1981 Leaders & Numbers

One shudders to think what kind of numbers Mike Schmidt might have racked up had the strike not stripped him of a third of the season. There wasn’t anything eye-popping about Dwight Evans’ stats until you discover it historically took him 162 games, not 108, to put up similar figures. George Foster had one last productive fling at Cincinnati before initiating an unhappy tenure at New York. Career part-timer Tom Paciorek easily proved he could play everyday and became an instant fan favorite in Seattle. Carney Lansford won his first and only batting title, but he was just an ankle injury away from being replaced by another perennial batting champ (Wade Boggs). Among the would-have’s and should-have’s from the strike-shortened campaign: An 11th 200-hit season for 40-year-old Pete Rose and an outside shot for Tim Raines, the latest Montreal sonic-speedster, to break Lou Brock’s season stolen base record. Even within a condensed season, Fernando Valenzuela still broke the NL rookie record with eight shutouts. Steve Carlton pitched well enough to earn his fourth Cy Young Award, but maybe voters got bored from picking him and gave it to Fernando. With just four wins, reliever Sammy Stewart won the AL ERA title—but he didn’t, thanks to a strange interpretation in which rounding out to the nearest full inning gave Steve McCatty the honor instead. (The rule was changed for 1982.) Rollie Fingers was never more automatic than in his first year at Milwaukee, where he became instantly loved by Brewer fans. Jack Morris got off to a sharp start in a decade in which he’d win more games than any other pitcher.

The Ten Best National League Hitters, 1981
Name Team G BA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IB HB SB CS GD
1. Mike Schmidt Philadelphia 102 .316 354 78 112 19 2 31 91 55 18 4 12 4 9
2. Andre Dawson Montreal 103 .302 394 71 119 21 3 24 64 21 14 7 26 4 6
3. George Foster Cincinnati 108 .295 414 64 122 23 2 22 90 46 5 3 4 0 12
4. Gary Matthews Philadelphia 101 .301 359 62 108 21 3 9 67 57 2 3 15 2 8
5. Tim Raines Montreal 88 .304 313 61 95 13 7 5 37 40 5 2 71 11 7
6. Keith Hernandez St. Louis 103 .306 376 65 115 27 4 8 48 55 6 2 12 5 9
7. Bill Madlock Pittsburgh 82 .341 279 35 95 23 1 6 45 27 7 3 18 6 5
8. George Hendrick St. Louis 101 .284 394 67 112 19 3 18 61 34 7 4 4 2 10
9. Bill Buckner Chicago 106 .311 421 45 131 35 3 10 75 17 9 1 5 2 17
10. Pete Rose Philadelphia 107 .325 431 73 140 18 5 0 33 41 5 3 4 4 8
The Ten Best American League Hitters, 1981
Name Team G BA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IB HB SB CS GD
1. Dwight Evans Boston 108 .296 412 84 122 19 4 22 71 84 1 1 3 2 8
2. Rickey Henderson Oakland 108 .319 423 89 135 18 7 6 35 60 4 2 56 22 7
3. Eddie Murray Baltimore 99 .294 378 57 111 21 2 22 78 30 10 1 2 3 10
4. Tom Paciorek Seattle 104 .326 405 50 132 28 2 14 66 32 3 4 13 10 10
5. Bobby Grich California 100 .304 352 56 107 14 2 22 61 36 4 4 2 4 5
6. Cecil Cooper Milwaukee 106 .320 416 70 133 35 1 12 60 26 2 3 5 4 16
7. Carney Lansford Boston 102 .336 399 61 134 23 3 4 52 31 3 2 15 10 6
8. Gormon Thomas Milwaukee 103 .259 363 54 94 22 0 21 65 42 8 2 4 5 6
9. Dave Winfield New York 105 .294 388 52 114 25 1 13 68 40 3 1 11 1 13
10. Chet Lemon Chicago 94 .302 328 50 99 23 6 9 50 33 0 13 5 8 10
The Ten Best National League Pitchers, 1981
Name Team ERA W L PCT SV BS G GS IP TB ER BB IB WP HB BK SB CS GD
1. Jerry Reuss Los Angeles 2.30 10 4 .714 0 0 22 22 152.2 183 39 24 3 1 4 0 4 9 18
2. Nolan Ryan Houston 1.69 11 5 .688 0 0 21 21 149 114 28 67 1 16 1 2 21 7 10
3. Steve Carlton Philadelphia 2.42 13 4 .765 0 0 24 24 190 212 51 59 3 9 1 4 6 9 13
4. Fernando Valenzuela Los Angeles 2.48 13 7 .650 0 0 25 25 192.1 191 53 57 4 4 1 0 25 10 11
5. Bob Knepper Houston 2.18 9 5 .643 0 0 22 22 156.2 165 38 37 1 0 4 0 15 8 16
6. Don Sutton Houston 2.61 11 9 .550 0 0 23 23 158.2 174 46 26 3 0 1 1 5 8 5
7. Tom Seaver Cincinnati 2.54 14 2 .875 0 0 23 23 166.1 187 47 58 8 5 3 0 23 11 13
8. Burt Hooton Los Angeles 2.28 11 6 .647 0 0 23 23 142.1 157 36 31 2 3 2 1 18 5 10
9. Rick Camp Atlanta 1.78 9 3 .750 17 5 48 0 76 96 15 9 3 0 1 2 7 0 6
10. Bill Gullickson Montreal 2.80 7 9 .463 0 0 22 22 157.1 181 49 30 4 4 4 0 15 8 10
The Ten Best American League Pitchers, 1981
Name Team ERA W L PCT SV BS G GS IP TB ER BB IB WP HB BK SB CS GD
1. Steve McCatty Oakland 2.33 14 7 .667 0 0 22 22 185.2 198 48 60 1 0 2 0 7 11 6
2. Larry Gura Kansas City 2.72 11 8 .579 0 0 23 23 172.1 209 52 35 0 3 4 0 5 2 11
3. Rollie Fingers Milwaukee 1.04 6 3 .667 28 6 47 0 78 77 9 8 5 1 1 0 4 1 8
4. Dave Righetti New York 2.05 8 4 .667 0 0 15 15 105.1 99 24 38 0 1 0 1 6 2 7
5. Dennis Lamp Chicago 2.41 7 6 .538 0 0 27 10 127 126 34 42 1 4 1 1 18 8 11
6. Jack Morris Detroit 3.05 14 7 .667 0 0 25 25 198 234 67 67 11 2 2 2 14 7 25
7. Ken Forsch California 2.88 11 7 .611 0 0 20 20 153 191 49 24 3 3 4 1 11 5 19
8. Dennis Martinez Baltimore 3.32 14 5 .737 0 0 25 24 179 233 66 61 1 6 2 1 15 8 14
9. Sammy Stewart Baltimore 2.32 4 8 .333 4 1 29 3 112.1 122 29 53 4 1 3 2 3 4 12
10. Dennis Leonard Kansas City 2.99 13 11 .542 0 0 26 26 201.2 282 67 36 5 5 3 1 15 6 13

Brown type indicates league leader.
Notes: Walks (BB) do not include intentional walks (IB). For pitchers, caught stealing (CS) also includes pickoffs.
How does This Great Game determine the best hitters and pitchers? Find out here.


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1981 Awards


NL MVP
Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia

AL MVP
Rollie Fingers, Milwaukee


NL Cy Young Award
Fernando Valenzuela, Los Angeles

AL Cy Young Award
Rollie Fingers, Milwaukee


NL Rookie of the Year
Fernando Valenzuela, Los Angeles

AL Rookie of the Year
Dave Righetti, New York


NL Gold Glove Awards
P Steve Carlton, Philadelphia
C Gary Carter, Montreal
1B Keith Hernandez, St. Louis
2B Manny Trillo, Philadelphia
3B Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia
SS Ozzie Smith, San Diego
OF Andre Dawson, Montreal
OF Garry Maddox, Philadelphia
OF Dusty Baker, Los Angeles


AL Gold Glove Awards
P Mike Norris, Oakland
C Jim Sundberg, Texas
1B Mike Squires, Chicago
2B Frank White, Kansas City
3B Buddy Bell, Texas
SS Alan Trammell, Detroit
OF Dwane Murphy, Oakland
OF Dwight Evans, Boston
OF Rickey Henderson, Oakland