I guess a player's big moments can make them larger in your memories. They were talking tonight on MLB Network about Kirk Gibson being the only MVP to never play in an All-Star Game as a player. (He was named to the coaching staff for this year's game.) That seemed unbelievable to me, and all the talking heads as well.
So I looked up Gibson's stats. There were many surprises.
Gibson played 17 seasons in the big leagues, but topped 132 games only 3 times. He got more than 467 PAs only 6 times. Although he broke into the bigs at the age of 22, he didn't become a regular until the age of 26. He never hit 30 HR in a season and he never drove in 100 runs. He scored 100 runs only once. He never batted .300 in a full campaign and reached that level only once in his career.
Yet, he ranked below league average in OPS+ only three times in his career. He stole 26 bases or more in six seasons. From 1984 through 1988, he batted .282/.369/.500 for an OPS+ 139 while averaging 27 HR, 86 RBI and 30 SB. He also, of course, hit two memorable World Series dingers during that span.
He was fun to watch. I can still picture him flying around the bases. He was big and fast and played with an abandon that, ultimately, not even his 6-3, 215 frame could withstand.