Monday, July 21, 2008

#540 Bret Saberhagen

Why this card is awesome: Because of bright futures. At the time this card came out, Saberhagen was perhaps the brightest young pitching star behind only Roger Clemens. 1989 would be Saberhagen's Cy Young year, and his career was hot and cold after that.

Also, I believe I may need to add a tick to the HOF counter but I wanted your opinion. I believe that's George Brett playing first base in the background, as he did almost exlusively in 1987 and 1988. Kevin Seitzer and Steve Balboni also put in a little time at 1B, and a few other guys (Bill Pecota, Bill Buckner, Pat tabler and others) put in a tiny bit of time there, but odds are this is Brett plus it looks like him. Do folks agree or disagree? If it is Brett, then this is the second card in the set featuring both Saberhagen and Brett on the front.

Cool stat: Saberhagen has the third most-recent season with at least 23 wins and an ERA+ of 180. That's been done just 15 times since 1919. Saberhagen is probably going to end up as one of the best pitchers not to make the HOF, being left out mainly due to his injuries that prevented him from making 30 starts in all but 1 of the final 10 years of his career. His actual W-L is 167-117 (.588) but his neutralized W-L is 177-112 (.612.)


David said...

Don't forget: Saberhagen had already won a Cy Young Award in '85 at the tender age of 21 (I believe this makes him the 3rd youngest winner behind Gooden and Fernando).

As for Brett in the background, the following is the breakdown of who played 1B in Saberhagen's home starts in 1987 (assuming that's when the photo was taken):

Brett = 10
Balboni = 5
Seitzer = 2
Beniquez = 1

Odds are, indeed, it's Brett.

Matt said...

While I don't disagree that it could be Brett in the background, I will disagree that the picture is from a Royals home game. The powder blue unis were the road uniforms of the Royals. A similar breakdown for 1B on the Road when Saberhagen started looks like this:

Madison – 1 (came in for Brett one game when Saberhagen had a CG)

Digging a touch deeper, I can rule out a couple of these games based on the stadium. I can tell for sure that this picture was not taken at Comiskey, Fenway or Cleveland, so that eliminates 2 Balboni appearances, 1 Brett, and 2 Seizter. It looks like the same stadium in the cards of Thad Bosley and Jamie Quirk, and those both look like they were taken outdoors. So lets rule out the Metrodome and the Kingdome. -2 Brett, -1 Balboni. So we are left with

Brett - 4
Balboni – 2
Seitzer- 1

That’s about as far as I can get, I can’t tell what stadium it is past that. Odds are quite good that it is Brett. Anyone know their mid-80s AL blue-seated stadiums?

MMayes said...

I don't know if it's Brett or not. I would not advocate adding it to the HOF count based on the accidental inclusion of Brett in the photo.

Spike Glidden said...

Not sure if all pitchers wear long sleeves to keep their arm loose, but that at least suggests a cooler location or time of the year.

We've got Apr 26 @ DET and May 14 @ BAL as decent candidates. Both feature Seitzer at first. In fact, Bret & Brett don't play those positions together until July, when long sleeves shouldn't be necessary.

Given the lack of fans in the seats we can see, you're looking at a team with poor attendance, stadium with blue seats, who hosted Bret early or late in the year.

I think that's May 14th at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. Attendance of under 18,000, blue seats, and average monthly temps of low-to-mid 60s. That would make it Seitzer at first.

Ernest said...

It appears the 1B is wearing a jersey with a single digit uniform number on the front. In 1987 Brett wore number 5 and Seitzer wore number 33. The plot thickens.

Andy said...

I've got one more thing that suggests Brett over Seitzer. The player is clearly wearing a wrist band on his right arm, which Brett always wore (in fact he always wore them on both arms--look at any of his cards from 1988--Topps, Donruss, Score and Fleer all show the wrist bands.) Seitzer usually did not wear them.

Brett seemed, though, to wear blue wrist bands with the blue uniforms, and white wrist bands with the white uniforms, which doesn't quite jive with what we see hear.

Hmmm. We need a Royals fan out there to settle this. Contacting baseballcardman!

Bart McClaughry said...

About 6 months ago I was at a garage sale and they had folders that were replicas of the 1988 Topps cards. I bought several of them mainly because they were different or unique to me. It just so happens that one of the folder cards I bought was the Bret Saberhagen. His picture is 11 3/4 inches by 9 1/2 inches. So eventhough the guy standing behind Saberhagen is still blurry he is a lot bigger and to me it looks like George Brett.

robbyt said...

The blue seats disappearing into the low shadow make me almost 100% certain that's Tiger Stadium, which in turn makes me think it's this game.

Andy said...

If that's the game, then it's Seitzer...hmm.