In this series, I will look at each player who played in 1981, the year I was born. Because, why not?
Dave Stapleton was coming off of a very successful rookie season in 1980. Stapleton finished second in the Rookie of the Year vote, though distantly, to Cleveland Indians outfielder Joe Charboneau. Stapleton played primarily at second base in 1980 and hit an impressive .321/.338/.463 with seven home runs and 45 RBIs and only struck out 32 times in 472 plate appearances. He had been an impressive contact hitter in the minors as well, so there was reason to be optimistic about his career moving forward.
In the strike-shortened 1981 season, Stapleton had a good, but not great, season. His average dipped almost 40 points to a still-respectable .285/.325/.423. Most of his other numbers declined as well, except for his home runs (which increased to 10). He played in 93 games, 13 fewer than in 1980, but that was more due to the strike. He contributed 101 hits, 45 runs scored, 17 doubles, 42 RBIs and struck out just 22 times. He continued to play steady defense and split time among third base, shortstop and second base, with some first base and outfield thrown in for good measure.
Unfortunately, Stapleton would continue to decline. The next season, his power numbers again increased (28 doubles, 14 home runs, 65 RBIs), but his rate stats again declined (.264/.305/.398) in 150 games, primarily at first base. He was excellent defensively at first, but those numbers are not going to cut it as a Major League first-baseman. 1983 again saw him play the bulk of the time at first, but his numbers again decreased to .247/.297/.363 with ten home runs and 66 RBIs, though he did hit a career-high 31 doubles. It was his last season as anything close to a regular player.
Stapleton continued playing with the Red Sox through 1986, but never more than 39 games or 71 plate appearances. He was relegated primarily to pinch-hitting or defensive replacement duties at first base. He never hit another home run. Stapleton was frequently used to replace Bill Buckner at first base late in games, but he was notably not used in Game 6 of the World Series. Given his defensive gifts, it is unlikely he would have misplayed the ball Buckner did. After the season, he signed a deal with the Mariners, but did not make it through Spring Training. That was it for his career.