Juan Samuel

A speedy runner with great power but unsure hands for a second baseman, Samuel set a rookie stolen-base record of 72 in 1984 (broken by Vince Coleman the following year.) He had an NL-record 701 at-bats in 1984 and hit .272 with 15 HR and 69 RBI as the Phillies’ leadoff hitter to win TSN NL Rookie Player of the Year honors. He also struck out 168 times to lead the NL, rarely walked, and committed 33 errors, weaknesses that plagued his career. The Phillies moved the strikeout-prone Samuel (at least 141 in each of his six ML seasons through 1988) from the leadoff spot and in 1988 switched him to the outfield, where his speed partially compensated for bad fly-ball judgment. Samuel’s best offensive season was 1987, when he hit .272 with 28 HR, 100 RBI, 113 runs, 35 stolen bases, and an NL-high 15 triples. He became the only player in ML history to post double figures in doubles, triples, home runs, and stolen bases in each of his first four ML seasons. In 1988 he missed the feat by one triple. Samuel was traded to the Mets for Len Dykstra and Roger McDowell in mid-1989 and became New York’s leadoff hitter and centerfielder.