Dave Cash

The articulate Cash was an underrated second baseman who hit .300 four times and set a number of records, some significant and some trivial. His lifetime .984 fielding average is the NL record for second basemen.

Cash’s career started slowly. In 1970 he hit .314 and showed fine range when filling in for aging All-Star Bill Mazeroski. However, Cash’s 1970-72 seasons were interrupted each July for two weeks of military duty. Mazeroski didn’t retire until after 1972, and Rennie Stennett appeared on the scene in 1971. Cash never became an everyday player with Pittsburgh, although he averaged almost 450 at-bats a year from 1971 to 1973 by occasionally playing third base. His best moments with the Pirates were in the 1971 LCS, when he hit .421, set a LCS record with eight hits in a four-game series (his 19 at-bats tied the record), and scored five runs, including the series clincher in Game Four.

Finally, in October 1973 (with Willie Randolph coming up through the farm system to compete with Stennett and Cash), the Pirates traded Cash to the Phillies for veteran pitcher Ken Brett. Cash played in all the Phillies’ games in 1974 and 1975 and missed only two games in 1976. He set a since-broken ML record of 699 at-bats in 1975, and set a still-standing ML record for most at-bats with no sacrifice hits. He also tied the ML record with three consecutive seasons leading the majors in at-bats, and set the NL record for consecutive games at second base (443).

Cash not only played every day, he played well, making the All-Star team each year. He hit .300 in 1974, scored 89 runs, stole 20 bases, and drove in a career-high 58; in 1975 he upped his BA to .305 while leading the league with 213 hits, finishing second in the NL with 40 doubles and a career-high 111 runs (only one behind Pete Rose). Although his numbers fell off a bit in 1976 (.284, 92 runs), his 12 triples led the league, and he struck out only 13 times in 666 at-bats. To close out the year, he hit .308 in the LCS while the Phillies were being swept by the Reds. His weakness as a leadoff hitter was his failure to walk more often, but he was nonetheless one of the premier second basemen in the game. He led NL second basemen in assists and double plays in 1974, in putouts and double plays in 1975, and in fielding average and double plays in 1976.

After the 1976 season, Cash declared free agency and signed with the Expos. He maintained his level of play in 1977, finishing second in assists and batting .289 with 42 doubles (second in the NL), 91 runs, and a career-high 21 steals. But although his defense remained strong in 1978, as he again led the NL in putouts and fielding, his hitting declined (.252, 66 runs). Manager Dick Williams replaced Cash with Rodney Scott in 1979 despite the protests of some players and the front office. Scott hit .238 to Cash’s part-time .321 that year, and although Scott stole 39 bases and led the NL in total chances per game, he was weak on the double play and scored only 69 runs in 151 games. Williams’s dismissal during the 1981 season was ascribed by some to bad feelings dating back to this controversy. Meanwhile, Cash adjusted by becoming a valuable pinch hitter (10-for-30). That November, Cash was traded to the Padres for Bill Almon and Dan Briggs. He finished his career with a disappointing .227 average for the last-place Padres. After retirement, he became the Phillies’ minor league fielding coach.