- 3B, DH, SS, 1B, 2B
- February 7, 1957
- 6' 2"
- 195 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-08-1978 with CAL
- Allstar Selections:
- 1981 SS, 1992 HA
One of fewer than a dozen men to play in both the Little League World Series and the MLB World Series, Carney Lansford provided consistent hitting and solid defense to an Oakland A’s team that dominated the American League from 1988 to 1990. Usually batting second in Oakland’s lineup, behind either Rickey or Dave Henderson, and immediately before Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, Lansford typically posted batting averages that approached the .300-mark. He also gave the team another threat on the base paths, stealing a career high 37 bases for Oakland’s 1989 world championship ball club. An agile and sure-handed fielder as well, Lansford led American League third basemen in putouts twice, while also topping all players at his position in fielding percentage on five separate occasions.
Born in San Jose, California on February 7, 1957, Carney Ray Lansford played Little League ball for the Briarwood team from Santa Clara, California that lost in the finals of the 1969 Little League World Series to the Taiwanese squad from Taipei City. After graduating from Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, Lansford was selected by the California Angels in the third round of the 1975 amateur draft. Advancing quickly through California’s minor league system, Lansford made his major league debut with the Angels on April 8, 1978, opening the season as the club’s starting third baseman. The 21-year-old infielder appeared in 121 games over the course of the campaign, earning a third-place finish in the A.L. Rookie of the Year voting by batting .294, with eight homers, 52 RBIs, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases.
The right-handed hitting Lansford improved upon his performance the following year, helping the Angels capture the A.L. West title by batting .287, hitting 19 home runs, driving in 79 runs, stealing another 20 bases, and establishing career highs with 114 runs scored and 188 hits. He also struck out an uncharacteristic 115 times, which represented something of an anomaly for him since his quick, compact swing enabled him to compile fewer than 70 strikeouts in all but one other season during his career. Doing an outstanding job in the field as well, Lansford committed only seven errors in his 157 games at the hot corner, leading all A.L. third basemen with a .983 fielding percentage in the process.
Lansford had another solid year for the Angels in 1980, hitting 15 homers, scoring 87 runs, and knocking in a career high 80 runs. However, his .261 batting average and relatively low .312 on-base percentage convinced the Angels to include him in a five-player trade they made with the Red Sox at season’s end that netted them shortstop Rick Burleson and third baseman Butch Hobson.
Lansford flourished in Boston, leading the American League with a .336 batting average during the strike-shortened 1981 campaign. By winning the A.L. batting title, he became the first right-handed hitter to do so since Alex Johnson topped the junior circuit in hitting 11 years earlier. Although Lansford hit only four home runs despite playing his home games in a ballpark that featured Fenway Park’s famous Green Monster in left field, he struck out just 28 times in 438 total plate appearances. His outstanding performance earned him a sixth-place finish in the league MVP balloting. Lansford followed that up by batting .301 in 1982, while also hitting 11 homers and knocking in 63 runs.
The arrival of Wade Boggs in Boston signaled the end of Lansford’s time with the Red Sox, who traded the league’s 1981 batting champion to Oakland for slugging outfielder Tony Armas prior to the start of the 1983 season. Despite missing extensive playing time due to injuries in both 1983 and 1985, Lansford had three straight solid years for the A’s, posting batting averages in excess of .300 twice and finishing in double-digits in homers each season from 1983 to 1985. He had his two most productive years for the team in 1986 and 1987, hitting 19 home runs in each of those campaigns, while driving in 72 and 76 runs, respectively. He also posted batting averages of .284 and .289, combined to score a total of 169 runs, and established a new career high with 27 stolen bases in 1987.
The A’s won three straight American League pennants from 1988 to 1990, with Lansford making key contributions to the success of the team. After batting .279, scoring 80 runs, stealing 29 bases, and making his only All-Star appearance in the first of those years, he finished second to Kirby Puckett in the A.L. batting race with a mark of .336 the following season. Lansford also scored 81 runs, stole a career-high 37 bases, and struck out only 25 times in more than 600 total plate appearances. He punctuated perhaps his finest all-around year by batting .455 and knocking in four runs against Toronto in the ALCS, before posting a mark of .438 and driving in another four runs during Oakland’s four-game sweep of San Francisco in the World Series. Although Lansford’s offensive production fell off dramatically in 1990, the 33-year-old third baseman still managed to bat .268, steal 16 bases, and place second among players at his position in fielding percentage.
After missing virtually all of 1991 with an injury, Lansford returned to Oakland in 1992 for one final season. He batted .262, knocked in 75 runs, and scored 65 others, before announcing his retirement at season’s end. Lansford ended his career with 151 home runs, 874 runs batted in, 1,007 runs scored, 2,074 hits, a .290 batting average, and a .343 on-base percentage. He batted over .300 on five separate occasions, hit as many as 19 homers three times, scored more than 100 runs once, and stole more than 20 bases five times.
Following his playing career, Lansford remained away from the game for several years, before taking on the position of hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants in 2008. He continued to serve in that capacity until being relieved of his duties at the conclusion of the 2009 campaign. The Colorado Rockies subsequently hired him to be their hitting instructor for the 2011 season. Upon Lansford’s assignment, Colorado manager Jim Tracy discussed the positive influence he anticipated the former third baseman having on his team: “I go back to the fact that I know what kind of player Carney Lansford was – and he was a big part of championship ball clubs ... He hit second and had Rickey Henderson leading off. He had Rickey getting on and stealing bases in front of him, and set up Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. This guy has first-hand knowledge of what you need to do.”
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- 1989 ALCS, 1989 World Series, All Star, Boston Red Sox, Butch Hobson, California Angels, Carney Lansford, Colorado Rockies, Dave Henderson, Jim Tracy, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics, Rick Burleson, Rickey Henderson, San Francisco Giants, Tony Armas, Wade Boggs