Saturday, September 6, 2008

#711 Bill Gullickson

Why this card is awesome: Because this is the WORST PHOTO EVER. Terrible smile they chose to use, and, oh yeah, his face is completely in the shadows.

Cool stat: Back on Bob Forsch's card, we noted that Gullickson didn't deserve a winning record based on the rest of his numbers, but that's what he got. Also, in the last 40 years, Gullickson has one of the lowest strikeout rates in a 20-win season. He also had one of the lowest CG totals among the same set.

Friday, September 5, 2008

2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #9 Darryl Strawberry

This is yet another set of scans provided by dayf at Cardboard Junkie.

Why this card is awesome: Because this photo looks to be at a very similar time as the one from his regular card, although clearly not the same game. (He's wearing long sleeves and orange wrist bands here but not in the other photo.)

Recently, Kevin at Orioles Card "O" the Day has done some great sleuthing about Jim Palmer and Cal Ripken Fan Favorites cards that I sent him.

#710 Darryl Strawberry

Why this card is awesome: Because of that tiny piece of body armor Strawberry is sporting on his shin. Over the last 10 years, things have gotten way out of control with that.

Also, Strawberry was one of many amazing signings by scout Roger Jongewaard. I can't find a decent bio for him online, but he has signed tons of great players.

Cool stat: Strawberry was in the top 20 for homers through age 26 season, as well as homers through age 28 season but currently stands at 87th in career homers.

#709 George Frazier

Why this card is awesome: Because here's a bit of a mystery. Check out Frazier's page at The Baseball Cube. According to that, he never played at Holyoke. But digging a little deeper, it seems that Holyoke was an AA-level minor league affiliate of Milwaukee in 1977. The Baseball Cube shows his minor league stats with Milwaukee and A-level and AAA-level, but not AA-level. So I guess they left out those stats for some reason.

Frazier was traded at various times with or for an impressive list of players: Buck Martinez, Rafael Santana, Otis Nixon, Toby Harrah, Ron Hassey, Rick Sutcliffe, Joe Carter, Ron Davis, and more.

This was Frazier's last card.

Cool stat: Frazier had the worst ERA of anyone to appear in at least 100 games between 1977 and 1987 without starting a game.

#708 Gus Polidor

Why this card is awesome: Because is it my imagination, or are there stacks and stacks of Angels caps in this photo?

Cool stat: Polidor never had more than 4 total bases in any single game.

Deceased players and managers: 18

Two dead players in a span of just 3 cards.

#707 Fred Lynn

Why this card is awesome: Because Lynn's hair obscures parts of not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 different letters from the "ORIOLES" team name. Wow. Also, if you don't look carefully, you won't even notice that he's holding a bat, as it's almost completely behind his name banner.

Cool stat: Starting in the Steroid Era, when handfuls of players started hitting a lot more home runs, it became more frequent for a guy to get an OPS+ as high as 176. But Lynn had one of just 8 seasons in the 1970s, coming in 1979. (Compare that to the last 10 full seasons, when 17 such years have happened.)

Lynn also has the most career seasons with exactly 23 HR, and his came all in consecutive years!

#706 Rick Mahler

Why this card is awesome: Because of the mention of fantastic scout Al LaMacchia.

Cool stat: Mahler is tied for the lead in most career seasons with exactly 39 games pitched.

Deceased players and managers: 17

We went almost 150 cards without a deceased person, but Mahler died in 2005 from a heart attack. He was just 51.

#705 Juan Samuel

Why this card is awesome: Because it's another Phillie, and another crap photo from Topps. I mean, sure, a closeup of Juan Samuel is nice. But this guy was one of the star players for the then-lowly Philly franchise. Couldn't they give any one of their decent players a decent action-shot card?

Cool stat: In 1990, Samuel had a terrible year stealing bases, getting caught 20 times versus only 38 successful steals. That's one of the worst totals for a guy with 40 or fewer SB over the last 30 years. He shouldn't have been allowed to run. Sabermetric data clearly shows that stealing bases at about 75% success rate is neutral in terms of how much it helps your team score. A guy really needs to be at about 80% for it to be worthwhile (although this ignores the leverage of specific situations.) Anybody on that list above with at least 20 CS had a success rate below 67%. TO be fair, Samuel's 1984 ranks in the other direction. He had one of the lowest CS totals for a guy with at least 70 SB.

By the way, Harold Reynolds' career SB% was a lousy 64%. Even Samuel was at 73%. Rickey Henderson was 80% Lou Brock was 75%.

78 Topps Cards is online!

We haven't started posting cards yet, but I'd love your input on new stats to track over there.

Click the banner and head over to the new blog to vote in my poll about stats.

#704 Dennis Boyd

Why this card is awesome: Because I can't tell what's going on in the lower right-hand corner of the card. I sort of assuming we're seeing part of an umpire and/or catcher and/or batter, but I can't tell what's what.

Cool stat: From 1984 to 1986, Oil Can Boyd was one of the most reliable starters in baseball, ranking 6th in complete games. He had injury problems after that. Boyd last pitched in the majors in 1991 but as recently as 2005 he was still active in professional baseball, playing with the Brockton Rox (MA.)

#703 Bob Brenly

Why this card is awesome: Because Brenly sure looks nervous. Later he became manager of the Diamondbacks, winning the World Series in 2001, his first year with the team.

Cool stat: Brenly had some pop. From 1984 to 1987, he had the 6th most homers among catchers.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

#702 Mike Gallego

Why this card is awesome: Because although his card says he's 5'8", I swear that in this photo, Gallego doesn't look an inch over 4 feet tall. Of course, if that were the case, he probably would have walked more like this guy.

Gallego's name is pronounced "Guy-a-go" with a long "a" sound in the middle (as in Oakland A's). Hence, the awesome Bermanism of Mike "Leggo" Gallego.

Cool stat: Gallego is better remembered than he actually was, thanks to being on the great A's teams of 1988-1990. In fact, among second baseman with at least 3000 PAs between 1980 and present, he had one of the lowest OPS+.

#701 Sammy Stewart

Why this card is awesome: Because this card has one of the more interesting stories out there. As far as I know, Stewart is the only person featured in this set who is currently incarcerated. Yep:

Click on his mug shot (literally) and you can get a page all about his current status.

Just to be clear, I'm not making fun of Stewart for being in jail. I have no idea about his life circumstances or what led him to commit the crimes he did. Based on his Wikipedia page, it sounds like he has been dealt a pretty difficult hand. I just find it interesting that we can get this info.

I heard about Stewart from Scott at the 83F Project, who has trying to get an auto from Stewart, but apparently he is not allowed to receive "fan mail" in prison.

Cool stat: Stewart had an unusual 1981. Yeah, he had an ERA+ over 150 covering more than 100 IP, which is great. But he also had a WHIP of 1.30, which is pretty high for such a good ERA. In fact, not too many guys have done that over the years.

Also, since 1980, Stewart has one of the fewest total number of starts in a year with 2 complete games. He, Charlie Hough, and Tom Tellmann all had an unusual such feat in 1980.

#700 George Brett

Why this card is awesome: Because although I love George Brett, this card shows him with creepy zombie eyes, which always scared me a little bit. This card also has a nice sense of motion though, and looks particular good next to Eddie Murray's card--an all-blue Royal next to an all-orange Oriole.

Cool stat: Brett had at least 2 triples every year from 1974 to 1993, as did Robin Yount. Brett had nearly as many triples over that period as Willie Wilson. When I think of triples, I don't think of Brett or Yount, but both guys had tons. In 1990, Brett also had one of the highest seasons of OPS+ for a guy 37 or older with at least 600 PAs.

Simply put, Brett was awesome. He remains the only guy to win batting titles in 3 different decades (1976, 1980, and 1990.)

Hall of Fame count: 44

Hey, that's two cards in a row with a HOFer.

#699 Padres Leaders

Why this card is awesome: Because what a difference 6 cards makes. On his own card, Santiago looked like a badass. Here, he looks like he's peeing in his pants.

Who knows which stadium is in the background?

Cool stat: Let me take this opportunity to talk a bit more about Tony Gwynn. In 1987, he hit .370 with 56 stolen bases. Check out where he ranks all-time for most SB in a season with a .370 BA. Gwynn is the only guy in the top 25 from the last 80 years.

Hall of Fame count: 43

Any Tony Gwynn is good Tony Gwynn.

#698 Brad Havens

Why this card is awesome: Because there's a near identical copy of Havens standing right behind him, except that the copy is totally dark. Oh wait, that's a shadow, making the real Havens look like a cardboard cutout. Way to go, Topps.

I'm pretty sure that Brad Havens became a pitching coach after he retired as a player but I'm having trouble finding any record of that.

Cool stat: Havens was part of the trade that brought Rod Carew to the Angels from the Twins. Here are his career stats pitching against Carew.

#697 Steve Lombardozzi

Why this card is awesome: Because like 600 cards ago, some reader named Jeff was counting down until Lombardozzi's card. Well here it is, Jeff!

But seriously, I think this is the only card other than Larry Parrish where the full last name of the player featured on the card is visible on the back of his uniform. I might be wrong about that, but these are the only ones that come to mind.

And mind you, getting all of "LOMBARDOZZI" visible in a photograph while he's batting ain't easy.

Cool stat: Lombardozzi is somewhat remembered thanks to being part of the championship Twins team of 1987 (and hitting very well in that World Series.) In the regular season, he managed a few 4-RBI games and the Twinkies won them all.

#696 Duane Ward

Why this card is awesome: Because although this isn't a rookie card, it's an early card of a guy almost forgotten to time who had a huge hand in two World Series wins for the Blue Jays.

Cool stat: Over 1992-1993, among relievers, Ward had the 3rd-best ERA+ (minimum 100 IP) and 3rd-most strikeouts. And he had a 1.12 ERA over the two World Series that year. And then he got hurt and it was all over.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Three Blue Jays

I couldn't resist. I guess Musselman is laughing at Jimy & Jimmy holding hands.

#695 Shawon Dunston

Why this card is awesome: Because, heck, here is another great-looking Cubs card from this set. The only think better than red, white, and blue is when you add a sea of green from an impeccably maintained grassy area. It might sound like I am being sarcastic, but truly I love this card.

Toward the end of Dunston's career, I learned that his first name is actually pronounced like it's spelled, i.e. "Sha-WAN", not "Shawn" like we all thought for years and years. I thought that was pretty cool because it's a much more African American-sounding name than plain old "Shawn."

Cool stat: What with his .296 career OBP, Dunston was, shall we say, offensively challenged. But he was damned versatile, making the top 10 in career homers for guys who played at least 10 career games at 1B, SS, 3B, OF, and DH.

#694 Eric Nolte

Why this card is awesome: Because this is the second consecutive Padres card. Makes me wonder if he was stuck in here in place of some veteran who retired.

Cool stat: Nolte had a short career and I can't find much of interest, statistically speaking. So I'll just point out that Juan Samuel had the most PAs against Nolte and, incidentally, hit the crap out of the ball against him.

#693 Benny Santiago

Why this card is awesome: Because this is a pretty cool shot. Bats in the bat rack, Benito picking out his weapon of choice, and the "P" in "Padres" almost complete covered, just like the "O" on Lee Lacy's card.

This is the first of two cards in pretty quick succession to feature good ol' Benito.

Cool stat: Here's a wacky and wild bit of trivia for you. Santiago is 5th all-time in HRs for a guy who played for at least 9 franchises. If you can get more than 1 of the 4 guys ahead of him, consider yourself a baseball trivia expert.

#692 Mike Birkbeck

Why this card is awesome: Because of the interesting "SULLY" patch we can see on Birkbeck's shoulder. I did a search and I gather that is was to honor somebody named Bob Sullivan, who I think was equipment manager or something like that. I emailed Thorzul about it but never heard back. Oh well.

Cool stat: Among pitchers with an ERA+ of 250 or better in their final season, Birkbeck had the best WHIP (minimum 20 IP.) Or, for pitchers with a WHIP under 0.9 in their final season, Birkbeck had the best ERA+.

#691 Dan Pasqua

Why this card is awesome: Because there are more Expos in the background, even against an AL team! Spring training, obviously.

Cool stat: In 1988, Pasqua had one of just 4 seasons ever with 20 HR and 100 K's, but no more than 50 RBI.

For trade

I have a bunch of stuff I've accumulated that I'd like to trade. There's nothing of massive value here, but it's too difficult to bother selling this stuff on eBay. If you'd like any of it, just let me know.

I'm looking for Don Mattingly cards, preferably more recent special insert cards, as opposed to regular cards from his playing days. I would prefer to be surprised, so send me an email telling me what you want and your address, and I'll ship the stuff out. Then you can send me whatever you've got for trade. Don't worry if you don't have lots to trade--I'll be happy with anything. If you don't have any Mattingly cards, I'll take a pack of 2008 UD Goudey instead.

Here's what I've got to trade:
  • #1: Factory sealed 1988 Donruss Baseball's Best set with a small tear on the outer cellophane but everything else intact and unopened.
  • #2: About 1500 cards from 1985 to 1989, mostly Topps, including lots of rookies, stars, and HOFers. If you've never collected from this era, you can get lots of the best cards from these years in this lot. I will throw in 20 autographed 1988 Topps cards that I never got to on this blog, including Charlie Hough, Mark Gubicza, Tim Wallach, Jamie Moyer, and a bunch of other interesting players.
  • #3: About 400 cards from 1999 to present, mostly 2007-2008, all manufacturers, including a number of short prints, rare sets, a few patch cards, etc. This box probably has some value in it and is a great intro for folks who have collected more recently. I also think some of you bloggers might enjoy breaking this one on your blog.
  • #4: Six unopened packs of UD Series 2 2008 baseball from a blaster. I pulled a relic card out of one pack and then stopped opening, so I'm pretty sure that none of these packs contain one.
  • #5: Any of these PSA graded cards (you can take them individually, not necessarily this whole this): 1961 Topps Bob Schmidt PSA 5, 1967 Topps Phil Regan PSA 7, 1967 Topps Jack Aker PSA 6, 1969 Topps Gary Bell PSA 4, 1975 Topps '74 Highlights [S Busby, D Bosman, N Ryan] PSA 6, 1986 Topps Kirby Puckett PSA 8, 1988 Topps Wade Boggs PSA 9
  • #6: About 50 singles selected for being in excellent condition, mainly star players and HOFers, dating 1975 to early 1990s, though most of the cards are from the early 1980s. Includes Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount, Eddie Murray, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett, Don Mattingly, Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, and lots of others. This one goes as a lot.
Just email me at 88topps at gmail dot com if you're interested in any of this stuff.

#690 Jay Howell

Why this card is awesome: Because we can see an interesting patch on Howell's arm, but I don't know anything about it. Do you? I see that we can see it much better on Moose Haas' card.

Cool stat: Howell was a really good reliever for a whole bunch of years. For relievers from 1988 to 1993, he had the 3rd-best ERA+ (minimum 200 IP.) Our man Jeff Montgomery actually beat him out.

#689 Tom Pagnozzi

Why this card is awesome: Because, hey check it out, Pagnozzi's mom is watching him bat!

Cool stat: Pagnozzi is one of a bunch of players from this set who spent their entire career at the major-league level with just one team.

Here are the batters (minimum 500 games):

Barry Larkin
Cal Ripken
Tony Gwynn
Tom Pagnozzi
Ron Karkovice
Mike Greenwell
Robby Thompson
Alan Trammell
Don Mattingly
Kirby Puckett
Lou Whitaker
Kent Hrbek
George Brett
Randy Bush
Robin Yount
Jim Gantner
Mike Scioscia
Ron Oester
Andres Thomas
Frank White
Bruce Benedict
Tim Flannery
Tim Laudner
Jim Rice
Mike Schmidt
Dave Concepcion
Garth Iorg

And here are the pitchers (minimum 100 games):

Teddy Higuera
Mark Williamson
Bill Wegman
Jeff Innis
Tim Crews
Wally Ritchie
Allan Anderson
Scott Garrelts
Bob Stanley
Ron Guidry
Scott McGregor
Mario Soto
Ken Dixon

HOF players in bold. If you want to get a hint about how I came to this list, see here.