensive position in 1980) in 141 of those games and served as the designated hitter in four more. The remaining appearances were pinch-hitting assignments. In the 1200 innings Mickey played in center he would lead the American League with eight errors. That left his fielding percentage at .979, four points lower than the league average. While Rivers might have led the league in center field errors, he also led the league in double plays turned from center field with four.

Making 661 trips to the plate for the Rangers, Mickey posted a .333 batting average (team best and fourth in the AL) and a .353 on-base percentage. He struck out more than he walked - 34 whiffs compared to 20 walks but his 210 hits led the team and were third best in the American League. He scored 96 runs while bumping in 60 RBI. Rivers had a little power as well, he knocked 32 doubles, six triples, and seven home runs. He also had a little quick left in him as he stole 18 bases while getting caught just seven times.

All in all, 1980 was just the sort of season the Rangers wanted to see out of Mickey Rivers. Mick didn't have to carry the weight as a lead-off hitter anymore, Bump Wills had that covered, but the team wanted him to be able to provide some speed and power at the top end of the lineup. He did that admirably and looked to continue as the Rangers center fielder in 1981.

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