Sunday, October 2, 2011

#1 Tony Armas Record Breaker

During the late 70's and early 80's Topps started their sets with either a league leader, highlight or record breaker.  Long gone were the days of featuring a star or the previous year's world champion.  Topps decided to start the '83 set by noting six record breaking events. Card number one displays a rather obscure record.  On June 12, 1982 Tony Armas made 11 putouts in rightfield at Toronto in Exhibition Stadium. 

The front shows Armas in action, although not in Toronto, tracking a fly ball.  Couldn't they find a picture from the game?

The back fails to mention that Armas also tied a MLB record with 12 chances in the field as Armas also recorded an assist. He still holds the putout record as no other RF has matched him.  Four leftfielders have also had 11 put outs in a nine-inning game while centerfielders Lymon Bostock and Jacoby Ellsbury have both notched 12 in a game. 

The game was a lopsided affair with the A's winning 8-1 behind the fielding dependent pitching of Rick Langford.  With only one strikeout and no double plays, 26 balls in play were converted to outs by A's defenders as Langford tossed a complete game against a predominately lefthanded lineup.  In addition to his busy day in the field, Armas had a walk, single, triple and an RBI at the plate.

My childhood memory doesn't particularly remember Armas for his defense. I remember him as an injury prone slugger.  However Armas does score high in the Fangraphs metrics for fielding runs above replacement.  I don't always put a lot of credence into newer fielding metrics but I can't ignore that it has Armas at +21, +15, +16 from 1980-82. 

So take from it what you will.  Perhaps another agile RF would have been able to track down all those fly balls. With a contact pitcher throwing to a lineup with seven lefties, all the stars were lined up just right for Armas' feat immortalized here on card #1.

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