Willie Randolph: I love the Yankees of the '80s

With Willie Randolph set to represent the Yankees at the 2013 draft, I decided to look into his career with the Yankees.

He was drafted by the Pirates in the seventh round of the 1972 draft and made it to the majors in four years. He was traded to the Yankees in 1975, along with lefty Ken Brett and righty Doc Ellis, for Doc Medich. Brett pitched only 2.1 innings for the Yankees before he was traded in '76 and Ellis was a workhorse for the team (pitching 211.2 innings with a 108 ERA+) before he was traded in April of 1977.

Medich had been a juggernaut with the Yankees, pitching 787 innings with a 108 ERA+ in his first three years in the majors between 1973-1975, but only reached over 200 innings once over the remaining seven years of his carer, and never for the Pirates, who soon traded him too.

Willie Randolph proved to be the real gem of the trade, hitting .273/.365/.362 with 119 stolen bases between 1976-1979. Then, in 1980, he had the best season of his career when he put up a .294/.427/.407 line with 20 stolen bases and an outstanding 18.5% walk rate. That year he was elected to his third All-Star Game, placed 15th in the MVP voting and won his only Silver Slugger Award.

Between 1981-1986, his final years under team control, he hit 274/.372/.344 with 83 stolen bases and had a walk rate over 13% a total of four times. As a free agent he re-signed with the Yankees for $1.77 million over the next two seasons and actually had his second best season in 1987, hitting over .300 for the first time.

By 1989 his Yankee career was over and he would go on to play for the Dodgers, Athletics, Brewers, and Mets over the next four seasons before his retirement from baseball in 1992 at the age of 37. He finished his career batting .276/.373/.351 with 271 stolen bases over 18 seasons to accumulate a 62.3 WAR.

Randolph was the second best second baseman in baseball during the 1980s, accumulating a 36.1 WAR, behind only Lou Whitaker's 40.1 WAR for the Tigers. He was actually the 18th best position player in baseball during that time as well. Randolph also has the highest WAR for a Yankee second baseman (51.6), but could be challenged by Robinson Cano, who already has a 33 WAR in his ninth season. In an interesting parallel, Randolph was born in Holly Hill, South Carolina, where Brett Gardner was also born. As a leadoff hitter he hit .274/.373/.349, while Gardner has only hit .254/.336/.370.

After his playing career was over, Randolph served as a base and bench coach for the Yankees between 1994-2004 before he became the manager of the Mets from 2005-2008 and was the bench coach for the Brewers from 2009-2010 and the Orioles in 2011. He is now representing the Yankees in the draft and his career becomes (somewhat) full circle. Perhaps we'll be seeing more of Willie.

Topps Archives Baseball is a celebration of the 70s, 80s and 90s, what many consider to be the glory years of card collecting. If you collected Topps Baseball Cards during these years then you will love Topps Archives Baseball. Look for autographs and memorabilia cards from today’s stars and your favorite retired players on classic Topps card designs.

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