With his 41st home run of the season, a two-run shot off Phillies right-hander Jim Lonborg in the third inning of an August 17th game at Veterans Stadium, Dodgers slugger Reggie Smith became the first player in either league to collect one hundred RBI during the SP78 season. It was the second time Smith has achieved that coveted plateau in his career; he last reached the mark in 1974, hitting an even 100 as a member of the Cardinals. He’s also the SP78 single-game record holder for runs batted in, having collected ten in the first game of a doubleheader against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 16th.
No other National League player is even close to one hundred (George Foster of the Reds is in second place with 86), and with a league-leading 41 home runs and a robust .366 average, Smith is a serious contender for the Triple Crown award, with just under a month and a half remaining in the season. It would be the first Triple Crown in the major leagues since Boston outfielder Carl Yastrzemski won the award in 1967, and the first in the National League since Joe Medwick turned the trick for the Cardinals forty years earlier, in 1937.
What makes this particular RBI milestone even more amazing is that Smith has missed three weeks of the season due to injury; if he stays healthy, he’ll still have a whopping 42 games remaining in the LA schedule to add to his total. At his current pace of one RBI per game, he’d finish the 1978 campaign with 142 (and at one HR hit every 2.4 games, he’d break Roger Maris’ home run record of 61 by one). The question now is, will he remain healthy?
Said Smith in the locker room after the game in Philadelphia, “Oh yeah…I’m done with all this injury crap.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers wrapped up July with a 17-11 won-lost mark and a four-game winning streak, which not only put them two games ahead of the second-place Padres in the NL West, but gave them a 66-37 record for the season, which in turn was the best record of all 26 teams in the major leagues as the SP78 campaign headed into August. Surprisingly, this was accomplished without the full-time services of Triple Crown contender Reggie Smith, who was limited to just 18 games played after a shoulder injury knocked him out of action for two weeks during the second half of the month.
Helping the Dodgers cause were starting right-hander Burt Hooton, who went 4-0 in July with a 2.22 earned run average and twenty strikeouts, and bullpen ace Terry Forster, who collected five saves while limiting opposing batters to just five hits and one run over nine games, good for a 0.85 ERA. Also making an impact on the mound was rookie Bob Welch, who successfully converted from reliever to starter in July and went 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA in five starts.
At the plate, Smith led LA with a .408 average, eight home runs, and 23 RBI. Lopes’ 34 hits led the team, while Ron Cey was tops in the NL with eleven doubles. However, the most jaw-dropping stat again belongs to Smith, who has an SP78-leading seven 2-HR games this season, to go along with his 37 home runs and 90 runs batted in. The month also saw an old-timer’s game played between the ’62 Dodgers and ’62 Giants, a 7-inning contest won by LA 10-5 in front of a nostalgic crowd at Dodger Stadium.
To see the Dodgers stat page for July, click here. And remember, the boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been purposely left blank; these figures will be added after all NL team statistics have been finalized, and July award winners have been picked.
Posted in Inside SP78
Tagged baseball, board game, Burt Hooton, Davey Lopes, July, LA, Los Angeles Dodgers, NL West, Reggie Smith, Ron Cey, Statis Pro 1978 Replay