The Oakland Athletics were able to fend off the Minnesota Twins and California Angels, to win the American League West for the 6th consecutive year. This year they hope to return to the World Series for the 5th time in 6 years, but they will have to get by the A.L. East Champion Boston Red Sox to do so.
The Red Sox won the A.L. East with a 88-74 record, winning the division by 3 games over the 2nd place New York Yankees. The Cleveland Indians who were looking good at the All-Star break faded, finishing in 3rd place with a 78-84 record, 10 games back. The defending World Champion Baltimore Orioles finished in 4th, 76-86.
The American League West featured three 90-win teams in Oakland (99-63), Minnesota (97-65) & California (94-68).
The National League featured the only 100-win teams in baseball, with the St. Louis Cardinals (103-59) winning the N.L. East, and the N.L. West Champion Cincinnati Reds (109-53). Both teams also won their divisions by 10 or more games. The 2nd place San Francisco Giants won 98 games. The Cardinals were powered by Wilbur Wood, who led the National League with a 1.59 ERA in his first year with the Cards, all while winning 20 games. The Cards' lineup also featured 8 players batting .280 or higher.
There was plenty of headlines throughout the season, one of the biggest has to be 17 year-old rookie Rickey Henderson who stole 100 bases for the Atlanta Braves. This was definitely one of the few things that Atlanta got to cheer about since they lost 100 games, but they do have Dale Murphy & Dan Petry in the minors, so things could start looking up in the nearby future.
Jerry Koosman won the A.L. ERA title in his first year in the American League, posting a 1.84 mark while winning 20 games for the Athletics.
Here's a list of other players that left their mark on the season...
- Bill Madlock (CHC) and Robin Yount (MIL) won the batting titles for their leagues. Madlock batted a Major League best .344 with 224 hits, his 2nd consecutive year over 200+ hits. The young shortstop Yount led the A.L. with a .325 mark, while posting a 126 OPS+ & 4.8 WAR, to go along with 49 doubles (1st /A.L.) & 32 stolen bases.
- George Foster (CIN) and Jim Rice (BOS) each led their leagues with 34 home runs, while both also won their league's RBI titles; Foster had 146 RBI, while Rice had 140 RBI. Rice was the only MLB slugger who posted a .900 OPS & above (.913), while Foster led the N.L. in that category (.889).
- Bake McBride (STL) edged Madlock in hits with 225, while Boston's Duane Kuiper led the A.L. with 213. The big kicker may be the fact that Kuiper hit 3 HR during the season, compared to his grand real-life total of 1. McBride also led the majors with 117 runs.
- Cincinnati's Joe Morgan had a well-rounded successful season in which he batted .277 with 15 HR & 81 RBI, while scoring 107 runs & stealing 73 bases. Morgan led the N.L. in On-Base Percentage (.424) & Bases on Balls (142), while his 7.9 WAR ranked 3rd in the N.L. & Majors.
- Morgan's teammate, Dave Conception led the majors in WAR with a 9.1 rating. Conception's fielding definitely plays a factor, but he carried a good bat by hitting .295 with 10 HR & 77 RBI. Conception also scored 94 runs while swiping 35 bases.
- Frank Tanana of the Angels, led the A.L. in Wins (22), while he was 2nd in ERA (1.95) & strikeouts (221), while posting a 8.1 WAR (3rd among pitchers).
- The Athletics' Vida Blue was a stud, leading the majors in complete games (20), innings (290), quality starts (30), while ranking 4th in the A.L. in strikeouts (194), while posting an 8.2 WAR.
- The Reds' Don Gullet went 22-4 with a 2.45 ERA & 184 strikeouts, while posting a 7.4 WAR.
- Al Hrabosky (STL) led the majors with 42 saves, while Sparky Lyle (NYY) led the A.L. with 32 saves.
*** Still to come, 1978 MLB Replay Update ***