No. 195 Willie Davis (Number 14 Center Field)

Willie Davis is probably most famous for making 3 errors in one inning of game 2 of the 1966 World Series. He lost the ball in the sun for two straight batters and made a throwing error on the second batter. It gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead in a game they would lose 6-0. It was the last game Sandy Koufax pitched because of his bad arm. The Dodgers just had a bad game as they made 6 errors. The thing was that Willie Davis ranks as high as he does because of his fielding.

Davis was an above average hitter in his career according to Baseball Reference WAR. He had a good batting average despite playing in a poor hitters park. However, he didn’t walk very much which hurts his on base percentage. He had a fair amount of power for his ballpark twice leading the lead in triples. He was a good base runner, so he scored a good number of runs, which was important when you have Koufax and Drysdale pitching for your team.

The interesting thing about Davis’s fielding stats is they were below average from 1966 to 1968. He was plus 29 in 1964, which is outstanding and went down to minus 4 two years later. I bet a lot can be learned by finding out why. Those three years he was age 26-28 which should have been his prime. Maybe he was hurt. It was strange because after those three years he was an above average fielder.

When I was a kid my parents had one annual almanac. It covered the year 1966. I liked to look at practically the section on sports. I was always fascinated with the World Series of 1966 because of this. The first game both teams scored early but the Orioles bought in Moe Drabowsky in relief, and he pitched 6.1 scoreless innings in relief to get a 5-2 victory for the Orioles.

The Dodgers scored a run in the third to pull within 2 at 4-2. It was the last run they would score. Not just for that game but for the Series. The final scores of the four games were 5-2, 6-0, 1-0 and 1-0. The almanac had the line scores for the games, and it always amazed me to see all those zeros. The Orioles only used four pitchers in the Series as Dave McNally the starter for game 1 came back and threw a shutout in game 4. Davis didn’t help with his bat in that series as he had only 1 single in four games with no walks. However, he did have a fine career and should be considered for the hall of fame.

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