Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 2, 2004
BASEBALL: Paul For The Hall
The one easy "yes" among the newcomers on this year's Hall of Fame ballot is Paul Molitor: over 3300 hits (9th all time), lifetime averages of .306/.448/.369 (and .368/.615/.435 in 29 postseason games), 17th all time in Runs Scored, 504 stolen bases against only 131 caught stealings (almost an 80% success rate) and just over 11 GIDP per 600 at bats for his career.
The oddity is that Molitor will walk into the Hall as the first career DH to be inducted, having spent 1174 games at DH compared to 791 at 3B. What's odd is that Molitor was generally well-regarded as a defensive player at nearly every position on the diamond. I forget where he played in the minors - I think he was a shortstop - but Molitor came up as an everyday SS in 1978 when Robin Yount abruptly retired at age 22 to become a professional golfer. Molitor played short for a little over a month until Yount came to his senses, and was moved to second when Yount returned. After 3 years at second, the Brewers moved Molly to the outfield to keep him healthy, and he was their everyday center fielder in 1981, when the Crew had the best record in the AL East. The following year, he was moved to third, which he played well yet again, and the Brewers won the pennant. He was splitting time between second and first by 1990, and played a lot of first base the next two years before heading to Toronto and full-time DHing.
Here's some fun numbers I've run before on Molitor:
Milwaukee Brewers' record, 1978-92, with Paul Molitor in the lineup:
Milwaukee Brewers' record before 1978 arrival of Paul Molitor: