Preston: Detailing Roberto Clemente’s 27 assists in 1961 and Dave Parker’s 26 in 1977

From SABR member J.G. Preston at The J.G. Preston Experience on August 11, 2015:

In doing some research on Dave Parker, I realized he had an outstanding accomplishment in 1977 that has been pretty much ignored or forgotten. Playing right field for the Pirates that year, Parker had 26 assists — no major league outfielder has had that many in the almost 40 seasons since, and the last who had more was Parker’s Pittsburgh predecessor Roberto Clemente, who had 27 in 1961. (Clemente, in turn, had the most of anyone since Washington’s Stan Spence had 29 in 1944.) Dave Winfield, who finished second in the National League in assists in ’77, had “only” 15. Parker also took part in nine double plays in 1977; the only outfielder who has been involved in more since 1929 (!) was Del Unser, who was part of 10 double plays as a rookie with the Senators in 1968.

Parker had a well-earned reputation for having a superb arm, and while he never had anywhere near 26 assists or led the league in any other season (perhaps because his reputation made runners cautious), he ranked among the top three NL right fielders in assists for five straight years (1976-80) and burned his way into the national consciousness with two incredible throws in the 1979 All-Star Game at Seattle’s Kingdome that earned him the game’s Most Valuable Player honor.

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Originally published: August 11, 2015. Last Updated: August 11, 2015.