Saturday, May 17, 2008

#459 Yankee Leaders

Why this card is awesome: Because they managed to get the third and fourth best offensive Yankee players from 1987 for this card! Hooray! Never mind that Mattingly and Henderson were way more compelling. Seriously, though, I'll take a card with Dave Winfield and Willie Randolph any day.

Cool stat: The 1988 Yankees tied for the MLB lead by having four players hit at least .300 while playing at least 125 games. Can you name the 4 guys? While you're at it, can you name the three other teams to accomplish that in 1988?

Hall of Fame count: 30

Another appearance by Winfield ticks up the HOF counter.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Good news, bad news

I've got some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that my wife and I are about to welcome our first child. The bad news is that it will probably interrupt the regularity with which I will be posting over the next few weeks. But even if there's a bit of a lull, please don't stop checking in. We will definitely be finishing the set out over the next couple of months.

This might be a good time for you to subscribe to the RSS feed of this blog in your favorite news reader. That way, if there is a lull, you'll be reminded when posting starts up again.

#458 Ron Hassey

Why this card is awesome: Because this is an unusually relaxed pose for this set. Most guys are either in action shots or actually posed for the camera. Maybe Hassey's going to take some practice cuts in a few minutes, or maybe he's going to hang out on the edge of the cage all day. Who knows?

Cool stat: Hassey hit pretty well against some good pitchers. Minimum 25 plate appearances, he smacked around Chris Bosio, Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, and others.

#457 Terry Leach

Why this card is awesome: Because there's nothing more appropriate on a New York Mets card than a huge Cincinnati Reds logo in the background.

Cool stat: Leach had a really nice year in 1992 as a 38-year-old. In fact, since 1970, for pitchers at least that old, he had one of the best WHIPs.

Results: Giveaway #9

It was a bit anticlimactic for me because the number I picked was 120, the number of intentional walks that Bonds received in 2004. The first guess, by Tonegent, was dead on.

I've already contacted you, Tonegent, by the email address you have posted on your blog.

Thanks to everyone who entered.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

#456 Dave Anderson

Why this card is awesome: Because it's always nice to see a huge video camera taking up an entire quadrant of a card. Nice job. Also, very oddly, this is the second straight Dodgers card. I wonder why?

Cool stat: Anderson most total bases in a game was 6.

#455 Shawn Hillegas

Why this card is awesome: Because this is one weird card. Obviously it's posed (unless Hillegas just threw the ball at the photographer) and it has a serious 3D look and feel to it. Plus Hillegas has a creepy combo of a weird smile and eyebrow raise.

Cool stat: Who hit the most homers off Shawn Hillegas? Aww yeah, it was The Hitman.

#454 Marvell Wynne

Why this card is awesome: Because this card is an uncorrected error. Up at the top where it's supposed to say "PADRES" it actually says "PADPES."

Cool stat: Can you believe that a guy with a career .297 OBP batted more than half of his plate appearances from the leadoff spot?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

#453 Dennis Powell

Why this card is awesome: Because of the mullet and that mustache...oh yeah, baby.

Cool stat: Only one guy hit more than 1 homer off Powell: Jeffrey Leonard.

#452 Willie Wilson

Why this card is awesome: Because I'm very surprised that Willie got such a poor card number. Granted he was past his prime by 1988, but he was by no means a slouch. He scored 97 runs in 1987 despite missing a handful of games.

Cool stat: Wilson was a triples machine. From 1979 to 1989, he had 7+ triples 11 different times (i.e. every year.)

#451 Keith Atherton

Why this card is awesome: Because this is the opposite of all those shadowy-faced cards we've seen. Here the photographer has a light shining right on Atherton's face. Does a great job of lighting it up, and also of making him squint.

Cool stat: Over his entire career from 1983 to 1989, Atheron was the majors' leading mop-up guy. Among those who finished at least 150 games, none had fewer saves than he did.

Giveaway #9

Finally time for another giveaway.

This one is for cards 351 through 450, which includes all the All-Star cards, Barry Bonds, and a few other tasty treats. I will also include a minimum of 100 other cards, some old and some new.

This will be another pick-a-number-off-the-page contest.

See here for explanation on how these work.

Pick a number from Barry Bonds' page. Post your guess here. Only you first one counts. Guesses must be in by 5pm on Friday 5/16.

#450 Barry Bonds

Why this card is awesome: Because it's a very nice shot of the back of someone's head. Looks like a Cardinal.

Cool stat: To demonstrate just how dominant Barry Bonds was, check out the list of most seasons between 1992 and 2004 with at least 33 HR and an OPS+ of 155. Bonds did it all 13 of those years. Nobody else did it more than 6 times.

Based on the evidence and a lot of speculation, it's probably the case that most of those seasons came before Bonds started taking steroids.

I think he'll be in the HOF one day, and not too long from now. In the end, so many players from the "steroids era" used them that the stigma associated with him specifically should dissipate pretty quickly. Roger Clemens has already helped a ton with that.

#449 Jeff Robinson

Why this card is awesome: Because if this were a modern day photo, we'd know that Robinson had a cell phone against his ear. In those days, if he had a cell phone, it would have been as big as his head.

This is the other Jeff Robinson. Not this guy.

Cool stat: Robinson's 1988 makes the top 10 for fewest hits allowed in a season since 1901 with at least 170 IP. His walk rate was bad that year, and in subsequent years remained bad while his hit rate went back to average. Therefore, he was no good.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

#448 Mike Davis

Why this card is awesome: Because in 1988, the year of this set, Mike Davis had perhaps the second most improbable plate appearance of the entire season. Shame on you if you don't know what I'm talking about. But if not, here's a clue: it immediately preceded the first most improbable plate appearance.

Cool stat: Davis will long be remembered for that walk. In his career, he himself had 2 walk-off plate appearances (winning ones, that is.) Just for comparison, he had 42 other walk-off plate appearances where his team lost.

#447 Jeff Montgomery

Why this card is awesome: Because it's really damn weird to see Montgomery in a Reds' uniform. What a terrible trade they made for Van Snider.

Cool stat: Montgomery was fourth in saves in the 1990s. And he did that while pitching for a team that was pretty crappy most of those years. Over that same period, he was #1 in games finished, meaning he probably had fewer save chances than a lot of those other guys.

#446 Doug DeCinces

Why this card is awesome: Because it's unusual to see a guy carrying a batting glove in just one hand. Lots of guys carries one glove in each hand, but I've never seen one only. Let's call that "Michael Jackson base-running."

This was DeCinces' last card.

Cool stat: DeCinces is one of just 2 guys to have at least 11 HR and under 100 RBI every single season from 1976 to 1987. The other guy, Darrell Evans, got the better end of this deal in terms of his reputation. Had DeCinces managed 100 RBIs once or twice in that stretch, he might be remembered as a star.

#445 Mike Krukow

Why this card is awesome: Because this is a pretty cool card, with the neat side view of Krukow. I especially like the stripes down his leg.

Cool stat: Try to follow this one, because it's pretty interesting. Krukow has the 5th most-recent season with at least 20 wins coming in the player's last 4 seasons. In other words, for players within 4 years of their retirement, Krukow is the 5th most-recent to get 20 wins in any of those seasons. And the most recent, Darryl Kyle, is a special case since he very likely would have pitched 2 more years and come off this list had he not passed away prematurely.

#444 Cal Ripken Sr.

Why this card is awesome: Because right after Ken Griffey's card, we get another famous baseball father. This is one of my most favorite cards of the set because it was very cool when Ripken got to manage both of his sons, Cal Jr. and Billy, with the Orioles. I also like seeing a manager doffing his cap with a smile like that--a much friendlier pose than most managers.

Cool stat:
Ripken's managerial career will be remembered for two things and two things only. One was that he managed his boys, and the other was that he lost the first 6 games of the record 0-21 streak that started the 1988 season.

Deceased players and managers:

Ripken is the first deceased manager we've seen in this set.

Monday, May 12, 2008

#443 Ken Griffey

Why this card is awesome: Because we get the nice bonus shot of a Met, I believe 2B Wally Backman.

Griffey is the father of current major-leaguer Ken Griffey Jr. If you needed me to tell you that, you're probably not enough of a baseball fan to be reading this blog.

Cool stat: Griffey was a very solid major leaguer and did a lot of good things in his career. I will always remember him for this game where he homered back-to-back with his own son. It's kind of funny to note that the PI box score tool is a bit messed up there, because it assumes since "K Griffey" appears on consecutive lines that it's a continued at-bat by the same player.

#442 Tom Bolton

Why this card is awesome: Because Bolton with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight? Looks like Tommy might have had a spot of brandy before this photo was taken.

Cool stat: Bolton is one of 40 pitchers in the last 30 years to finish with no more than 250 career games, including at least 40 starts as well as at least 40 games finished.

#441 Rick Manning

Why this card is awesome: Because Manning didn't play past 1987, you see his entire career stats on the back of this card. It's odd to see a guy start so young (age 20) and then end when he did (32.) Seems like most guys who make it to the bigs before age 21 either flame out by age 25 or last until 38 to 40.

Cool stat: Between 1975 and 1986, only three players had at least 2 HR, 1 3B, 1 SB and 1 sac hit every single season. Manning, Yount, and Frank White.

#440 Steve Bedrosian

Why this card is awesome: Because this is one of the best Phillies cards in the set, given that they aren't just posing on a minor league field, like Carman or Frohwirth or Thompson or Toliver.

Cool stat: Bedrock gave up 4 career game-ending homers to some pretty good hitters.

#439 Dave Martinez

Why this card is awesome: Because I always liked this card, and I've always liked Martinez. Although not an action shot or a posed shot, this is a good photo of Martinez. He was heralded around this time as one of their top two offensive rookies (Mark Grace being the other) and although he didn't pan out quite the way the Cubs had hoped, he had a long career, and always seemed highly valued by his teams.

Martinez holds a rare distinction of being traded three times during one active season, 2000. The Rays traded him to the Cubs in May. The Cubs traded him to the Rangers in June. The Rangers traded him to the Blue Jays in August.

Cool stat: Over Martinez' career from 1986 to 2001, he makes the top 10 in MLB for triples. He also did it in many fewer plate appearances than most of the other players, although Lance Johnson has everyone beat by a country mile, hitting way more triples than anybody else at a very high rate.

#438 Rob Ducey

Why this card is awesome: Because Ducey's ready for anything, wearing what appears to be a plastic shirt under his jersey.

Ducey was involved in a strange set of transactions in 2000. The Phillies traded him to Toronto on July 26 for minor-leaguer John Sneed. Then, on August 7, he was traded back to the Phillies for Mickey Morandini. Morandini himself was returning to the Phillies, who had previously traded him away to the Cubs for Doug Glanville. Weird.

There is no truth to the rumor that Rob's middle name is "made a".

Cool stat: Ducey had exactly two walk-off plate appearances. They were both bases loaded walks in the bottom of the 10th inning. Neat. Plus, one came against California while he was with Toronto, and the other came with California against Milwaukee.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

#437 Fred Manrique

Why this card is awesome: Because I can't figure out what's in the background. I guess it's very blurry fans sitting in the stands, but it looks sort of like they are sitting on a grassy hillside.

The White Sox color scheme for this 1988 Topps set is really starting to irritate me. Why oh why did they think that hot pink made sense? Or pea green? The White Sox, at this time, wore white, red, and blue. You'd think that they could have picked at least one of those colors.

Cool stat: For players with at most 65 walks in their careers, Manrique has the 14th most strikeouts since 1901, pitchers excluded of course. That's a pretty damn interesting list, led by Bill Schroeder, whose card we saw way back when at the beginning of this blog. Current White Sox GM Ken Williams is on there, as is Rangers manager Ron Washington. And current #1 catcher for the Yankees, Jose Molina, is high up as well.

#436 Mike Bielecki

Why this card is awesome: Because, wow, 19 wins in a minor league season is pretty darn good. See the back of the card.

Bielecki once got traded at the tail end of the season to the Braves as they were entering the post-season. It was a weird trade at the time because Bielecki was not eligible to be on the post-season roster although he pitched a couple of games for them in the regular season.

Cool stat: Bobby Bonilla hit the most homers (4) off Bielecki, and 3 of them came in a span of 5 days in 1990. Bonilla hit him really well.