Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, March 2022

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A = Alternate Card  B= Bonus Factory Set Card  F = Factory Team Set  G = Giveaway Set  T = Traded Set  U = Update Set

 

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Topps Jake Marisnick
Topps Jake Marisnick

3/31/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2014 Topps #45 Jake Marisnick, Marlins

More Jake Marisnick Topps Cards: 2014U 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020U

On 7/7/2019, Marisnick—in the blink of an eye—went from quality major league veteran outfielder to "that guy that ran over that catcher".

Marisnick, still with Houston at the time, probably didn't set out to level Angels C Jonathan Lucroy  at home plate that day. But that's exactly what happened—Marisnick, attempting to break a 10-10 tie in the B8th, charged home from third base and crashed into Lucroy when a crash was indeed avoidable. 
Ten years ago, that's what would have been expected of Marisnick. But today, the Buster Posey Rule forbids such physicality; Marisnick took quite a beating on the airwaves, online, in print, everywhere for his hit on Lucroy—who was left concussed, broken-nosed and hospitalized.

Neither player has had solid major league footing since.

Here, however, Marisnick is just a Marlins rookie; he and future NL MVP Christian Yelich were both summoned from AA Jacksonville for their first major league foray on 7/23/2013. Facing the Rockies in Denver, Marisnick started in CF and went hitless in four trips; in fact, it took him 15 trips to record that elusive first MLB hit, a single off Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke 7/26.

THIS CARD: That's #23 on Marisnick's back, a number worn earlier in 2013 by P Wade LeBlanc (who was waived a few weeks before Marisnick's callup). Of course, the most notable #23 in Marlins history was Gold Glove C Charles Johnson, but among Miami Marlins, there's been former All-Star Corey Dickerson for 18 months and little else.

According to Getty Images, this pic was shot 8/2/2013 as Miami hosted Cleveland. That day, Marisnick went 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a steal in a 10-0 Marlins victory.

More from Marisnick's 2013 season: aside from that aforementioned 3-for-5 effort which left his average at .231, at no point during his two-plus months in the majors was Marisnick's average above .214. On 8/13, Marisnick was grazed by a pitch to lead off the T10th; he stole second and came around to score on Yelich's single—the only scoring in a 1-0 Marlins win over the Royals.

(flip) I won't lie: I'd completely forgotten about that trade, or at least the particulars of it. It saddens me that Josh Johnson is largely forgotten now because that was one talented SOB. 

Marisnick's grand slams for AA Jacksonville (vs. Pensacola, a Reds affiliate) were both hit off Josh Ravin. Those nine RBI were the most in a Southern League game since Butch Garcia of Charlotte (Cubs) drove in a league-record nine runs 8/4/1989.

About that Rookie Fact: Marisnick cracked that solo homer in the B2nd off the Mets' Jenrry Mejia (then a starter). That helped the Marlins to a 3-2 win, salvaging the finale of a three-game series.

AFTER THIS CARD: Off to an 8-for-48 start for the 2014 Marlins, Marisnick was shipped to the Astros in a six-player deal at the Deadline. He'd remain with Houston in a fourth-outfielder role through 2019, and his .243 average with 16 homers for the World Champion 2017 Astros set career-highs despite a September thumb fracture. Marisnick averaged .227, 10, 31 in 272 at-bats for the 2015-19 Astros, but averaged a strikeout every three times up.

Traded to the Mets in December 2019, Marisnick missed the first month of 2020 with a hamstring injury but went 11-for-33 in the 16 games he did end up playing (and survived this). He split 2021 between the Cubs and Padres, batting .216 in a reserve role, and is attempting to win a job with the 2022 Rangers as of this writing.

Jake Marisnick has appeared in 2014-20 Topps, as well as 2014 and 2020 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2014 Topps, Miami Marlins

 

More March 2022 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps Carlos Carrasco
Topps Carlos Carrasco

3/1/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2017 Topps #31 Carlos Carrasco, Indians

More Carlos Carrasco Topps Cards: 2010 2011 2013 2014 2015 2016 2018 2019 2020 2021

Though 2021 was not kind to him, Carlos Carrasco was quietly one of the American League's better, and at times best, starting pitchers throughout the second half of the 2010's and into 2020. The Indians acquired the then-unknown prospect in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade with Philadelphia, gave him a few years to develop, and watched him win 60 games for them 2015-18.

Here, the 29-year-old has just finished a 2016 season that saw him shake off a hamstring injury in April/May to win 11 times for the AL Champion Indians. Carrasco's 3.32 ERA would have tied for eighth in the AL if he had enough innings to qualify; his season ended on 9/17 when his hand was broken by a liner from Detroit's Ian Kinsler—the game's first batter.

THIS CARD: Each of Carrasco's nine Topps cards as an Indian depict him mid-motion, but the angles and uniforms are varied so redundancy isn't really an issue in his case.

This particular pic was shot in the B1st of Cleveland's 8/22 matchup with Oakland. That day, Carrasco scattered four hits across eight innings of work, striking out nine in a 1-0 victory!

In Cleveland history, #59 doesn't have much stature, although it was Hall-of-Famer Jim Thome's first number upon reaching MLB in 1991. Carrasco has never worn another number in the majors.

(flip) While I am accepting and understanding of Cleveland's recent nickname change, TSR is not going to pretend the Indians never existed, as 2022 Topps is doing. Try as some might, history cannot be erased. You will continue to see that nickname used on this site where applicable, just as you see the Expos, Senators, Pilots and Devil Rays where applicable—and we won't be pressured into otherwise.

One of these days, I have to find out where the nickname "Cookie" originated. It's obviously significant if Carrasco used it for (at least) two social media handles.

That 6/30 effort came against host Toronto in a 4-1 Cleveland victory. The Jays whiffed 17 total times that day, with all 10 of their hitters (including PH Russell Martin) going down on strikes at least once.

AFTER THIS CARD: Fully healthy in 2017-18, "Cookie" ran up a combined 35-16 record for Cleveland, placing fourth in AL Cy Young Award voting in '17 and earning a somewhat complicated four-year contract extension/restructuring in December 2018. But Carrasco's 2019 campaign was thrown off course in late May by leukemia; he returned as a reliever in September and became one of few to earn (AL) Comeback Player of the Year honors for an in-season comeback.

In the shortened 2020 season, Carrasco returned to the rotation and went 3-4, 2.91, improving as the year wore on. That winter, however, the Indians included Carrasco in the blockbuster Francisco Lindor trade, and his first year with the Mets was one to forget (1-5, 6.04 in 12 starts; sidelined until July by a torn hamstring). He underwent elbow surgery (bone fragment) after that 2021 season.

Carlos Carrasco has appeared annually in Topps 2010-21, except 2012.

CATEGORIES: 2017 Topps, Cleveland Indians

 
Topps Tom Glavine
Topps Jimmy Key

3/2/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #393 All-Star LHP: Tom Glavine, Jimmy Key

More 1994 Topps All-Star Cards: n/a

In my formative years as a Topps collector, All-Star cards—while not always depicting actual All-Star players—were always present in some capacity. From 1985 through 1992, All-Star cards featured individual players on the front and League Leaders (which said player was usually among) on the reverse.

In 1993 Topps, All-Stars were featured in pairs—AL and NL catchers, for example—with their key first-half stats from the previous season on the reverse. That format has continued almost unchanged in 1994 Topps.

THIS CARD: Glavine and Key both made the 1993 All-Star team, though only Key actually pitched in the game (he was credited with a hold despite allowing a double, single and sac fly to the NL in the T6th).

Despite the new card format/layout, Topps has continued its strange practice of including "All-Stars" who were not actual 1993 All-Stars, such as Atlanta's Fred McGriff and the Yankees' Mike Stanley. Both McGriff and Stanley had great 1993 seasons, but they were left off the Midsummer Classic roster. Topps finally rebranded this subset as the better-fitting "Star Power" in 1996 before junking it entirely until 2003 Topps.

Unlike previous All-Star subsets, this one uses the same player name font as standard commons.

(flip) Key's emergence as a star was one of 1993's big talking points. He'd always been steady, but broke through in a big way in his first year with the Yankees.

This may be the only time hits allowed is displayed on a pre-2006 Topps card. Why the company waited so long to print them on standard commons remains a mystery to us collectors.

Based on the stats you see, it may seem Key lost some effectiveness in the second half of 1993. But his stats were skewed by two clunkers that ran up his ERA; overall, 13 of Key's 15 second-half starts met or very nearly met "quality" requirements.

AFTER THIS CARD: Glavine, who started the 1991 and 1992 All-Star Games, made seven more All-Star teams in his career (1996-98, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006—all in relief) giving him 10 selections lifetime. Meanwhile, Key was named to the 1994 and 1997 Classics (starting in 1994), finishing his career with five total selections.

Tom Glavine received All-Star cards in 1992-94 Topps. Jimmy Key received All-Star cards in 1988, 1994 and 1995 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, All-Stars

 
Topps Mark Langston
Topps Mark Langston

3/3/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Topps #379 Mark Langston, Angels

More Mark Langston Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1989T 1990 1990T 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 

I hate that Mark Langston doesn't instantly come to anyone's mind when discussing the top lefty starters of his time. He was no superstar, but for most of the 12-year period between 1984 and 1995, Langston was rarely unavailable and averaged around 14 wins per year. 

What did him in, by and large, was pitching for crap teams. He didn't reach the postseason until past his prime with the 1998 Padres, and we all know how that went (damn you, Richie Garcia). 

Here, Langston has completed his eighth season with the Angels, the final year of a 3Y/$14M extension he signed in early 1994. It didn't go so well, as the veteran ace was disabled thrice with a bum elbow—he underwent surgery in May 1997.

THIS CARD: We select Langston for the second time in COTD, having presented his 1987 Topps card back in July 2021. The two cards depict the same person, but two radically different pitchers.

With stick-um use by pitchers banned last season, don't be shocked if umps are told to inspect baseballs after pitchers (such as Langston here) blow on their hands. ESPECIALLY if batting averages stay low and strikeouts stay high.

Langston only made three road starts in 1997, and since one of them was at Cleveland's Jacobs Field, I'm virtually positive this pic was shot there. Why? Because I've seen that decoration (?) between Langston's shins in known photos of "The Jake". (Langston won there on 4/13, BTW.)

(flip) 3B Carney Lansford wore #12 for a time with the Angels, and rookie 3B Troy Glaus was one of four Angels to wear it in 1998, but Langston is far and away the most notable Angels #12 ever. In 2021, the number was worn by C Anthony Bemboom. (Short rant: Langston spends eight mostly-good years with the Halos and they give his number to FOUR dudes as soon as he's gone?! Was he a tad stingy with the clubbies or something?)

Langston was acquired as a free agent for the then-hefty sum of 5Y/$16M. These days, that might buy you a backup catcher in his late-30's.

Of those nine starts Langston made in 1997, only one came after 5/19. The former ace came off the DL to start 8/20, but only lasted one catastrophic inning (six hits, five earned runs) against the Yankees before being pulled and eventually shut down for the year. Langston—ever the workhorse—had completed between five and seven innings in every other start that season despite his troublesome elbow and (possibly connected) command issues.

AFTER THIS CARD: In January 1998, the soon-to-be-38-year-old signed a MiLB deal with his hometown Padres; though he made the team, his 16 starts were mostly unimpressive and he ended the year in relief. 25 games with the 1999 Indians ended Langston's MLB career; he finished up with 179 wins and seven Gold Gloves.

Mark Langston appeared annually in Topps 1985-98. He's also got 1984, 1989 and 1990 Topps Traded cards. (1998 Ultra depicts Langston with San Diego, if you're interested.)
 

CATEGORIES: 1998 Topps, Anaheim Angels

 
Topps Jeurys Familia
Topps Jeurys Familia

3/5/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps #402 Jeurys Familia, Mets

More Jeurys Familia Topps Cards: 2013 2014 2016 2017 2018 2018U 2019 2019U

Jeurys Familia wasn't supposed to be the closer for the 2015 NL Champion Mets. But when incumbent Jenrry Mejia was injured in April 2015, suspended for PED use, reinstated, then suspended AGAIN for PED use, Familia stepped in as if born for the role. Mejia was quickly forgotten (which as just as well, since he was temporarily kicked out of MLB after a third PED suspension in 2016).

Familia was a starter in the minors, but his performance ebbed and flowed through the years; when he debuted with the 2012 Mets, it was as a reliever. Familia missed much of 2013 after surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow in May; it was originally thought to be season-ending but the youngster returned to the mound in mid-September!

Here, the almost-25-year-old has just completed his first full season in the majors (2014). Working as a setup man for Jose Valverde, Kyle Farnsworth and finally Mejia, Familia finished 5th in the NL in appearances and exactly zero righty hitters (in 149 official AB) took him deep.

THIS CARD: Familia throws as hard as you'd expect from someone his size. Here, he's about to fire his 96-99 MPH sinker or his effective slider. In 2015 he added a splitter that reached an unheard-of 95 MPH!

Per GettyImages.com, this image was shot 8/31/2014 against the Phillies, who fell to the Mets 6-5. Familia was not his sharpest, allowing a walk and a two-run HR to Domonic Brown in the T8th.

More from Familia's 2014 season: he saved five games of his own, including three in August when Mejia's calf/hernia issues cropped up. On 8/20 he earned a five-out save against Oakland, escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 8th with just one run scoring (via walk, but still). And on 7/30 against the Phillies​, Familia's second MLB hit was a hard RBI single off Justin DeFratus!

(flip) Of those 110 MiLB appearances 2008-12, 109 were starts. Familia, as you can see in the stats, experienced plenty success despite evidently featuring just two pitches at the time.

Of the 13 Mets pitchers to pitch 30+ innings in 2014, only relievers Josh Edgin and Buddy Carlyle posted lower WHIPs than Familia's 1.18.

There were drawbacks, sure, but one of the benefits of the huge MiLB reshuffling of 2021 is east coast teams like the Mets no longer being stuck with places like frikkin' Las Vegas as their AAA affiliate.

AFTER THIS CARD: Familia racked up 43 saves in 2015, helping the Mets to the NL pennant. History will show he blew three saves in the World Series against victorious Kansas City, but Game 4 SO wasn't his fault and Game 5 was flukish (Familia inherited the tying runner, who scored on a pair of groundouts).

In 2016, Familia bounced back with a MLB-high 51 saves (in 56 chances), making his only All-Star team to date. But by mid-2018, the Mets were no longer serious contenders, and once Familia proved to the league that he was recovered from a 2017 season marred by a domestic violence suspension (charges were dismissed) and a clot in his pitching shoulder, he was dealt by the Mets to the Oakland Athletics.

In Oakland, Familia returned to a setup role, posting a 3.45 ERA in 30 games as one of about 19 ex-closers in the A's bullpen. He re-signed with the Mets for 3Y/$30M in December 2018, just over a week after the club traded for breakout star CL Edwin Diaz (formerly of Seattle). Familia completed his deal with the Mets having racked up just one save in 156 appearances; he's 32 and still on the market as of this writing.​

 

Jeurys Familia has appeared in 2013-19 Topps as well as 2018-19 Topps Update (his 2019 Update card was redundant, as his 2019 base card also depicted him with the Mets). Apparently, the company isn't interested in Familia the non-closer.
 

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps, New York Mets

 
Topps Mark Melancon
Topps Mark Melancon

3/6/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2020 Topps #411 Mark Melancon, Braves

More Mark Melancon Topps Cards: 2009U 2011U 2012 2013U 2014 2015 2016 2016U 2017 2018 2019 2021 2021U

I still remember the night my buddy​ Juan, who is a casual Giants supporter at best, texted me late in the 2019 season with one question: "What the hell happened to Melancon? He's GOOD now!"

Like so many other Giants followers, Juan had witnessed CL Mark Melancon lay one stink bomb after another during his 2.5-season run in San Francisco 2017-19, then excel immediately after being dealt to Atlanta. I had to fill Juan in on the Giants' negative history with free-agent closers. Dave Righetti had been adequate for one season (1991) before losing his touch. Armando Benitez was a through-and-through disaster from 2005-07.

Then there was Melancon, supposedly the missing piece for a Giants team whose lack of a reliable closer cost them the 2016 NLDS. On paper, the decision to sign him to a 4Y/$62M deal made sense; he'd made three of the past four All-Star teams and saved 98 games for Pittsburgh and Washington from 2015-16.

But Melancon never really got going as a Giant—before or after his health issues—and was eventually displaced as closer by fellow veteran Will Smith. Here, Melancon has just completed his first two-plus months with Atlanta, where he regained his touch practically overnight upon being traded by San Francisco. Figures...

THIS CARD: Before we get too far, I'll clarify that it's pronounced muh-LANCE-un.

Though there's a faint trace of redundancy in 2018-19, overall Topps has mixed up Melancon's 14 Topps/Topps Update front images pretty well. He's shown in mid-motion a few times, of course, but he can also be seen fired up after getting a big out, shaking hands with his catcher and a coach, and pointing at God knows what (among other things).

Since 1979 All-Star Gary Matthews Sr. wore it 1977-80, #36 seems to be passed to a new Brave just about every other year (including RP Steve Karsay, who was wearing it when he served up Mike Piazza's "9/11" homer). Mike Minor has probably had the best run of any Brave wearing #36 since Matthews. Young and talented SP Ian Anderson, who had the number in 2021, has a chance to supplant Minor.

More from Melancon's 2019 season: he took over Atlanta's closer role from the scuffling Luke Jackson pretty much immediately, though he didn't notch a save until 8/13 (opportunities were scarce; the whole Braves team recorded just two saves from 7/16 through 8/11—one apiece by Josh Tomlin and Jackson). Relegated to setup work with the 2019 Giants, Melancon went 11-for-11 in save ops for the Braves, including 9/2 against Toronto when he struck out the side on 11 pitches!

(flip) As you can see, aside from his awful Giants stint, good teams have followed Melancon around. He picked up a World Series ring as a rookie Yankee in 2009, he helped the previously-woeful Pirates to three straight postseasons 2013-15, and the 2019 Braves played in October as well (until that ghastly NLDS Game 5).

Of course, some notoriously bad teams have employed Melancon as well. The '11 Astros lost 106 games, the '12 Red Sox were abysmal under Bobby Valentine, and the '17 Giants lost 98 times after being projected to WIN that many (one of the 98 losses was an absolutely crushing, three-run walk-off homer off Melancon by Colorado's Nolan Arenado on Mother's Day. I'll never forget it—partially because MLB Network's Quick Pitch used the celebration in their opening for a while, the bastards).

That Trade With Giants sent RP Dan Winkler and pitching prospect Tristan Beck to the Giants. Beck, now 25, remains in the organization. Winkler was cut the next day. We Giants fans didn't really care about the return, though—Melancon was gone, and the Braves were paying his contract's balance.

AFTER THIS CARD: After going 11-for-13 in save ops for the 2020 Braves, followed by a strong postseason, Melancon was signed by San Diego for 1Y/$2M—with a mutual $5M option for 2022 that he eventually declined—in February 2021. Though the 2021 Padres disappointed, 36-year-old Melancon led MLB with 39 saves (in 45 chances).

Prior to the MLB lockout, the Diamondbacks signed Melancon for 2Y/$14M.

Mark Melancon debuted in 2009 Topps Update and has since appeared in 2012 and 2014-21 Topps. He's also got 2011, 2013, 2016 and 2021 Update cards.

 

CATEGORIES: 2020 Topps, Atlanta Braves

 
VogtAS_16ToppsUFront.jpg
VogtAS_16ToppsUBack.jpg

3/7/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps Update #86 Stephen Vogt, All-Star

More Stephen Vogt All-Star Topps Cards: 2015U

Vogt is without a doubt among THE most improbable MLB All-Stars of the 2010's...if not ever. Vogt, who didn't debut in MLB until he was 27.5 years of age (for the 2012 Rays), became an Oakland regular in mid-2014 and never looked back.

Here, the veteran receiver has been named to his second consecutive AL All-Star team. A player's selection in 2015, this time around Vogt was added by manager Ned Yost (of Kansas City) on the strength of a .277, 7, 27 first half of 2016. 

THIS CARD: SP Chris Sale (left) and 2B Robinson Cano (right) flank Vogt in the Petco Park dugout.

I still can't believe the uber-popular Vogt, after legit selections to the 2015-16 All-Star Games, was just discarded by Oakland in June 2017 solely because of a slow offensive start. As you can see here, people liked him, so I doubt it was a personality issue.
A franchise like the A's just doesn't free itself of cheap quality labor. I'll go to my grave believing Vogt did or said something so offensive (IDK, urinated on a Dave Stewart jersey in search of laughs??), management cut ties while mercifully not throwing him under the bus publicly.

After spending the past five-plus years presenting 2016 Topps cards with the "All-Star Game" stamp, we finally pick an actual 2016 All-Star. I was finally motivated to replace my stamped 2016 Topps set this week (I'd gotten the stamped set for a ridiculously low price, but within a year regretted it).

(flip) Vogt watched, but he watched the American League defeat their NL counterparts 4-2. Sal Perez and Matt Wieters handled catching duties for the AL.

I remember being young and not understanding how Steinbach, whose stats were not eye-popping, made it to the Classic. I am proud to say I now understand baseball, and catchers in particular, much better than I did at age 10.

Vogt tailed off to .222, 7, 29 after the break. That slump, which carried all the way through to the following June as we mentioned, left him wide open for an explainable DFA. I already shared my thoughts on that above, though.

AFTER THIS CARD: Vogt has become a journeyman since his A's release, suiting up for Milwaukee, San Francisco, Arizona and Atlanta over the past 4.5 seasons (one of which, 2018, was spent recovering from shoulder surgery). Though the 38-year-old no longer plays frequently or well enough to make any All-Star squads—he's hit just .188 in 104 games with a 26% CS rate across the 2020-21 seasons—Vogt claimed a World Series ring with the 2021 Braves.

 

CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps Update, All-Stars

 
Topps Mike Aviles
Topps Mike Aviles

3/9/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2017 Topps #240 Mike Aviles, Tigers

More Mike Aviles Topps Cards: 2008U 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

 

Aviles was one of those players who might have hurt himself by being so versatile and capable of doing so many things. He probably could have been a solid full-time player in MLB but for the majority of his career, Aviles was used as a super-utilityman, only eclipsing 500 PA once (for the 2012 Red Sox, for whom he started at SS).

Originally a Royal 2008-11, Aviles placed 4th in 2008 AL Rookie of the Year voting, but lost most of 2009 after UCL surgery in June. He returned to become Kansas City's primary 2B for most of 2010 but was traded to Boston at the 2011 Deadline (for two guys named Volz and Yamaico). As mentioned, he spent 2012 as the Red Sox SS.

In 2013, Aviles joined the Indians on a 2Y/$6M deal with a $3.5M club option for 2015 (that was exercised); they used him extensively at six positions over the next three seasons. Though nowhere close to the .325 hitter he was as a rookie, Aviles was very valuable to Terry Francona and crew; he was used occasionally-to-frequently at six different positions and DH over the next three years. Here, we catch up with Aviles after his first (and only) season with the Detroit Tigers.

THIS CARD: It is surprising that Aviles was included in 2017 Topps at all, let alone as a Tiger, since he was released by the Tigers in August 2016 with a .210 average. Aviles quickly signed with Atlanta but was released five days later; he didn't sign with anyone else til Miami in May 2017. Typically, dudes like 2016-17 Aviles are excluded from Topps sets.

Aviles is listed strictly as an outfielder; he played 41 times there and 25 times as an infielder for the 2016 Tigers. For all his defensive shuffling, Topps never gave Aviles a hyphenated position designation (such as SS-3B or 2B-OF). FYI, he shuffled all over the infield as a prospect, too; Aviles was the rare "Utilityman By Trade".

Aviles swings away at Comerica Park, where he batted .240 in 32 games in 2016 (compared to .185 in 36 road games). His best offensive performance in '16 was probably 6/2, when he went 2-for-4 with a 2B, R and RBI against the visiting Yankees—far below Aviles' standard for a "best" game.

(flip) Aviles had (and still has) a Twitter account (@Themikeaviles); not sure why it wasn't listed here. However, he hasn't posted publicly since mid-2015—shortly after his daughter's leukemia diagnosis. I WANT to believe Aviles didn't abandon Twitter because he had a bad game or two and lowlifes disparaged his sick daughter...but if he did, I wouldn't be surprised, sadly. (She's now recovered.)

Aviles was limited to 98 games with the 2015 Indians because of two stints away from the team (totaling 15 days) to be with his family. Rumored to be on the trading block at one point, Cleveland graciously kept Aviles in the fold once his daughter was diagnosed. Some things are bigger than baseball, and I'll always respect Francona and the Indians/Guardians hierarchy for that non-move.

See those two seasons with exactly 14 steals? Aviles also stole 14 in 2010 and 2011; the four seasons with exactly 14 swipes has got to be a record.

AFTER THIS CARD: As mentioned, Aviles joined Miami on a MiLB deal in May 2017, quickly getting in three games with the Marlins before being outrighted to AAA New Orleans. There, Aviles hit .292 in 55 games, earning a trip back to Miami in late July. The 36-year-old produced a .233/.298/.291 slashline for the 2017 Marlins and never played professionally again.

Young Mike Aviles debuted in 2008 Topps Update, then appeared annually in the base set 2009-17, except 2016. I suppose his surprise 2017 inclusion makes up for his unjustified 2016 exclusion.

CATEGORIES: 2017 Topps, Detroit Tigers

 
Topps Shaun Marcum
Topps Shaun Marcum

3/10/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2013 Topps Update #236 Shaun Marcum, Mets

More Shaun Marcum Topps Cards: 2005U 2006 2007U 2008 2009 2010U 2011 2012 

 

Shaun Marcum​ was a solid, if injury-plagued, starter for the late-2000's Blue Jays and early-2010's Brewers. In fact, his performances in both 2010 and 2011 would have elevated him to ace of a lot of major league staffs those years.

Not that he was a slouch before that. Marcum debuted in MLB in '05, spent 2006 on the AAA/MLB shuttle, then opened '07 in relief before entering Toronto's rotation in May. The control artist flirted with no-hitters more than once and posted an 11-4, 3.91 mark as a starter that year. A promising 2008 campaign was thrice interrupted (a sore elbow in June, a brief AAA demotion in August, and finally UCL surgery in September).

Marcum returned to the Blue Jays in 2010; he was especially outstanding in May and ended the year as their second-best starter behind Ricky Romero. The Jays dealt him to Milwaukee that December (for IF Brett Lawrie) and he shined there as well, leading a strong 2011 Brewers rotation in WHIP (1.156) while reaching 200 innings for the first time. Marcum was just as effective in '12, but lost two months to a partially torn UCL.

Here, the 31-year-old has just signed with the Mets for 1Y/$4M. He opened the 2013 season on the DL with biceps tendinitis.

THIS CARD: This image is taken from Marcum's season debut vs. the Phillies 4/27. He took the loss, throwing 71 pitches across four innings and allowing three runs as the Mets fell 9-4.

Uniform #38 has been passed around a LOT in Mets history. Would you believe the most accomplished Met to wear it to date is Rick Aguilera? Today, #38 belongs to SP Tylor Megill.

More from Marcum's early 2013 season: he lost each of his first nine decisions, even each of the two quality starts he produced. On 6/8, Marcum took the loss in a 20-inning heartbreaker against the Marlins; he fired blanks in innings 13-19 but coughed up the losing run in the 20th.

(flip) Based upon his 2013 performance, that increased velocity did Marcum no favors. That photo would have gone in the shredder after about three starts.

The usual "Injured - Did Not Play" line is omitted for 2009 because Marcum did make a handful of MiLB starts as he recovered from his UCL surgery.

Career Chase: even at his best, Marcum had no shot at winning a Cy Young Award, let alone catching the actual Cy Young's wins record. Not unless they began crediting pitchers with wins for each individual inning they completed with a lead.

AFTER THIS CARD: Not a whole lot. With a 1-10, 5.29 record, Marcum hit the DL in early July 2013 to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome; the Mets cut him two weeks later and he didn't resurface in MLB until April 2015 with Cleveland. He...

 

  • made one spot start for the Indians,

  • was outrighted to AAA Columbus,

  • returned to Cleveland in May,

  • made six more starts,

  • allowed the first six runs of a 17-0 loss to the Cubs in the final start,

  • was outrighted to Columbus once again,

  • never returned to the majors.

Marcum officially retired in January 2016, age 34. He finished up with 61 wins, 48 losses, and a 3.93 ERA across 195 MLB games (167 starts). He threw one complete game and earned one save.

Shaun Marcum appeared annually in Topps or Topps Update 2005-13.

CATEGORIES: 2013 Topps Update, New York Mets

 
Topps Mickey Mantle
Topps Mickey Mantle

3/11/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps #7 Mickey Mantle, Yankees

More Mickey Mantle Topps Cards: 2006 2007 2008 2009 2011 2012

 

Late Yankees legend Mickey Mantle occupies card #7 in 2006-12 Topps; more on that below.

Given our random selection process, I wondered if we'd EVER get to profile one of Mantle's cards on this website. But here we are presenting our second Mantle card in 19 months! I didn't appreciate or fully understand Mantle's legend when he was alive—he passed when I was 15—but I do now.

And whenever I encounter stories of current players who've never even HEARD OF HIM, I simmer. I mean, imagine a young NBA star 15 years from now not knowing who Michael Jordan was/is. You'd question that young man's NBA suitability.

Here, Mantle has "joined" the 2009-10 Yankees, fresh off their 27th World Series championship.

THIS CARD: As you're probably aware, Mantle died in 1995, and 1996 Topps dedicated a special tribute card #7 to him, as his popularity helped grow the company's popularity in its fledgling days. Mantle's MLB career and Topps' baseball card foray both began in 1951.

Next, Topps retired card #7 in all its base sets from 1997-2005, after which it reserved the number for special Mantle non-reprint commons (such as this one) 2006-12. As I understand it, Topps' agreement with Mantle's estate expired, or they would have continued featuring him. But I can't swear to that under oath.

We see Mantle either warming up along the first base line, or perhaps practicing relay plays at first base? Done in by leg injuries, the former CF played 1B exclusively his final two seasons (1967-68).

(flip) Yes, that's the uniform the Yankees wore in Mantle's day; any changes made since then are barely noticeable. Whenever I view young Mantle, I regret missing out on watching him play—he just LOOKS LIKE a formidable baseball player.

"The Mick" has his own logo, which I NEVER noticed on any of his cards until profiling his 2012 Topps card in August 2020.

Mantle was second in the AL with 37 doubles in 1952, then averaged 18 per year until he retired after the 1968 season. Can't really find fault with that, since most of his XBH sailed well OVER the wall—it's just a statistical oddity.

AFTER THIS CARD: The Topps company re-retired card #7 beginning in 2013 and lasting through 2016. The number returned to circulation (again) beginning with 2017 Topps, but was initially reserved for active Yankee stars like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, etc.

 

Then, in 2021 Topps, the company used card #7 for a Checklist. 2022 Topps spit on the Yankees altogether by reserving card #7 for BOSTON'S Bobby Dalbec.

Mickey Mantle appeared annually in Topps 1952-69, and again 2006-12.

CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps, New York Yankees

 
Topps Odalis Perez
Topps Odalis Perez

3/12/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #24 Odalis Perez, Dodgers

More Odalis Perez Topps Cards: 2000 2003 2004 2005 2006 2006U 2008 2008U 2009

 

If you're a regular visitor to TSR, and more specifically, to Topps Card Of The Day, you know that I have had little good to say about ex-Dodgers starter Odalis Perez. I didn't like him, plain and simple. But I never wished the man dead.

Still, Perez shockingly met his end on 3/10/2022; all evidence points to a fall off a ladder at his home. As we do for ALL players featured in 1987-present Topps who pass away, we are presenting a Perez card here in COTD, and I will refrain from any critical or disparaging commentary towards him. Now just isn't the time for it.

THIS CARD: We chose this card because it represents Perez's breakout 2002 campaign, easily the best one of his entire career. Perez was a 2002 All-Star, finished fourth in the NL in ERA, and led a deep Dodgers staff in innings.

We also chose this card because our other options are running out—today, Perez joins Alfonso Soriano as TSR's only four-time COTD selectees, although all of Soriano's selections have been random.

That's probably #43 partially visible on Perez's jersey; he opened 2002 with that number before switching to #45. SP Rick Sutcliffe won NL Rookie of the Year wearing #43 for the 1979 Dodgers, just as OF Raul Mondesi did for the 1994 squad. SS Kevin Elster wore #43 when he christened SBC/Oracle Park with a three-homer game for the 2000 Dodgers; IF prospect Edwin Rios has worn #43 for Los Angeles since 2019.

(flip) By 2006 Topps, the line "INJURED - DID NOT PLAY" was revised to "Did Not Play - Injured". UCL surgery put Perez on the shelf in 2000.

That bad-hop, infield single was credited to young OF Corey Patterson. Perez fired another one-hit shutout 6/25, against the visiting Rockies (C Bobby Estalella led off the T6th with a single but was soon erased on a double play).

See those four complete games and two shutouts in 2002? Perez was the only 2002 Dodger without a big, fat zero in the CG and SHO columns.

AFTER THIS CARD: Bouncing back from a disappointing 2003, Perez posted a crisp 3.25 ERA in 31 starts for the 2004 NL West champion Dodgers.​ But by 2006, a struggling Perez had been dumped off in Kansas City, where he went 10-15, 5.60 over 38 starts from 2006-07. He improved in 2008 with Washington, but then refused to honor a signed minor league contract with the franchise for 2009 and never pitched professionally again.​

Odalis Perez debuted in 2000 Topps, then appeared annually in the base set 2003-09 (except 2007). He also appears in 2006 and 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights.

CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers, Now Deceased

 
Topps Freddy Garcia
Topps Freddy Garcia

3/13/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #253 Freddy Garcia, Mariners

More Freddy Garcia Topps Cards: 2001 2002 2003 2004 2004T 2005 2006 2007 2010 2011 2011U 2012

 

Freddy Garcia, the co-ace of the early-00's Mariners and later a key member of the World Champion 2005 White Sox, was just getting his MLB career underway when this card was issued. Acquired from the Astros organization the previous summer, Garcia won a spot in the 1999 Mariners' rotation out of Spring Training; he went on to lead Seattle in starts, wins and K...at the tender age of 22!

THIS CARD: The 1999 MLB rookie class was not a particularly strong one, yet one of the few star newcomers was given the RHP spot on Topps' All-Star Rookie Team ahead of Garcia. In my opinion, the corresponding ASR trophy should be here on Garcia's card, not (Toronto closer) Billy Koch's.

This image doesn't fully give Garcia's big, strong body due justice. If you look up the word "strapping" in the dictionary, not only will you find Garcia's image, but you will find no text—the image will speak 1,000 words.

In Mariners history, #34 has an interesting background. Future M's All-Star Bret Boone originally wore #34 as a 1992 rookie. Randy Johnson, a Hall-of-Famer-to-be himself, wore it for one start in 1993 to honor the retiring legend Nolan Ryan. Garcia had it for six seasons. And of course, King Felix Hernandez dominated for a decade-plus in Seattle with #34 on his back. It has not been reissued since Hernandez departed after the '19 season.

(flip) We see Garcia about to snap off what could be his patented curveball. The big Venezuelan also threw a changeup, a mid-to-high-90's four-seamer, and a slightly slower two-seamer. In 2003, Garcia added a slider to his repertoire and eventually began to heavily rely on a splitter as his velo dipped.

That Trade, of course, was the trade that sent Astros prospects Garcia, SS Carlos Guillen and P John Halama to the M's in exchange for a disgruntled Johnson. 

To this day, I have not seen that classic 1975 film, although I've seen several scenes parodied in The Simpsons over the years.

I was also known as "Chief" by a guy who dated my mother during my preteen years. Sometimes I wonder if he just forgot my name.

AFTER THIS CARD: Garcia had a good run in Seattle, 2000 fractured tibia aside. He was an All-Star in 2001-02, the 2001 AL ERA champion (3.05) and the second runner-up for the 2001 AL Cy Young Award. By mid-2004, however, Seattle stunk and Garcia's free agency loomed—off to the White Sox he went via trade. Garcia quickly inked a 3Y/$27M extension and helped Chicago win the 2005 World Series.

In December 2006, the Sox dealt Garcia to Philadelphia, but his 2007 season was ruined (5.90 ERA in 11 starts) by a bad shoulder that eventually required surgery. He was next seen making three late-season starts with the 2008 Tigers (which I have no memory of).

Now that he cost a lot less, Garcia resurfaced in August '09 with the familiar White Sox, throwing quality starts seven times in nine tries. Garcia followed that up with 12 wins in 28 starts in 2010, matching that win total for the 2011 Yankees—with whom he won a job in Spring Training—at the cost of just $1.5M.

In early 2012, however, the aging Garcia lost his rotation spot in New York for a time, finishing the year with a 5.20 ERA (4.38 from June on, however). After spending 2013 with the Orioles and Braves (posting a 1.65 ERA for the latter club) Garcia pitched a couple more years in foreign leagues before retiring in 2016 at age 40. He finished up 156-108, 4.15 in MLB, with four shutouts.

Freddy Garcia appeared annually in Topps 2000-12, except 2008-09. He's also got a 2004 Traded card and a 2011 Update card.

CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, Seattle Mariners

 
Topps Chris Duffy
Topps Chris Duffy

3/14/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2006 Topps #553 Chris Duffy, Pirates

More Chris Duffy Topps Cards: 2002T 2007 2008

 

No known relation to Danny or Matt.

During the mid-2000's, Chris Duffy got considerable run in CF for the downtrodden Pirates, especially turning heads with his performance as a 2005 rookie. The Vermont native hit .339 during Spring Training but still spent all but two weeks of the season's first half at AAA Indianapolis. Duffy returned in mid-July when 1B/OF Craig Wilson was hurt and quickly caught fire...until joining the disabled list himself with a season-ending hamstring injury in late August.

THIS CARD: None of Duffy's three Topps (base) front images are "common", for lack of a better term. Here, he's warming up in the outfield. In 2007 he's given a horizontal batting shot that, coupled with his autograph, could catch the eye a novice collector. In 2008 he's celebrating a rare Pirates win with teammates. I like it when ordinary players receive images that stand out.

Duffy with a glove on was usually pretty decent. In fact, he was once described by the Penn Live Patriot-News as the best defensive CF in the history of the Altoona Curve (AA, Pirates).

More from Duffy's 2005 season: in those two April weeks he spent with the Bucs, Duffy was 1-for-6 with four K in seven games. Recalled 7/17, he hit .350 for the next six weeks until his injury. On 8/6, Duffy enjoyed his second 4-for-5 performance of the season...but this one helped sink the Dodgers!

(flip) To be fair, Jermaine Allensworth also looked like a long-term Pirates CF fixture at one point. As did Adrian Brown after him. And Tike Redman after him. During the Pirates' streak of 20 losing seasons, they had several promising center fielders who faded after flashing potential...until Andrew McCutchen came along and put them all to shame. 

Duffy did stabilize the team a bit, especially in August when Pittsburgh—67-95 overall in 2005—went 7-8 in games he started. 

That .386 OBP mentioned in the cartoon could have also been used in the stat box, since we collectors could already find his 43 career hits in the batting record.

AFTER THIS CARD: Duffy—who was beaned by Curt Schilling in Spring Training 2006—opened the regular season with a .194 average and was demoted to AAA in May. Problem is, he went home instead and questioned his desire to continue his pro baseball career.
The Pirates placed him on the restricted list, and he joined Indianapolis in June. The Pirates recalled Duffy in August 2006, and he hit .282 over the final two months (including an epic 4-for-4, two-homer game on 9/7). Pittsburgh, again 67-95 in 2006, was 26-27 after Duffy rejoined the lineup.

An ankle sprain ended Duffy's 2007 season in late June; he had shoulder surgery after the season and not only did he fail to make the 2008 Pirates' 25-man roster, but in July he was outrighted off the 40-man roster as well. Duffy went 4-for-32 with the 2009 Brewers, spent 2010 with AAA Lehigh Valley (Phillies), then left pro baseball for good.

Chris Duffy debuted in 2002 Topps Traded & Rookies, then appeared in the 2006-08 base sets.

CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps, Pittsburgh Pirates

 
Topps Michael Lorenzen
Topps Michael Lorenzen

3/15/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps #437 Michael Lorenzen, Reds

More Michael Lorenzen Topps Cards: 2015U 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 

 

As good as a major league pitcher as Michael Lorenzen is—and he's had some pretty good years on the mound, especially 2019—he is almost as good with the bat in his hands. Lorenzen is a career .429 slugger, which translates to about .579 for your full-time position player, and in 2018 alone he smacked four homers in just 31 at-bats!


So valuable is Lorenzen offensively, through the years Cincinnati plugged him into the outfield 34 times...including six starts! Could you envision, say, Bob Melvin walking up to Drew Pomeranz and saying, "Hey, Drew, looking at these matchups here, I'm thinking about starting you in center field today. You seem like a good option against this guy. What are your thoughts on that?" Pomeranz would politely ask Melvin to lay off the pipe in the future.

Here, Lorenzen is fresh off his rookie campaign, most of which was spent in Cincinnati's rotation. Called up in late April, Lorenzen put up three strong starts before the Reds temporarily went with a four-man rotation due to off-days. He rejoined the rotation in late May and remained there into August, when he was demoted to AAA Louisville for a time. Lorenzen started and relieved upon being recalled.

THIS CARD: This photo, according to GettyImages, was snapped in the first inning of Lorenzen's 8/11 start at San Diego, a start in which he coughed up seven earned runs in 1.1 innings. I don't know if Topps knew that when they selected this pic, but if not, they should've ASKED somebody.

Lorenzen only wore #50 in 2015; he wore #21 for his final six Reds seasons. Longtime Reds bullpen mate Amir Garrett took over #50 from 2017-21, and legendary Reds SS Dave Conception had the number as a 1970 rookie.

More from Lorenzen's 2015 season: he began strong, as we noted, but posted a 5.90 ERA from 5/26 thru 8/11 (when he was demoted after the nightmare in San Diego). After allowing three home runs in his 4/29 debut, Lorenzen only served up two in 27+ innings in May.

(flip) To be fair, it was only an all-rookie Reds rotation from 7/29 on. (Rooks started 110 games total for the 2015 Reds, led by Anthony DeSclafani's 31, Lorenzen's 21, Rasiel Iglesias's 18 and Keyvius Sampson's 12). 

Of those 30 minor league games 2014-15, all 30 were starts. Lorenzen only started once in 22 MiLB appearances in 2013.

For all Lorenzen's prowess as a big league hitter, he was only 12-for-72 (.167) in MiLB through 2015, albeit with a pair of homers and 11 RBI.

AFTER THIS CARD: Lorenzen transitioned to full-time relief work in 2016—though he missed the first half of that year with a sprained elbow—and by 2017 he was leaned on heavily (70 appearances). In 2019 Lorenzen saved seven games and posted a 2.92 ERA in 73 games out of Cincinnati's bullpen; he followed that up with a shaky 2020 in which his ERA was over 10 after eight appearances.

After a 2021 campaign in which Lorenzen was limited to 27 games (by shoulder and hamstring strains) and recorded a 5.59 ERA, the Reds let him walk. Looking for opportunities to start again, Lorenzen signed a 1Y/$7M deal with the perpetually pitching-starved Los Angeles Angels for '22.

Michael Lorenzen has appeared in 2016-21 Topps, as well as 2015 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps, Cincinnati Reds

 
Topps Vinny Castilla
Topps Vinny Castilla

3/17/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #398 Vinny Castilla, Rockies

More Vinny Castilla Topps Cards: 1993T 1994 1995 1996 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2005U 2006

 

It IS difficult to shed the label of "utility infielder" once you've carried it for a while. One easy way to do so, however, is to start clubbing 40 homers per year, forcing your team to give you a full-time job at one spot. That's precisely what ex-Braves utilityman Vinny Castilla did in his third season with the Colorado Rockies.

No one thinks of Castilla as a "utility" anything now!

Young Castilla got in 21 games (24 PA) for the up-and-coming 1991-92 Braves before being taken by Colorado in the November 1992 Expansion Draft. He went on to start 92 times at SS for the '93 Rockies, sharing time with Freddie Benavides and Nelson Liriano, but Colorado signed veteran SS Walt Weiss for 1994—pushing Castilla back to reserve duty. 

Castilla got the chance to replace Charlie Hayes at 3B for the 1995 Rockies, and BOY did he capitalize on it (.309, 32, 90 plus strong defense). Here, the 29-year-old has just finished silencing any doubters who thought his breakout 1995 campaign was a fluke. Castilla played 160 games and in a very formidable Rockies lineup, was one of three to blast 40 homers and one of four with 100+ RBI. Mind you, this man never hit more than 14 homers in a minor league season.

THIS CARD: If Vinny is hacking, there's a good chance it's a first-pitch fastball. Castilla almost never let a fastball go by on the first offering. They didn't calculate averages on each pitch/pitch type back in the 1990's but if they did, Castilla would have batted somewhere around .447.

To this day, whenever I reflect on Castilla, I picture a guy about 6'4", 250 lbs. As you can see in this pic, Castilla was nowhere near that imposing. He was a regular-sized dude (in baseball terms, at least) with some insanely strong/fast wrists.

More from Castilla's 1996 season: he hit "only" .268 with four homers in April before heating up in early June; he smashed 12 home runs that month, including one in each of June's final three games! On 7/12 against San Diego, Castilla notched three hits, two homers and five ribbies in a wild 13-12 Rockies victory. (The Rox were losing that game 9-2 before scoring 11 in the B7th!)

(flip) Andres Galarraga (150) Dante Bichette (141) and Ellis Burks (128) joined Castilla in the 100-RBI club; if Larry Walker had been available for more than 83 games in 1996, the Rockies would have averaged 10 runs a game!

Castilla's seven steals in 1996 came in nine attempts—noteworthy, since entering the 1996 season, he'd only successfully stolen six of 20 bases in his MLB career.

This may be the only Topps subject of my collecting era who's listed as originally signed by a non-MLB franchise (I'll have to double-check the Asian players). Castilla was indeed signed out of college by the Saltillo Saraperos of the Mexican League, but usually Topps will list the first MLB club the player signed with (which was Atlanta in 1990).

AFTER THIS CARD: Castilla mashed 119 more homers for the Rockies 1997-99, then was traded to the power-starved Devil Rays in December 1999. To the surprise of few, the veteran 3B was unable to produce the same power at Tropicana Field that he did at Coors Field, and after one-plus disappointing seasons in Tampa, Castilla was cut in May 2001. He soon joined the Astros, for whom he belted 23 homers over the final five months.

Castilla signed with his original club, the Braves, in December 2001 (2Y/$8M, .shifting Hall-of-Fame 3B Chipper Jones to LF). He scuffled in 2002 (.232, 12 HR in 143 games) but improved in 2003 (.277, 22 HR in 147 games). Castilla's days as a top slugger were clearly over.

Or were they? Castilla re-joined the Rockies for 2004 (1Y/$2.1M) and batted .271 with 35 homers and an NL-best 131 RBI! The Nationals took a chance on the 37-year-old for 2005, but he didn't give them much offensively other than 36 doubles. Castilla split 2006 with the Padres and Rockies before retiring at 39; he finished with a .276 average, 320 homers, 1,105 RBI and two All-Star berths (1995 and 1998).

Vinny Castilla debuted in 1993 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in the base set 1994-2006. He's also got a 2005 Update card as a new National.

CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, Colorado Rockies

 
Green_Gary_91ToppsFront.jpg
Green_Gary_91ToppsBack.jpg

3/18/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Topps #184 Gary Green, Rangers

More Gary Green Topps Cards: n/a

 

This should be brief.

As an owner of nearly 50,000 baseball cards, I can tell you there are guys in my albums who I could not identify, guys whose names I wouldn't even recognize. Gary Green is one of those guys—prior to selecting this card, I completely forgot he ever existed. Not even my recent usage of former top prospect Grant Green in MLB 16: The Show would have jogged my memory.

Like Grant Green, Gary Green was once a big deal in pro baseball circles—shortly after representing Team USA in the 1984 Olympics, he was a first-round pick by the Padres. His father Fred was a key member of the World Champion 1960 Pirates! But like so many high draft picks before and after him (including Grant Green), Gary Green made very little major league impact.

Here, the 28-year-old is coming off an encouraging 1990 season. After very limited runs with the 1986 and 1989 Padres, Green got in 62 games for the 1990 Rangers, starting half of them and being used as a PR/DR in most of the rest. On 8/18, Green's three-run double off White Sox rookie Alex Fernandez iced a Rangers victory.

THIS CARD: Green looks like a blend of Joel Osteen and younger Kurt Russell, in my opinion.

More from Green's 1990 season: he went 3-for-4 with a run and RBI against Seattle 8/20. Sorry, but there's just not more to tell about a light-hitting PR/DR.

(flip) We mentioned Fred Green, who was a reliever. He spent 1959-61 and 1964 with the Pirates, sandwiching a stint with the 1962 Senators. Lifetime, the senior Green was 9-7, 3.48 in 88 games; he passed away in 1996.

The "Drafted" in the bio info? Green was taken by the Rangers from San Diego in the 1989 Rule V Draft. By rule, he was supposed to spend all of 1990 in the majors but since that didn't happen, the Rangers must have offered him back to the Padres, with the Padres declining said offer.

Green was the 27th overall pick in 1984, but he'd been drafted twice prior to that. The 1980 Giants and 1983 Cardinals attempted to make Green a #29 and #2 pick, respectively, but he didn't sign either time.

AFTER THIS CARD: Green got in eight games in June/July for the 1991 Rangers, then appeared eight times in April/May for the 1992 Reds. In both cases, he was basically the 26th guy on a 25-man roster, and (with all due respect) nothing he did was really worth noting here. Green's pro career ended in 1995 with AAA Omaha (Royals).

Gary Green appeared as an Olympian in 1985 Topps, then returned as a Ranger in 1991 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 1991 Topps, Texas Rangers

 
Topps Rajai Davis
Topps Rajai Davis

3/19/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps #518 Rajai Davis, Tigers

More Rajai Davis Topps Cards: 2003T 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2014U 2016 2017 2017U 2018U

 

Former Giant and Athletic Rajai Davis impacted me both during and after his Bay Area tenures. I once bought his Giants jersey. I was once left stunned when he sank the Athletics—for whom I was pulling—with a walk-off grand slam off Sean Doolittle. I was once left speechless when he, of all people, turned around an Aroldis Chapman fastball for a clutch homer in the 2016 World Series.

But here, Davis has just completed his first of two seasons with the Detroit Tigers, who acquired him as a free agent in December 2013 and watched him bat a solid .282 with 36 steals across 118 starts in 2014. Davis swiped his 300th career base on 8/30 at the White Sox.

THIS CARD: Per Getty Images, this pic was snapped on 7/9/2014 against the Dodgers. Per YouTube, Adrian Gonzalez was the batter/victim who watched Davis turn his potential hit into the final out of the first inning.               . 

Davis is seen in CF here; in 2014 he initially shared time in LF with J.D. Martinez before shifting over to CF after the Deadline trade of Austin Jackson.

More from Davis's 2014 season: we mentioned a walk-off grannie he hit vs. Oakland above. That happened 6/30/14 and gave Detroit a 5-4 win; I watched this game live and remember groaning when Oakland was unable to hold on. (I'm a Giants fan, but I do support the Athletics as well.)

(flip) Despite his overall MLB-leading steals total from 2009-14, Davis was never able to lead his league until 2016 with Cleveland (43).

Detroit signed Davis the free agent for 2Y/$10M. He was targeted as a fourth outfielder but wound up playing nearly as much as an everyday player.

Davis went from the Pirates to the Giants in a trade for pricey veteran SP Matt Morris at the 2007 Trade Deadline. From the then-lowly Pirates' standpoint, this was the equivalent of a scrawny, unkempt, socially awkward geek addressing his many issues by...trimming one of his nostrils.

AFTER THIS CARD: Davis completed his deal with Detroit following the 2015 season, then joined Cleveland in a similar role for 2016. You may not remember Davis hitting for the cycle that July, but you surely remember him ripping an improbable, game-tying, three-run homer off Chapman of the Cubs in the B8th of World Series Game 7, then bringing Cleveland within one run with an RBI single in the B10th. (The Indians still fell to the Cubs, however.)

For 2017, Davis returned to the A's until being traded to the Red Sox in August. After spending 2018 back in Cleveland as a spare outfielder, Davis joined the Mets organization for 2019, but would up at AAA Syracuse for most of the year. (Davis was with the Mets long enough for this to happen.) He retired in early 2021 to join MLB's Baseball Operations Department. 

Rajai Davis debuted in Topps as a First-Year Player in 2003 Traded, then appeared annually in the base set 2008-17. He's also got 2014, 2017 and 2018 Update cards.

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps, Detroit Tigers

 
Topps Lourdes Gurriel
Topps Lourdes Gurriel

3/21/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2021 Topps #98 Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Blue Jays

More Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Topps Cards: 2019 2020 2022

Gurriel is a dangerous, underrated hitter, one who slugged .538 for Toronto across the 2019-20 seasons. A former Cuban League star, Gurriel defected in early 2016 (along with brother Yuli, later of the Astros) and eventually signed a 7Y/$22M deal with the Blue Jays.

Gurriel's first stateside season (2017) was spent in the minors. He opened 2018 in AAA before being recalled in late April, proceeding to bat .281 with 11 homers in a season shortened by a quad injury and an appendectomy. 

In 2019, Gurriel shifted from the middle infield spots to the outfield primarily; he smoked 20 homers though limited by injuries (concussion and ankle sprain) to 343 at-bats. Here, the 27-year-old is fresh off an excellent 2020 season, one in which he led the Jays in hits while leading the entire AL with a .350 road average.

THIS CARD: It shouldn't, since both men only wore it for one season, but #13 on a Blue Jay will forever evoke memories of Carlos Garcia (1997) and Omar Vizquel (2012).

According to Getty Images, this pic was shot 7/30/2020 at Nationals Park, just days into the shortened season. (The Blue Jays were the home team, however, due to their inability to play in Toronto at the time.) Despite Gurriel's 3-for-4 performance that day, the Jays fell to Washington 6-4.

I don't like suffixes on jerseys, though I can live with it IF the player's father was actually involved in professional sports somehow. You probably haven't heard of Lourdes Gurriel Sr., but he was a big deal in 1970s-80s Cuban baseball. He even helped Cuba to a gold medal in the 1992 Olympics!

(flip) Among Blue Jays, only Randal Grichuk (35) and Teoscar Hernandez (34) had more RBI than Gurriel in 2020.

Still sounds funny reading "Wild Card Series", but I guess I'd better get used to it. Gurriel went 2-for-4 with a double in Game 1 vs. Tampa Bay.

Gurriel was a Cuban defector, as we mentioned above. But yet his home is still listed as...Cuba? There are things in this life I simply do not understand, and I will withhold commentary on such things.

AFTER THIS CARD: In 2021, Gurriel at last remained (mostly) healthy over a full season and responded with a .276, 21, 84 line; a club-record four of those homers were grand slams! He enters the sixth year of his deal in 2022.

Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. has appeared in 2019-22 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2021 Topps, Toronto Blue Jays

 
Topps Austin Meadows
Topps Austin Meadows

3/22/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps Update #34 Austin Meadows, Rays

More Austin Meadows Topps Cards: 2019 2020 2021 2022

Chris Archer was a very good Rays pitcher from 2013-17, good for 200 innings and double-digit wins every year. Hell, even when he lost 19 games in 2016, he did so with a 1.242 WHIP. My point is: if you're set on trading a guy like Archer, the return haul better be damn good.

To date, the return haul of SP Tyler Glasnow and OF Austin Meadows (from Pittsburgh) has been, for the most part, damn good—and that's not even including pitching prospect Shane Baz, who's expected to earn a job with the 2022 Rays.

Here, Meadows has just joined the Rays following his mid-2018 acquisition from the Pirates. Initially on fire after the Bucs called him up in mid-May 2018, Meadows had cooled off so significantly that he was sent back to AAA Indianapolis by the time of the trade. Tampa recalled him from AAA Durham in September.

THIS CARD: Wasn't #17 Jake McGee's number in Tampa Bay? (The answer is no.) Hitting coach Derek Shelton wore the number from 2010-16; other than that, it's had little traction among Rays—Joe Kennedy was the most notable #17 prior to Shelton and Meadows.

The patch: 2018 marked 20 years of (Devil) Rays baseball, although it was the 21st season.

According to Getty Images, this pic was shot 5/20/2018. The issue is, Meadows was still a Pirate at that time—meaning we've got some classic Topps airbrushing at work here. (Even the fans in black shirts were airbrushed; the original pic shows them in Pirates colors.)

(flip) The blurb only scratches the surface of how hot Meadows was as a new Pirate. He slashed .343/.370/.588 through his first 29 games...only to go a weak 10-for-his-next-52 with 18 K prior to being returned to AAA.

Meadows, as you see in the stats, swiped 11 bags in the minors in '17 alone, but in five MLB seasons he's got just 23. I highly doubt Tampa minds so long as he's doing his share of jogging around the bases.

Unlike the base set, 2018 Topps Update did not list individual player social media handles for whatever reason. Meadows does have a Twitter account (@austin_meadows) but his last original post was in response to the Bucs winning Super Bowl LV in February 2021.

AFTER THIS CARD: As a Rays regular RF/LF/DH, Meadows broke through as a 2019 AL All-Star (.291, 33, 89), but wasn't much of a factor in the team's 2020 World Series run (.205, 4, 13 in 36 games) as COVID and an oblique strain limited him. Meadows did, however, crunch a crucial game-tying homer off the Yankees' Gerrit Cole in ALDS Game 5!

In 2021, Meadows looked more like his previous self, batting .234, 27, 106 while splitting time between LF and DH for Tampa Bay. More recently, his name (and $4M salary) have appeared in trade rumors. After all, $182M SS Wander Franco IS the whole Rays franchise, right?

Austin Meadows debuted in 2018 Topps Update and has since appeared in 2019-22 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps Update, Tampa Bay Rays

 
Topps Pedro Alvarez
Topps Pedro Alvarez

3/23/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps Update #8 Pedro Alvarez, Orioles

More Pedro Alvarez Topps Cards: 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

First of all, Happy 42nd Birthday To Meee!!!

Some guys have home run power, and then there's the select few guys who have what I call "Cursing Cameraman Power". The latter describes a hitter who clobbers baseballs so far that TV camera operators lose sight of them in flight. We the viewers are left with a shot of a general area where the ball likely landed—if it ever came down at all.

Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates and Orioles triggered more than a few expletives from camera operators during the 2010's.

Here, the 29-year-old is entering his first season with Baltimore after six mostly-productive years with the Pirates. With Manny Machado (3B) and Chris Davis (1B) entrenched at the corner positions, the Orioles planned to use Alvarez primarily at DH. He signed for 1Y/$5.75M plus incentives based on plate appearances, earning a bonus $200K for reaching 350 PA in 2016.

THIS CARD: We sure are selecting a high amount of horizontal card fronts as of late. And there's at least one more "on the horizon".​ Har, har.

This is a redundant Update card, one of nine produced by Topps in 2016. Alvarez's base card depicts him with the Orioles; the only "update" is his position, which is adjusted from 1B to DH here. I wonder if Topps originally planned to feature Alvarez as a Pirate—his 2015 club—in 2016 Topps, made the change once he signed with Baltimore, and didn't inform the Update staff. While that's still janky, at least it's a reasonable explanation.

This image, per Getty Images, was shot after Alvarez's walk-off sac fly against the Yankees 5/5/2016. Facing the very tough Andrew Miller in the B10th with runners on the corners and none out in a scoreless game, Alvarez lofted a fly to center, which scored Nolan Reimold from third. Alvarez was hitting just .196 at the time, so coming through in the clutch must have felt sublime.

(flip) Just an FYI: the 36 homers Alvarez hit to co-win the 2013 homer crown would not have led the NL or the AL in any other year of his nine-year career. He timed it well.

In that two-bomb game (both given up by SP Luis Perdomo) 6/21/2016, Alvarez finished 3-for-5 with five RBI. Baltimore still fell to San Diego 10-7, however.

A fact I often forget: not only was Alvarez a #1 pick in 2008, he was the second overall pick behind Tim Beckham (Rays). Hopefully Beckham's comeback attempt this year pans out.

AFTER THIS CARD: Alvarez re-signed with Baltimore on MiLB deals for 2017 and 2018. He spent nearly all of 2017 with AAA Norfolk (the Orioles promoted him in September) but he made the 2018 Orioles' roster out of Spring Training. During a nightmare season for Baltimore, however, Alvarez was outrighted to Norfolk for the season's duration in June.

At last check, 32-year-old Alvarez was in camp with the 2019 Marlins and looking decent, but he opted out of his MiLB contract in May and hasn't played professionally since.

Pedro Alvarez appeared in 2011-18 Topps, as well as 2016 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps Update, Baltimore Orioles

 
Topps Phil Leftwich
Topps Phil Leftwich

3/25/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #471 Phil Leftwich, Angels

More Phil Leftwich Topps Cards: 1995

No known relation to Byron.

During my teen years, which were also pre-Internet years, sometimes dudes would fly under my MLB radar for the entire season without me knowing squat about them (even though I dutifully bought the USA Today Baseball Weekly every Wednesday from our local 7-Eleven). 

It wouldn't be until the winter that I'd learn about some guys, as I built the latest Topps (or Score) set through wax packs. Phil Leftwich of the Angels was one of these guys. I had no idea he'd emerged as a reliable starter for the 1993 Angels until acquiring this card the following off-season, even as I kept an eye on teammate (and brief '93 phenom) J.T. Snow during the year.

Makes me wonder what else went on that year while I was buried in either Street Fighter II or NBA Showdown...

THIS CARD: The 1993-96 Angels uniforms, as I've said before, don't get nearly enough throwback love from the franchise. I'm not sure they get ANY throwback love, to be honest. The Angels did have one good year (1995) in this garb, although it ended with a horrible collapse down the stretch.

Leftwich gears up to throw either his low-90's sinker, his slider, or a changeup that one 1994 publication described as "still shaky". Given the position of his finger, I'd have to guess sinker here.

More from Leftwich's 1993 season: he entered California's depleted rotation in late July and stayed there, throwing eight quality starts out of 12. On 8/20, what should have been his first career CG ended up as a nine-inning no-decision, as Milwaukee scored five off the bullpen in the T10th and won 7-2.

(flip) This is, as you see, Leftwich's rookie card. Which puzzles me because I would have bet cash that I owned a 1993 Topps Traded card featuring Leftwich. But I do not and never did because such a card does not exist. I really should have drank less in my 20's.

That one (actual) complete game took place 9/5; Leftwich scattered six hits and struck out a season-high five in a win over visiting Toronto. Who were just the defending (and soon-to-be-repeating) World Series champions, that's all.

How DARE you carve up my favorite player ever like that, Leftwich!!! For the record, Rickey was still an Athletic at the time (7/29/1993; they traded him to Toronto two days later).

Eighty innings and 31 K in 1993?! Times were different back then—even mediocre starters can rack up 31 K in 25 innings today. Leftwich did manage at least one strikeout in every start, so there's that.

AFTER THIS CARD: The 1994 Angels hoped for a repeat performance from Leftwich, and from May into early July, they got it. But during the other segments of 1994 he scuffled, finishing 5-10, 5.68.

 

Leftwich underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery in March 1995 and was relegated to minors duty once he healed. Though he performed very well on the farms, Leftwich was shaky in two May 1996 starts for the Angels, and never appeared in MLB again. 

Still only 29, Leftwich headed to Japan for the 1998-99 seasons, but didn't post great numbers there, either.

Leftwich's son Luke has played pro baseball since 2015, in the Phillies and Angels systems.

Phil Leftwich appeared in 1994-95 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, California Angels

 
Topps Steve Bedrosian
Topps Steve Bedrosian

3/26/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Topps Traded #6 Steve Bedrosian, Twins

More Steve Bedrosian Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1989T 1990 1991 1992 1994 1995

In the early 1980's, Steve Bedrosian of the Braves was one of the busiest relievers in the game. In the mid-1980's, Steve Bedrosian of the Phillies was one of the most successful relievers in the game, even taking home the 1987 NL Cy Young Award! In the 1990's, Steve Bedrosian of the Giants, Twins and Braves (again) was a World Champion, a temporary retiree, a quality setup reliever and a picture of courage through a very difficult ordeal.

Here, the big man has just joined the Twins via trade from the Giants. With Minnesota already set at closer with Rick Aguilera, Bedrosian slid into a setup role and finished second on the club in appearances (to Aguilera) while limiting righty hitters to a .230 BAA.

THIS CARD: Bedrosian, from afar, looks menacing with his beefy build and equally-beefy beard. But when you view him up close, and mentally erase the facial hair, he doesn't look menacing at all. Which is probably why the beard existed.

Bedrosian is firing either his heater (which once clocked in the mid-90's but had dropped a tick or two by 1991) or his high-80's slider. During his foray into starting, "Bedrock" also featured a changeup, but I can't recall him throwing many, if any, after returning to the bullpen. (As pitchers tended to do under Giants manager Roger Craig, Bedrosian fooled around with the splitter in 1989.)

(flip) 40-for-48 in saves doesn't sound like much today, but just remember in Bedrosian's day, pitchers were still expected to complete their starts at least a few times per season, and Dennis Eckersley/Tony LaRussa hadn't yet rewritten the rulebook for closers.

I never knew, or had long forgotten, that Bedrosian spent all of 1985 as a starter. He was already damn near carrying a starter's workload out of the bullpen, so hey, why not? According to The Scouting Report: 1987, Bedrosian took up starting because as a reliever, arm issues would crop up at the end of each season; the thinking was fewer outings would mean fewer issues.

That Trade, with the Giants, sent two failed prospects back to San Francisco—pitchers Johnny Ard and Jimmy Williams. Williams wound up pitching professionally from 1984 through 2003 without a taste of MLB—551 games across MiLB, the Independent League and the Mexican League.

AFTER THIS CARD: Though Bedrosian was up-and-down during the 1991 season and was not used in high-leverage situations during the postseason, he walked away with a World Series ring as Minnesota defeated his former—and future—Braves squad! Part of why Bedrosian scuffled at times that year was due to numbness developing in his fingers in June; the cause went undetermined and he wound up sitting out the 1992 season.

By Spring Training 1993, however, Bedrosian's numbness was gone, his velo was back, and he'd won a job in Atlanta's bullpen. In his second go as a Brave, Bedrosian posted a 2.45 ERA in 95 games from 1993-94, but in 1995 the 37-year-old was hit hard, leading him to retire two months before the Braves won the World Series.

Bedrosian was hired as pitching coach for AA Danville (Braves) for 1996; this happened two weeks into his tenure and he did not return for 1997 (though I'm unsure precisely why). His son Cam has made 311 major league appearances since 2014, mostly for the Angels (though he's currently battling for a job with the Phillies).

Steve Bedrosian appeared in 1982-95 Topps, except 1993. He's also got 1982, 1986, 1989 and 1991 Traded cards.

CATEGORIES: 1991 Topps Traded, Minnesota Twins

 
Topps Checklists
Topps Checklists

3/27/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #495 Checklist

More 1997 Topps Checklists: #275

The Checklist​ for 1997 Topps was increased by 55 cards over 1996 Topps, a huge development as the company continued to recover from the devastating player's strike of 1994-95. 

However, (too) many of those additional cards were issued to minor leaguers (I feel the term "prospects" is not really an accurate description) of the Diamondbacks and Devil Rays—who weren't due to begin play until 1998. Needless to say, the overwhelming majority of these subjects did little in MLB, if they even made it at all.

Why Topps felt so many expansion scrubs needed inclusion (at the expense of actual big leaguers), only they know. But we digress...

THIS CARD: As you see, we have a Checklist...with no boxes to check.

Chipper Jones, card #277, was accidentally given #276 on his card. Card #276 was actually the second Series 1 Checklist.

Former superstar OF Darryl Strawberry (#282) returned to Topps after a one-year absence. Former All-Star P Jack McDowell (#307) appeared in Topps for the final time; his final seasons were wrecked by injury.

RIP Williams (#287) Bartee (#309) and Kile (#315).

(flip) Kenny Lofton's card #350 was all screwy, in terms of bold/italics for his league-leading 1996 at-bat total. Topps eventually sort of corrected it years later.

Karim Garcia #363 was a hot Dodgers prospect in 1996-97; he received a standard common despite batting just once in the majors (a strikeout) in 1996.

Roger Clemens card #370 had similar issues as Lofton; his league-leading 1996 K total was not bold/italicized for years.

No one on the reverse has passed away yet. That's a good thing.

CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, Checklists

 
Topps Isan Diaz
Topps Isan Diaz

3/29/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2021 Topps #364 Isan Diaz, Marlins

More Isan Diaz Topps Cards: 2020

The first time I heard anything about Isan Diaz, he was homering off Mets ace Jacob deGrom in his MLB debut. Then I didn't hear squat else about him until Miami, ravaged by COVID early in the 2020 season, announced he was opting back in to said season now that the team was virus-free. It was treated as major news on the baseball websites I peruse.

I had never heard Diaz had opted out in the first place. In fact, by September 2020, I'd completely forgotten about Diaz getting the best of deGrom the year prior. But I guess it mattered to the playoff-bound Marlins, if nobody else.

Here, we catch up with Diaz after that 2020 season. His return lasted all of five games before a groin injury put him on the 60-day IL.

THIS CARD: Diaz is listed here as a 2B; he played there exclusively for the '20 Marlins. But throughout his MiLB career, Diaz played about an equal amount of SS, and even got some 3B run in winter ball.

According to Getty Images, this pic was shot during a simulated game 7/10/2020. That's a COTD first. There's a decent chance Topps believed—as did everyone else—Diaz wasn't returning from his opt-out (which occurred after Miami's second game) and decided on this front image early.

More from Diaz's 2020 season: on 7/26, he went 2-for-5 with two runs. That's about it in terms of notable offensive performances. Diaz strained his groin while heading up the line on a ground ball on 9/14 against the Phillies.

(flip) At one point, Diaz was ranked as high as #5 among Fish prospects, per Baseball America. As you can see in the stats, he offers a lot of power for a middle infielder and can run more than a little bit.

Those 72 walks for Class A Wisconsin (Brewers) ranked T1st in the Midwest League in 2016.

Diaz was a D'Backs draft pick who joined Milwaukee via five-player trade in January 2016 (IF Jean Segura was the headliner). Diaz then went to the Marlins as part of a four-player packa