Saturday, September 20, 2008

#15T Damon Berryhill

IMPACT FACTOR 2/10 Berryhill was the starting catcher for the 1989 Cubs team that went to the playoffs, but he got injured halfway through the year. Eventually the Cubs traded him with Mike Bielecki for Yorkis Perez and Turk Wendell. The latter did some good things with the Cubs, but overall Berryhill didn't have a huge impact for the Cubs organization. He did some better stuff with the Braves, of course.

Friday, September 19, 2008

We love Gary Thurman

If you haven't been watching, you might want to check out the comments on Gary Thurman's card.

#14T Andy Benes

IMPACT FACTOR 7/10: Benes ate up a lot of innings for the Padres from 1989 to 1995, although pitched to a fairly average record despite an above average ERA. (That's OK, he pitched terribly for the Mariners at the end of 1995 but still ended up 7-2 somehow.) The trade of Benes to the Mariners brought 2 out of 3 pieces they needed to acquire Greg Vaughn, who went on to club 50 homers for the Padres in 1998. Vaughn was later traded himself for some useful players.

#13T Buddy Bell

Wow, what an ugly airbrushed card!

IMPACT FACTOR 1/10: Bell put together half a season as an average 3B with Houston before being released.

#12T Tim Belcher

IMPACT FACTOR 6/10: Belcher came over for Rick Honeycutt, a trade that helped both the Dodgers and the A's when they met in the 1988 World Series. Belcher was very good in 1988 and although he got hit some in the post-season, he did win 3 games (2 against the Mets and one against the A's. Later he was packaged with John Wetteland in the trade that brought Eric Davis to the Dodgers.

#11T Don Baylor

IMPACT FACTOR 3/10: Baylor wrapped his playing career in 1988 with Oakland. Although they went to the World Series, Baylor didn't get a hit in the post season, nor did he produce all that much during the regular season. I'd like to think, though, that he had an impact on the team due to all of his recent post-season experience with Boston and Minnesota.

#10T Jose Bautista

IMPACT FACTOR 2/10: Not to be confused with the current major leaguer with the same name, this Jose Bautista was part of the dreadful 1988 Orioles team, although he didn't pitch that badly for them. Eventually he walked as a free agent after the 1990 season.

#9T Bret Barberie

IMPACT FACTOR 1/10: Barberie signed with the Expos, the forth team to draft him, and had two lackluster seasons with them in 1991 and 1992. So unimpressive was his performance that they left him unprotected in the expansion draft and he became the first starting 2B for the Florida Marlins. (I would have given him a larger impact factor, except that I am basing my scores on the impact the guy had for the team he first played for when these cards were issued.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

#8T Floyd Bannister

IMPACT FACTOR 3/10: Bannister had two pretty average years with KC, including one shortened by injury. It ended up being a bad trade for KC who, aside from a few other low-impact players involved, gave up two decent starting pitchers in the deal: Melido Perez and Greg Hibbard.

#7T Don August

IMPACT FACTOR 2/10: The Brewers gave up Danny Darwin to fetch August as well as Mark Knudson. Darwin produced a lot more for the Astros than both guys combined for Milwaukee. August gets a couple of point for a 4th-place Rookie of the Year finish in 1988.

#6T Jack Armstrong

IMPACT FACTOR 4/10: Armstrong didn't do a whole lot for the Reds but he did have one good year in 1990, when he in fact started the All-Star game for the National League. He had trouble staying healthy, but they did trade him along with Scott Scudder for one good year of Greg Swindell.

#5T Brady Anderson

IMPACT FACTOR 3/10: While Anderson went on to have a lot of success with Baltimore, he had a dreadful first season with Boston and was packaged with Curt Schilling, sent to the Orioles for Mike Boddicker. Boddicker was great for the Red Sox in the regular season, helping get them to the playoffs in 1988, but got bombed in his one ALCS start as Boston was swept by Oakland. Boddicker helped the BoSox for two more years and was better in the 1990 ALCS, although Boston against lost to Oakland.

#4T Roberto Alomar

IMPACT FACTOR 8/10 Alomar had 3 strong years with the Padres from 1988 to 1990, although he didn't develop much of his extra-base power until he left San Diego. He got on base more and hit for more extra bases after heading to Toronto. The method by which he left San Diego, the biggest trade of the early 1990s, helps increase his impact factor. Packaged with Joe Carter, he brought Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez to San Diego. Fernandez had 2 solid years with the Padres before being flipped to the Mets, while McGriff had his first two really big seasons with the Padres before going to Atlanta for 3 young players.

He might have to wait a year or two because of his attitude, but Alomar will be in the Hall of Fame one day.

#3T Luis Alicea

IMPACT FACTOR 3/10: Alicea had a poor rookie season in 1988 but resurfaced again with the Cardinals in 1991, eventually working out as a part-time 2B. He was traded for two guys who never appeared in the majors for St. Lous.

#2T Juan Agosto

IMPACT FACTOR 4/10: Agosto came and left Houston as a free agent, spending 4 seasons there (not including a return in 1993) as a very effective reliever. He was used in mop-up a lot but nevertheless was one of the top non-closing relievers in baseball from 1987 to 1990.

#1T Jim Abbott

Before we talk about Abbott, I need to point out that Topps included Olympic cards in this set, as evidenced by this very first card of the set. This is the second time they included Olympic cards, the last time being in the regular-issue 1985 set, which ended up giving us the true rookie cards of Mark McGwire, Cory Snyder, and others. There are quite a few players in the 1988 Olympic subset that had a significant impact in the major leagues.

IMPACT FACTOR 6/10 Abbott is an unusual case. He pitched 4 pretty good years for the Angels before being traded (essentially) for J.T. Snow, who didn't do too much for the Angels or bring much in trade. There were a few lesser players involved in the trade too. Abbott, however, was a very popular player due to the success he achieved despite an uncommon physical aspect, namely the lack of a hand on his right arm. this didn't prevent Abbott from being an effective pitcher, fielder, or hitter. He had a 3rd-place Cy Young finish in 1991 and deserved a 15-8 record in 1992 (neutralized) instead of the incredibly unlucky 7-15 he was actually saddled with. But as I mentioned, Abbott's popularity (and attendance at his games) went well beyond his stats.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

#792 John Tudor

Why this card is awesome: Because looking at the back, one stat really sticks out: 10 shutouts in 1985, with only 4 others in the rest of his career up to that point. And, and this card is awesome because it's the last one in the regular 1988 Topps set! WE'RE DONE!

Cool stat: Tudor is a forgotten man of the 1980, but he was one of the top pitchers. From 1982 to 1990, minimum 1000 IP, he had the 4th-best ERA+, ahead of Saberhagen, Gooden, and just about anybody else you can think of.

It's interesting that in the trade of Tudor for Pedro Guerrero that happened in the 1988 season, neither player ended up working out well for their new team. Guerrero did have one excellent year for the Cardinals in 1989, but Tudor's injuries prevented him from doing much for the Dodgers at all.

#791 Ted Simmons

Why this card is awesome: Because what an awesome warrior Simmons was. Yeah he looks old and pudgy on the front, but look at those years and years on the back. He had a great career and is one of the top catchers in history. I just hope he doesn't swallow any bugs by accident.

Cool stat: Simmons had 8 seasons with 90+ RBI, good for third all-time among catchers and more than Johnny Bench or Gary Carter.

#790 Dave Righetti

Why this card is awesome: Because you can't fool me. This was taken right at the same time as Phil Lombardi's card photo.

Cool stat: Righetti was the top closer in baseball for the mid-to-late 1980s. Sure, Jeff Reardon had more saves from 1984 to 1990, but Righetti's teams weren't nearly as good.

#789 Indians Leaders

Why this card is awesome: Because this is our last team leaders card, and it's a great one. As an Indians fan in 1987, I don't think you could ask for a better shot, showing your team's two best sluggers (Joe Carter and Cory Snyder) with weapons in hand. The shot of the lit-up light stancheon in the back is fabulous. This card is definitely one of the very best from this set, and is simply an outstanding photograph.

Cool stat: The 1987 Indians were one of two teams that year to have 3 different guys with 30+ HR. Only the 1982 Brewers also accomplished this feat in the 1980s. As a comparison, 35 teams have done this since 1993, some of them having four guys with 30 HR.

#788 Ray Searage

Why this card is awesome: Because this is a guy most people never heard of, and yet he managed a 0.62 ERA in 1986, at least just with the White Sox. Seriously. Check it out.

Cool stat: I don't know a good way of looking up a stat like this, but check out what Searage did in 1986. He pitched 22 innings with Milwaukee to a 6.95 ERA, which is really bad. Then he pitched 29 innings with Chicago (AL) to a 0.62 ERA, which is really good. I wonder how many other pitchers ever had such a split. Here are the leaders for most IP in a full season allowing 2 or fewer ER.

#787 Bill Almon

Why this card is awesome: Because as much as we make fun of Jay Baller, Almon's actually got some good chest hair going in this photo too.

Cool stat: Almon stole 2 bases in a game 10 different times, and his team won 8 of those 10 games. Oddly, though, with those 20 stoles bases, he scored only 6 runs.

#786 Joe Price

Why this card is awesome: Because this card has an awful lot of teal on it, and Price wasn't even playing for the Marlins (who were 5 years away from existing at this point.)

Cool stat: Price gave up more homers to Gary Carter than to anybody else. In 20 ABs against Price, Carter had 10 hits, including 3 doubles, 1 triple, 4 homers, and 10 RBI.

Introducing 1988 Topps Traded Tiffany (part 4)

This is part 4/4 of a teaser series for the 1988 Topps Traded Tiffany set we'll crack and display on this blog as soon as we finish the regular 1988 Topps set.

Here are two photos of the front of card #2T:

The point is to demonstrate the the cards are really shiny. This is what the Tiffany set looks like, with super high gloss on both the front and the back. You can't see it from the photos above, but it's also true that the super gloss changes the colors a little bit. At least in the 1988 set, the Tiffany cards (for both the regular issue set and the traded set) have whites that are actually a bit off-white, closer to yellow, and all of the other cards have a bit of a yellow shift as well. I guess that's a product of the application of the Tiffany gloss.

Otherwise, the card design, both front and back, is identical to that of the regular 1988 Topps set.

I'll be doing these cards a bit differently. Instead of listing why each card is awesome and a cool stat, I'll be putting an impact factor ranking on each player for his new team, and also tying in some stats.

There are some really nice cards in this set, so please stay tuned as we crack it open and go through it one card at a time, 88 Topps Cards style!

#785 Alvin Davis

Why this card is awesome: Because, again, how about an action shot of a great hitter instead of a terrible posed photograph where Davis has a dumb look on his face? I really think Topps was trying to screw Seattle in this set. While Davis didn't live quiet up to the weight put on his shoulders (to singlehandedly turn the franchise around from 10 years of futility) he was in fact a much better hitter than most remember.

Cool stat: Among first basemen who played at least 800 games from 1984 to 1991, Davis was 4th in RBI, 7th in homers, and 2nd in OBP.

#784 Joe Sambito

Why this card is awesome: Because it's a decent bet that your career is winding down when the stat on the back refers to something that happened in minor leagues 13 year prior. Indeed, this was Sambito's last card.

Cool stat: From 1979 to 1981, Sambito was one of the top relievers in baseball. For relievers with at least 100 IP, he had the 4th-best ERA+ over that period, and that was in more innings than the guys ahead of him. And remember, we cannot attribute that to the Astrodome, as the ERA+ corrects for park effects.

2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #4 Mark Grace

Why this card is awesome: Because this is a pretty cool card. It's neat that Topps chose to give Grace a Fan Favorites card from 1988 even though he didn't have a Topps card until the 1988 Traded set (stay tuned, that card is coming up.) It's also a great shot as a rookie.

This is the final Fan Favorites card I'll be showing on this blog. I hope you enjoyed them.