In 1990, outstanding pitching was the rule rather than the exception, giving rise to great performances from Dennis Eckersley, Roger Clemens, Bobby Thigpen, and others. Here are some of the headlines from the 1990 baseball season:
Roger Clemens Wins 21 Games
Roger Clemens appeared headed toward his third Cy Young Award in 1990 when arm trouble sidelined him for much of September. He still ended up with 21 victories -- including back-to-back complete-game shutouts -- as he led the Red Sox to their third division crown in five seasons.
Dennis Eckersley Saves 48 Games
Dennis Eckersley dominated American League hitters in 1990, saving a career-high 48 games. A master of control, the A's reliever averaged nearly a strikeout for each of his 73-1/3 innings pitched and allowed just four walks for the entire season. He ran out of steam in the 1990 World Series, however, allowing three hits in 1-1/3 innings and losing game two in the tenth inning.
Bobby Thigpen Sets Saves Record
No reliever has ever enjoyed the success of Bobby Thigpen in 1990. The White Sox stopper shattered the major league single-season record with 57 saves, obliterating the old mark of 46. Thigpen won four additional games and compiled a 1.83 ERA. With Thigpen in the pen, the White Sox won 94 games -- 25 more than in 1989.
Darryl Strawberry: 37 HR, 108 RBI
After beginning 1990 with a protracted contract squabble, Darryl Strawberry had a banner season. The Met superstar batted .277 with 37 homers and 108 RBI and nearly carried the Mets to the playoffs. Despite off-field problems and numerous squabbles with teammates and management over the years, he reached 26 homers for the eighth straight year. Strawberry signed a five-year, $20-million contract with the Dodgers after the 1990 season.
Jose Canseco: 37 HR, 101 RBI
Despite his recurring back trouble and extended stays on the disabled list, Jose Canseco signed the most lucrative contract in baseball history in 1990 -- $23.5 million over five years. The right fielder proved his worth over and over that season, batting .274 with 37 homers and 101 RBI to spearhead the A's to 103 victories and the 1990 World Series. He fell with the rest of the ballclub in the fall classic, hitting .083 with one homer and two RBI.
Cecil Fielder of Dreams
In 1990, the Tigers plucked Cecil Fielder, former Blue Jay first baseman, from Japan as a free agent and Fielder responded with a career season. The 11th player in major league history to smack 50 homers, he clubbed 51 dingers in 1990, including two round-trippers in the last game of the season. Fielder led the American League in RBI (132), slugging (.592), total bases (339), and strikeouts (182).
Lance Parrish Hits 24 HR
Having been one of the chief victims of the owners' collusion against free agents in 1986, Lance Parrish was granted free agency by the Angels at the end of the 1989 season. The catcher promptly re-signed with the Angels and batted .268 with 24 homers and 70 RBI in 1990.
Ryne Sandberg Hits 40 HR
In 1990, Ryne Sandberg became the first second baseman since Dave Johnson in 1973 to hit 40 or more home runs. Sandberg hit exactly 40, driving in 100 runs and batting .306 for the Cubs. The best second sacker in the major leagues since Joe Morgan, Sandberg posted 344 total bases that year -- the highest mark in the majors (higher than even Cecil Fielder's 339 total).
Check out more headlines from the 1990 baseball season on the next page.