Dwight Evans is one of the most underrated players of all time. A large part of this is the fact that he developed into a star much later in his career. Evans was in his tenth year as a Major Leaguer in 1981. He always had pop in his bat, and he was always an excellent fielder with a cannon for an arm, and he was also an All Star in 1978, yet he was just now starting to become a true star in 1981.
In 1981, Evans developed into one of the best players in the league. He was named to his second All Star Game and won his fourth Gold Glove Award. He also won the Silver Slugger Award, his first, though the award had only been around since the previous season. He finished third in the AL MVP vote, and for very good reason.
Evans developed his batting eye and drew 85 walks to lead the Major Leagues, while striking out 85 times. He was also the league leader in plate appearances (504), OPS (.937), and total bases (215). He also tied for the AL lead in home runs (22) with Tony Armas, Bobby Grich, and Eddie Murray. Evans also led the league in WAR (6.2), though that stat would not be developed until much later. He had a slash line of .296/.415/.522. His batting average and on-base percentage represented career highs at the time.
This was the beginning of a terrific run of success for Evans. He would end up being one of the best hitters in the 1980's. He has a strong Hall of Fame case that is mostly overlooked because of his late career surge and being surrounded by teammates like Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, and Roger Clemens who overshadowed Evans. Some time soon his case will be re-examined and he may finally gain induction into the Hall of Fame.