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West Division

East Division

Series Wrapup

Story

The “split-season” format major league baseball devised in 1981 as a result of the players’ strike created several inequities in both leagues, particularly in the senior circuit, where the two clubs with the best overall records failed to advance to the postseason tournament.  The Cincinnati Reds compiled a major-league best 66-42 record over the course of the campaign, while the St. Louis Cardinals posted a mark of 59-43 that represented the second-best figure in the National League.  Yet, neither team ended up making the playoffs.  Instead, the Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos shared first-place honors in the N.L. East, while the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros battled it out for supremacy in the West.  

Philadelphia posted the best record in the National League’s Eastern Division prior to the player walkout, finishing 1 ½ games ahead of St. Louis and four games in front of Montreal.  Although the Phillies slumped during the season’s second half, compiling a mark of only 25-27 after the players returned to their jobs, they received another MVP performance from Mike Schmidt.  In addition to batting a career-high .316, Schmidt led the league with 31 home runs, 91 runs batted in, 78 runs scored, a .439 on-base percentage, and a .644 slugging average.  Pete Rose, Gary Matthews, and Steve Carlton also had outstanding seasons for Philadelphia.  Rose scored 73 runs and placed second in the league with a .325 batting average.  Matthews batted .301 and knocked in 67 runs.  Carlton finished 13-4, with a 2.42 ERA, 179 strikeouts, and 190 innings pitched.  

After narrowly missing the playoffs each of the previous two years, Montreal advanced to the postseason for the first time by edging out St. Louis for the division’s best record by just ½ game during the season’s second half.  The young Expos received significant contributions from outfielders Tim Raines and Andre Dawson.  Called up from the minors early in the year, Raines appeared in 88 games for Montreal, batting .304, scoring 61 runs, and leading the league with 71 stolen bases.  Dawson earned a second-place finish in the MVP balloting by hitting 24 home runs, driving in 64 runs, scoring 71 others, batting .302, and stealing 26 bases.  

After losing a one-game playoff for the Western Division title to the Houston Astros one year earlier, the Dodgers earned an opportunity to gain a measure of revenge by finishing the season’s first half with a record of 36-21 that left them a mere ½ game ahead of the runner-up Cincinnati Reds.  Meanwhile, Houston earned a return trip to the postseason tournament by compiling a second-half mark of 33-20 that allowed them to edge out the Reds by 1 ½ games.

The Astros again relied heavily on their outstanding pitching to make the playoffs.  Every member of Houston’s starting rotation compiled an ERA well below 3.00, enabling the Astros to post a league-leading 2.66 team ERA.  Don Sutton and Nolan Ryan tied for the club lead with 11 victories apiece, and Ryan led all N.L. hurlers with a 1.69 ERA.  Bob Knepper chipped in with nine wins and an outstanding 2.18 ERA.
 
The Dodger staff, which finished second in the senior circuit with a team ERA of 3.01, also included an exceptional pitcher in rookie phenom Fernando Valenzuela.  The 20-year-old left-hander finished 13-7, with a 2.48 ERA and a league-leading 180 strikeouts, eight shutouts, 11 complete games, and 192 innings pitched, en route to earning N.L. Cy Young and Rookie of the Year honors.  In addition, the Dodgers’ starting rotation featured Burt Hooton, who finished 11-6 with a 2.28 ERA, and Jerry Reuss, who went 10-4 with an ERA of 2.30.

Meanwhile, Steve Garvey and Dusty Baker paced the Dodgers on offense.  Garvey batted .283 and placed among the league leaders with 64 runs batted in.  Baker finished third in the league with a .320 batting average

The Astros won the first two games of their first round playoff matchup with the Dodgers, but Los Angeles stormed back to claim the Western Division title by taking the final three contests.  Jerry Reuss led the Dodgers to victory in the series clincher, going the distance in a 4-0 Los Angeles win.   

The Phillies similarly fell behind two-games-to-none in their Eastern Division matchup with the Expos, before coming back to even the Series at two-games-apiece.  However, Montreal thwarted the Philadelphia comeback by winning Game Five 3-0 behind Steve Rogers.

The Expos subsequently jumped out to a 2-0 lead against the Dodgers in the NLCS.  Los Angeles rallied once again, though, to even the Series at 2-2.  Rick Monday capped the Dodger comeback by hitting a home run against Rogers in the top of the ninth inning in Game Five that broke a 1-1 tie and put Los Angeles in the World Series for the first time in three years.

Los Angeles went down 2-0 for the third straight time by losing the first two World Series games at Yankee Stadium.  But the Dodgers swept New York in the next four contests, gaining a measure of revenge against a team that defeated them in both the 1977 and 1978 World Series.  The Dodgers took Game Six in convincing fashion, beating the Yankees by a score of 9-2.  Pedro Guerrero, Ron Cey, and Steve Yeager shared Series MVP honors.

Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:

• April 18 – Cincinnati’s Tom Seaver recorded his 3,000th career strikeout.

• April 29 – Philadelphia’s Steve Carlton recorded his 3,000th career strikeout.

• June 5 - Nolan Ryan issued the 1,777th walk of his career, breaking the record previously held by Early Wynn.

• June 10 - Pete Rose tied Stan Musial’s National League record for career hits by collecting the 3,630th safety of his career.  He broke Musial’s all-time mark more than two months later, after play resumed following the players’ strike.

• June 16 - In the midst of the players' strike, William Wrigley III announced the sale of the Chicago Cubs to the Tribune Company for $20 million, thereby ending the decades-long association between the Wrigley family and the Cubs.

• Cincinnati’s Tom Seaver finished 14-2 with a 2.55 ERA.

• The National League won its 10th straight All-Star Game, 5-4 in Cleveland.

• Nolan Ryan established a new major league record by throwing his fifth career no-hitter on September 26 against the Dodgers.

• Charlie Lea of Montreal tossed a no-hitter against San Francisco on May 10.

• Pittsburgh’s Bill Madlock led the league with a .341 batting average.

• Cincinnati traded Ray Knight to Houston for Cesar Cedeno.

• St. Louis dealt Garry Templeton to San Diego for Ozzie Smith.

• The Carpenter family sold the Phillies.

• San Francisco’s Vida Blue became the first pitcher to win the All-Star Game as a member of each league’s squad.

• San Francisco’s Frank Robinson became the first black manager in National League history.

• Cincinnati’s George Foster batted .295 and placed among the league leaders with 22 home runs and 90 runs batted in.

Seasons of the National League

1876 · 1877 · 1878 · 1879 · 1880 · 1881 · 1882 · 1883 · 1884 · 1885 · 1886 · 1887 · 1888 · 1889 · 1890 · 1891 · 1892 · 1893 · 1894 · 1895 · 1896 · 1897 · 1898 · 1899 · 1900 · 1901 · 1902 · 1903 · 1904 · 1905 · 1906 · 1907 · 1908 · 1909 · 1910 · 1911 · 1912 · 1913 · 1914 · 1915 · 1916 · 1917 · 1918 · 1919 · 1920 · 1921 · 1922 · 1923 · 1924 · 1925 · 1926 · 1927 · 1928 · 1929 · 1930 · 1931 · 1932 · 1933 · 1934 · 1935 · 1936 · 1937 · 1938 · 1939 · 1940 · 1941 · 1942 · 1943 · 1944 · 1945 · 1946 · 1947 · 1948 · 1949 · 1950 · 1951 · 1952 · 1953 · 1954 · 1955 · 1956 · 1957 · 1958 · 1959 · 1960 · 1961 · 1962 · 1963 · 1964 · 1965 · 1966 · 1967 · 1968 · 1969 · 1970 · 1971 · 1972 · 1973 · 1974 · 1975 · 1976 · 1977 · 1978 · 1979 · 1980 · 1981 · 1982 · 1983 · 1984 · 1985 · 1986 · 1987 · 1988 · 1989 · 1990 · 1991 · 1992 · 1993 · 1994 · 1995 · 1996 · 1997 · 1998 · 1999 · 2000 · 2001 · 2002 · 2003 · 2004 · 2005 · 2006 · 2007 · 2008 · 2009 · 2010  

Batting

TM G AB R H RBI AVG 2B 3B HR SB CS TB OBP SLG OPSLG GIDP SF SH
ATL 1508 3642 395 886 366 .198 148 22 64 98 39 1270 .332 .256 .625 83 18 56
CHN 1523 3546 370 838 348 .160 138 29 57 72 41 1205 .292 .226 .546 78 30 53
CIN 1424 3637 464 972 429 .194 190 24 64 58 37 1402 .323 .286 .663 98 40 53
HOU 1402 3693 394 948 369 .239 160 35 45 81 43 1313 .334 .329 .684 69 35 79
LAN 1478 3751 450 984 427 .196 133 20 82 73 46 1403 .343 .282 .662 83 27 62
MON 1422 3591 443 883 407 .220 146 28 81 138 40 1328 .350 .321 .739 74 30 63
NYN 1527 3493 348 868 325 .201 136 35 57 103 42 1245 .396 .268 .718 78 34 41
PHI 1498 3665 491 1002 453 .226 165 25 69 103 46 1424 .348 .290 .677 79 37 44
PIT 1440 3576 407 920 384 .197 176 30 55 122 52 1321 .300 .268 .610 60 36 54
SDN 1524 3757 382 963 350 .201 170 35 32 83 62 1299 .269 .258 .536 87 30 72
SFN 1469 3766 427 941 399 .219 161 26 63 89 50 1343 .326 .289 .633 91 27 65
SLN 1411 3537 464 936 431 .188 158 45 50 88 45 1334 .338 .256 .647 82 35 46

Pitching

Team G W L IP SO BB BF H HR ERA ER R GC SH SV WP BK
ATL 322 50 56 968 471 330 4078 936 62 78.520 371 416 11 4 24 25 6
CHN 369 38 65 957 532 388 4165 983 59 57.950 427 483 6 2 20 42 8
CIN 290 66 42 967 593 393 4065 863 67 50.880 400 440 25 10 20 27 7
HOU 274 61 49 992 610 300 4034 842 40 43.410 293 331 23 13 25 36 4
LAN 297 63 47 996 603 302 4099 904 54 42.830 333 356 26 15 24 19 1
MON 291 60 48 975 520 268 4008 902 58 70.370 357 394 20 8 23 28 2
NYN 339 41 62 925 490 336 3951 906 74 63.290 365 432 7 1 24 26 10
PHI 291 59 48 961 580 347 4086 967 72 62.790 432 472 19 1 23 32 16
PIT 304 46 56 942 492 346 4029 953 60 59.750 373 425 11 4 29 32 11
SDN 349 41 69 1002 492 414 4297 1013 64 51.760 415 455 9 3 23 30 19
SFN 322 56 55 1010 561 393 4302 970 57 48.120 368 414 8 3 33 36 13
SLN 322 59 43 942 388 290 3910 902 52 63.110 380 417 11 2 33 22 11

Fielding

Team ID G TC PO A E Fld% InOuts SB CS CS% PB
ATL 1670 5056 3628 1312 116 .941 11616 98 58 1.00 10
CHN 1706 4972 3541 1300 131 .965 11480 109 55 1.00 6
CIN 1686 4872 3626 1156 90 .980 11592 107 35 0 3
HOU 1650 5029 3710 1224 95 .977 11881 86 52 0 8
LAN 1714 5036 3671 1267 98 .960 11963 80 45 0 13
MON 1658 4949 3704 1151 94 .977 11701 65 48 0 5
NYN 1702 4888 3511 1222 155 .970 11103 68 39 0 5
PHI 1798 5011 3582 1324 105 .975 11522 124 41 1.00 2
PIT 1624 4898 3592 1203 103 .962 11303 65 34 0 7
SDN 1755 5310 3779 1412 119 .949 12025 95 53 1.00 5
SFN 1697 5228 3768 1343 117 .954 12112 117 43 0 7
SLN 1695 4983 3518 1370 95 .974 11316 94 40 0 5

West

team W L Att Rk SOP
Cincinnati Reds 66 42 1093730 1 593
Los Angeles Dodgers 63 47 2381292 2 603
Houston Astros 61 49 1321282 3 610
San Francisco Giants 56 55 632274 4 561
Atlanta Braves 50 56 535418 5 471
San Diego Padres 41 69 519161 6 492

Central

East

team W L Att Rk SOP
Montreal Expos 60 48 1534564 2 520
Philadelphia Philies 59 48 1638752 3 580
St. Louis Cardinals 59 43 1010247 1 388
Pittsburg Pirates 46 56 541789 4 492
New York Mets 41 62 704244 5 490
Chicago Cubs 38 65 565637 6 532

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Tagged:
1981 NLCS, 1981 NLDS1, 1981 NLDS2, 1981 World Series, Andre Dawson, Bill Madlock, Bob Knepper, Burt Hooton, Cesar Cedeno, Charlie Lea, Don Sutton, Dusty Baker, Fernando Valenzuela, Frank Robinson, Garry Templeton, Gary Matthews, George Foster, Houston Astros, Jerry Reuss, Los Angeles Dodgers, Mike Schmidt, Montreal Expos, Nolan Ryan, Ozzie Smith, Pedro Guerrero, Pete Rose, Philadelphia Phillies, Ray Knight, Rick Monday, Ron Cey, Steve Carlton, Steve Garvey, Steve Rogers, Steve Yeager, Tim Raines, Tom Seaver, Vida Blue

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