The first player in major league history to win a pair of batting crowns with two different teams, Bill Madlock’s bat sparked three different teams to post-season play. After outstanding performances at Spokane (Triple-A) and Texas in 1973, Madlock was traded to the Cubs with Vic Harris for Ferguson Jenkins. Madlock replaced Ron Santo at third base and hit .313, the highest average for a Cubs third baseman since 1945. The 5’11” 190-lb Madlock had a compact swing, one of the prettiest in baseball, and scattered line drives throughout the National League. He easily won the 1975 batting title and edged Ken Griffey in 1976. A sometimes moody player who earned a reputation early in his career for sitting down against tough pitchers, Madlock was dealt to San Francisco on February 11, 1977 with Rob Sperring for Bobby Murcer, Steve Ontiveros, and Andy Muhlstock. The Giants moved Madlock, at best an adequate fielder, from third base to second, and his batting tailed off.
The unhappy infielder was rescued by Pittsburgh on June 28, 1979. Madlock and Len Randle came to the Pirates for Ed Whitson, Al Holland, and Fred Breining and brought a pennant to Pittsburgh. Madlock returned to third base, batted .328 during the season, and hit .375 in the World Series. He solidified both the offensive and defensive lineups of the World Champions. After two more batting titles, his play mirrored the decline of the Pirates. Again a pennant contender, this time the Dodgers, was willing to trade young prospects for a proven bat. Madlock went to Los Angeles on August 31, 1985 and batted .360 in a successful stretch run. He hit three HR in the Dodgers’ LCS loss. In 1987 Madlock filled Detroit’s void at third base and earned a third trip to postseason play. The 37-year old became a free agent following the 1987 season and played in Japan in 1988. From 1971 through 1989, Madlock was the only righthanded batter to lead the NL in batting average.