Saturday, May 10, 2008
Why this card is awesome: Because that caterpillar on Mags' lip appears to be itching him. And also because he was born in Medford, MA. If you don't know why I find that awesome, I'm not telling.
Cool stat: Pags' 1989 is in the bottom 20 for batting average in a season since 1920 with at least 371 ABs. He got traded midseason, batting .197 with the Yankees and .196 with the Padres. At least he was consistent.
Why this card is awesome: Because it appears that Aguilera was distracted by something--my guess is a scantily-clad female fan--right as the photo was taken. He appears to be trying to say, "How YOU doin'!!!"
Cool stat: Aguilera's 1986 was one of just 22 seasons in the 1980s where a pitcher hit at least 2 homers. It's already been done 38 times in the 2000s in just 7 years (nobody's done it yet in 2008 but I'm sure a few will.)
Friday, May 9, 2008
Why this card is awesome: Because I'm amazed how the photographer got that porcupine to sit so still on top of Moore's head for this photo.
Cool stat: Moore played for a lot of bad teams, and has one of the worst career W-L% for a pitcher who was good enough to start at least 400 games. (Not to be confused with Mike Morgan, who is #1.) Moore also makes the top ten for worst K/BB ratios since 1901 for pitchers with at least 1500 K's.
Why this card is awesome: Because is it just me, or does Candaele look extremely bundled up here?
Candaele was an odd choice to be an All-Star Rookie. Yeah, he had a decent year in the minors in 1986, but didn't seem to be star material. I wonder why Topps chose him?
Cool stat: Candaele had two career 4-hit games.
Why this card is awesome: Because if you look carefully, you can see a blurry New York Met in the dugout balancing a cantaloupe on his head.
In case you didn't know, Glenn Davis was adopted by the parents of Storm Davis, and the two grew up as brothers.
Cool stat: Davis was hurt badly by playing in the Astrodome. His real career stats are 190 HR and 603 RBI, .259/.332/.467. His neutralized stats, though, are 205 RBI, 664 RBI, .273/.349/.493. He would have had 3 seasons of 100+ RBI and 5 seasons with 24 or more homers. Against his brother, Davis reached base in both of his career PAs, including once by HBP!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Why this card is awesome: Because this card is totally awesome AND totally sucky. It's awesome because of the obvious--Gibby and Trammell on the same card. It's sucky because of that guy in the red shirt in the background. I dont' mind seeing other baseball people in the background of photos--umpires, other players, batboys, even fans. But I draw the line at random guys in red shirts.
Cool stat: The 1988 Tigers had 7 players with 47 to 69 RBIs, and nobody with more than 69.
Trammell might be in the HOF one day although I think he's slightly undeserving.
Why this card is awesome: Because which Dodger player or coach is that on the right side of the card, blond hair sticking out of his cap? We should be able to figure that out.
Cool stat: Shelby had 4 multi-homer games and his team lost all of them!
Why this card is awesome: Because I've bitched about shadows a lot, but this has to be the worst shadow on any card in this set. I mean, you can't see the top half of Kilgus' face AT ALL. Some might say that's a good thing, but not me.
Cool stat: Kilgus was pretty good in 1987 and 1988, and pretty rough in 1989-1991. But 1993 was a weird year. He pitched to a 0.63 ERA with a 0.907 WHIP at just age 31, and yet never pitched again. In fact, Kilgus had the most IP in a final season for a pitcher 31 or younger, with an ERA and WHIP both below 1.00.
Why this card is awesome: Because this is a pretty interesting photo of Ready right in the middle of a swing. His front foot is already turned outwards as his body un-scissors, while his rear foot is still planted just right. His wrists are nicely turned over. I'm calling it a line-drive single to right field.
I always liked Ready. Great name and a hard-nosed player who was always at the ready. (Hell yeah, pun intended!)
Cool stat: Ready had two different games with 2 triples, and yet got only 1 RBI with the four triples. *Sniff*
Why this card is awesome: Because I swear this is a photo of the Unabomber thinking about his next target. Who knew the Unabomber wore such bling, though?
Cool stat: Reardon's got the 6th most appearances all-time for a reliever who never started a single game. Trevor Hoffman is on that list and will pass Sparky Lyle shortly. (Or, by the time most of you read this, he'll already have passed him.)
Why this card is awesome: Because you can see every nook and cranny on Murphy's face and neck in this photo.
Cool stat: In the 4 seasons from 1979 to 1982, just two players had at least 10 homers and 10 stolen bases each year. One was Dwayne Murphy. Can you guess the other? Come on, you can get this one. Think about it. Give up? Click here.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Why this card is awesome: Because sometimes the obvious comment is the one you need to make: it's so ironic that the one thing John Smiley is not doing on this card is what his name says.
See this post at The Ugly Baseball Card blog for more on this classic card.
Cool stat: Matt Williams just absolutely OWNED Smiley, hitting way more homers off him than anybody else did.
Why this card is awesome: Because Concepcion sure looks like a coach in this photo, hitting infield grounders. He wasn't retired as a player quite yet, though.
I like that this set has both the Reds' SS of the past (Concepcion) and the Reds' SS of the future (Barry Larkin.)
Cool stat: Here's an awesome trivia question. Name the only 6 players to homer every season from 1970 to 1987. Concepcion is the really hard one. The easiest one is Reggie Jackson. The others are somewhere in between.
Concepcion is not in the HOF but I hope he is one day. It would have to come from the Veterans Committee at this point.
Why this card is awesome: Because it's got to be very rare for a guy to lead the league in appearance in his first year in the majors, as you can see he did on the back of the card. Also, it's not clear to me, but I think his last name is actually Vande Berg, two words with each one capitalized.
Cool stat: Vande Berg is one of just 3 pitchers who, in both 1985 and 1986, had an ERA league-average or better and also a WHIP of at least 1.50. That poor WHIP caught up with him soon enough.
Why this card is awesome: Because Joyner's pointing straight at the ground. I bet you've looked at this card dozens of times and never noticed that! Also, another mention of current Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon. He was a pretty good scout, it seems.
Cool stat: I do not like Joyner and I don't feel like spending time researching a cool stat. But I will point out that he didn't strike out very much, and had only 10 games with 3 strikeouts in his career. Don Mattingly had similar career numbers to Joyner and he did it only 5 times.
Why this card is awesome: Because after Randy Myers, here's another card with closed eyes. What in the hell was Topps thinking?
Cool stat: Scott McGregor was a very average pitcher. He had some seasons with high win totals and/or high W-L%, but that was in large part because he played for good Oriole teams in the early 1980s. His actual career record was 138-108 (.561) but his basic neutralized record was 120-119 (.502.) Like I said: average.
Why this card is awesome: Because, what's going on in the dugout? I can't tell who's on the left, but I'm sure that guy on the right doesn't belong there.
Cool stat: Youngblood hit more than 1 triple against just one pitcher: Gaylord Perry.
Why this card is awesome: Because despite making the big leagues, that fact on the back about him being a part of a ski team in high school may be the best thing we can say about him.
Cool stat: In the 1980s, Mark Ciardi's 1987 was one of the worst seasonal ERAs. Actually, Joel McKeon's 1987 was even worse and we just saw his card recently.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Why this card is awesome: Because like Wayne Tolleson's card, this is another card where it seems the entire background was airbrushed out a bit. I don't think it's looks that dark due just to photographic technique.
Cool stat: From 1982 to 1986, Moreland is the only player to have between 12 and 16 homers every year. Dave Henderson came close. Moreland also has one of the more recent seasons with at least 100 RBI but no more than 15 HR.
Why this card is awesome: Because all the Phillies cards in this set make them look like minor leaguers. And that almost looks like a windmill behind Carman on the left.
Cool stat: Carman had sort of a sad, gradual career trajectory. He had a great rookie year in 1985 with the Phils, going 9-4 in 86.1 IP with a 178 ERA+. He was solid again in 1986, at 10-5 in 134.1 IP with a 120 ERA+. By 1987, he was just a bit above league average, at 13-11 in 211 IP with a 101 ERA+. (Didn't help, I'm sure, the that Phillies were bad.) In 1988, he flip-flopped to the other side of average, at 10-14 in 201.1 IP with an 83 ERA+. His WHIP went continuously up every year too. And it was downhill from there. A very slow but linear decline.
Carman was an absolutely horrid hitter. In fact, since 1901, he has the second-fewest career hits for a player with at least 200 ABs. Or, another way to look at it: since 1901, he has the fewest times on base for a player with at least 230 career PAs. But at least he never tripped over third base.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Why this card is awesome: Because this photo was probably taken in the spring of 1987, mere months after the famous debacle in the 1986 World Series for the Red Sox. Few people remember how, in the 1986 ALCS, Boston beat the (then California) Angels under vaguely similar circumstances to how they lost the World Series to the Mets. Little did McNamara know at the time this photo was taken that he was at the apex of his managerial career.
Cool stat: You can see right here that McNamara managed six different teams in the big leagues (Oakland, San Diego, Cincinnati, California, Boston, and Cleveland.) That's got to be fairly high up on the list. Which managers have managed more?
Why this card is awesome: Because it's totally ridiculous to me that Myers' eyes are closed in this shot. Ridiculous because A) how can you pitch with your eyes closed, for even a split second? and B) could Topps really not find any photos of Myers with his eyes open? There's another card coming up very shortly with a sleepy-looking player.
Cool stat: Myers' 1993 ties with John Smoltz's 2002 for worst ERA+ in a season with at least 50 saves. Actually, those two seasons are remarkably similar, with almost identical numbers in every meaningful category. Those two seasons are quite a bit worse than ever other 50-save season in history, at least in terms of ERA+.
Myers seemed like a lock HOFer at one point, but after 1997 at age 34 with Baltimore, he was never effective again due to injuries. Even still, had he had 4 or 5 more good years, it wouldn't have been enough.
Why this card is awesome: Because I guess Topps sort of airbrushed out the entire background of the card. Good thing, or else we'd see that cop with his head up Wayne's rear.
Cool stat: In the last 35 years, Tolleson's 1983 is among the worst 5 seasons with at least 500 PAs ranked by fewest RBIs.