Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New contest: win a free relic card!

I'm back to run a contest to promote the Baseball-Reference.com Blog. I have been a contributor to that blog for over two years. Recently, Sean Forman (proprietor of Sports-Reference.com, which includes B-R as well as sites for the other major North American professional sports) unveiled a major upgrade to the Play Index, a searchable database tool that allows users to look up all sorts of amazing things. The blog is dedicated to showing and discussing those results. Any baseball would probably enjoy reading the blog, which has daily updates.

So, I'm running a contest to try to promote interest in the blog. This contest is totally free--you do not have to be a subscriber to the Baseball-Reference Play Index to participate. I am giving away cards to the top 4 finishers in a contest that runs from now until the end of the year, i.e. 11:59 PM ET on December 31, 2009. Those top 4 people will each get to choose one card from the 12 listed at the bottom of this post. See the nice pictures!

How do you earn points? It's easy. There are three ways:
  • Every time you post a comment on the Baseball-Reference.com blog (on any post made from today through the end of the year--archived posts do not count) you get a point. Your comment must be directly related to the post and directly related to baseball. You can make multiple comments on the same post and get multiple points, but if it looks to me like you're just padding things out intentionally, I'll ignore your padded comments. To be eligible, you must make a comment on this blog right here saying what your username is on the B-R blog. That's how I'll know to keep a total of your comments.
  • If you have your own baseball blog (team fan, stats, baseball cards, etc) and you post a link on your blog to this contest page, you get 5 bonus points added to your total. To be eligible, you must post your blog link in the comments on this post below.
  • If you have any friends who like baseball and might want to read the Baseball-Reference.com blog but don't care about the baseball card contest, you can have their comments on the B-R blog count towards your total. All they need to do is post a comment on this blog below saying what their username is on the B-R blog, and who they want to give their points to.
That's it! Now here are the 12 cards from which the winners get to select:
  • 2007 Topps AS TWH All-Star Stitches Trevor Hoffman
  • 2009 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts GM-FP Carlton Fisk / Jorge Posada jersey
  • 2009 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee OPC-EFG Ellsbury / Figgins / Granderson triple jersey
  • 2003 Upper Deck Sweet Spot NG1 Nomar Garciaparra jersey
  • 2008 Upper Deck Goudey M-CY Chris Young jersey
  • 2009 Upper Deck Series 1 GJ-KY Kevin Youkilis jersey
  • 2005 Topps Bazooka BM-MT Mark Teixeira memorable moments jersey
  • 2009 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts GM-RT Cal Ripken / Troy Tulowitzki jersey
  • 2009 Upper Deck A Piece of History SS-AL Adam LaRoche jersey
  • 2009 Upper Deck Series 1 GJ-JA Conor Jackson jersey
  • 2002 Upper Deck Timeless Teams Jersey Card J-DE Dwight Evans jersey
  • 2004 Topps Bazooka Blasts BB-AR Alex Rodriguez bat





So, remember--post your B-R username below, and start commenting over on the Baseball-Reference.com blog!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wrapping it up

Sorry for the long absence.

We have two contests to wrap up:

First, MMayes won the MLB Network hat by virtue of his guess of 138 runs scored on July 26th. There were actually 142 runs scored, so that's a good guess.

Also, Night Owl won the 1990 Upper Deck High # tournament, thanks to Nolan Ryan winning best card in the set. He wins the set.

I'm done with card blogging. I will be focusing on stat-based baseball blogging, primarily on the Baseball-Reference Blog. I will also be starting a personal stat blog and I'll let you know when that's up and running.

Friday, August 21, 2009

When is this card? 2008 Upper Deck Tim Lincecum #362



This Tim Lincecum card is easy to date. He's starting at home and there are ample matchups visible on the scoreboard. Here's the game in question, occurring on May 6th 2007.

Interesting notes on this:
  • Second baseman Ray Durham is visible.
  • The rightfielder, just slightly visible, is Randy Winn.
  • The All-Star logo from 2007 in San Francisco is visible.
  • This game was the 4th-worst start of Lincecum's career to date, as measured by game score. He went just 4.1 innings while giving up 5 earned runs, 5 hits, and 5 walks. The damage included homers by Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino.

ANAGRAM CONVERSATION


Tim Lincecum talking to Milt Pappas:

Milt Pappas = Slap Pap, Tim!
Tim Lincecum = Nice cum, Milt!


STAT

Lincecum is having a historically excellent start to his career. Among pitchers with at least 400 IP over their first 3 seasons, Lincecum ranks in the top 10 for best winning percentage, and that comes for playing for a middling Giants team.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Poll: The best card of 1990 Upper Deck High # Series



Here it is...the final poll to determine the best card of this set, as well as the winner of the set.

I'm skeptical about how Oil Can Boyd won his semifinal. If you are the reader attached to one of these final 5 cards, you might want to encourage all your friends to hit up this post and vote for your card, otherwise I fear that Boyd is going to win. (And I think we can all agree that his card is actually the worst of these 5...)



When is this card? 2007 Upper Deck Albert Pujols #443



I can't be entirely sure about the date of this photo, but it's almost certainly from this game on June 23, 2006. That's the only time that Pujols faced Justin Verlander (the pictured pitcher) that year and it came in Detroit. In the top of the 5th of that game, Pujols doubled to deep right field and was thrown out, I assume either trying to advance to third base or oversliding at second.

ANAGRAMS

Albert Pujols = Jabs polluters
Justin Verlander = Turns javelin red

BEST STAT

Total bases over the first eight years of a career--Number 1: Phat Albert

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

When is this card? 2007 Upper Deck David Dellucci #394



This one is easy to date. The top score is Oakland at San Francisco. Delluci played with the Phillies only in 2006. Dan Haren (#24) pitched just one game at the Giants that year (thanks to interleague play being so limited.) It was this game on June 24, 2006. The other game on the scoreboard is the Nationals (WAS) at the Orioles (BAL.)

Incidentally, the Jason Varitek card from the same set is from the same game, when Chris Coste was thrown out at home in the 9th inning.

ANAGRAM

David Delluci = Add lucid evil

(corrected)

David Dellucci = Civil clad dude

STAT

Ince 1969, Delluci has the fewest stolen bases in a season with at least 12 triples. That happened in his 1998 season with the Diamondbacks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When is this card? 2007 Upper Deck Marcus Thames #114



This one was a little tough to figure out, mainly because even though this is a 2007 card, it turns out that the photo was from 2005. Thames himself would probably remember this himself since this looks like a pretty awesome catch. (At least, I assume he's about to catch the ball.)

My starting point for this card was the bottom right portion of the photo that features a game with a team starting with "H", which can only be "HOU" for the Astros. Roy Oswalt is #44 for them. The home team in that game starts with a letter that also has a leading vertical, and the name must take up less space than "HOU" since it starts further to the right. The only NL teams that fit this category are MIL, FLA, PIT, and PHI (and possibly LA if they used LA instead of LAD.)

So I looked through Roy Oswalt's starts, and then tried to match up to a #35 pitcher on one of those other teams. I found a 2006 game where he faced the Marlins' #35 Dontrelle Willis, but then I ran into a problem with the top part of the scoreboard. That game features either the Orioles ("BAL") or the Red Sox ("BOS") at home. On the day of that Oswalt/Willis game in 2006, there wasn't a #30 pitching for Baltimore or Boston.

So then I went back to 2005, and it was pretty easy to find the date: May 11th 2005. Hmm, but that's a Wednesday...unusual since the game featured on the Thames card is a day game. But the Tigers game that day (at the Rangers) was a day game, as was the Red Sox game.

ANAGRAMS

Marcus Thames = Rams mustache = Muscat harems

STAT

At the moment, Thames has by far the fewest career at-bats of any player with 100+ career homers. Of course, that's a bogus stat since he just hit his 100th career homer. But, he also has the fewest at-bats of any player with 95 to 105 career homers.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When is this card? 2009 Upper Deck Raul Ibanez #335



Here's another card we can date. Although there's very little into on the scoreboard in the background, it's pretty easy to determine that the matchups are the Rangers (TEX) hosting the White Sox (CHW) and the Athletics (OAK) hosting the Angels (LAA).

Based on the game start times, we can narrow the date down to July 13, 2008. The Mariners were visiting the Royals that day, meaning that the scoreboard would show games in Central Time. The LAA/Oakland game was scheduled for 1:08 PM, which is Pacific Time. That would be 3:08 CT, matching what we see on the scoreboard.

Ibanez fielded ground balls in the 1st inning, 6th inning, 7th inning, and 8th inning, not to mention other times he might have made such a pose (such as throwing the ball around the infield after a strikeout.)

ANAGRAM

Ruin ablaze

STAT

Ibanez is having a great 2009 to the surprise of many people. Those folks haven't been paying attention, though, because Ibanez is in the top 15 for OPS+ among outfielders with 4000 PAs from 2001 to 2008. That doesn't even include his awesome 2009.

Friday, August 14, 2009

When is this 2009 OPC card? #501 Orioles team checklist




Here's a nice photo of Camden Yards. That looks like an Angels player at first base. On the out-of-town scoreboard, we can easily see two different games of the Pirates at the Phillies.
Here's a close-up:



See the two PIT-PHI games on the right? We've got the following games as well: Reds at Cubs, Dodgers and Rockies, Braves at Marlins, Padres at Astros, Rangers at Rays, Mariners at Twins, and a few other ones that I can't quite read.

Check out this list of the Phillies-Pirates games from the last bunch of years. They played a double-header in 2004 and one earlier than that in 2001. Surely the photo couldn't be so old? But in fact, it is from 2001. May 23, 2001 is the date of this game, as it's the only one that has all the right matchups.

The Orioles did host the Angels that day.

So, this is an 8-year-old photo on a 2009 baseball card. Wow. I wonder how old the other team stadium photos are? (Unfortunately, most of the others cannot be dated in this fashion.)

But here's one cool thing. Guess who that first base coach is? It's #33 Eddie Murray. Bonus Hall of Famer card! The Angels' first baseman that day was--guess who?--Wally Joyner. I bet you didn't think you'd be seeing Wally Joyner on a 2009 baseball card, but there he is. The rightfielder, also visible in the photo, is another retired star: Tim Salmon.

Overall all, this card is totally bizarre and totally cool.

ANAGRAM

Baltimore Orioles = A toilsome broiler

Thursday, August 13, 2009

When is this 2009 OPC card? #371 Carlos Lee




First off, this is an interesting photo of Carlos Lee. While it's great to see him about to catch a fly ball, there are two problems: 1) it's a routine fly ball, making it less than totally exciting and 2) his glove is obscuring his face. If it were a more unusual catch, I could forgive the blocked face.

I plan on showing a series of the best and worst cards from this set coming up, and this will be among the worst cards.

Anyway, let's see if we can date the photo.

Here's what we know:

  • That's the left-field scoreboard at Minute Maid Park so this is an Astros home game.
  • Other games that day include the Padres visiting the Marlins, the Mets visiting the Diamondbacks, and the Cubs visiting the Cardinals.
  • The scoreboard at this stadium doesn't just show basic totals, though. It shows full linescores for each game, meaning that, for example, the Padres scored 1 run in the 2nd inning and 1 run in the 3rd inning of their game. This should make it pretty easy to identify the date.
Turns out that the Padres visited the Marlins for just one 3-game serious in 2008. By clicking on the 3 box scores, it's easy to figure out that the day in question was May 4th, 2008, based on this box score. We can also see the NYM/ARI and CHI/STL matchups from that day. Turns out that the Astros hosted the Brewers that day and won in the 12th inning.

Interestingly, Lee was taken out of this game after he made the last out in the 9th inning. I'm not sure why that would happen unless he had a minor injury of some sort. He played in the next series of games so he couldn't have gotten very badly injured, if at all. Checking out the box score, Lee had two outfield assists in the first two innings!

As for outs that Lee recorded in the game, he caught a Ryan Bruan fly ball in the 4th inning and a Prince Fielder fly ball in the 7th inning. This photo has got to be one of those two balls. With a game start time of 1:06 PM central, this photo was taken sometime roughly around 3:00 to 4:00 PM eastern on 5/4/2008.

ANAGRAMS

Carlos Lee =

Carol's eel
Real close

STAT

Lee is often overlooked as being one of the best players in the game, but among guys with at least 4500 plate appearances since 2002, he's in the top 15 for OPS+.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When is this 2009 OPC card? #330 Jake Peavy



It's sweet to show pitchers doing something other than pitching and this is a nice photo of Peavy digging in as he approaches 3rd base. That ass probably belongs to 2008 Padres third base coach Glenn Hoffman.

So, can we find the date for this card?

For starters, we know that it's a Padres home game since they're wearing white uniforms. We can also see that the Dodgers visited the Rockies that day, and either the Braves (ATL) or the Cardinals (STL) visited a team with a short abbreviation, probably the SF Giants. Plus to Nationals played at home.

This one was very difficult to figure out. Turns out that there are no 2008 games that fit all the above criteria. However, this game in 2007 fits just fine.

On that day (April 19, 2007) all of the following happened:
  • The Rockies (COL) hosted the Dodgers (LAD)
  • The Giants (SF) hosted the Cardinals (STL)
  • The Nationals (WSN) hosted the Phillies (PHI)
  • The Padres hosted the Diamondbacks
How, the one thing that doesn't quite fit is that the team visiting the Nationals seems to have only 2 letters in its team abbreviation (which the Phillies do not.) However, other than the Padres, the only other NL team that ever uses a 2-letter abbreviations is the Padres (SD) themselves and since they are the home team in the game featured in the photo, their score would not be shown on the out-of-town scoreboard. Furthermore, the Phillies beat the Nationals that day by the score of 4-2, which is the score shown in the photo.

Finally, in the Padres game, Peavy hit a triple in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Since it's somewhat rare for pitchers to be running between second and third, I think we can safely assume that this card is indeed from the 4/19/2007 game.

That game started at 12:36 PM (west coast time) so this photo was probably taken between 4:30 and 5:00 eastern time.

Incidentally, Glenn Hoffman was also third base coach in 2007, so I still think that's his ass.

ANAGRAMS

Jake Peavy + Hoffman's ass = Pajamas off! Sky heavens!

STAT

Since 1901, only 22 times has a pitcher struck out at least 200 batters in a season but finished with an ERA+ below 100. Peavy did it in 2006, and is just 1 of 2 guys to do it in the last 12 seasons. Nolan Ryan did it 5 times and the vast majority of the pitchers who did it were very good.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

When is this 2009 OPC card? #470 Prince Fielder



Other blogs have already posted this card. I found it alarming because of just how large Fielder looks. That's number 12 Freddy Sanchez taking his lead.

So when was this photo taken?

Let's see. We need to start with 2008 games of the Brewers visiting the Pirates. Based on the team matchups visible on the scoreboard, we can easily narrow the game down to August 29, 30 or 31.

The August 29th game was a night game and the photo was clearly taken during the day. The August 30th game was also a night game, despite it coming on a Saturday.

So this photo was clearly taken on August 31st, 2008. But we can tell a little more, even. Sanchez got to first base only once in the game, walking to lead off the 4th against C. C. Sabathia. This game was part of Sabathia's excellent streak for the Brewers last season. Since the game started at 1:35 PM, this photo was probably taken sometime around 2:15-2:30 PM on the last day of August.


ANAGRAM

Brewers / Pirates = Wet raspberries

STAT

Over his Age 23 and Age 24 seasons, Fielder cracked the top 20 for most total bases. A few other recent players make the top 20, including Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero, Nomar Garciaparra, Hanley Ramirez, and Troy Glaus.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What the heck??

Hubie Brooks is getting roundly trounced by Oil Can Boyd in semifinal #3. That's not right. If you haven't voted yet, please go over there and vote for Brooks.

Also let me take this opportunity to comment on the future of this blog. For the time being, I'm going to concentrate on the 2009 O-Pee-Chee set. I'll be posting a "When is this card?" post each day this week (Friday's is AWESOME!) and also we'll look at some of the best and worst photos in the set next week.

After that, I'm not sure what will happen. Things have been incredibly busy for me at both work and home lately although I expect that to settle down some. I was looking at getting my hands on one of those early 1990s Stadium Club sets that came in the Skydome model, but now I don't think I want to spend the cash needlessly. I may look for another set to write up--but if anybody has any ideas, or even a set you want to donate to the cause, just let me know.

When is this 2009 OPC card? #173 Adrian Beltre



There is a handful of 2009 O-Pee-Chee cards with photos that can be dated.

Let's start with an easy one, this Adrian Beltre card.

On the scoreboard in the background, we can see that the Angels were playing at the Tigers that day. Checking out the Angels' 2008 schedule, we see they played two series at Detroit. One was over April 25 to April 27 and the other was Sept 2 to Sept 4. We can also see in the photo background that the Yankees were visiting the Rays on this day. Over the April dates, though, the Yankees were at the Indians. However, the Rays did host the Yankees Sept 2, 3, and 4.

In the photo, the pitcher for the Angels was #20, which was Jon Garland. He pitched for the Angels on September 3rd. Zach Miner was the Tigers' starter in that game and he wore #31, jiving with what we see in the photo above. Lastly, the Rays' starter that day was Edwin Jackson, and he wore #36, also matching up with what we see in the photo.

So, clearly, this photo is from September 3rd, 2008.

On that day, the Mariners were visiting the Rangers and they lost 1-0. Beltre did manage 2 hits, though.

ANAGRAMS


Adrian Beltre =

Radiant rebel
Ran liberated
Alert brained

STAT

I just wrote recently about Adrian Beltre over at the Baseball-Reference.com Blog where I pointed out how overrated he is and how bad his 2009 has been.

Tournament semifinal #5



I picked the sky blue background to match a couple of the cards. Nice!

Make sure you're a follower of this blog, and then vote below.



Friday, August 7, 2009

Tournament semifinal #4



Vote below! Can anyone beat HOFer Carter? I doubt it.



Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tournament semifinal #3



Semifinal #3

Follow the blog (if you're not already) then vote for the best card below. I myself can't see any reason for voting for any card other than Hubie Brooks.



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tournament semifinal #2



Here's semifinal #2. Remember--you must be a follower of this blog to vote, and you can vote for whichever card you this is best for any reason. Aside from the Fetters card (which is interesting for other reasons) these are some really nice photographs.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Is Mark McGwire a Hall of Famer?



I'm curious about whether you think Mark McGwire is Hall of Famer, considering ONLY his stats. I don't know how to judge the steroids/PEDs issue yet.

Please vote in the poll below and feel free to add a comment.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tournament semifinal #1



So here we go with tournament semifinal #1. Each of these cards has been assigned to a reader. If you need a reminder, here is the list.

I don't have a lot to say about these players--I wrote everything I had to say on their original posts earlier on this blog.

There are just two rules for voting:

1) Please make sure you are a follower of this blog (see sidebar) before voting, otherwise your vote will not count.

2) Vote using whatever criteria you wish, such as best player, best photos, best-looking cards, nicest guy, etc. The poll is below.



Friday, July 31, 2009

Tournament settings

The total number of runs scored on Tuesday was 199. That means the cards get ordered by decreasing length of the player's name.

So here are the 25 cards as well as which reader is assigned to each card.

1 #702 "Rookie Threats" madding
2 #777 Keith Hernandez Carl Crawford Cards
3 #761 Gary DiSarcina White Sox Cards
4 #745 Dave Winfield dayf
5 #783 Mark Langston D a V e
6 #737 Carlos Baerga Don
7 #708 Tom Brunansky T-Dog
8 #786 Cecil Fielder Real_Name
9 #742 Mike Fetters AceWild
10 #711 Dave Justice Captain Canuck
11 #791 Hubie Brooks FanofReds
12 #749 Oil Can Boyd Stormy
13 #726 Todd Hundley Kevin
14 #714 Glenn Braggs Fuji
15 #729 Jeff Reardon Bo
16 #758 Nick Esasky Brian
17 #766 Dave Parker steveisjewish
18 #774 Gary Carter Rod
19 #797 Randy Myers Drew
20 #723 Jim Leyritz Mmayes
21 #718 Greg Myers Luke
22 #754 Joe Carter mmosley
23 #793 Kevin Bass skoormit
24 #734 Nolan Ryan night owl
25 #771 Fred Lynn RoofGod

Night owl, you damned nearly got yourself either Joe Carter or Kevin Bass (both Giants on these cards.) They missed only because "Rangers" comes alphabetically after "Giants".

These cards are going to be posted in 5 sets of 5 starting next week. Remember, the readers assigned to the card that wins the entire tournament will win the entire set, so get ready to argue on behalf of your card.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tournament order

Our tournament of the 25 best 1990 Upper Deck High # series is going to start soon.

I'm going to order the 25 winning cards based on the total number of runs scored during Tuesday's games. I'll add up all the runs and then take the last digits. For example, if the total is 125 runs, then the number I'll use is 5.

Here's a list of the 10 possible numbers and the way I'll order the 25 cards. Then I'll assign the cards to the numbers you chose. This makes it all fair and square.

0: increasing by card number
1: decreasing by card number
2: increasing by name alphabetically
3: decreasing by name alphabetically
4: increasing by team name then player name alphabetically
5: decreasing by team name then player name alphabetically
6: increasing by age
7: decreasing by age
8: increasing by length of player's name then by team name alphabetically
9: decreasing by length of player's name then by team name alphabetically

Monday, July 27, 2009

Moving day

My family and I are moving to a new home today and tomorrow so I'm not sure if I'll be posting very much.

But in the meantime, here's a little game for you.

The street number of our new home is one of major significance in baseball history. Guess the number and its baseball significance and I'll send you some free cards. Post your guess below and enter as many times as you like.

1990 Upper Deck #797 798 799 800



Randy Myers
Chris James
Bill Gullickson
Upper Deck Checklist 701-800

BEST PHOTO

The James card is similar to Keith Hernandez's card and has an equally nice batting-cage shot on the back. Overall, a very nice card. The Gullickson card is neat too. On the front, he's sitting in front of that wood paneling in front of which many Astros have posed. On the back is the final picture of the set, and it's a sloppy-haired candid photo.

But let's not ignore the checklist...I really like that mottled yellow background on both sides and how the checklist is self-referential, listing itself on the back.

BEST STAT

Chris James hit pretty well against HOF pitchers except for Nolan Ryan. He also hit multiple homers off Randy Johnson and Tom Glavine and a single homer off Roger Clemens. He also homered once against Randy Myers, also pictured in this group. Plus he was 4-for-9 against Bill Gullickson with a triple.

BEST IN 1990

Chris James had his most playing time in 1990 and put up his best season. Gullickson had a typically average season.

But it was Randy Myers who had the best season in 1990. He was, of course, the leader of the Nasty Boys with the 1990 champion Reds. He had 86 innings, 98 strikeouts, and a 192 ERA+.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Randy Myers = Many dryers
Chris James = Jams riches
Bill Gullickson = Bill sucking - LOL!

BEST CAREER

James and Gullickson had some good seasons but Myers is clearly the best of the bunch.



Friday, July 24, 2009

1990 Upper Deck #793 794 795 796



Kevin Bass
Bryn Smith
Juan Samuel
Sam Horn

BEST PHOTO

I like the Smith card. It's two photos probably from the same spring training game but taken from very different angles. On the front, the guy in the background is a 3B, probably Todd Zeile even though he was primarily a catcher that year. On the back, the background player is probably 2B Jose Oquendo.

I dig the Kevin Bass photo card, too. The posed shot on the front is unusual and neat. But, he stole Terry Kennedy's bat (#16).

Nice smirk for Juan Samuel, too, and an action shot showing him do what he did best (run, I mean, not get thrown out...heh.)

BEST STAT

Juan Samuel led the universe in strikeouts from 1984 to 1987, including leading the NL each of those years. My eye tracks down that list to #5 Gyrates Tip Gary Pettis, who managed 496 strikeouts in 4 seasons despite hitting only 9 home runs. Yes, NINE!

BEST IN 1990

Hmm, this is a toughie. Bryn Smith had a down year in 1990 and Bass and Samuel both had slightly below-average OPS+ numbers. I'm going with Sam Horn, who had 14 HR and 45 RBI in just 79 games. The knock on my choice is that he played only those 79 games.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Kevin Bass = Vans & bikes
Sam Horn = Harm son (of Sam Horn..?)

Tough anagrams here as the short names "Bryn Smith" and "Juan Samuel" aren't very fertile material.

BEST CAREER

Another very tough decision. Bass, Smith, and Samuel finished with slightly above-average numbers. Horn finished with really good numbers except for perhaps the most important one: games played. I can't pick a batter with just 389 career games as having had the best career. Nobody had much post-season experience, with Bass and Samuel just getting a whiff each. (No pun intended on the use of the word "whiff" although we could certainly apply that term to Samuel and Horn both.)

Anyway, at the end of the day, I'm going with Juan Samuel. He was runner-up for Rookie of the Year, a 3-time All-Star, topped 40 steals 4 different times and twice led the league in triples.



Thursday, July 23, 2009

Burleigh



BURLEIGH GRIMES, 1960 FLEER


What, were you expecting me to post about a different "Buerhle"?

Incidentally, Sean from Baseball-Reference.com told me in the 4PM hour today, Mark Buerhle's page on his site achieved 6,000 hits. That's 100 hits per minute for just 1 of the more than 50,000 pages that update daily. Wow.

MLB Network (and a contest)

Earlier this week I got a tour of MLB Network in Secaucus. I was invited by a group that had some business there.

I got to see the studio, production room, offices, as well as the areas where all the research and graphic design are done. In one of the main hallways is a section of wall where many of the former ballplayers who have visited have signed their names. One area has all Hall of Famers (including Bob Gibson, Goose Gossage, Cal Ripken, Tom Lasorda, and Bill Mazeroski) while another area has many other star players.

I can't go into any deatil about why I made the trip or who else was there, but suffice it to say that there were some interesting discussions. A number of ideas were floated around and perhaps there will be a collaboration.

Anyway, my hosts passed along to me this MLB Network cap.



It's brand new, made by New Era, and has an adjustable strap in the back. If you want it, just enter here as follows:

1. Comment on this post to enter the contest.

2. To win, you must be a follower of this blog to enter (you can do so using the Following widget on the right sidebar.)

3. In your comment, include a brief statement about your experience with MLB Network. Does your cable company carry it? Do you watch it? If not, why not? If yes, what do you like or dislike about it? I'm not asking for a paragraph here, just a sentence or two.

4. Also, guess the total number of runs scored by all teams in the games scheduled for this Sunday, July 26th. The closest person wins the hat, assuming you've done #2 and #3 above correctly. Rained out games or games that are make-ups of previous rain-outs don't count.

5. Make your comment posting before games start on Sunday. Ties are broken by whoever posted their guess earlier, so you best not duplicate someone else's guess or you've already lost.

So a valid entry, assuming I'm a follower of this blog, would be:

- I get MLB Network on Comcast in my area. I really enjoy how they cut to live games then cut back to studio for immediate analysis by the former players on what just happened.

- I predict 135 runs scored.

1990 Upper Deck #789 790 791 792



Lloyd Moseby
Ron Kittle
Hubie Brooks
Craig Lefferts

BEST PHOTO

No doubt the Hubie Brooks card is something special. The pose on the front is pretty commonly seen these days, with especially the 2009 O-Pee-Chee set coming to mind (much more on this to come.) Back in 1990, it was very cool, particularly with all the clouds in the background. The back photo is a fantastic action shot, making great use of the portrait-style photo. The outfielder-throwing-the-ball action shot is one of the rarest birds.

The rest of the cards and pretty ho-hum. Kittle's card is especially bad with not one but two right-facing-profile photos. At least Moseby is shown in both home and away uniforms.

I have to make mention of Craig Lefferts, who got a card in this set by virtue of signing with the Padres as a free agent, coming back to San Diego after having been traded to the Giants in the interim. The Padres would go on to trade Lefferts away again in 1992 for Erik Schullstrom and Ricky Gutierrez. Gutierrez, however, was later packaged and traded away by the Padres along with Derek Bell, whom the Padres had obtained in a series of trades after the first time they traded away Lefferts back in 1987.

It's pretty weird but I explained it all back here.

BEST STAT

From 1984 to 1991, Kittle had 140 HR (44th place), Brooks had 127 HR (53rd place), and Moseby had 124 HR (57th place). But here's the difference between these guys. Ranking instead by RBI over that period, Brooks jumps up the 26th place, while Moseby sticks at 51st and Kittle falls to 110th. Kittle had a high rate of hitting HR but didn't play enough to bat in lots of runs by other means. Moseby was average. Brooks didn't have a lot of power but did produce a decent number of runs by other means.

BEST IN 1990

Interestingly, all four of these guys had pretty good years in 1990. They were all above-average players with the 3 hitters all posting OPS+ values over 100 but less than 110. The best season was probably had by Lefferts who was used exclusively as a reliever and posted a 2.52 ERA (152 ERA+) over 78.2 IP, picking up 23 saves in the process.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Lloyd Moseby = Boomed slyly (or, if you prefer, "belly sodomy")
Hubie Brooks = Bookish rube (or, if you prefer, "huskier boob")
Craig Lefferts = Greater cliffs (or, if you prefer, "fecal frig, rest")

BEST CAREER

This is a tough call. All of these guys are interestingly similar. They all had some excellent years and were pretty steady performers. They all ended up a little over league-average for their careers, except for Brooks who ended with an OPS+ of exactly 100. They all had careers that were not very long--they all either started a little late in the majors (age 25 or older) or ended early (by age 33.)

If I had to pick one, I'd go with Lefferts, giving him the nod by virtue of more post-season experience including two World Series. Overall, he pitched pretty well in the playoffs too.



Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Poll added

The poll for the most recent post has been added. Click here to vote.

1990 Upper Deck #785 786 787 788



Dave Hollins
Cecil Fielder
Matt Young
Jeff Huson

BEST PHOTO

That Huson photo is great. He is perfectly still and it could easily be a posed shot, if not for that ball careening towards him from the left.

It also appears that Fielder discarded his bat right into the catcher's mouth as it's sticking straight out from back there.

Otherwise, these photos leave something to be desired. The Hollins photos are obviously taken from the same at-bat, as are the Fielder ones likely. Only Young is sporting two different jerseys.

BEST STAT

Not a stat so much, but Hollins was involved in 3 very interesting transactions:

December 4, 1989: Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies from the San Diego Padres in the 1989 rule 5 draft.

July 24, 1995: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Boston Red Sox for Mark Whiten.

August 29, 1996: Traded by the Minnesota Twins to the Seattle Mariners for . The Seattle Mariners sent David Arias (September 13, 1996) to the Minnesota Twins to complete the trade.

Hollins was one of the best Rule V Draft pickups ever, at least until he fizzled after only a couple of really good years. Later, he was traded for a much better player in Mark Whiten. Still later, he was traded for a WAY better player, although that time David Arias was totally unknown. In fact, he still hadn't started using the last name we all recognize today. Click on Arias' name above to see him called by his more recognizable moniker.

BEST IN 1990

I cannot emphasize this enough. Not only was Cecil Fielder the best in 1990 but that season was one of the greatest seasons in baseball history, not only due to his excellent performance but also because of its phenomenal surprise and impact.

Fielder came almost literally out of nowhere, having been an unknown major leaguer who played in Japan in 1989. His return to MLB in 1990 was not a story--few people recognized his name and even fewer cared. Then he hit 7 HR in April and a few eyebrows were raised. Then he slammed 11 more homers in May and suddenly all eyes were on him. Collectors were scurrying to find his rookie cards. Turns out he had an 1988 Topps card. But wait, he also had a 1987 Topps card...and holy crap! He also he a 1986 Topps card!

Fielder rolled into the All-Star break with 28 homers and people started to ask: could this unknown slugger break the 50-HR barrier? At that point, it had been done just once since 1965, and that was all the way back in 1977 by George Foster. Many people were skeptical that Fielder could keep it up. Lots of folks said that once the scouting reports caught up with him, his numbers would dwindle.

But then something funny happened--his numbers didn't dwindle. He finished July with 7 HR, giving him 33 for the season. Surely he'd slow down in August? Nope. Nine more homers, giving him 42 heading into the final month. He reached 48 homers in his team's 153rd game on September 23rd. Then he reached 49 homers in his team's 156th game on September 27th. Then he went homerless--1 game, 2 games, 3 games...5 games without a homer, and the 162nd and final game was upon Fielder.

Many people doubted that Cecil Fielder would homer on that final day. Just like Dawson and McGwire in 1987, many suspected, he'd finish 1 homer shy of the 50-HR barrier. Many, many people tuned in to watch his final game that year, coming against the Yankees on October 3rd.

Fielder batted second in this game, I assume in an attempt to give him an extra at-bat in this game. He batted second only twice in 1990. In the first inning, he was walked and the Yankee fans booed. He scored on a Gary Ward grand slam and batted again in the second, this time lining out. After two outs in the 4th, Tony Phillips did what he did best and walked. Four pitches later, Fielder launched his 50th home run of the season into the left field stands. Insanity reigned as the Yankee crowd cheered.

Then, to erase any trace of the memory that Fielder's 50-HR season was ever in doubt, he launched a 3-run bomb in the 8th inning, this a line drive that also reached the left field stands.

And so it stood. An unknown slugger with huge biceps and an even larger smile broke the 50-HR barrier and Big Daddy was born.

In the years that followed, Fielder's accomplishment was tarnished, not by him (he hit 44 HR the following season and 30+ homers 4 additional times) but by the rest of baseball. Enter steroids and 9 different 50-HR seasons from 1995 to 1998. Fielder's season became a memory forgotten by many, but not by me.

After all, I was at Yankee Stadium on October 3rd, 1990. I brought my glove, and had the great fortune of catching Fielder's 50th home run ball in the left field stands. It remains my most prized possession.

OK, I made that last paragraph up, but everything else is true :)

BEST ANAGRAMS

Dave Hollins = Handles viol (of banned substances, perhaps?)
Cecil Fielder = I feel circled
Matt Young = Gutty moan

BEST CAREER

All 4 of these guys did some good things in the big leagues but Fielder had the best career. Aside from what I've already mentioned, he was a major contributer to the Yankees' World Series win in 1996, amassing 14 RBI in 14 post-season games that year. Add to that his big smile and massive influence, and this guy was one of baseball's brightest stars in the 1990s.



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

1990 Upper Deck #781 782 783 784



Mike Marshall
Billy Jo Robidoux
Mark Langston
Paul Sorrento

BEST PHOTO

It's kind of weird seeing Marshall in a Mets uniform. His career tanked as soon as he went to the Big Apple. (In case of newbies, do not confuse this guy with the pitcher Mike Marshall, who had a much better playing career than the guy whose card is pictured here.) But the photo on the back is quite cool, capturing Marhsall's leg kick in profile.

BEST STAT

The two Mike Marshalls were both in the big leagues in 1981 but they did not face each other. The batter got a September 1981 callup but his team didn't face the Mets, which is whom Marshall the pitcher was with at the time.

I talked about this elsewhere, but I recall this Mike Marshall once making all 3 outs in an inning--he made a conventional out as well as hitting into a double play in an inning in which his team batted around. A reader thought this was a spring training game...does anyone remember for sure?

Marshall hit way more homers off Bob Knepper (7) than he did against any other pitcher.

BEST IN 1990

This is a tough call. Robidoux barely played in 1990, Marshall was awful, Sorrento was pretty bad in an early call-up, and Langston had the worst year of his career (10-17 record, 4.40 ERA which was an 86 ERA+)

But I'll give it to Langston because he did pitch 223 innings, which was definitely a big help to his team. Amazingly, he had such a bad year for him and yet gave up only 13 home runs.

The other three cards show the player wearing the same uniform on front and back, which sucks, and in particular Sorrento's card leaves a lot to be desired with a so-so posed shot on the front and a candid shot of him slowly giving himself oral cancer on the back.

But talking of leg kicks, how about Langston's awesome one on the back of his card? It's such a great photo that I can almost forgive Upper Deck for using a photo with most of his face obscured.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Mike Marshall = A hammer kills
Billy Jo Robidoux = Job: I idol burly ox
Mark Langston = Ram long tanks


BEST CAREER

No doubt it was Mark Langston, who finished 179-158 (.531) despite pitching the first 5.5 seasons of his career with a veyr bad Seattle team. He still led the league in K's 3 times and topped 200 a total of 5 times. He ended up being a very important player for the Mariners franchise as he legitimized them in the 1980s and then was traded for 3 guys including Randy Johnson, who reached his HOF potential with the Mariners.

May 25, 1989: Traded by the Seattle Mariners with a player to be named later to the Montreal Expos for a player to be named later, Gene Harris, Brian Holman and Randy Johnson. The Seattle Mariners sent Mike Campbell (July 31, 1989) to the Montreal Expos to complete the trade.

I'm a little shocked by his neutralized pitching numbers, though. They have him at 153-161 (.487) for his career and never winning more than 16 games in any season (he actually won 19 twice and 17 once.)



Monday, July 20, 2009

1990 Upper Deck #777 778 779 780



Keith Hernandez
Billy Hatcher
Marty Clary
Candy Maldonado

BEST PHOTO

Wow, the Hernandez card is absolutely shocking--both photos on the card are very unusual and quite awesome. (In my opinion, this is THE BEST card in the set, but of course time will tell in our tournament.) The front photo, featuring Mex in the batting cage, is a very unusually close shot and gives a great view of Hernandez's face and swing. (I believe #25 is coach Dom Chiti, but I'm not sure about that.) The back photo is equally interesting. Let's count the ways:

  • Hernandez, perhaps the best fielding first baseman of all time, has just made a fantastic over-the-shoulder catch.
  • He is off both feet, with a nice puff of dirt.
  • The fans immediately behind him are in wheelchairs, which (due mainly to the low percentage of fans in wheelchairs at any given game) is unusual to see on a card.
  • A few of the fans look pretty damn scared!
To be honest, I don't know if a card gets any better than this. The card is great and Hernandez was a great player.

The Hatcher card is pretty nice, too, although far more ordinary. We have Hatcher's name and number on the front and a nice action-running shot on the back showing him holding both batting gloves in his right hand (and the entire bottom of one shoe visible.)

Maldonado appears to be levitating his bat on the back of his card...sweet!

BEST STAT

Maldonado never homered to win a game but he did have 4 walk-off plate appearances: two singles, a walk, and a sac fly.

BEST IN 1990

The choice here is actually very clear--but do you know the answer? It's Maldonado, who had his third-best season in 1990, launching 22 HR while collecting 92 RBI and a 116 OPS+. His best season was 1987 with the Giants and #2 was 1992 with the Blue Jays as a totally forgotten member of that championship team.

Hatcher wasn't fantastic during the regular season of 1990 but came up big that year in the postseason. I know I wrote about his post-season recently somewhere but I can't find it. Oh well.

Hernandez and Clary were both in the final year of their big-league careers in 1990.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Keith Hernandez = Harkened zenith
Billy Hatcher = Chilly breath
Marty Clary = Clay martyr
Candy Maldonado = Lady and a condom

BEST CAREER

We have 3 guys who were key parts of championship teams and they all did good things in the post-season. But Hernandez did a lot more in the regular season than Hatcher and Maldonado, and that's saying something because those guys were no slouches.



Sunday, July 19, 2009

Baseball-Reference.com

Read all about it right here.

I'm very proud to be a guest writer on B-R.com's blog. I get a lot of questions about this so let me clarify: as of the moment, I am an unpaid guest contributing solely through invitation from Sean. I have no ownership, no say in what goes on, and no knowledge of the workings of the site other than some minor stuff around the blog.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mike Fetters winner

The readers have spoken, and metsthoughts has won the Mike Fetters contest. I think he had a bunch of friends log on and vote for him, which is fine by me.

I just noticed that these patch cards are worth quite a bit...I probably wouldn't have given one away for free had I known it!

1990 Upper Deck #773 774 775 776



Wow, this grouping is full of kids. Three youngsters and one Kid.

David Segui
Gary Carter
Rafael Valdez
Glenallen Hill

BEST PHOTO

Three things stick out about the fronts: how young Segui looks, how you can see a bit of Carter's brain by looking up his nostrils, and how Valdez seems to be struggling to write on a baseball with a Bic pen.

The card backs are all nice changes of pace from their fronts, but not so nice to show Hill looking at a pop-up.

BEST STAT

In just 3 career games, Valdez gave up 4 home runs. That's not quite the record, as 4 guys who appeared in no more than 3 games gave up more homers. All good players hit those homers off Valdez.

BEST IN 1990

Not a single guy here played a full season in 1990. Nobody appeared in as many as 100 games. I guess I pick Carter, who in 92 games with the Giants hit 9 HR with a 104 OPS+. Hill showed some promise as he put up 12 HR and 32 RBI in 84 games, but batted just .231.

BEST ANAGRAMS

David Segui = Guide divas
Gary Carter = Racy garter (heh) = Great carry
Rafael Valdez = Rave fall daze
Glenallen Hill, Blue Jays = A jellybean selling hull = Hell bells: A ninja gulley

BEST CAREER

Clearly Gary Carter had the best career. David Segui is one of those guys really hurt by being linked to steroids. He wasn't a fantastic player and the casual fan chalks up whatever he did well in the game to steroid use, which I doubt is a fair analysis. From 1995 to 2001, Segui was a well above-average player even though his HR and RBI totals didn't rank him high among first basemen. Again, had he played outfield instead of 1B, I think he'd be more highly-regarded these days. Oddly enough, Glennallen Hill is in exactly the same boat as Segui. Hill finished with a 112 OPS+ and had a handful of great seasons as a part-time player. But nobody is going to remember that now.

(Incidentally, I just saw a video of Hill homering onto the roof of a building across from Wrigley in 2000. Pretty amazing...I'm sure it's on YouTube. Go check it out.)



Thursday, July 16, 2009

You down with O-Pee-Chee?

(Yeah, you know me!)

OK I have collected a little over half of the 2009 OPC base set and I'm ready to do some trading. I've got lots of doubles, as well as black parallels, mini-parallels, a Wladimir Balentien auto, and a bunch of other stuff. Whatever team you like, I've got stuff for you.

If you have 2009 OPC cards to trade me, please see my want list here, then email me to let me know what you've got, where I can find your want lists, etc.

Also, as a special bonus, I will send you the return postage for all trades--that's right--I'll send my stuff first, and send you the stamps to return your package to me.

Email is 88topps at gmail dot com.

1990 Upper Deck #769 770 771 772



Pascual Perez
Gary Pettis
Fred Lynn
Mel Rojas

BEST PHOTO

Well it ain't Pettis' photo. Upper Deck nicely shows him missing a bunt, with the baseball whizzing by. On the back, it looks like he just received news about the death of a loved one.

I really like the Perez photos. His front shot captures him making one of his typical funny moves. You might remember that he did a lot of fist-pumping and other gesticulating on the mound. There are also bonus chunks of dirt flying between his legs. On the back, we can see that the Yankees were playing the Braves that day.

It's sad and odd to see Lynn wearing a Padres uniform. After all those great years with Boston, California, and Baltimore, Lynn was reduced to half his former self by 1990, his last year in the big leagues.

BEST STAT

Perez really could have been great if not for the injuries. He has the most seasons all-time for a starting pitcher with an ERA under 4.00 but also fewer than 100 innings pitched. The guy just couldn't stay healthy but was was good when he did pitch.

BEST IN 1990

Well this is a tough call. Perez, Lynn, and Rojas all played partial seasons in 1990--Perez due to coming back from injury, Lynn because he was winding down his career, and Rojas because he was just coming up as a rookie. Pettis is the only guy who played a full year and he wasn't all that good. I really don't know who to go with here, but I guess I'll take Rojas, who pitched fairly well that year.

I also didn't know until just now that Rojas is the nephew of all 3 Alou brothers. I guess his mother must be their sister. (And, somewhat less shocking, he is not related to Cookie Rojas.)

BEST ANAGRAMS

Pascual Perez = A supple craze
Gary Pettis = Gyrates tip (hell YES!)
Fred Lynn, OF = Fondly fern
Mel Rojas = Jam loser

BEST CAREER

Freddy Lynn. Over 300 HR and 1000 RBI, career 129 OPS+, 1 MVP, ROY, 9 consecutive all-star appearances, and several gold gloves. Overrated in Boston, underrated everywhere else.