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Cubs Heroes and Goats, 1984 edition: Games 159-161

The final three games of the Cubs regular season.

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The 1984 Cubs regular season concluded with three home games against the St. Louis Cardinals. With the division clinched and no implications to having the best record, the Cubs were playing out the string, trying to stay healthy and lining things up for their first trip to the playoffs in 39 years.

Game 159, September 28 - Cubs fall to Cardinals 4-1 (94-65)

  • Superhero - Steve Trout (.293). Steve Trout’s final start of the year was a good one. He threw five shut out innings allowing only two hits and no walks.
  • Hero - Lee Smith (.146). Lee Smith pitched a scoreless ninth inning in a 1-1 game. He did issue one walk, but around that walk he struck out the side.
  • Sidekick - George Fraizer (.112). George threw a perfect eighth inning in a 1-1 game.
  • Billy Goat - Rich Bordi (-.453). It wasn’t all good news for the Cubs bullpen. Bordi threw the tenth inning and was battered. He allowed a lead off single and catcher Darrell Porter stole second and advanced on an error while Bordi was recording the first out on a strike out. The next three batters followed with a double, a double and a single. Just like that it was 4-1.
  • Goat - Bob Dernier (-.134). Bob was hitless in four at bats.
  • Kid - Ryne Sandberg (-.116). Ryno was also hitless in his four at bats as the Cubs managed only three hits and two walks in ten innings.

Tim Stoddard appeared in eight September games covering 11⅓ innings. He allowed 10 hits and eight walks while striking out six. He allowed seven runs all earned. For the season, he pitched in 58 games. He compiled a record of 10-6 and had seven saves. He pitched 92 innings and allowed 77 hits, 57 walks and 41 runs (39 earned). He struck out 87. Stoddard had a very fine season for the 1984 Cubs.

Game 160, September 29 - Cubs beat Cardinals 9-5 (95-65)

  • Superhero - Bill Johnson (.181). Johnson came in with with runners on first and third with on outs in the seventh inning and the Cubs leading 5-3. He allowed a single reducing the Cubs lead to 5-4. But the single was followed with a sacrifice, an intentional walk and a ground ball double play to end the inning. He threw one more inning allowing two singles and a run of his own. But the Cubs had scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh and so Johnson ends up with the Superhero spot.
  • Hero - Jody Davis (.154). Jody had two hits and three RBI on the day in four at bats. He had a two out, two run single in the first (.133) that made it 4-1 Cubs and a two out RBI single in the sixth (.043) to make it 5-1.
  • Sidekick - Dennis Eckersley (.144). Dennis’ final tune up was also a good one. He threw five innings allowing just one run. He allowed five hits and two walks.
  • Billy Goat - Reggie Patterson (-.270). Patterson threw a perfect sixth with the Cubs leading 4-1. But then when he went back out in the seventh with a 5-1 lead things fell apart. He allowed a walk and a single to start the inning. He then threw a wild pitch and allowed another walk and single before being pulled. In all he allowed two hits, two walks and three runs.
  • Goat - Keith Moreland (-.080). Keith had one hit and one run scored in three at bats. He lands here because he popped out with the bases loaded and no outs in the first (-.061). He also grounded into an inning ending double play in the third (-.028).
  • Kid - Henry Cotto (-.025). Cotto was hitless in two at bats.

Dennis Eckersley made six starts in September. He pitched 40 innings, allowing 33 hits and six walks. He struck out 20 and allowed 10 runs (nine earned). For the season, he started 33 games, throwing 225 innings. He allowed 223 hits and 49 walks. He struck out 114 and allowed 97 runs, 90 earned. He had a record of 14-12 and a 3.60 ERA. He provided much needed stability behind Rick Sutcliffe in the rotation.

Game 161, September 30 - Cubs defeat Cardinals 2-1 to take two of three (96-65)

  • Superhero - Scott Sanderson (.290). Yet another Cubs starter finished his season strong. Sanderson threw five shut out innings allowing only one hit and no walks.
  • Hero - Thad Bosley (.268). Thad didn’t start the game but ended up getting two at bats including an RBI single in the ninth inning that tied it at 1-1 (.288).
  • Sidekick - Dan Rohn (.183). Dan had a pinch hit single just in front of Bosley’s game tying single.
  • Billy Goat - Bob Dernier (-.101). Dernier was hitless in three at bats.
  • Goat - Dick Ruthven (-.094). Dick threw the sixth inning. He allowed three hits and a run in his one inning of work.
  • Kid - Ryne Sandberg (-.074). Ryno was also hitless in three at bats, striking out twice.

The Cubs win two of three at home to wrap up the home schedule. The Cubs went 51-29 at home, winning 63.8% of their games at home. This was the year that really started making Wrigley Field a destination. They drew two million fans for the first time. Their previous high had been shy of 1.7 million. Then in 1984 they went over 2.1 million. After 1984 they only had less than two million fans three more times. One of those was 1986, and the other two were strike shortened years in 1994 and 1995 when they played abbreviated schedules.

Final Standings

  • Gary Matthews 38
  • Ryne Sandberg 34
  • Lee Smith 25
  • Dennis Eckersley 15
  • Richie Hebner 14
  • Thad Bosley 14
  • Scott Sanderson 10
  • Rick Sutcliffe 9
  • Rich Bordi 8
  • Ron Hassey 7
  • Warren Brusstar 6.5
  • Steve Trout 5
  • George Frazier 4
  • Bill Johnson 3
  • Tim Stoddard 2.5
  • Dickie Noles 2
  • Jay Johnstone 2
  • Ron Meridith 1
  • Leon Durham 0
  • Mel Hall 0
  • Steve Lake -1
  • Don Schulze -2
  • Keith Moreland -3
  • Billy Hatcher -3
  • Porfi Altamarino -3
  • Gary Woods -3
  • Dan Rohn -3
  • Henry Cotto -4
  • Tom Veryzer -4
  • Reggie Patterson -6
  • Rick Reuschel -6
  • Bill Buckner -9
  • Chuck Rainey -10
  • Dick Ruthven -12
  • Bob Dernier -14
  • Dave Owen -14
  • Ron Cey -29
  • Larry Bowa -32
  • Jody Davis -44

In a mild surprise, Gary Matthews finishes at the top of the standings, winning by four points. The Cubs had two players in the +30 club, three total players over +20, seven players total at +10 or above. Leon Durham joined Mel Hall at exactly even. On the negative side, Jody Davis finishes dead last with -44, the only member of the -40 club and also the player furthest from even in general. Larry Bowa finished second to last, 12 points ahead of Davis. Two Cubs had more than -30 points. Ron Cey just missed, giving the Cubs three players more than 20 negative points. A matching seven players total were at -10 or more.

Rick Sutcliffe was the National League’s Cy Young Award winner. He received all 24 first-place votes. He joined Joaquin Andujar as the only 20-game winners in the National League (though Sutcliffe recorded four of his wins in the American League and at that time the statistics were kept separately). Andujar finished fourth in the balloting. Second place went to the Cubs longtime nemesis Doc Gooden. Let’s look at the numbers:

Sutcliffe 20 games, 150⅓ innings, 123 hits, 53 runs, 39 walks, 155 K, 1.078 WHIP, ERA+ 144

Gooden 31 games, 218 innings, 161 hits, 72 runs, 73 walks, 276 K, 1.073 WHIP, ERA+ 137

This was probably the right choice for Cy Young. Rick pitched his team to the postseason. Their numbers were somewhat similar. Gooden had the gaudy strikeout numbers but also walked more hitters. Both were pretty similar in limiting opposing base runners. Sutcliffe recorded a 16-1 record in 20 starts. He averaged just over 7.5 innings per start.

Ryne Sandberg received 22 of 24 first-place votes in becoming the National League MVP. Keith Hernandez on a second place team was second in the voting and Tony Gwynn from the other division winner was third. Rick Sutcliffe finished fourth, Gary Matthews fifth, Jody Davis tenth, Leon Durham 12th, Ron Cey and Bob Dernier were tied for 17th. It’s safe to say that the National League writers fell in love with the Cubs. Let’s also look at the numbers of the top three in the MVP voting:

Sandberg 156 games, 636 AB, 114 R, 200 H, 19 HR, 84 RBI 32 SB, .314/.367/.520

Hernandez 154 games, 550 AB, 83 R, 171 H, 15 HR, 94 RBI, 97 BB, .311/.409/.449

Gwynn 158 games, 606 AB, 88 R, 213 H, 5 HR, 71 RBI, 33 SB, .351/.410/.444

Fine seasons by all. Gwynn didn’t receive a Gold Glove for his season while Sandberg and Hernandez did. Gwynn had the fantastic batting average and the most stolen bases. But Sandberg lead the national league in runs scored. He also had 19 triples to go with having the most home runs, explaining his slugging percentage advantage.

As much as the Cubs captured the hearts and minds of the national media, Sandberg and Sutcliffe were very worthy choices for the awards. Jim Frey was also named the National League Manager of the year as the Cubs took home a ton of hardware.

We all know that the biggest piece of hardware eluded the Cubs, but by request next week I’ll be looking at the five games of the National League Championship. It would be another in the line of those that got away. But it did produce some memorable moments and some interesting WPA results. That will be the final article in this series and then we’ll take a break as we wait for regular season baseball to begin. I’ll be posting Heroes and Goats even on the weekend this year, so get ready for even more Heroes and Goats for the 2018 season.