Introducing… Ron Cey

You wouldn’t think a ballplayer nicknamed The Penguin would be much of a defender, with the animal’s pronounced waddle and all, but Cey always had well-above average fielding percentages at the hot corner.  He does quite well when perusing all those new-fangled defensive stats I only have a casual interest in.  But Cey’s calling card was his power and walk-drawing abilities.  Good for 25-30 homers and a .370 on-base percentage during his heyday, Ron was a solid all-around hot corner custodian.

The Dodgers drafted Cey in 1968 and gave him his first look in the Majors in 1971.  When Steve Garvey failed to impress at third base, The Penguin was tried at the location and found quite suitable.  He finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting.  In 1974, Cey kicked off a six-year string of All-Star appearances for the Dodgers when he finished second to Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt in RBI among NL third basemen.  Throughout his career, Cey was always in Schmidt’s shadow.

1974 was also Cey’s first taste of postseason ball and he did quite well under the October spotlight.  He banged three doubles in the NLCS but had a more difficult time with A’s pitching in the World Series.  Although Ron drove in 97 runs in 1974 his 1975 season was his breakout campaign.  That year he was the only Major League third baseman to reach 100 RBI.  The Penguin also had the first of ten 20+ homerun seasons that year. 

Ron paced the Dodgers in homeruns in 1976 and the following year helped them reach the postseason again.  He blasted 30 homeruns, drew 93 walks, and led National League third basemen with 110 RBI.  A man who swats 30 homers and chases 110 mates across the plate is nice, but Cey’s cake came with icing too, indicated by his fielding percentage eight points above league average.  Like he did in ’74, Ron had a fine NLCS (he hit .308) but struggled in the Fall Classic, which the Dodgers dropped to the Yankees.

Cey led National League third basemen in homeruns and RBI in 1978.  His batting eye was also in top form as he walked as much as he struck out, with a fine .380 on-base percentage.  His Dodgers won the NL West flag again and like he did his previous trials in the postseason, he hit well in the NLCS (.313 batting average).  After two World Series losses in which his bat was kept quiet, Cey addressed his Fall Classic hitting woes and had a decent showing against the Yankees with a .286 mark, bus his Dodgers, for the third time during his tenure, lost the World Series.

The Dodgers had the luxury of a long-running infield of Garvey at first, Davey Lopes at second, Bill Russell at short and Cey at third.  In 1979, Cey, Garvey and Lopes all hit 28 homeruns.  Cey followed up that season with an equal 28 homerun campaign in 1980.  During the strike shortened 1981 season, Cey finally won his World Series ring as the Dodgers toppled the Yankees with The Penguin chipping in a .350 batting average and six RBI.

After a 24 HR/79 RBI season in 1982 the Dodgers made a poor trade when they shipped Ron off to the Cubs for two nondescript players.  In Wrigley, Cey led the Cubbies with 90 RBI his first year with the team.  His second year as a Cub, 1984, Cey led them to the postseason by pacing NL third basemen in doubles.  His last fling with postseason play came in the ’84 NLCS against the Padres where Ron blasted a homerun.

Ron tied with Tim Wallach for the most homeruns by an NL third baseman in 1985.  Had it not been for the strike shortened 1981 season, Cey would have had eleven consecutive years of 20+ homeruns.  1986 was Ron’s last good year as only he and Mike Schmidt slugged above .500 among NL third basemen.  After the season he was traded to the Oakland A’s for infielder Luis Quinones and he played one final season back in California before retiring.

THE NUMBERS

G 2,073/R 977/H 1,868/2B 328/3B 21/HR 316/RBI 1,139/BB 1,012/SO 1,235/SB 24/BA .261/SA .445/OBP .354

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1 comment
  1. brettkiser said:

    Measurements play against Ron Cey. His third base peers were guys like George Brett and Mike Schmidt, and Cey isn’t of the same claiber as those two HOF men. Brett was a .300 hitter and Schmidt has over 500 career long balls. What I find remarkable about Cey is that he had a solid career on-base percentage yet failed to reach 1,000 career runs scored in over 2,000 games. He must have been stranded more than a airline patron during a TWA strike.

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