#82 Jim Davenport
This is one of two autographed cards I have from the set (the other is Don Larsen’s). Davenport is a Giants lifer, and still works as a roving instructor in the organization and often comes to games for the short season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, a Giants affiliate for whom I’m the official scorer. I had Davenport sign this card last summer. The card itself is in pretty good shape, but is cut poorly.
Davenport played 13 years in the Majors, all with the Giants. For 12 of those seasons, he got at least 300 plate appearances while starting semi-regularly at third base, second base and shortstop. He appeared mostly at third (1130 games). Nobody has played more games at third base in Giants history, and he also ranks 78th all-time in games played at third.
Davenport’s best year by far was 1962, the year the Giants famously made the World Series and came up just short against the Yankees. That year, he hit .297/.357/.456 with 14 home runs, the only season in which his OPS topped .800. His OPS+ of 118 was a career high, and he posted a solid 5.0 WAR for the season. It was also his only All-Star season.
With the emergence of Jim Ray Hart at third base and his subsequent up-and-down career, Davenport was always seen as a solid Plan B for the Giants throughout the ’60s, but he never was really a full-time player between 1963 and 1967. By 1968 he earned the starting job again, but had noticeably declined.
As noted on the back of this card, he “led N.L. 3rd basemen in fielding for three straight years.” But, that was using the old way of doing things (fielding percentage). More advanced metrics are less kind to Davenport, as his career defensive WAR is -0.3.
Offensively, Davenport’s career OPS+ stands at 89. He had more sac bunts (111) than homers (77) in his career. So, essentially, he was an average-ish player for a lot of years and happened to stick with a team that found him just good enough to keep around until 1970. After retiring, he went right into coaching and eventually became manager of the Giants in 1985. But after a 56-88 record, he was dumped for Roger Craig, who did quite well in San Francisco.
Davenport is currently 77 years old.