No. 113 Darrell Evans (Number 9 Third Base)

I told the story of Hank Aaron how I picked the inning and number of men on for his 715th homerun. I not only picked the number of men who would be on (one) but who it was going to be. Yes, I told my friends that it would be Darrell Evans and he would get on with a walk. It helped I knew that Evans led the league in walks the year before. He led again in 1974 and had 100 or more walks 4 times in his career. He batted only .248 in his career but had an on base average of .361. Evans had some good years and not so good years with the bat. Like Grich he had his share of injuries but played a lot more in his career than Grich did, so his traditional statistics look better.

Evans had his best overall season in 1973 while hitting 41 homeruns. He hit 40 home runs again but 12 years later in 1985 at the age 0f 38. In between he hit 30 homeruns once. A lot of those years were spent in San Francisco which wasn’t a great homerun park.

His defense was interesting. It was like he learned how to play 3rd base and had great fielding years 1973 and 1974 at the ages of 26 and 27. Then he faded to an average to below average fielding third baseman. He also had a good fielding years as a first basemen at age 39 and 40 after playing first base a few years. I wonder if he took time to get comfortable as the position. At the age of 42 he was traded back to Atlanta and was below average in every category and had a negative WAR and it was time to retire. However, he had a long career with some real good years and should be a hall of famer.

In the fourth game of the American League Championship Series Darrell Evans came to the plate with a man on base in the bottom of the sixth. The Tigers were down 4-2 to the Minnesota Twins but had zero outs with Evans came up. The Tigers were down in the series 2 games to 1 and the final two games were scheduled in Minnesota so this was close to a must win for the Tigers. Evans singled. The Tigers chances for winning the game increased 14 percent and it knocked Frank Viola out of the game. Keith Atherton came in to pitch for the Twins he was from the back of their bullpen. Dave Bergman singled scoring a run and sending Evans to second. Mike Heath sacrificed the runners to second and third. Tom Kelly bought in Juan Berenger. Reardon was the relief ace, but Berenger pitched a lot of high leverage innings during the season and post season. The Twins had the league, but the Tigers had a better chance at winning the ball game. However, when the first pitch was thrown the catcher whipped it to Gaetti at third and picked Evans off third for the second out of the inning. The Tigers chances of winning went down 18 percent. Now the Twins were more likely to win the game. It was also sad as Berenger threw a wild pitch sending Bergman to third. Evans likely would have scored. Whitaker walked which could have set up a big inning with only one out. Finally, Jim Morrison flew out to end the inning. Berenger pitched a scoreless 7th and 8th the Twins added a run in the 8th. Jeff Reardon came in to pitch the 9th and also pitched a scoreless inning. The Tigers also lost game 5 to lose the series.

The Tigers probably would have lost the series anyway as the Twins were playing over their heads. However, it was a big base running mistake by Evans. I read that Gaetti called the play and it was a smart play by him. He was MVP of the series as he also hit well, but the call in the tight situation helped him clinch the award as Tom Brunansky actually hit better than Gaetti in the series.

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