No. 3 – The 1979 Middle Infield
The 1979 Minnesota Twins would have appeared much more successful if they played in the current era of baseball with their just above .500 record of 82-80. In 1979 they finished fourth in the American League West and went home to watch the Baltimore Orioles represent the AL and lose to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
During the 1979 season Roy Smalley, who is currently most familiar with most fans for his role covering Twins television games, was the Twins regular shortstop. The switch-hitter turned in one of his best seasons as he slashed .271/.353/.441, 24 home runs, and 28 doubles. Smalley was rewarded through his performance with is first and only All-Star appearance as well as some inclusion in MVP voting.
Second baseman Rob Wilfong also turned in a career year in 1979. He hit .313/.352/.458, 9 home runs, and 22 doubles. The left-hander also had an OPS of .810 and lead the league in sacrifice hits at 25. In today’s game, sacrifices aren’t viewed as positively as they were in the 1979 MLB so this is certainly a great part of his resume based on the era he played in.
As mentioned both of these middle infielders had career years. Wilfong ended the season with a WAR of 3.1, a full 2.0 WAR better than his next best season according to WAR over his career. While Smalley gained the most attention he ever had, his WAR of 4.3 was the second best of his career behind his 5.9 WAR in 1978. That puts this third middle infield group on this list at a combined 7.4 WAR.