Introducing… Bobby Grich

This may be the only place that you’ll find Bobby Grich compared to actress Jennifer Connelly, but if you do see it elsewhere, remember, this site was the first.  Much like the raven haired thespian, who couples beauty with acting talent, Grich also coupled two attributes that don’t usually go together: good defense and power.  During the 1985 season, Bobby fielded his second base position at an unheard of .997 clip while also swatting thirteen homers.  Like Miss Connelly, Grich was an anomaly.

A first round pick by Baltimore in 1967, Grich made it to the Major Leagues in 1970 as a shortstop.  Oriole fans know that the shortstop post was handled capably by Mark Belanger, but given Mark’s deficiencies with the stick, Bobby began taking playing time away from the human vacuum cleaner in 1972 when Grich clubbed 12 homers – more than any other AL shortstop.

But defense was a cherished commodity in Baltimore, with the likes of Belanger and Brooks Robinson, so the Orioles converted Grich to a second baseman, thus giving them an infield where groundballs went to die.  In his first season as a regular second baseman, Bobby finished second in the AL with 107 walks.  One of Bobby’s trademarks was his fine batting eye which enabled him to post fine on-base percentages.  One of his other trademarks was his steady defense.  He won the first of four straight Gold Glove Awards in ’73 and would have won more had he not played in the same league as Kansas City’s groundball sponge Frank White.

Bobby made his second All-Star appearance in 1974 when he led AL second basemen in homeruns, RBI, runs scored and walks.  The Orioles, with their exceptional defense, won their division and took on Oakland in the ALCS.  Baltimore fell to the A’s, but Bobby swatted his first postseason homerun.  The next year, Bobby was the only middle infielder in the junior circuit to walk over 100 times. 

Grich began a string of seven straight seasons in 1976 in which his fielding average exceeded .980.  Also, Bobby kept swatting the ball with power rarely seen by a slick fielding infielder.  He was the only AL second baseman to post a double-digit homerun total during the ’76 campaign, while being the lone second baseman to slug over .400.

Bobby’s fine power and exceptional fielding made him a cherished commodity when free agency was in full swing in 1977.  The California Angels paid top dollar for Grich but they didn’t benefit from the spending initially.  Bobby missed most of the ’77 season to injury and struggled through a 1978 season. 

He rebounded greatly in 1979, as the Angels cashed in on their free agent spending.  Bobby posted numbers usually put up by slugging first basemen or corner outfielders when he socked 30 homeruns and reached 101 RBI – stats that easily eclipsed his position peers.  He slugged for a mighty .537 average (the only 2B in the Majors to eclipse .500).  He followed up that season by being named to his fifth All-Star team and then had a terrific 1981 season.

During the strike shortened 1981 campaign, Grich led the AL in homeruns and slugging percentage.  Still solid with the leather, he fielded his position at a .983 clip while turning 85 double plays in the truncated season.  Continuing his long ball swatting, Bobby led all second basemen with 19 long balls in ’82 and topped his position peers with a .460 slugging average in 1983.

Bobby clubbed 18 homeruns in 1984 and added another 13 to his career total in ’85, the season in which he posted a remarkable .997 fielding average.  He played one final season with the Angels in 1986, playing his last games in that season’s ALCS.

THE NUMBERS

G 2,008/R 1,033/H 1,833/2B 320/3B 47/HR 224/RBI 864/BB 1,087/SO ,1278/SB 104/BA .266/SA .424

RHEAV191www.playle.com

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1 comment
  1. brettkiser said:

    More steady than spectacular on the field, Grich rests in the Top 20 in career putouts and assists at the second base position. He set the bar high with a record .997 fielding percenatge in 1985 as HOF glove man Bill Mazeroski’s highest single season fielding percenatge was .992. Grich also brought power to the position (he led the AL in homeruns in ’81), so when you couple his strength with the bat with his stellar leather, you get a guy with more value than Maz. Grich’s HOF chances are below average.

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