Paul Molitor

Position: Third baseman; Second baseman; First baseman; Designated hitter
Teams: Milwaukee Brewers, 1978-1992; Toronto Blue Jays, 1993-1995; Minnesota Twins, 1996-1998

Paul Molitor took an odd route to Cooperstown, trying his hand at every infield and outfield position, struggling to stay healthy, and not hitting his stride until he was past 30. But if you bat .300 or higher 12 times in a 21-year- career, there's a good chance the Hall of Fame will be your final destination.

Paul Molitor broke through in 1979, when he ripped .322, laced 16 triples, and pilfered 33 bases.
Paul Molitor broke through in 1979, when
he ripped .322, laced 16 triples, and
pilfered 33 bases.

The Milwaukee Brewers' original plan was for Molitor (born 1956) to play second base, teaming with shortstop Robin Yount. While Molitor showed promise at bat (he hit .322 with 16 triples in 1979), he couldn't stay healthy. Despite moving to center field to combat minor injuries suffered while playing second, Molitor still missed much of 1981 with torn ankle ligaments. The next season, he tried third base and hit .302 with 19 homers, leading the majors with 136 runs for the AL champion Brewers.

Molitor played just 13 games in 1984 due to an elbow injury. But in 1987, he returned to form. Batting .353 and topping the AL in runs and doubles, he thrilled the nation with a 39-game hitting streak, which was the seventh longest in major-league history. Tellingly, 1987 was the first season in which Molitor was primarily a designated hitter. Though he returned to the infield for three more solid seasons, he shifted permanently to DH, with the occasional appearance at first, in 1991.

Able to concentrate purely on hitting and baserunning, "The Ignitor" celebrated by batting .325 in '91 while leading the AL in runs, hits, and triples. The following season, he rapped .320 with 89 RBI and cleared 30 stolen bases for the eighth time. After the season, however, he was allowed to leave for Toronto as a free agent.

Brewers management would regret this decision. The extraordinarily popular Molitor had some big years left. Joining the Blue Jays in 1993, he cracked .332 with a league-leading 211 hits. He also tallied 22 homers and 111 RBI and helped Toronto win the World Series. In fact, in six games against the Phillies, Molitor ripped .500 with two doubles, two triples, two homers, 10 runs, and eight RBI.

After two more strong years in Canada, Molitor signed with his hometown Twins. In 1996, at age 40, he again led the AL in hits with a whopping 225. He ripped .341 with a career-best 113 RBI and racked up his 3,000th career safety.

When Molitor retired in 1998, he ranked among history's top ten in hits (3,319) and doubles (605) -- incredible totals given that he played more than 140 games in just eight of his 21 seasons. In 2004, he was voted into the Hall of Fame.

Here are Paul Molitor's major league totals:


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