Great platoons:  1966-1978

In our two previous chapters of this series, we discovered the birth of Great Platoons early in the 20th century, and then found them blossoming as never before in the 1950s and early 1960s. As we rejoin the parade, we see the incidence of Great Platoons not slackening in the least.

As a reminder, here are the criteria for inclusion:

- The platoon must have been entirely or significantly structured upon the left-right-batting basis.

- Both platoon partners must have hit well, not just one.

- We’re concerning ourselves only with offensive production, not defense or baserunning.

Something to remember as we proceed is this: Most pitchers are righthanded, usually by around two-thirds to one-third. So the signature aspect of the most strict left-right platoon partnership is that the lefthanded batter will get around twice as many plate appearances as the righthanded batter, give or take for particular circumstances.

1966 Baltimore Orioles: Center field

Manager Hank Bauer alternated line drive-hitting Russ Snyder and defensive whiz Paul Blair on a largely left-right basis in center field, as the Orioles cruised to an easy pennant and World Series sweep.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Russ Snyder      L   117  373   66  114   21    5    3   41   38   37 .306 .368 .413   127
Paul Blair       R   133  303   35   84   20    2    6   33   15   36 .277 .309 .416   109
Total                     676  101  198   41    7    9   74   53   73 .293 .345 .414   120

1966 Los Angeles Dodgers: Right field-left field

Baltimore’s World Series opponent also enjoyed a highly effective plaroon in the outfield. Tommy Davis, returning from his compound ankle fracture of 1965, was eased back into the lineup by manager Walt Alston on a platoon basis. Generally, against left-handers, Davis played left field, everyday regular Lou Johnson moved from left to right, and right fielder Ron Fairly sat down.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Ron Fairly       L   117  351   53  101   20    0   14   61   52   38 .288 .380 .464   142
Tommy Davis      R   100  313   27   98   11    1    3   27   16   36 .313 .345 .383   110
Total                     664   80  199   31    1   17   88   68   74 .300 .365 .426   130

1966 Houston Astros: Left field-right field

The ultra-toolsy Dave Nicholson was one of the most notorious busts of the 1960s, failing to live up to the ballyhoo surrounding his lavish bonus. Mostly he was noted for prodigious strikeout totals. But here, paired by Houston manager Grady Hatton with ever-dependable platoon specialist Lee Maye, Nicholson delivered solid production. The arrangement was the mirror image of that deployed by the Dodgers in ’66: For the Astros, Nicholson played right field against southpaws, with regular right fielder Rusty Staub sliding over to left, and Maye cooling his heels in the dugout.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Lee Maye         L   115  358   38  103   12    4    9   36   20   26 .288 .323 .419   111
Dave Nicholson   R   100  280   36   69    8    4   10   31   46   92 .246 .356 .411   120
Total                     638   74  172   20    8   19   67   66  118 .270 .339 .415   115

1966 California Angels: First base

Norm Siebern at the front end of this all-veteran platoon was nothing special, but the 38-year-old Joe Adcock was just so spectacular in his final season that we have to include them. Angels manager Bill Rigney got the most out of both of these former stars.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Norm Siebern     L   125  336   29   83   14    1    5   41   63   61 .247 .361 .339   106
Joe Adcock       R    83  231   33   63   10    3   18   48   31   48 .273 .355 .576   167
Total                     567   62  146   24    4   23   89   94  109 .257 .359 .436   137

1967 California Angels: Right field

Here, Rigney sagely paired Jimmie Hall, a talented power hitter who was rapidly breaking down, with Bubba Morton, a 35-year-old longtime minor leaguer. This was a remarkably strict left-right platoon: Hall took just 41 at-bats against left-handers (in which he managed just four hits), and Morton got only 66 ABs against righties.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Jimmie Hall      L   129  401   54  100    8    3   16   55   42   65 .249 .318 .404   117
Bubba Morton     R    80  201   23   63    9    3    0   32   22   29 .313 .387 .388   134
Total                     602   77  163   17    6   16   87   64   94 .271 .344 .399   123

1966-67-68 Cleveland Indians: Catcher

This wasn’t a pure left-right setup, as Joe Azcue was superior defensively to the power-hitting Duke Sims and took many of the starts against right-handers. Though the raw numbers producced by this duo were washed out by the extreme low-scoring conditions of those seasons, it was one of the most productive platoon catching combinations in history. The 1968 line we see from Sims is only what he produced while in the lineup at catcher; he also played quite a bit of first base that season.

1966:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Joe Azcue        R    98  302   22   83   10    1    9   37   20   22 .275 .319 .404   107
Duke Sims        L    52  133   12   35    2    2    6   19   11   31 .263 .338 .444   123
Total                     435   34  118   12    3   15   56   31   53 .271 .325 .416   112

1967:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Joe Azcue        R    86  295   33   74   12    5   11   34   22   35 .251 .307 .437   117
Duke Sims        L    88  272   25   55    8    2   12   37   30   64 .202 .294 .379    97
Total                     567   58  129   20    7   23   71   52   99 .228 .301 .409   108

1968:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Joe Azcue        R   115  357   23  100   10    0    4   42   28   33 .280 .331 .342   106
Duke Sims        L    78  240   32   59   18    0    7   27   38   50 .246 .359 .408   134
Total                     597   55  159   28    0   11   69   66   83 .266 .343 .369   119

1968-69-70-71 Baltimore Orioles: Catcher

This combination, devised and consistently maintained by Earl Weaver, wasn’t exactly great, but it was certainly quite effective. It was an excellent example of a platoon solution delivering genuine greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts results. Both Ellie Hendricks and Andy Etchebarren had fairly significant flaws, but were able to complement one another nicely and together make a solid contribution to a highly successful team over an extended period.

1968:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Ellie Hendricks  L    79  183   19   37    8    1    7   23   19   51 .202 .279 .372    96
Andy Etchebarren R    74  189   20   44   11    2    5   20   19   46 .233 .311 .392   113
Total                     372   39   81   19    3   12   43   38   97 .218 .296 .382   105

1969:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Ellie Hendricks  L   105  295   36   72    5    0   12   38   39   44 .244 .333 .383   100
Andy Etchebarren R    73  217   29   54    9    2    3   26   28   42 .249 .350 .350    96
Total                     512   65  126   14    2   15   64   67   86 .246 .340 .369    98

1970:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Ellie Hendricks  L   106  322   32   78    9    0   12   41   33   44 .242 .317 .382    92
Andy Etchebarren R    78  230   19   56   10    1    4   28   21   41 .243 .313 .348    82
Total                     552   51  134   19    1   16   69   54   85 .243 .315 .368    88

1971:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Ellie Hendricks  L   101  316   33   79   14    1    9   42   39   38 .250 .334 .386   105
Andy Etchebarren R    70  222   21   60    8    0    9   29   16   40 .270 .321 .428   112
Total                     538   54  139   22    1   18   71   55   78 .258 .329 .403   108

1968-69-70 Washington Senators: First base-left field

The arrangement here, under managers Jim Lemon in 1968 and Ted Williams in ’69 and ’70, was that the Senators’ great slugger Frank Howard played every day. Hondo started in left field against right-handers, with “Superjew” Mike Epstein playing first base, and Howard moved to first against southpaws, with Brant Alyea taking the start in the outfield in ’68 and ’69, and Rick Reichardt taking over that role in 1970. In each arrangement, they delivered a whole lotta thump.

1968:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Mike Epstein     L   123  385   40   90    8    2   13   33   48   91 .234 .338 .366   117
Brant Alyea      R    53  150   18   40   11    1    6   23   10   39 .267 .317 .473   141
Total                     535   58  130   19    3   19   56   58  130 .243 .333 .396   124

1969:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Mike Epstein     L   131  403   73  112   18    1   30   85   85   99 .278 .414 .551   175
Brant Alyea      R   104  237   29   59    4    0   11   40   34   67 .249 .341 .405   113
Total                     640  102  171   22    1   41  125  119  166 .267 .391 .497   159

1970:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Mike Epstein     L   140  430   55  110   15    3   20   56   73  117 .256 .371 .444   129
Rick Reichardt   R    78  240   38   63   13    2   12   39   19   56 .263 .363 .483   137
Total                     670   93  173   28    5   32   95   92  173 .258 .368 .458   132

1971 Oakland Athletics: First base

In May of 1971, the Senators traded Epstein to the A’s for Don Mincher; each performed splendidly in Oakland for manager Dick Williams in a platoon arrangement with the veteran line-drive-hitter Davis.

In Washington, the Howard-from-left-to-first shuttle was maintained, and Mincher hit well in Epstein’s place. But the right-handed-hitting outfielders Ted Williams deployed in the Alyea-Reichardt role didn’t deliver nearly as well in 1971.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Don Mincher      L    28   92    9   22    6    1    2    8   20   14 .239 .375 .391   120
Mike Epstein     L   104  329   43   77   13    0   18   51   62   71 .234 .368 .438   130
Tommy Davis      R    79  219   26   71    8    1    3   42   15   19 .324 .363 .411   121
Total                     640   78  170   27    2   23  101   97  104 .266 .368 .422   126

1970 Chicago White Sox: Catcher

A one-year wonder, as neither Ed Herrmann nor Duane Josephson was really this good a hitter. However, the happy coincidence of their pan flashes provided an otherwise dismal White Sox season with one bright spot.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Ed Herrmann      L    96  297   42   84    9    0   19   52   31   41 .283 .356 .505   132
Duane Josephson  R    96  285   28   90   12    1    4   41   24   28 .316 .370 .407   111
Total                     582   70  174   21    1   23   93   55   69 .299 .363 .457   123

1970 Cincinnati Reds: Left field

To be fair, Hal McRae’s rookie-year performance here doesn’t really meet our criterion of above-average offensive performance: An OPS+ of 101 from a left fielder isn’t much. But, hey, the performance by fellow rookie Bernie Carbo as his platoon partner was so phenomenal that rookie manager Sparky Anderson’s platoon is included.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Bernie Carbo     L   125  365   54  113   19    3   21   63   94   77 .310 .454 .551   169
Hal McRae        R    70  165   18   41    6    1    8   23   15   23 .248 .313 .442   101
Total                     530   72  154   25    4   29   86  109  100 .291 .424 .517   156

1970 Pittsburgh Pirates: Third base

Richie Hebner wasn’t much of a defensive third baseman, but he was one helluva hitter, and several Pirate managers got terrific mileage out of him, frequently in a platoon pattern. They paired him for several years with the veteran utility infielder Jose Pagan, whom we see here with the stats he compiled while playing third in 1970.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Richie Hebner    L   120  420   60  122   24    8   11   46   42   48 .290 .362 .464   122
Jose Pagan       R    51  186   18   50   12    1    7   23   14   15 .269 .318 .457   107
Total                     606   78  172   36    9   18   69   56   63 .284 .350 .462   118

1971 Los Angeles Dodgers: Left field

Alston was a master of complex platooning schemes through his long and extraordinarily impressive tenure with the Dodgers. Here we see one that was rather straightforward but darn effective, partnering the toolsy former Bonus Baby Willie Crawford with the he-could-just-flat-out-hit veteran Manny Mota.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Willie Crawford  L   114  342   64   96   16    6    9   40   28   49 .281 .334 .442   124
Manny Mota       R    91  269   24   84   13    5    0   34   20   20 .312 .361 .398   121
Total                     611   88  180   29   11    9   74   48   69 .295 .346 .422   123

1971 Montreal Expos: Center field

Gene Mauch was an exceptionally good manager, and this is an illustration of his capacity to make the most of meager resources. Neither Boots Day nor Ron Woods was an acceptable regular major league center fielder, yet paired in this manner in 1971 they produced wonderfully: A 107 OPS+ in center field is quite good.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Boots Day        L   127  371   53  105   10    2    4   33   33   39 .283 .342 .353    98
Ron Woods        R    51  138   26   41    7    3    1   17   19   18 .297 .382 .413   126
Total                     509   79  146   17    5    5   50   52   57 .287 .354 .369   107

1971 Detroit Tigers: Left field

Not a strict left-right deal, obviously, but something quite like one of the arrangements we saw last time: the Giants’ left field deployment of Monte Irvin and Dusty Rhodes in 1953-54, under Leo Durocher. Indeed, Rhodes and Gates Brown were extraordinarily similar talents—not good enough with the glove to merit first-string status, but too exceptional with the bat to be relegated strictly to pinch-hitting. Just as Irvin was positioned ahead of Rhodes, manager Billy Martin had Willie Horton as nominally the regular here, but Brown found his way into a lot of the starts against right-handers. Either way, opposing pitchers were vexed.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Willie Horton    R   119  450   64  130   25    1   22   72   37   75 .289 .349 .496   134
Gates Brown      L    82  195   37   66    2    3   11   29   21   17 .338 .408 .549   165
Total                     645  101  196   27    4   33  101   58   92 .304 .369 .512   145

1971-72 Detroit Tigers: Second base

Dick McAuliffe and Tony Taylor both had been excellent infielders for a long time, and in this period Billy Martin did a masterful job of getting optimal mileage out of both in their decline phases.

1971:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Dick McAuliffe   L   128  477   67   99   16    6   18   57   53   67 .208 .293 .379    87
Tony Taylor      R    55  181   27   52   10    2    3   19   12   11 .287 .335 .414   108
Total                     658   94  151   26    8   21   76   65   78 .229 .305 .389    94

1972:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Dick McAuliffe   L   122  408   47   98   16    3    8   30   59   59 .240 .339 .353   104
Tony Taylor      R    78  228   33   69   12    4    1   20   14   34 .303 .346 .404   120
Total                     636   80  167   28    7    9   50   73   93 .263 .341 .371   110

1972 Pittsburgh Pirates: Left field

The Pirates’ offense in this period just overwhelmed opponents with depth. They had the big stars (Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente), and they had the next-tier stars (Manny Sanguillen and Al Oliver). But they maximally leveraged the impact of their big guns with exquisite use of role players, as we see here, with veteran Vic Davalillo and youngster Gene Clines.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Vic Davalillo    L   117  368   59  117   19    2    4   28   26   44 .318 .367 .413   124
Gene Clines      R   107  311   52  104   15    6    0   17   16   47 .334 .369 .421   127
Total                     679  111  221   34    8    4   45   42   91 .325 .368 .417   125

1972 New York Yankees: First base

Ron “Boomer” Blomberg couldn’t do anything but hit, but he could really, really hit. His career was cut short way too soon with injuries, but for a while there, few swung the bat any better from the left side. Here Ralph Houk deftly paired him with the veteran Felipe Alou.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Ron Blomberg     L   107  299   36   80   22    1   14   49   38   26 .268 .355 .488   153
Felipe Alou      R    80  244   27   66   15    1    5   26   15   21 .270 .313 .402   115
Total                     543   63  146   37    2   19   75   53   47 .269 .338 .449   139

1972 Milwaukee Brewers: Right field

If these raw numbers don’t grab you, bear in mind that in the 1972 American League the average team scored 3.47 runs per game. Journeyman Joe Lahoud nicely combined with Ollie Brown as the latter settled in to the role-player phase of his career.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Joe Lahoud       L   111  316   35   75    9    3   12   34   45   54 .237 .331 .399   119
Ollie Brown      R    66  179   21   50    8    0    3   25   17   24 .279 .342 .374   115
Total                     495   56  125   17    3   15   59   62   78 .253 .335 .390   118

1973 Baltimore Orioles: Left field-right field

Earl Weaver is rivaled by only a few managers in history—Casey Stengel and Walt Alston come to mind, but there sure aren’t many—in his genius for recognizing and adroitly mixing diverse talents. This example wasn’t a straightforward left-right platoon, though clearly that was much of the basis upon which Weaver juggled these four. Each did some other work in different capacities, but we see here the sweet lines Don Baylor, Merv Rettenmund and rookies Al Bumbry and Rich Coggins compiled while playing left and right field.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Don Baylor       R   102  369   61  107   20    4   11   46   34   43 .290 .354 .455   128
Merv Rettenmund  R    88  307   56   79   16    2    9   42   51   37 .257 .368 .410   121
Al Bumbry        L    89  315   65  104   14    8    7   31   31   45 .319 .392 .492   149
Rich Coggins     L    74  238   35   80   15    5    4   21   14    9 .336 .370 .492   143
Total/2                   615  109  185   33   10   16   70   65   67 .301 .371 .461   135

1974 Texas Rangers: First base

Martin had each of Mike Hargrove, Jim Spencer and Jim Fregosi doing something else as well that year, but when deployed at first base they were neatly woven into a seamless platoon. The lines we see here are what each compiled while playing first.

This was just one of many improvements Martin engineered with the ’74 Rangers, who jumped to 84-76 after going 57-105 in 1973, sans Billy. For Martin, managing team number three in just his fifth managerial season, it was dramatic success story number three (at least at the beginning of the cycle). He was named Manager of the Year by the Associated Press, and he would win that award three more times in the next seven years—with, of course, yet two more different teams.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Mike Hargrove    L    83  280   39   89   10    5    1   40   35   29 .318 .399 .400   133
Jim Spencer      L    49  155   17   45    6    2    5   22    9   13 .290 .327 .452   125
Jim Fregosi      R    47  136   16   36    2    0    7   19    9   25 .265 .310 .434   115
Total                     571   72  170   18    7   13   81   53   67 .298 .364 .422   127

1974 Cleveland Indians: Designated hitter

Okay, okay, it was only 14 games in August and September that Rico Carty, being resurrected from the minor leagues at age 34, was worked into the Indians’ DH platoon with the sweet-swinging Oscar Gamble. But check it out: Carty hit .500 in the role. It made for one hellacious platoon, and Carty, after a couple of years of serious struggle with knee problems, was reborn as a DH.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Oscar Gamble     L   115  409   69  121   14    4   17   53   43   46 .296 .369 .474   143
Rico Carty       R    14   50    5   25    5    0    0   12    3    2 .500 .528 .600   226
Total                     459   74  146   19    4   17   65   46   48 .318 .392 .488   156

1975 Milwaukee Brewers: Catcher

In their seventh season, the Brewers had developed not one but two good-hitting young catchers. Here Darrell Porter was 23 (and demonstrating extraordinary plate discipline for a young hitter), and Charlie Moore was 22, and they combined to provide outstanding production.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Darrell Porter   L   130  409   66   95   12    5   18   60   89   77 .232 .371 .418   122
Charlie Moore    R    73  241   26   70   20    1    1   29   17   31 .290 .336 .394   106
Total                     650   92  165   32    6   19   89  106  108 .254 .360 .409   117

1975 Philadelphia Phillies: Right field

Jay Johnstone arrived in the major leagues very young, as a toolsy center fielder. Yet the stardom predicted for him never materialized, as he struggled with an inconsistent bat, and eventually wound up back in the minors. Then he reappeared with the Phillies, recast by manager Danny Ozark as a platoon right fielder. Focusing on contact, largely eschewing the long ball, Johnstone became an exceptionally good platoon hitter. Here, he and Downtown Brown were in terrific form.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Jay Johnstone    L   122  350   50  115   19    2    7   54   42   39 .329 .397 .454   133
Ollie Brown      R    84  145   19   44   12    0    6   26   15   29 .303 .369 .510   139
Total                     495   69  159   31    2   13   80   57   68 .321 .389 .471   135

1976 St. Louis Cardinals: Right field

Crawford’s career followed an arc quite similar to Johnstone’s: tremendous young athlete, great things anticipated, unable to break through, eventually matures into a highly effective platoon player. Mike Anderson’s story included all the same elements except the last: Outside of some brief episodes like this one, he never made it as a major league hitter.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Willie Crawford  L   120  392   49  119   17    5    9   50   37   53 .304 .360 .441   126
Mike Anderson    R    86  199   17   58    8    1    1   12   26   30 .291 .371 .357   107
Total                     591   66  177   25    6   10   62   63   83 .299 .364 .413   120

1976 Houston Astros: Left field

Jose Cruz’ story was the same, except that not only did he emerge as a fine platoon player, as we see below, he did so well that he finally would be made a regular at age 29, and perform as a star for nearly a decade. His platoon partner here, Leon Roberts, was inconsistent, but when at his best he was an outstanding hitter.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Jose Cruz        L   133  439   49  133   21    5    4   61   53   46 .303 .377 .401   131
Leon Roberts     R    87  235   31   68   11    2    7   33   19   43 .289 .347 .443   133
Total                     674   80  201   32    7   11   94   72   89 .298 .367 .415   132

1976 New York Mets: First base

Ed Kranepool was 31 at this point, and Joe Torre was 35, and both had seen a lot of water go under the bridge. And both could still lay out the line drives. Kranepool sometimes played in the outfield in ’76, and Torre pinch-hit a great deal, but here we see what they produced while sharing first base.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Ed Kranepool     L    83  304   40   91   13    1    9   38   22   26 .299 .345 .438   128
Joe Torre        R    72  261   30   82    8    3    4   26   16   27 .314 .363 .414   127
Total                     565   70  173   21    4   13   64   38   53 .306 .353 .427   127

1976 Minnesota Twins: Designated hitter

Mauch was a determined left-right platooner throughout his long managerial career, and never more so than in his 1976-1980 stint with the Twins. Little of the raw material Mauch had to work with in Minnesota was especially talented, but the example we see here is one of extracting maximal productivity from less-than-imposing elements. Both Steve Braun and Craig Kusick performed other roles as well; their lines here were delivered at DH.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Steve Braun      L    71  254   47   71    8    1    2   39   41   30 .280 .378 .343   110
Craig Kusick     R    78  212   28   57   10    0    9   29   23   35 .269 .340 .443   126
Total                     466   75  128   18    1   11   68   64   65 .275 .362 .388   118

1976-77 Chicago White Sox: Designated hitter

Two seasons, two White Sox managers (Paul Richards and Bob Lemon), and two left-handed-hitting platoon partners (Pat Kelly and Oscar Gamble). The constants were owner Bill Veeck, right-handed-hitting platoon partner Lamar Johnson, and very strong Pale Hose DH production.

Na-na-naa-na … na-na-naa-na … hey! hey! hey! … good-bye!!

1976:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Pat Kelly        L   107  311   42   79   20    3    5   34   45   45 .254 .349 .386   115
Lamar Johnson    R    82  222   29   71   11    1    4   33   19   37 .320 .372 .432   135
Total                     533   71  150   31    4    9   67   64   82 .281 .359 .405   124

1977:

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Oscar Gamble     L    78  245   45   70   10    2   20   51   34   32 .286 .378 .588   160
Lamar Johnson    R    68  207   29   56    7    2    9   37   17   30 .271 .322 .454   110
Total                     452   74  126   17    4   29   88   51   62 .279 .355 .527   142

1977 Kansas City Royals: Catcher

The catching position lends itself naturally to platooning. Just about every catcher needs periodic rest, and if he’s a left-handed hitter the solution of having his off-days largely coincide with a southpaw opponent, with a righty-hitting backup inserted, makes abundant sense.

Porter was one of the best left-handed-hitting catchers of all time, and he was rationally deployed in a platoon arrangement in most of his seasons. Here his partner under manager Whitey Herzog was the journeyman John Wathan, who hit a lusty .359 in his 64 at-bats against lefties.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Darrell Porter   L   130  425   61  117   21    3   16   60   53   70 .275 .353 .452   117
John Wathan      R    55  119   18   39    5    3    2   21    5    8 .328 .346 .471   120
Total                     544   79  156   26    6   18   81   58   78 .287 .352 .456   118

1977 Philadelphia Phillies: First base

While it always seemed to me that the Phillies should have moved their nearly immobile power-hitting left fielder Greg Luzinksi in to play first base, they never did. But it’s hard to argue with the first base production Danny Ozark received here from his platoon of the former Pirates third baseman Hebner and the former Orioles-Braves second baseman Dave Johnson. The Phils won their second of three straight division titles.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Richie Hebner    L   118  397   67  113   17    4   18   62   61   46 .285 .381 .484   127
Dave Johnson     R    78  156   23   50    9    1    8   36   23   20 .321 .408 .545   150
Total                     553   90  163   26    5   26   98   84   66 .295 .389 .501   134

1978 Milwaukee Brewers: Left field

29-year-old Ben Oglivie, in his seventh full major league season, was still a strict platoon player—in 1978, he took just 8% of his plate appearances against left-handed pitching. But against righties, he was hitting up a storm; he would soon become a full-time regular, and a star.

Both Oglivie and Larry Hisle did other things for manager George Bamberger in 1978. Oglivie played some right field and some first base, Hisle played some center, and both did some DHing. But the Brewers’ left field slot was primarily shared by these two on a lefty-righty basis, and here we see their lines when deployed in LF. Whoa, Nellie, did they hit that doggone ball. This was a huge breakthrough season for the Brewers, as the previous doormat suddenly became a strong contender, and Oglivie and Hisle, both arriving in Milwaukee in ’78, were major factors.

Player           B     G   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS+
Ben Oglivie      L    63  242   40   76   19    2   12   41   27   36 .314 .383 .558   162
Larry Hisle      R    66  249   50   75   13    0   21   63   27   43 .301 .370 .606   171
Total                     491   90  151   32    2   33  104   54   79 .308 .377 .582   167

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