One of the top second basemen of the 1970s, Cash was an underrated performer who did a number of things well on the ball diamond. Dave was a gifted batsman who made contact and rarely struck out. The middle infielder also possessed above average speed and was a terrific defender at second. As the successor to Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski, Cash had a lot to live up to but he reached his potential in Philadelphia after the Pirates failed to keep him around.
Originally drafted by the Pirates in 1966 out of a Utica, NY high school, Cash worked his way up the organizational ladder at a modest clip since Maz was still in town. Pittsburgh gave him his first trial in the Majors in 1969 with a brief promotion and gave him more work the following season. Danny Murtaugh led the Bucs to an NL East title in 1970. Mazeroski was still the main second baseman but his hitting, which was never much to brag about to begin with, was becoming more a liability in his thirties. Maz hit a hair above .220 that year while Cash was a .300 hitter. Murtaugh gave them both playing time in the NLCS but the Pirates lost to the Reds.
Cash took over second base in 1971 and hit .289 for the Pirates, who, again captured their divisional flag. Red hot in the NLCS, Dave hit Giants pitchers at a .429 clip but was stymied by the Orioles stellar pitching staff in the World Series. Despite his weak Fall Classic showing, Pittsburgh still won the title–Dave’s only World Series win. Limited to 97 games in 1972, Dave fielded second base like Mazeroski with an astounding .992 fielding percentage. But when he regressed in 1973 the Pirates made a foolish trade. They shipped Dave off to Philadelphia for George Brett’s journeyman brother Ken. In three years with the Phillies, Cash was an All-Star each season.
Dave enjoyed his breakout year in 1976 when he banged out 206 base hits (2nd in the NL) and topped second basemen in assists. Even better the following year, Dave led the NL with 213 hits on a .305 batting average. He scored 111 runs as he made his second All-Star squad. He also legged out 40 doubles and topped NL second basemen with 400 putouts. The Phillies would capture their division in ’76 as Dave led the league in triples. He honed his batting eye to perfection as he fanned a Joe Sewell like 13 times in 666 at-bats–or once every 51.2 plate appearances (easily the best rate in the league). From 1976 to ’78, Cash was the most difficult man to strikeout in the National League. That ’76 season Dave led 2B in fielding percentage and hit above .300 in the NLCS but his Phillies were swept by the Reds.
After three consecutive All-Star seasons in his three years in Philadelphia, Cash tested the free agent market and signed on with the doormat Montreal Expos. In his first year north of the border, Dave posted 188 base hits. The following year his bat went south but he led NL second basemen in both fielding percentage and putouts. In 1979 he hit a robust .321–his personal high–but missed plenty action. The Expos traded him to the Padres for infielder Bill Almon and Dan Briggs and Cash spent one final season in the Majors with San Diego.
G 1,422/R 732/H 1,571/2B 243/3B 56/HR 21/RBI 426/SB 120/BB 424/SO 309/BA .283/OBP .334/SA .358