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The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s: #4 Danny Darwin

Posted by Andy
Danny Darwin is best-remembered by many fans for 1 of 2 things: winning the 1990 ERA title despite making only 17 game starts or being the centerpiece of the White Sox's 1997 "surrender" trade, when they traded a package centered around Darwin at the deadline despite being only 3 games out of the division lead.

Although that trade netted Chicago Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, and a few other players, fans of the team were pretty angry that day.

Anyway, before Darwin's nice performance with the Astros, he put together a very solid decade in the 1980s that went pretty much unnoticed.





Over the 1980s, only 12 pitchers had at least 1500 innings pitched with at least a 110 ERA+:

Rk ERA+ IP GS GF Tm OPS
1 Bert Blyleven 113 2078.1 288 1 PIT-CLE-TOT-MIN-CAL .689
2 Mike Boddicker 110 1574.1 228 6 BAL-TOT-BOS .697
3 Danny Darwin 111 1663.1 184 127 TEX-MIL-TOT-HOU .684
4 Charlie Hough 112 2121.2 282 22 TOT-TEX .682
5 Rick Reuschel 113 1616.1 241 7 CHC-TOT-PIT-SFG .679
6 Nolan Ryan 111 2094.0 314 0 HOU-TEX .601
7 Mario Soto 111 1614.1 213 11 CIN .639
8 Dave Stieb 127 2328.2 331 4 TOR .659
9 John Tudor 124 1622.2 235 5 BOS-PIT-STL-TOT-LAD .676
10 Fernando Valenzuela 111 2144.2 287 5 LAD .646
11 Frank Viola 110 1858.0 271 0 MIN-TOT .719
12 Bob Welch 113 2082.1 311 0 LAD-OAK .658
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/11/2012.

Side note: neat to see two other guys from the countdown here--Soto and Stieb.

Darwin is probably the worst pitcher of this group, but that's still saying something as it's a select club.

Here's a different group of a dozen pitchers who were the only in the 1980s to have at least 3 seasons with 100 innings pitched and an ERA+ of 130:

Rk Yrs From To Age
1 Orel Hershiser 5 1984 1989 25-30 Ind. Seasons
2 Dan Quisenberry 5 1980 1985 27-32 Ind. Seasons
3 Roger Clemens 4 1986 1989 23-26 Ind. Seasons
4 Dave Stieb 4 1982 1985 24-27 Ind. Seasons
5 Bret Saberhagen 3 1985 1989 21-25 Ind. Seasons
6 Greg Harris 3 1985 1988 29-32 Ind. Seasons
7 Frank Viola 3 1984 1988 24-28 Ind. Seasons
8 Bert Blyleven 3 1984 1989 33-38 Ind. Seasons
9 Kent Tekulve 3 1982 1987 35-40 Ind. Seasons
10 Bob Stanley 3 1982 1988 27-33 Ind. Seasons
11 Dave Righetti 3 1981 1986 22-27 Ind. Seasons
12 Danny Darwin 3 1980 1989 24-33 Ind. Seasons
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/11/2012.

Darwin had a pretty good career in the 1980s, and then posted two different seasons with at least 5 WAR in the 1990s!

The card featured is from Upper Deck's first set in 1989--card #97. These Upper Deck cards were beautiful. The front had a simply & clean design, with an unobtrusive but cool feature resembling the first base line of a baseball diamond. The backs were sweet, featuring not only second photo but a very large photo at that. The only downside was the limited space for stats--but it's a reasonable trade-off, especially when compared to many the the 80s Fleer sets that simply left tons of blank space on the back.

Special note: this post features a hint about one of the 3 remaining players on the countdown, aside from the mention of Stieb who we already know will appear.

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