Introducing… Gary Matthews

A former first round pick by the San Francisco Giants in 1968, Sarge was a top round selection that made good.  In 1973, he beat out Montreal Expos hurler Steve Rogers for the National League Rookie of the Year Award.  Matthews, always a fine on-base percentage guy throughout his career, led the NL in on-base percentage in 1984 with a lofty .410 mark. 

Sarge put together a sensational freshman campaign by hitting an even .300 for the Giants.  He posted double-digit totals in all the extra-base hit departments and finished the season as the senior circuit’s Rookie of the Year.  Just as good his sophomore season, most of Sarge’s stats were in close proximity to his freshman marks.  He missed some time in 1975 with injury but bounced back to post his first 20 homer season in 1976.

Matthews had a fine offensive line of 20 HR/84 RBI/.359 OBP in ’76.  Granted free agency after the season, Gary signed on with the Atlanta Braves.  His slugging average rose to a then high of .462 in 1978 but he was even better in ’79.  Sarge, who played most of his games in right field in ’79, finished second in hits among National League right fielders that season.  He reached his highwater marks with 27 homeruns and 90 RBI that season.

When his numbers dipped slighty in 1980 the Braves shipped Sarge off to the defending World Champion Phillies for hurler Bob Walk.  He hit .301 in the strike shortened ’81 campaign and then had one of his finest seasons in 1982.  Sarge showed his military-like discipline that year by playing in every game with the Phillies.  He was the only National League outfielder that year to reach 30 doubles and 15 homeruns. 

Sarge’s finest hour came in the 1983 postseason when he lit up Dodgers pitching in the NLCS.  In just four NLCS games, Sarge blasted three homeruns, drove in eight runs and slugged at an otherworldly clip of 1.071.  He almost single-handedly led the Phillies to the 1983 World Series where they were beat by the Orioles.  Postseason heroics aside, the Phillies traded Sarge before the ’84 season with fleet outfielder Bob Dernier to the Cubs for fireman Bill Campbell and positionless slugger Mike Diaz. 

Matthews enjoyed arguably his best year his first season in Wrigley Field.  The veteran outfielder paced the National League in walks and on-base percentage while leading National League corner outfielders in runs scored.  In that year’s NLCS against the Padres, Sarge clubbed a pair of homeruns giving him a grand total of seven long balls in 19 postseason games.  Sarge’s numbers dipped drastically in 1985 but he righted his ship for one last fine season in 1986.  That year, Sarge had his last 20-homerun season.  He split the 1987 season between the Cubs and Mariners.  It was his last year in the Majors.

THE NUMBERS

G2,033/R 1,083/H 2,011/2B 319/3B 51/HR 234/RBI 978/BB 940/SO 1,125/SB 183/BA .281/SA .439/OBP .364

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1 comment
  1. brettkiser said:

    I always thought Matthews was an underrated player since he had terrific on-base skills and was able to hit homeruns and steal the occasional base. He did all things well but didn’t excel in too many departments. Voters seem to like their men excellent in some facet of the game and not good in everything. Matthews’ HOF chances are weak.

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