1983: Dickie Thon
Bill Virdon was fired as Astros manager in 1982.
His second season with the Astros, Dickie Thon really broke out the power bat in 1983. He was 25-years old that season, and was becoming an anchor at shortstop. Thon had the greatest season an Astros shortstop had ever had. Around the All-Star break, Thon was hitting over 0.300, but the NL starting nod went to Ozzie Smith, who won the fan vote.
Even though I’m sure people could not have expected Thon to make the All-Star team, more of a shocker was that he hit 20 HRs that year. After doing most of his damage at home in 1982, the following season was a different story. Let’s look at his splits home and away during the 1983 season.
Home: 0.292/ 0.352/ 0.420/ 0.772/ 4 HR/ 14 SB
Away: 0.280/ 0.330/ 0.494/ 0.824/ 16 HR/ 20 SB
While Thon’s batting average and on-base percentage was better at home, he hit more home runs and had a higher slugging percentage away from the Astrodome. Despite a slow start to the season, Thon batted 0.307 in first-half of the season, compared to 0.263 after the All-Star game.
His stats (from Baseball Reference):
- .286 BA/.389 OBP/.471 SLG/.859 OPS
- 177 hits
- 81 runs
- 28 doubles
- 9 triples
- 20 HRs
- 79 RBI
- 54 walks
- 34 stolen bases
- 7.4 WAR
Dickie Thon finised first in the NL with a 7.4 WAR that season, and even finished with 20% of the votes for NL MVP. He won the Silver Slugger Award in 1983, and I believe he was the only Astros shortstop to win that award. Only Cesar Cendeno had a higher WAR than 1983 Dickie Thon prior to the Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell era.
Did you know: Thon also finished in the top five in errors. How many errors did he commit in 1983?
Next: 1984: Craig Reynolds