Doug was born on August 29, 1950 in Burbank, California. He shares a birthday with Roy Oswalt, Aaron Rowand, Marc Rzepczynski and highly-touted Rockies prospect Alex White. Other MLB Burbankers include "The Spaceman" Bill Lee, Royce Clayton, Steve Busby and the late Rod Beck.
He attended Los Angeles Pierce College* and was drafted in the 18th round of the 1969 draft by the Padres, but he didn't sign and returned to school. That paid off as he moved up to the third round in 1970, chosen by the Orioles.
* L.A. Pierce has also produced Coco Crisp and former Bluefield (2001) and Baltimore (2006-07) Oriole Kurt Birkins. Barry Zito started there as well before transferring to USC en route to the big leagues.
He began his pro career in Bluefield as a shortstop and he hit .293 in 54 games to make the Appalachian League All-Star Team. He even started a game on the mound, allowing two runs (one earned) in two innings and taking the loss. That 1970 Baby Birds squad, which included original Blue Jay Bob Bailor, won the Appy League championship.
DeCinces made it to the majors in three years, debuting on September 9, 1973. In a move that was emblematic of his tenure in Baltimore, his first MLB appearance meant pinch-running for Brooks Robinson and replacing the legend at third base. Brooksie's shadow loomed over DeCinces for much of his time with the O's and he struggled to win over fans despite his solid play.
A few days later, he picked up his first major league hit in a big spot. He came up in the bottom of the tenth inning of a 6-6 game against the Brewers. With two on and two out, he stroked a single off Ed Sprague* that plated Enos Cabell with the winning run. DeCinces's first hit in the big leagues was of a walk-off variety.
* Not that Ed Sprague. It was his father...I didn't know he played baseball as well, and he was in the majors for eight seasons.
He played in 72 games over the '73, '74 and '75 seasons, but DeCinces started getting regular playing time in 1976 as the all-time great Robinson wound down his career.
After a couple of decent seasons, DeCinces enjoyed a breakout campaign in 1978. He hit 28 homers to rank eighth in the American League and his 6.8 bWAR was the third-best mark in the circuit. He also had the third-highest slugging percentage (.526) and the fourth-most doubles (37). He posted an OPS+ of 149 that was sixth-best in the league (Robinson's career high was 145 in his 1964 MVP year). He finished the season with a 21-game hitting streak. Defensively, he led all third baseman in Total Zone Runs (explained here, basically puts a number on how many runs above or below average that a fielder saves). Surprisingly, he did not garner a single vote for MVP.
He explained that big season to Baseball Digest that offseason:
"I guess I just stopped trying to be Brooks Robinson and started being Doug DeCinces. I know now that I should never have tried to be Brooks in the first place, except you know that's what everybody was hoping and so you go along with it. Eventually I just said to myself: 'Hey, you got to the big leagues by being Doug DeCinces and not somebody else, so why don't you give yourself a chance."
He made his first postseason appearance in 1979 and drove in a run in each of the first three games of an ALCS victory over the Angels. In the World Series against the Pirates, he homered in a Game One win, but his Orioles squandered a 3-1 series lead as Pittsburgh stormed back to take the title. Baltimore only mustered four hits in the decisive seventh game, but DeCinces had two of them.
After a couple of average years in 1979 and 1980, he bounced back during a strike-shortened '81 season with a 128 OPS+ and 55 RBIs in 100 games.
In January 1982, DeCinces was removed from Brooks Robinson's shadow, as he was traded to his hometown California Angels for outfielder "Disco" Dan Ford. This newspaper article mentions that the deal opens up the O's third base job for rising prospect Cal Ripken Jr. It also mentions Ford's 1981 season in which he "was a principal participant in two on-field fights, was suspended for three days for using a corked bat, and was featured as a nude "gatefold" in Playgirl." He totaled 0.3 bWAR in four years with Baltimore.
DeCinces, meanwhile, had the best season of his career in 1982. He hit .301/.369/.548 with 30 homers, 97 RBIs and 94 runs scored. He set a team record with 42 doubles. His 7.4 bWAR* was tied for second in the American League (and tied for fifth in MLB). He finished third in the MVP voting behind Robin Yount and Eddie Murray while taking home his only Silver Slugger at the hot corner.
* That 7.4 bWAR has only been topped four times in Angels history. Jim Fregosi had 8.1 in 1964 and 7.7 in 1970. Two guys beat it in 2000 when Darin Erstad totaled 7.7 and Troy Glaus had 7.6.
He was the first third baseman ever to hit 30 homers and 40 doubles in the same season. It has been done nine times since and they're listed here:
He was back in the playoffs as the Angels won the Western Division to earn their first postseason appearance. DeCinces went 6-for-19 (.316) in five ALCS games against Milwaukee. The Halos won the first two games at the Big A, but the series shifted to Milwaukee and the Brew Crew won three straight to win the pennant.
During that '82 season, he had a 14-game hitting streak in late July and early August. It wasn't the longest run of his career, but it was probably his best two-week stretch. He had ten multi-hit games and he had two three-homer games five days apart. There was this game on August 3 and this one on August 8. He is one of only 19 players to have multiple three-homer games in one season and is in pretty great company:
|1||Sammy Sosa||2001||3||Ind. Games||13||12||9||9||13|
|2||Ted Williams||1957||2||Ind. Games||10||9||6||6||9|
|3||Willie Stargell||1971||2||Ind. Games||9||9||6||6||9|
|4||Aramis Ramirez||2004||2||Ind. Games||9||9||7||6||8|
|5||Albert Pujols||2006||2||Ind. Games||9||8||6||6||10|
|6||Johnny Mize||1938||2||Ind. Games||8||8||6||6||10|
|7||Johnny Mize||1940||2||Ind. Games||12||10||6||6||10|
|8||Mark McGwire||1998||2||Ind. Games||10||8||6||6||11|
|9||Willie Mays||1961||2||Ind. Games||10||10||8||7||13|
|10||Dave Kingman||1979||2||Ind. Games||11||10||7||6||9|
|11||Ralph Kiner||1947||2||Ind. Games||10||7||6||6||11|
|12||Steve Finley||1997||2||Ind. Games||12||10||7||6||7|
|13||Cecil Fielder||1990||2||Ind. Games||9||8||7||6||10|
|14||Carlos Delgado||2001||2||Ind. Games||10||9||6||6||8|
|15||Doug DeCinces||1982||2||Ind. Games||10||10||6||6||8|
|16||Joe Carter||1989||2||Ind. Games||9||7||6||6||9|
|17||Jeromy Burnitz||2001||2||Ind. Games||9||8||6||6||9|
|18||Barry Bonds||2001||2||Ind. Games||11||10||7||6||8|
|19||Geronimo Berroa||1996||2||Ind. Games||9||9||8||6||8|
|20||Jeff Bagwell||1999||2||Ind. Games||11||11||6||6||12|
That's some list, but DeCinces had his games only five days apart, that is the SHORTEST span between three-homer games. Johnny Mize had his seven days apart in 1938.
Here are all three-homer games by an Angel, DeCinces is the only one with two:
|1||Torii Hunter||2009-06-13||LAA||SDP||W 9-1||4||4||3||3||3||3||0.066||3||CF|
|2||Garret Anderson||2003-06-04||ANA||MON||W 11-2||5||5||3||3||3||5||0.190||4||LF|
|3||Troy Glaus||2002-09-15||ANA||TEX||W 13-4||5||5||4||3||3||6||0.157||2||3B|
|4||Dave Winfield||1991-04-13||CAL||MIN||W 15-9||6||6||4||5||3||6||0.340||4||RF|
|5||Wally Joyner||1987-10-03||CAL||CLE||W 12-5||5||3||3||3||3||3||0.180||3||1B|
|6||Reggie Jackson||1986-09-18||CAL||KCR||W 18-3||6||4||4||3||3||7||0.175||4||DH|
|7||Doug DeCinces||1982-08-08||CAL||SEA||W 9-5||5||5||3||3||3||4||0.258||3||3B|
|8||Doug DeCinces||1982-08-03||CAL||MIN||L 4-5||5||5||3||3||3||4||0.303||2||3B|
|9||Freddie Patek||1980-06-20||CAL||BOS||W 20-2||6||6||4||4||3||7||0.139||8||SS|
|10||Carney Lansford||1979-09-01||CAL||CLE||W 7-4||5||5||3||3||3||3||0.190||2||3B|
|11||Leroy Stanton||1973-07-10||CAL||BAL||W 10-8||5||5||4||4||3||5||0.645||6||RF LF|
|12||Lee Thomas||1961-09-05 (2)||LAA||KCA||L 12-13||6||6||3||4||3||8||0.859||2||1B|
1983 brought his only All-Star selection. He missed time in the middle of the season due to a rib injury, but he did pinch hit in the Midsummer Classic. The game was played on July 6, 1983 at Comiskey Park, exactly fifty years after the first All-Star Game (also played at Comiskey). DeCinces pinch-hit for pitcher Dave Stieb and flew out to center field against Atlee Hammaker. Three batters later, Angels teammate Fred Lynn hit the first grand slam in the history of the ASG. No one has done it since. The AL routed the NL 13-3 to win the game for the first time since 1971. The Senior Circuit had not only won the previous 11, but 19 of the last 20 and 23 of the last 25 as well.
DeCinces had a monster first half, hitting .313/.363/.588 with 15 homers and 46 RBIs in only 61 games. But injuries derailed the season and only hit .223 in 34 games in the second half.
Over the next three seasons he averaged 22 homers, 85 RBIs and a 109 OPS+. His 26-homer season in 1986, combined with the Angels winning the West again, netted him some down-ballot MVP votes and he finished 11th.
For the second time in five years, the Angels were on the precipice of their first American League pennant, leading the ALCS 3-1 over the Boston Red Sox. DeCinces played a big part in the Game Four victory. His homer off Roger Clemens ignited a three-run rally in the ninth to tie it before the Angels won it in 11 innings.
Then came Game Five. California led 5-2 and were three outs from clinching in front of a raucous Anaheim crowd. Don Baylor hit a two-run homer to bring Boston closer, but it was Dave Henderson's home run off Donnie Moore that put the Sox in front.
What often gets overlooked is that the famous homer was not the game winner. California actually tied the game in the ninth and had the bases loaded with one out. But DeCinces flew out and Bobby Grich lined out to send the game to extras. Henderson hit a sacrifice fly off of Moore in the 11th that won it 7-6 and extended the series. Boston then routed the Angels twice at Fenway to win the pennant. Game Five was certainly a classic, it was recently ranked eighth on MLB Network's list of the top 20 games of the last 50 years (some of the program commemorating the game is here).
It was a staggering defeat for the Angels. And it was the second collapse for those on the 1982 Angels: DeCinces, Grich, Bob Boone, Brian Downing, Reggie Jackson, Rob Wilfong, Mike Witt and manager Gene Mauch. Mauch managed 26 seasons and never reached the World Series (he also managed the doomed 1964 Phillies, who led the NL by 6 1/2 games on Sep. 20 but went 2-10 to lose the pennant). No one has managed more than Mauch's 26 seasons without making it to the Fall Classic.
1987 brought an unceremonious end to DeCinces's time with the Angels. With 11 days left in the season, he was released by the club so they could avoid paying the buyout of his contract. As this LA Times article says, he wasn't happy about it:
"It wasn't what I would classify a positive ending," said DeCinces, who spoke to reporters via a conference call from his home in Villa Park. "It wasn't a very classy move.
"All it was was, they call you in, hand you a sheet of paper, no thanks for anything: 'Here's your piece of paper, see you later.' "
"I understand how the business works," DeCinces said. "(But) it's still hard to grasp the way you get treated."
He signed on with the Cardinals for the last four games of the regular season, going 2-for-9 at the plate. In his final major league game, he hit an RBI double and struck out against Jesse Orosco to end an 11-6 loss.
At 37, DeCinces was finished in the majors, but he did play in 1988 in Japan with the Yakult Swallows. He hit 15 home runs for the Swallows, but had to retire in August because of back problems.
He helped the Angels even long after his playing days were over. In 1997 he was instrumental in the club drafting UCLA third baseman Troy Glaus with the third overall pick. DeCinces and his family were very close to Glaus. Glaus was a Bruins teammate of his son Tim and was dating his daughter Amy at the time. Five years later, the Angels won their first American League pennant and then won the championship, with Glaus as the 2002 World Series Most Valuable Player.
Last summer, DeCinces was in hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commission because of insider trading and had to pay $2.5 million.
DeCinces just misses the top ten on the Angels' all-time Wins Above Replacement list:
Here's his rank on the franchise home run list, Torii Hunter moved one closer to the century mark (# 93) with a homer in last night's 4-0 win against the Twins.
Among third baseman, he's right up there with the best of his time (from 1977-86 he averaged 21 homers and 75 RBIs with a 119 OPS+):
|3B 1977-1986||HR||3B 1977-1986||RBI||3B 1977-1986||SLG (min. 3500 PA|
|Mike Schmidt||364||Mike Schmidt||1019||Mike Schmidt||0.55|
|Ron Cey||230||George Brett||847||George Brett||0.534|
|Darrell Evans||217||Ron Cey||767||Bob Horner||0.508|
|Bob Horner||215||Doug DeCinces||747||Doug DeCinces||0.462|
|Doug DeCinces||204||Buddy Bell||733||Larry Parrish||0.455|
Here are the top ten 3B in bWAR over those ten seasons (Boggs ranks that high despite only playing for the last five years!):
He is one of 39 players to play 1,500 games at third base. With 1,543 he ranks 38th between Home Run Baker and Ken Keltner*.
* Just an aside, look at that 3B games played list. Both Scott Rolen and Adrian Beltre should crack the top ten this year, while Chipper Jones will probably end up 11th.
DeCinces's closest comparables in similarity scores are Willie "Puddin' Head" Jones (of the 1950 Whiz Kids Phillies team), Ken Caminiti, Mike Lowell and Eric Chavez.
The infield of the All-Time Bluefield Team is absolutely loaded. There are two Hall of Famers that have already been featured and DeCinces is the first of four other infielders who had very good careers.
|SP 1||Dean Chance|
|SP 3||Bill Monbouquette|