Thursday, August 9, 2012

#238 Larry Parrish

Card thoughts: Look out Larry! There's a weird, pinwheel-type shape heading straight for your right eye! Once again, we have the ubiquitous "hanging around the batting cage at Tiger Stadium" shot. The only thing that draws one's notice is that the photographer failed a lesson from Photography 101: Do not have your subject looking into the sun when taking his picture.

The player: Parrish was one of a stable of stars, and very good players, who made up the powerful late 70s Expos teams. Sharing the lineup with the likes of Andre Dawson, #170 Gary Carter, Ellis Valentine, and Warren Cromartie, he put up some big power numbers in the 70s.

Parrish came up as a third baseman, and became a regular there in his rookie year. His 10 home runs, 65 RBIs and .274 average were good enough to land him in third place in rookie of the year voting, and a Topps card with an all-star rookie cup.

After a sophmore slump when his average dropped to .232, Parrish's offensive numbers improved every year for the remainder of the 70s, culminating in a 30 home run, 82 RBI campaign in 1979, which earned him his first all star berth.

Despite his power, Parrish had some flaws in his game. Although he exhibited good range at third, he made far too many errors there. Also, as a dead pull hitter, teams would tend to overshift on him, leading to low batting averages, and less than optimal RBI numbers for a power hitter.  Parrish also struck out a ton (for the times) and barely ever walked. With today's emphasis on OPS, it is important to note that Parrish only went over .900 once in that department, in 1979.

After another two productive seasons, he was shipped to the Rangers in 1982 for Al Oliver in a deal that worked out well for both clubs. Parrish was immediately shifted to right field, where his strong arm immediately made him one of the more feared outfielders in the American League. In the more offensive minded league, Parrish had some of his most consistently good years. In 1984, he topped the 100 RBI mark for the first time, more on the strength of his 42 doubles than his 22 home runs.

The year represented by this card was a down year, but Parrish bounced back with a 94 RBI season in 1987, and once again topped 100 runs batted in 1987, leading to his second all star berth. But, showing how fast you age in baseball when you hit 35, a year after that season he was out of the game as a player. Now exclusively a DH, Parrish was hitting .190 to start the following season with 79 strikeouts in 273 plate appearances when he was released. The Red Sox, needing an extra bat for the stretch run, picked him up, and he would hit  much a better .259 while with that club. In the ALCS that year, he wouldn't get a hit in 5 at bats.

Parrish would go on to play in Japan for two years, and he was quite successful there, making the all star team both seasons, and beating out fellow former big leaguer Cecil Fielder for the home run crown with 42 in 1989.

Parrish would come back stateside, and become a coach and manager in the Tigers system, eventually managing the Tigers in 1998 and 1999. In his only full season of managing (1999), the Tigers came in third in the central division, despite losing 92 games. The Royals and Twins were worse, each losing 97. After being let go as manager after 1999, he went back to managing and scouting in the Tigers minor leagues. His last job in baseball was as the hitting coach for the Braves in 2011.

Rear guard: In the fourth inning against the Dodgers, Parrish's grand slam drove in Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, and Ellis Valentine. The Expos went on to win the game 10-9.

This date in baseball history: In 1946, every major league team would play a night game for the first time in history.

No comments: