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Dave Winfield

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David Mark Winfield

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2001

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[edit] Biographical Information

1974 Topps
" . . . a true five-tool athlete . . . a complete player . . ." - from the page about Dave Winfield at the Hall of Fame website

Dave Winfield never won an MVP award, and never led the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, doubles, triples, or runs scored, but he had a long, successful career with over 3,100 hits and more than 1,800 RBI. The most similar player by the similarity scores method is his contemporary Eddie Murray, who also had 3,000 hits and around 500 home runs. Winfield's career was characterised by movement: he is the only player in the 3000-hit club who had fewer than 1500 hits for each of the teams that he played for.

Winfield and Omar Minaya in Ghana.

Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 1973 amateur draft, Dave Winfield was also drafted by the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA, the Utah Stars of the ABA, and the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL following a standout collegiate career at the University of Minnesota. He never played a game in the minor leagues in a 22-season professional career. He was the best player on very weak Padre teams from 1973 to 1980 (only the 1978 edition of the team finished over .500 during that span). In 1979, he managed to lead the National League in RBI in spite of the fact that "he had no one to hit in front of him or behind him", as one sportswriter famously put it at the time. He made the All-Star team every year from 1977 to 1988 and did so on merit, as his lowest OPS+ during the stretch was a 116 in 1987.

On December 15, 1980, Winfield signed a record 10-year, $23 million contract with the New York Yankees. It was the longest and richest contract at the time. However, after a solid strike-shortened season in 1981, he had a terrible World Series, going 1 for 22 as the Yankees lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games, prompting Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to call him sarcastically Mr. May, in a demeaning comparison with superstar Reggie Jackson who always seemed to save his best performances for the limelight. The Yankees went into a downward cycle after Winfield's arrival, in spite of his own contributions, and he was considered a disappointment by many fans although his performance in pinstripes was always outstanding. This included a career-high 37 home runs in 1982, a .340 batting average in 1984, and six seasons of 100 or more RBIs in seven years from 1982 to 1988 (he fell short by three in 1987). Yet, the home-grown Don Mattingly emerged as the favorite of Yankee fans during those years, in a situation that would foreshadow that of Alex Rodriguez two decades later.

In 1983, in a widely-publicized incident, Winfield was arrested in Toronto for killing a seagull with a throw while warming up in the outfield. He was later exonerated of his "crime". He missed the entire 1989 season due to injury, then came back as strong as ever in 1990, winning the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award after being traded to the California Angels for Mike Witt on May 11. In 1992, he became the oldest player to drive in over 100 runs in a season as the designated hitter for the Toronto Blue Jays, then avenged his 1981 World Series performance by providing some key hits in Toronto's triumph over the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.

After the 1992 season, Winfield left Toronto for the Minnesota Twins as he wanted to collect his 3000th hit and finish his career by playing for his hometown team. He reached the first goal late in the 1993 season, and was still a productive hitter when the strike cut off the 1994 season. With the Twins going nowhere, he signed with the Cleveland Indians for one last shot at the post-season in 1995, but he was 43 years old by then and only hit .191 with no power in 46 games; he was not used in the post-season and retired.

Winfield and Donald Rumsfeld in 2005

Winfield was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 16, 2001 by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

In retirement, he worked in the front office of the San Diego Padres, holding the title of Executive Vice-President and senior adviser, and as a spring training instructor. In December of 2013, he joined the staff of the Major League Baseball Players Association as deputy to new executive director Tony Clark.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 12-time All-Star (1977-1988)
  • 7-time Gold Glove Winner (1979-1980/NL, 1982-1985/AL & 1987/AL)
  • 6-time AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1981-1985/OF & 1992/DH)
  • 1990 AL Comeback Player of the Year Award
  • NL Total Bases Leader (1979)
  • NL RBI Leader (1979)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 15 (1974, 1977-1980, 1982, 1983, 1985-1988 & 1990-1993)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1979, 1982 & 1983)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 8 (1979, 1982-1986, 1988 & 1992)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (1977, 1984 & 1985)
  • Won a World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 2001

[edit] Further Reading

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