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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

SKO Random 3rd Baseman of the Day: Vance Law

I haven't posted on here in over a month and I'm bored, so I'm going to resurrect an old, old feature. I stated earlier that I would leave baseball coverage to those that are a lot better at it than I am, and that I'm going to do, but I'm at least going to finish this damn list, resuming with:

Name: Vance Aaron Law
Height: 6'2'' Weight: 185 lb
Bats: R Throws: R
Years as a Cub: 1988-1989

Keith Moreland had been a fan favorite and posted good offensive numbers at 3rd base for the team in 1987. Unfortunately, he played 3rd base about as well as Joe Bonham and made 28 errors. The Cubs, therefore, traded Keith Moreland to the Padres before the 1988 season in order to pick up closer Goose Gossage and replaced Moreland with Vance Law, a free agent who had spent the previous three seasons with Les Expos after stops with the Pirates and White Sox.

The 1988 season didn't work out particularly well for the 77-85 Cubs, but it ended up as a career year for Law. A career .256/.326/.376/.703 hitter, Law posted careers highs in batting average, RBIs, and total bases, and neared his career highs in OBP and OPS. Overall he hit .293 with 11 HRs, 78 RBIs, a .358 OBP, a .412 slugging %, and a .770 OPS in 151 games, resulting in his first and only trip to the All Star Game (along with fellow Cubs Greg Maddux, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Rafael Palmeiro, and Shawon Dunston. Only the Cubs could post a losing record with 6 All Stars). While those seem fairly pedestrian by today's standards they were outstanding for a Cub third baseman of the late 1980s or early 1990s, and the Cubs showed their appreciation for Vance's efforts by naming a hot dog after him. I'm serious.

In the field in 1988, Law was a slight improvement over Moreland, with 19 errors and a .953 fielding % (besting Law's 28 and .934), although his range was slightly below both his career average and the league average, as he posted a 2.57 range factor/9 innings, below the league rate of 2.77 and his 2.65 career mark.

The 1989 season worked out much better for the Cubs, who ran up 93 wins while racing to the NL East title, but Law's poor play that year would essentially end his career and cost him his job in favor of late-season acquistion Luis Salazar. In 130 games in 1989, Law hit just .235, with only 7 HRs, 42 RBIs, and a .296/.355/.651 OBP/Slug/OPS. His defense also went into the tank as his fielding % slipped to .943 and his range factor/9 innings dropped to 2.31.

With Salazar in the fold and the 32 year old Law looking washed up, the Cubs handed Vance his walking papers in January of 1990 (I'm not sure what happened to the unused Vance Law hot dogs. Maybe they renamed them Luis Salazar Dogs? Or Steve Buechele Dogs? If you bought them in Mesa it was probably a Gary Scott Dog). He spent the 1990 season in Japan before making a short-lived, 74 game comeback with the A's in 1991. He now coaches the BYU baseball team.

Vance Law: Good enough for a hot dog sponsor, I guess.

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