Bill Madlock, or “Mad Dog,” was a 5’11 third baseman from Memphis, TN. Born on January 2nd, 1951, he was originally selected in the fifth round of the 1970 January secondary amateur draft by the Washington Senators (99th overall). He hit .269 with the “A-“ Geneva Senators in the New York Penn League later that year. In 1971, he was elevated to the AA Eastern League Pittsfield Senators, although his hitting was not. He managed a paltry .234 in 112 games. In his first 42 games the following season, he raised his average to .328, earning a promotion to the “AAA” Denver Bears, in the American Association. He hit .213 through 26 contests.
In 1973, Madlock played with the “AAA” Spokane Indians, hitting a notice inducing .338 average in 123 games. He was called up to play with the Rangers (Washington had since relocated the franchise to Arlington) on September 7th. He went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs in his debut, a 10-8 win over the Oakland Athletics. He would go on to collect an impressive .351 average in 21 games. After the season, the Rangers sent him with utilityman Vic Harris to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Ferguson Jenkins.
Mad Dog played three seasons with the Cubs, winning two batting titles and an invitation to the 1975 all-star game. He hit .336 over 400 contests with 86 doubles, 31 home runs, and 202 RBI. He also demonstrated remarkable patience from the plate, striking out 100 times while drawing 140 walks (out of 1662 plate appearances). The Cubs traded him prior to 1977 spring training along with infielder Rob Sperring to the San Francisco Giants for Andy Muhlstock, outfielder Bobby Murcer, and corner infielder Steve Ontiveros.
With the Giants, Madlock spent parts of three seasons. In 331 games, he hit .296 with 63 doubles, 34 home runs, and 131 RBI. He also drew 109 walks and only struck out 91 times in 1364 plate appearances. The Giants sent him to the Pirates with utilityman Lenny Randle and pitcher Dave Roberts for pitcher Fred Breining, pitcher Al Holland, and pitcher Ed Whitson on June 28th, 1979. In 85 games with the Bucs that season, he hit .328 with seven home runs and 44 RBI in 85 games playing third base and batting sixth in the order. He also stole 21 bases, which by itself would be a career high (he stole 32 overall that season). On August 19th, he went 3-for-4 with a walk off home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He would earn enough NL MVP votes to finish 18th in the season ending ballot. The Pirates finished the season at 98-64, winning the NL East. Madlock went 3-for-12 in the Pirates three game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, including a home run. In the World Series, Madlock went 9-for-24 with a double and three RBI as the Pirates finished off the Baltimore Orioles in seven games.
In 1980, Madlock posted a then-career low .277 average through 137 contests. He had 32 multi-hit games, including six three hit efforts. He played mostly third base, sometimes filling in at first, and played between third and sixth in the order. In the first game of a doubleheader on September 1st, he was a lone bright spot in a 10-4 loss to the Houston Astros, hitting two round-trippers in the losing effort. Pittsburgh missed out on the postseason by eight games, finishing third behind the Philadelphia Phillies with an 83-79 record.
1981 would see Madlock return to form, winning his third batting title with a .341 average. Although he only played in 82 games, it was enough to qualify for the race. (The season was shortened by around 55 games due to the strike). He would be invited to his second career all-star game. He had 29 multiple hit games, including a 4-for-5 effort with a double on August 25th in a 9-7 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played third base all season, mostly batting third and at cleanup. The Pirates went 46-56 through the split season, finishing fourth overall in the NL East.
In 1982, Madlock hit .319 (losing the batting race by 12 points to ex-Pirate Al Oliver, but more on him later) in 154 games with career highs in home runs (19) and RBI (95). He also stole 18 bases and drew 48 walks to 39 strikeouts in 634 plate appearances. He spent the whole season at third base, usually batting third but occasionally slotted in the five hole. He had 54 multi hit games, including a 4-for-5 performance on September 18th in a 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, including a two-run blast and three total RBI. At 84-78, the Pirates finished in fourth place in the NL East, eight games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.
1983 would see Madlock win his second batting title with the Bucs, and fourth overall. He hit .323 over 130 contests, hitting 12 home runs and knocking in 68. He walked 49 times with only 24 strikeouts over 530 plate appearances, earning his third career all-star selection. He batted third and played third base all season. On June 24th in the first game of a doubleheader, he went 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored, a double and a home run in an 8-2 win over the Cardinals. The Pirates finished the season six games behind the Phillies, in second place in the NL East.
In 1984, Madlock hit a new career low .253 through 103 games at third base. Again, he batted third in the order. On April 25th, he went 3-for-3 with a walk, two doubles, a sacrifice fly, and four RBI in an 8-7 loss to the Phillies. On July 15th, in a 9-3 win over the Giants, he went 5-for-5 with a double and two RBI. His apparent decline equaled that of the Pirates, who finished the season in last place in the NL East, 21.5 games behind the Cubs at 75-87.
1985 would be Madlock’s last hurrah with Pittsburgh. He played 110 games and hit .251 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI. The Pirates sent him to the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 31st for “players to be named later,” who became R.J.Reynolds, Cecil Espy, and Sid Bream. In parts of three seasons with LA, he hit .285 with 15 home runs and 82 RBI in 166 contests. He finished his Major League career with the Detroit Tigers in the second half of 1987, hitting .279 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI in 87 games.
Mad Dog was famous for his temper, and was thrown out of 18 games over the course of his career. He later coached for the Detroit Tigers (with ex-Bucco teammate Phil Garner). The Tigers went 117-134 during his tenure with the club.
All-Time Statline: Seven seasons, 801 games, .297/.357/.428, 870-for-2927, 392 runs, 155 doubles, 12 triples, 68 home runs, 390 RBI, 82 stolen bases, 275 walks, 206 strikeouts, 14.8 wins above replacement.