Dave Winfield Inducted In 2001 With 84.5% Of The Votes
It’s surprising to say but Dave Winfield only wears one World Series ring. He finally managed to put one on his finger at 40-years old as an integral part of the 1992 Blue Jays.
His only season with the Jays, he put up enviable numbers, hitting 29 home runs while knocking in 108 runs and batting.290, primarily as our DH. Winfield was enshrined in Cooperstown as a Padre in 2001 on his first ballot, even though he donned 6 uniforms throughout his impressive career.
While collecting a lot of hardware along the way (7 gold gloves and 6 silver sluggers), Winfield had career years in ‘78 and’79 with San Diego, putting up slash lines of .308/.367/.499 and .308/.395/.558, respectively. Also worthy of note are his very low strikeout totals those years compared to our current era (81 K’s in ‘78, and even 10 less the following year). In fact, if you take a look at his career stats you’ll see similar numbers on that score throughout.
He also had 2 more stand-out years, these times with our A.L. East stripe-wearing rivals from the Bronx. Eclipsing his previous best, he slashed .340/.393/.515 in ‘84 and .322/.398/.530 in ‘88.
Although Joe Carter’s World Series-winning home run in ‘93 is more widely remembered, most likely due to recency bias, Winfield brought the trophy home the year before, by way of his own World Series-winning hit: an 11th inning two-bagger that brought in 2 runs and the lead, which we held in the bottom of the frame, until ironically Joe Carter caught the final out of the series at first base, not his usual position, but an exigency of Cito Gaston’s extra-inning juggling work.
While being a first-ballot inductee, it might come as a surprise to some that Winfield fell shy of 500 home runs, managing to tally “only” 465. Arguably, this can be attributed to his line drive hitting style. This was by design, though, as can be gleaned from this piece in Sports Illustrated’s vault, initially from 1979.
In the piece, the then-27-year-old outfielder goes so far as to make the point of saying, “I decided I was going to be a line drive hitter”. One can easily make the logical conclusion that many balls scorched off his bat and slammed off outfield walls, would have easily been home runs with a different “launch angle”, in today’s parlance.
After winning a World Series and having a great year, I was surprised at the time that Winfield wasn’t re-upped with the Jays for the following season. Instead, the club turned to the services of Paul Molitor to fill the DH role. As they say, “20/20 hindsight”, as Molitor too had a stellar year with the Jays and helped bring a subsequent World Series victory home.
Authored by Ashley Weisdorf