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Top Five First Basemen of the 1980s: A Fan’s Take
Here are my top five first basemen of the 1980s:
Milwaukee Brewers - 1980-1987
After starting his career in 1971 with the Boston Red Sox, Cooper was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the 1977 season and in exchange the Red Sox received outfielder Bernie Carbo and first baseman George Scott. At the time of the trade, Brewers owner Bud Selig was heavily criticized for making the deal. Selig and the Brewers would end up getting the last laugh as Cooper had several productive seasons while with the Brewers from 1977-1987.
In the decade of the 1980s specifically Cooper had some of the best years of his career, highlighted by his 1980 season which saw him hit 25 home runs and drive in 122 runs while hitting a mind boggling .352. Cooper was an All-Star that season and finished fifth in the American League (AL) MVP voting as well. Cooper was also an All-Star and an integral player on the only Brewers team to ever reach the World Series during the 1982 season. In that year, Cooper would amass 32 home runs and 121 RBIs while hitting a very respectable .307.
Minnesota Twins -1981-1989
Kent Hrbek was born and raised in Minnesota and spent his entire 14 year career playing with the Twins. To go along with being a slugger at the plate Hrbek was also a quality defensive first baseman as well.
Hrbek hit 20 or more home runs in every year of the decade except for two and also had more than 80 RBIs in all but two seasons in the decade as well. The best season of Hrbek's career had to be 1987, when he helped lead the Twins to the AL West crown as hitting 34 home runs and driving in 90 runs. The hometown kid also led the Twins to their first World Series Championship in 1987.
In the 1980s Keith was the cornerstone of two different championship teams, one with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982 and the New York Mets in 1986.
Individually Keith won 11 Gold Glove awards in his career with nine of those coming in the decade of the 1980s. Although he won his only MVP with the Cardinals in 1979, Keith was very consistent in the 1980s, and upon being traded to the Mets in the middle of the 1983 season he would lead the then young Mets down the path to an eventual championship in 1986.
New York Yankees - 1982-1989
Don Mattingly spent his entire career with the New York Yankees and had the best years of his career in the 1980s. In the decade, Mattingly was a six-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove winner, and three-time Silver Slugger award winner.
Mattingly's best year came in 1985 when he was named MVP of the American League. In that season Mattingly hit 35 home runs (which was a career high) and also drove in a career high 145 runs all while hitting .324. Although back problems would slow Mattingly down later in his career there is no denying that during his prime in the 1980s Mattingly was one of the best all-around first baseman in the league.
Eddie Murray is the only member of this list that is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. While Murray never won the MVP he was a model of consistency throughout his 20 year career and more specifically in the decade of the 1980s.
Murray would hit over 20 home runs every year of the decade except for one and had more than 75 RBIs for the entire decade. He was a six-time all-star and won three Gold Gloves in the decade that saw him go to the Dodgers after the 1988 season. All tolled Murray would end up with over 500 career home runs and over 1,900 RBIs, and would go down as one of the greatest switch hitting first baseman ever.
Ryan Kekoufski is a lifelong baseball fan who enjoys writing about everything Major League Baseball. He covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and currently resides in Virginia.
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