Saturday, February 23, 2008

2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #7 David Cone

Why this card is awesome: Because it's David, this time around, not Dave as in 1988. Also, I like the see-through action with his jersey where you can see "NEW YORK" underneath, although it would be better if his T-shirt said something like "Tell your eyes to stop staring at my chest!"

The font that Cone's name is written in looks pretty weird to me. I wonder why Topps made these cards clearly not EXACTLY match the original design.

#181 Dave Cone

Why this card is awesome: Because of the weird background splotches on the lower left. Just what exactly is going on there?

Cool stat: Cone played in 15 post-season series, with his team going 12-3. He was part of 5 championship teams (one with Toronto and 4 with the Yankees.) Check out the guys who hit the most homers off Cone. Juan Gonzalez sort of owned him with 7 HR, but he had only 6 other (non-HR) hits against him.

Cone has a shot at the HOF one day.

Friday, February 22, 2008

#180 Terry Kennedy

Why this card is awesome: Because of the bonus shot of Ray Knight on the right. Knight and Kennedy were 35 and 32, respectively, in the 1988 season. It only seems like they were a combined 95 years old.

Cool stat: Here is Kennedy's performance against HOF pitchers. Nice numbers off Jenkins!

#179 Charlie Puleo

Why this card is awesome: Because of that doozie in 1983. Ninety-one walks is an awful lot to end up with more BBs than Ks.

Cool stat: In fact, since 1956, Puleo's 1983 was the 6th worst K/BB ratio for a pitcher with at least 71 K's in a season.

#178 Dwayne Henry

Why this card is awesome: Because Henry looks very nervous, almost as if he hadn't managed to pitch as many as 25 innings in any of his 4 big-league seasons to this point. Believe it or not, he'd have two more such seasons in '88 and '89 before finally pitching in 30-some innings with the Braves in 1990.

Cool stat: Henry's 1992 was interesting. For relievers pitching at least 83 innings and getting no more than 10 saves, Henry's got the 16th fewest hits allowed. Of course, he wasn't able to maintain that rate in his career, plus he walked 44 guys that year too.

#177 Frank Tanana

Why this card is awesome: Because of awesome control. Look at the fantastically low walk totals, and fantastically high K/BB ratios throughout Tanananana's career!

Cool stat: Check out Tanana's neutralized stats at his page. In reality, he went 240-236 (.504) in his career with a career-best 19 wins in 1976. If neutralized, he's at 245-216 (.531) in his career with 20 wins in 1976. If those had been his real stats, he'd probably be remembered closer to the great pitcher that he actually was.

#176 Jeff Reed

Why this card is awesome: Because of that neat trade Reed was involved in. Reardon is the only player in that trade that had much of a significant career afterwards, with the possible exception of Heaton.

Cool stat: Reed's 17 HR in 90 games in 1997 with Colorado is tied for fifth most HR in a season by a catcher with at most 90 games played.

#175 Kevin Bass

Why this card is awesome: Because of overachieving. How in the hell did Bass make it onto such good number like #175? And Yount gets only #165? WTF?

Cool stat: Bass had 10 career games with 4 or more RBI, and his team (all came with Houston) won every single game.

#174 Phil Garner

Why this card is awesome: Because while I'm sure there are other examples, this is the first card I can remember seeing with flip-up sunglasses so clearly and prominently displayed. Also, this is the second card from the last three featuring a future manager.

Cool stat: Garner has his most career PAs, far and away, against two guys: Jerry Reuss and Steve Carlton. Interestingly, he hit very poorly against Reuss and very well against Lefty.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

#173 Eric Plunk

Why this card is awesome: Because they made Plunk look like such a piece of rubbish, I can't believe it. He looks unshaven, unkempt, and unhappy. At least they could have airbrushed up his face a little bit.

Cool stat: Since 1901, for relievers who pitched at least 1000 innings, Plunk makes the top 15 for fewest hits per 9 innings. He's ahead of the likes of Lee Smith, Jeff Reardon, Kent Tekulve, and Guillermo Hernandez.

RESULTS: Giveaway #6

Thanks to everybody for entering Giveaway #6.

The number I picked was 131, for the number of games Davis played in 1998, his fantastic comeback year with Baltimore. Taht year, Davis set a career-high in batting average (.327) and nearly equaled his career highs in both OBP and SLG. He finished with an OPS of .970 and an OPS+ of 151.

Lots of folks made closes guesses. Three people guessed 80, his career high in stolen bases. Guesses by Mike S (117), dayf (155), and Kevin B 106) were close. But the winner is Eric H with a guess of 120, for Davis' run total in 1987.

Congrats Eric! I'll send you an email to get your address.

#172 Lloyd McClendon

Why this card is awesome: Because boy, oh boy, did McClendon wait a long time to get to the big leagues. Not as long as some, but he was already 28 in the 1987 season. Anybody know how to pronounce his daughter's name?

Cool stat: McClendon hit 2 HRs off three different pitchers, and they were three pretty good ones.

#171 Cubs Leaders

Why this card is awesome: Because, OMG, after all the is Manny Trillo! And a bonus shot of a very fresh-faced Shawon Dunston.

Cool stat: This isn't a stat so much as a little bit of amazement. Check out the names on this 1988 Cubs team, one of the best assemblies of talent ever: Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston, Andre Dawson, Rafael Palmeiro, Greg Maddux, Rick Sutcliffe, Jamie Moyer, and Goose Gossage. That two guys already in the HOF (Sandberg and Gossage), one shoo-in (Maddux), one guy who probably would have gotten in if not for all the steroids stuff (Palmeiro), oen guy who has a decent shot of getting enough votes one day (Dawson) and a handful of other all-stars and Cy Young winners.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

#170 Rich Gossage

Why this card is awesome: Because this is the first "adult" card I've noticed so far in the 1988 Topps set, with Gossage appearing to have a "third leg" thanks to that Cubs baserunner in the background. Let's blame this one on Manny Trillo.

Cool stat: So much has been written about Gossage's career with his recent HOF election. So I'll just point out that his most career PAs came against who? Fellow HOFer Robin Yount.

Hall of Fame count: 19

#169 Ross Jones

Why this card is awesome: Because of the fact that everybody in the background is looking at somebody off-camera. They couldn't be bothered to watch Jones being photographed (and Jones can barely stand it, judging by the look on his face.) I like to imagine that Bo Jackson was walking over there, distracting everybody.

Also, wouldn't you swear from this photo that Jones was a pitcher?

Also, that's two Jones cards in a row for Topps.

Cool stat: Why does Jones look like a pitcher? Well if you check out his minor league numbers, you'll see that he did pitch in the minors, including full time in 1988 and 1989 after failing to make a go of it as an infielder. Wow.

#168 Barry Jones

Why this card is awesome: Because of that HUUUGE ice cube on the left, just melting away in the Florida sun.

Cool stat: Jones never started a game, and his longest appearance was 4 innings. In that game, he pitched the 14th through 17th innings and got the victory.

Reminder: Giveaway #6

Just a reminder that Giveaway #6 ends today at 5 PM.

#167 Rance Mulliniks

Why this card is awesome: Because of consistency. Into 1987, he had 6 straight years with between 311 and 366 at-bats. I guess Mulliniks can't take credit for that, but I still find it awesome.

Cool stat: In fact, Mulliniks has the most seasons all-time of between 311 and 366 at-bats, with 7. Plus he did them all consecutively.

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#166 Rick Rodriguez

Why this card is awesome: Because of awesome color unity. Green in the team name, border, hat, jacket, and palm tree. Yellow in the t-shirt, hat bill, and that structure in the background. And let's not forget the disgusting purple, totally NOT unified and having no business on the card.

Cool stat: From 1960 to present, Rodriguez has the 3rd-worst career K/BB ratio for pitchers with at least 70 IP. But he's got a nice smile.

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#165 Robin Yount

Why this card is awesome: Because I think that with this card, Topps helped push Yount into obscurity. He's one of the most underrated players of the last 30 years, despite getting into the HOF on his first try. Playing in Milwaukee was the biggest problem, but Topps is doing its part right here. Instead of giving him an awesome power batting shot, like they did with Jack Clark, Don Mattingly, Eric Davis, George Brett, and so many others, they caught him nervously tracking a fly ball, arms flapping in a weird way, looking like a tool. My friends, Robin Yount was no tool.

Cool stat: Most hits in the 1980s, by a mile.

Hall of Fame count: 17

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

#164 Dave Johnson

Why this card is awesome: Because Davey looks so smug with his little mustache and little grin, not realizing here that in the spring of 1987, as manager of the defending World Series champs, he was at the pinnacle of his managerial career.

Cool stat: Many of you probably already know this, but as a player Johnson had one of the biggest fluke years ever in 1973, when he hit 43 HR. Despite having 7 other seasons with at least 500 at-bats, he never hit more than 18 HR in any other season. Plus, that 1973 Braves team featured a total of 3 guys with at least 40 HR. Johnson's 1973 is only 6th, though, in terms of fewest RBIs (99) in a season with 43 or more HR.

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#163 Dale Mohorcic

Why this card is awesome: Because of 10 stops in the minor leagues before Mohorcic made it. (For those who may not know, his last name is pronounced "Mo-HOR-shick". Boy, I sure was tempted to put WHORE there instead of HOR, but I decided there was no good reason to do that.

Cool stat: From 1980 to present, Mohorcic had the 4th-fewest walks among pitchers with at least 360 IP.

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#162 Mark McLemore

Why this card is awesome: Because this is THE GENUINE ARTICLE Mark McLemore, not the fake version.

Cool stat: McLemore is one of just 7 guys in history (since they kept track of outfield defensive positions) to have multiple seasons where he played at least 1 game at each position of DH, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, and RF.

#161 Bryn Smith

Why this card is awesome: Because of Gary Roenicke being oddly mentioned by his full name on the back. The only other Roenicke in MLB was his brother Ron, and I think there would be no confusion between them using first and last name only.

Cool stat: Smith had an unusual 1985. Since 1901, only 10 pitchers have ever had a season with 220 IP, a WHIP under 1.06, and K/BB ratio of 3, and yet an ERA+ no higher than 120.

#160 Willie McGee

Why this card is awesome: Because this was THE CARD that solidified McGee's standing as the ugliest player in baseball. The 1988 Topps set was the first I ever collected, and I remember showing this card to my grandfather and saying "boy, he sure is ugly!" and my grandfather saying "but he's not an ugly ballplayer!" Grandpa was right about that.

Cool stat: In 1985, McGee led the NL with a .353 BA and won the MVP. He also managed just 34 walks and a .384 OBP, and since 1901, that's the 9th-lowest OBP for a player with a batting average of at least .350. See here.