Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, December 2019
A = Alternate Card F = Factory Team Set G = Giveaway Set T = Traded Set U = Update Set
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12/30/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #168 Jason Schmidt, Pirates
More Jason Schmidt Topps Cards: 1994T 1997 1998 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Giants fans just spent a portion of the 2019-20 off-season worrying that their longtime ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner would commit the unforgivable sin of signing with the Dodgers as a free agent. Though those fears were ultimately allayed—Bumgarner signed with Arizona—no one could blame the SF fanbase for having them, since that very thing had happened 13 years prior with then-ace SP Jason Schmidt.
Top prospect Schmidt came up in the Atlanta system, but was dealt to Pittsburgh in mid-1996 as part of the return for SP Denny Neagle. The lowly Bucs gave Schmidt the ball every 5th day and he averaged 11-11, 4.28, 205 IP over the next three years—a solid showing, no doubt, though a step or two below the high expectations he carried as a prospect.
Here, Schmidt has completed his second full year in the Pirates rotation. He led the team in K and tied for the lead in starts, while beginning the season 8-1, 3.59.
THIS CARD: Schmidt delivers what looks to be an off-speed pitch of some type. He threw mid-high 90's, with a hard slider, good curve, and tailing changeup that made quick work of lefty hitters.
Don't remember this Pirates look? They only sported it from 1997-2000 before updating their look with the move to PNC Park.
Until #42 was retired throughout baseball, Schmidt wore it before switching to #22. And if it feels blasphemous for another Pirate besides Andrew McCutchen to wear those digits, you're not alone.
(flip) As in this photo, Schmidt seemed bigger than 207 lbs. until you really looked at him.
In addition to player-to-be-named-later Schmidt, the Pirates also received 1B Ron Wright and prospect Corey Pointer in the trade with Atlanta.
Unfortunately, after Schmidt's seven-game win streak, he dropped eight decisions in a row, many in tough luck. The blurb refers to John Smiley, who won his final seven decisions en route to 20 victories in 1991.
AFTER THIS CARD: Shoulder problems ruined Schmidt's 2000 season, but he bounced back enough in '01 to grab San Francisco's attention—they traded for him and signed him to a 4Y/$30M extension (with an option for '06 that was exercised). The veteran took his game to new heights in San Francisco, making three All-Star teams and winning the 2003 NL ERA title. One of his many wins during that run: a 144-pitch one-hitter at Wrigley Field in 2004.
Schmidt leveled off somewhat in 2005-06—as did his team—but was still a sought-after free agent after the '06 season. As referenced, he took his talents to L.A. for 3Y/$47M, but ran into a host of physical problems that limited him to 10 total starts and three wins as a Dodger. His career ended after the 2009 season; Schmidt finished 130-96.
Jason Schmidt appeared annually in Topps 1997-2008; he's also got a 1994 Traded shared Prospects card.
CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Pittsburgh Pirates
More December 2019 Topps Cards Of The Day
12/1/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #155 Todd Stottlemyre, Blue Jays
More Todd Stottlemyre Topps Cards: 1988T 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Bulldog. Feisty. Tough. I've read my share of material on Todd Stottlemyre in preparation for this write-up, and those descriptions seemed to appear in all of it. Which is accurate—I watched most of Stottlemyre's career; that guy competed as hard as anybody in the game.
For the first seven seasons of his career, Stottlemyre answered the bell for the Toronto Blue Jays, mostly as a starting pitcher. Though his accompanying numbers weren't always brag-worthy and he had some shaky October starts as a Jay, the man did manage to win between 11-15 games annually for Toronto 1990-93—though many felt he should have accomplished more given his talent.
Here, Stottlemyre has just completed what would be his final season as a full-time Jays starter. Though it was a trying year at times, the veteran gave up just 11 home runs in 176.2 IP and threw a shutout vs. Boston in his third-to-last game of the year, an important win as Toronto clung to the AL's best record (and ALCS home-field advantage).
THIS CARD: That could be Stottlemyre's splitter/changeup he added during his career, or it could simply be a guy fooling around before a game. You be the judge. Wherever he's warming up obviously isn't Skydome.
Stottlemyre appears in COTD for the second time; we profiled his 1989 Topps card back in October 2014.
More from Stottlemyre's 1993 season: he opened the year with three 8-IP efforts in his first four starts and won them all. But he also allowed six runs or more seven different times during the year and lost three weeks to the DL (arm/back muscle pull) in late May.
(flip) Chicago's Dan Pasqua, hitting under .210 at the time, busted up Stottlemyre's no-no. Pasqua's 1994 Topps card makes mention of his busting up a Danny Darwin (Boston) no-hit bid in 1993, a year he hit .205. Dan Pasqua: Who Pitchers Want Up In Every Inning But One.
Those two 1993 RA came after Stottlemyre's DL stint; I'm not sure if it was due to a full rotation or just to ease him back into things. He was not pitching particularly well before the injury.
Sunnyside is located in south-central Washington, nowhere near Tacoma, Seattle or Spokane but not too far from the Oregon border.
AFTER THIS CARD: Stottlemyre opened 1994 as the Toronto closer before returning to the rotation in late April. He joined Oakland for 1995 via free agency and, as their clear #1 starter, enjoyed perhaps his best season to date. But the A's were rebuilding—off to St. Louis went Stottlemyre in exchange for four prospects (only Jay Witasick came close to doing anything in MLB) after the '95 season.
The veteran enjoyed a solid two-plus seasons as a Cardinal before being traded to Texas in July 1998, helping their playoff push (he went eight strong in his lone playoff start but still lost). The Arizona Diamondbacks would employ Stottlemyre for his final four seasons, although he was injured throughout his tenure (40 total games pitched) and missed the entire 2001 season after elbow surgery and subsequent nerve issues. (Remember that torn rotator cuff he pitched through?)
Starting with his '88 Traded card, Todd Stottlemyre appeared continuously in Topps thru the 2001 set.
CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, Toronto Blue Jays
12/3/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #47 Trot Nixon, Red Sox
More Trot Nixon Topps Cards: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2007U 2008U
You want to know what type of player Trot Nixon was, check out this (paraphrased) quote from his ex-manager Terry Francona: "...He played hard. he got down and dirty...he's a throwback."
Christopher Trotman Nixon was the #7 overall pick in 1993 out of high school (turning down a football scholarship to N.C. state), and reached the majors as a 22-year-old in '96. He stuck in '99, making the Red Sox out of Spring Training and swatting three home runs at Tiger Stadium in one July game.
Though Nixon never became a true star, partially due to career-long difficulties mastering lefty pitchers, 2001 kicked off a nice three-year run of production for the Sox right fielder. In '01, he was second on the team (to Manny Ramirez) in HR and RBI, and in '02 he plated 94 more runners.
Here (2003), Nixon may have been at his all-round best; the 29-year-old slashed .306/.396/.578 in 134 games (.330/.423/.635 vs. RHP), homered in three straight games thrice, and ripped a pivotal 9th-inning grand slam at Philadelphia to open September.
THIS CARD: Just not enough of the catcher for me to identify the opposing team.
Nixon rips one to the right side at Fenway Park. In 2003, he hit .318 with five of his six triples at Fenway, contributing to a home SLG of .545.
Yet another reason I dislike J.D. Drew: when he took over in RF for Nixon in 2007, he took Nixon's long-familiar uniform #7 as well. Boston shouldn't have allowed it, true, but Drew should have been aware enough to refuse it.
(flip) It was Baseball America who named Nixon High School Player of the Year (for his play at New Hanover High School in N.C.; Nixon hit .519 with 12 bombs in 81 AB as a senior.)
Nixon spread his 28 homers around in 2003; of the 16 parks he batted six or more times in, he went yard in 13 of them.
Nixon only played 134 games in '03, but not due to injury; manager Grady Little often went with Darren Lewis in RF when facing lefties, whom Nixon could never truly solve.
AFTER THIS CARD: Sadly, '03 proved to be Nixon's peak. Injuries wrecked his 2004 season (Boston still won the title) and hindered him in '05 and '06. (He was also famously ejected for going off on an ump while on the disabled list in August 2005.) After missing the playoffs in '06, Boston made changes, one of them being replacing Nixon in RF with Drew.
So Nixon joined the Indians on a 1Y/$3M deal. He managed to avoid the DL at long last, but good health couldn't cue good production (.336 SLG in 99 games, 82 starts) and the veteran was not re-signed. Settling for a MiLB deal with Arizona for '08, Nixon showed enough in AAA to trigger a trade with the depleted Mets. Post-trade, however, he hit just .171 in 11 games and sat the final months on the DL (groin).
A MiLB deal with Milwaukee for '09 led nowhere, and Nixon was through at 35.
Trot Nixon appeared in Topps 2000-2007, with Update cards in 2007-08.
CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, Boston Red Sox
12/5/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Topps #182 Junior Noboa, Expos
More Junior Noboa Topps Cards: 1988 1990T
Junior Noboa the player is best known for his time with the Montreal Expos, for whom he appeared 169 times 1989-91, but he got his start in MLB as a 19-year-old Indian in 1984—either Cleveland was desperate for an infielder or it really liked Noboa's glove, since he was not exactly tearing it up offensively in the minors.
Noboa got extensive run as a defensive replacement that year before returning to the minors thru 1986. He got some first-half run for the '87 Tribe, then was traded to the Angels, who used him largely as a pinch-runner (Noboa used to swipe 40+ bases per year in the minors).
Here, after winning the 1989 American Association batting title, Noboa has stuck with the Expos for all of 1990. The 26-year-old played six positions and eclipsed his career totals in every category.
THIS CARD: "Yeah, pal...I heard what you said about me...I'm gonna sign this program then you and I gonna have a little conversation."
Noboa returns to Topps base after a two-set absence, although he does appear in 1990 Traded in the wake of landing a job with Montreal. Off-topic: that's too many prominent colors for a cap.
For the record, Noboa's actual name is Milciades Arturo Noboa.
(flip) Tim Raines had singled, stolen second, taken third on a WP, and scored on Noboa's single. Montreal led much of the game 3-0 before allowing the Mets to tie in the 8th.
As for the zeroes in the HR column, Noboa did eventually hit one: a pinch-hit shot off Cubs lefty Paul Assenmacher on 5/24/91.
Those 14 July hits came in just 46 AB, a .326 average.
Noboa is listed as a 2B, his natural position, but he also played SS, 3B, LF, RF and even P for the Expos in '90! (At Houston, he walked Alex Trevino before inducing a GIDP from Jim Clancy.)
AFTER THIS CARD: Noboa got in 67 games for the '91 Expos, but did not receive a 1992 Topps card. The Mets claimed him on waivers immediately after the season, and though he made their 1992 Opening Day roster, he hit .149 in 47 games for them.
The 28-year-old split 1993 into two AAA stints for the Reds, but made the 1994 A's roster. they let him go in time, and Noboa's MLB career wrapped with a pair of AB for the '94 Pirates.
Noboa remained in baseball and has forged a fine second career as the Vice-President of Latin Operations for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Junior Noboa appeared in 1988 and 1991 Topps, as well as 1990 Topps Traded.
CATEGORIES: 1991 Topps, Montreal Expos
12/7/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2014 Topps #70 Marcell Ozuna, Marlins
More Marcell Ozuna Topps Cards: 2013U 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
At this writing, productive outfielder Marcell Ozuna is one of the name free agents of the 2019-20 off-season, a candidate to earn a nine-figure contract in the coming weeks. Obviously, they don't give deals like that to just any dude with batting gloves on, and Ozuna has been pretty solid for most of the last half-decade plus (remember his two-homer effort in Game 4 of the 2019 NLDS?)
But because of my juvenile disposition, whenever I think Marcell Ozuna, I won't immediately recall his NLDS heroics or any other time he's come through in a big moment. I'll always flash back to April 9, 2019, when he drifted back on a Kike Hernandez fly ball...and back...and back, climbing up the wall desperate to make a play. Nothing wrong with any of that...
...except the ball landed in the middle of the warning track, not three feet over the fence as Ozuna judged. This was the second time it had happened to him.
Ozuna was a 2017 Gold Glover, though after watching those plays, one might wonder if his big offensive year swayed the voters...it's happened before.
Here, however, Ozuna is just a Marlins rookie fresh off starting 69 times in CF and—while Giancarlo Stanton was out with a bad hamstring—RF in the early season. Unfortunately, his year ended when he tore a thumb ligament diving for a ball in July.
THIS CARD: I always think of Ozuna as a wiry-type build, but he's actually got a lil' beef on him.
The Randomizer Knows All, Exhibit J: I had spent the week re-browsing 2014 Topps before this selection, which occurred almost right after I returned the album to its shelf.
(flip) Edgar Renteria holds the Marlins rookie record hit streak at 22 games.
The poised 22-year-old also batted .331 in 36 games filling in for Stanton in RF, but mysteriously slumped after shifting over to CF.
13 BB in 70 games? Ozuna fits the free-swinging Dominican stereotype. He only hit three homers in '13, but it turns out one of them triggered a 9th-inning four-run rally against my Giants that put a close game out of reach. So for that I shake my fist at you, Ozuna.
AFTER THIS CARD: For the next three seasons (2014-16), save for a minors demotion in 2015, Ozuna would be Miami's main man in CF, sliding to the corner outfield spots when necessary. He was a 2016 All-Star and despite shifting to LF full-time for 2017, enjoyed a career year (.312, 37, 124 batting mostly cleanup) and returned to the Midsummer Classic.
Unfortunately for Miami fans, new ownership took over in late 2017 and purged the Marlins roster of all its stars—Ozuna became a Cardinal, but was not able to approach his 2017 production in two seasons in St. Louis. Which isn't to say he stunk—in fact, he was leading the Cards in HR and RBI approaching the break when he fractured fingers diving back into 1B and missed a month.
We'll see where he lands for 2020.
Marcell Ozuna debuted in 2013 Topps Update, and has appeared annually in the base set since 2014.
CATEGORIES: 2014 Topps, Miami Marlins
12/9/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps #649 Brandon Crawford, Giants
More Brandon Crawford Topps Cards: 2011U 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Remember how the Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014? Of course you do; they were too amazing to forget.
Well, Brandon Crawford was the starting SS on the 2012 and 2014 teams, and easily the glue of a pretty darn good infield. From the day he entered MLB, Crawford has made too many diving stops and over-the-shoulder grabs and throws from the hole for even me, a Giants lifer, to recall any one in particular.
Just know that when you needed a clutch defensive play, there weren't many other dudes you wanted in the vicinity more than B-Craw in his prime.
Here, Crawford has completed his first major league season. Called up when Buster Posey (and others) hit the DL, he entered with a bang—continue reading—and started 36 of the next 45 games. Though a frosty bat got him optioned to AAA for August, Crawford did poke two hits in the season finale to finish over .200.
THIS CARD: Boy, that guy looks strange minus his familiar scruff. Can you figure out what Crawford is doing on the basepaths? I can't tell if he's beginning/ending a slide or simply lost his balance.
The Randomizer Knows All, Exhibit K: my 2012 Topps' album just happened to be open for viewing upon this card's "random" selection. I was—and still am—hoping for a 2019 Topps selection, so my 2019 Topps album is now open for viewing.
More from Crawford's 2011 season: in June, he had more multi-hit games (five) than solo-hit games (four). He was hitting .268 thru 6/8 before going cold, but on 7/2 Crawford went 3-for-4 with three runs, three RBI and a homer to help clobber Detroit.
(flip) Those final three dudes slammed in their first AB.
Crawford's grannie, served up by Shaun Marcum in the 7th inning, scored Aubrey Huff, Nate Schierholtz and Miguel Tejada It powered the Giants to a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over Milwaukee.
San Jose is the Giants A-ball affiliate, and Crawford, who was not on the 40-man roster, made the jump to MLB directly from there. He played at Fresno during his August demotion.
AFTER THIS CARD: Crawford did improve with the bat over time, and by 2015 he was an All-Star and a 21-homer, 84-RBI man who batted 5th in more than a handful of games; Crawford was also recognized with his first of three straight (and deserved) Gold Gloves. In 2016 Crawford, who is not particularly fast but plays in a big park, led the NL in triples and drove home 84 more runs—he was about as close to untouchable as anyone on the roster not named Posey. (At least to moi.)
Though he was an All-Star once more in 2018, the 2019 edition of Brandon Crawford was barely recognizable—he was hitting .202 thru mid-June, homered just twice in his final 62 games and had to "heat up" just to finish at .228. At 32, the S.F. Bay Area native is both young enough to bounce back and old enough to be irreversibly declining.
Brandon Crawford debuted in 2011 Topps Update, and has appeared annually in the base set since 2012.
CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, San Francisco Giants
12/11/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2007 Topps #351 Mark DeRosa, Cubs
More Mark DeRosa Topps Cards: 1999 2003 2004 2005 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012U 2013U 2014
Former Penn QB Mark DeRosa was one of those guys both helped and hurt by his superior versatility—playing multiple positions got him run he might not have received otherwise, yet it delayed his consideration for full-time jobs because he was too valuable as a supersub.
A natural SS, DeRosa received sips of coffee with the 1998-2000 Braves before a sizable slurp of it in 2001. Then in May 2002, he was not even a full week into taking over Rafael Furcal's SS job when he tore ankle ligaments hustling out a double. Not until '04 would DeRosa get a shot at starting again—he took over 3B from the departed Vinny Castilla for a while, but didn't hit; manager Bobby Cox eventually put Chipper Jones back at the hot corner, which put DeRosa on the bench.
Here, DeRosa is entering his first year with the Cubs after a two-year run with the Texas Rangers. As a full-time utility man in '06 DeRosa blew past all his career highs, homered four times in a four-day span in August and walked off the Baltimore Orioles with a 12th-inning bomb on 5/3.
THIS CARD: 3B DeRosa plays a foul pop at Oakland in what must be Spring Training 2007. Or some serious airbrushing.
DeRosa began his career wearing #7, switched to #16 during his later Braves years, then wore #7 again all the way to his final season, when he returned to #16 as a Blue Jay. No other Cubs of note have worn it during my time, at least not for very long. Joe Girardi did have it from 1989-92, before he was Joe Girardi. Victor Caratini has worn #7 for the Cubs since 2018.
Sorry, Mark, but it looks like you signed that card with the pen in your armpit.
(flip) The Cubs signed DeRosa for the price of 3Y/$13M in November 2006, and while he did play a heap of 2B for them, he also started 50 times at other positions in 2007. (To the surprise of no one.)
Question to ask DeRosa when we meet: did he wear #7 because he was a #7 pick in the draft?
Passaic, New Jersey is located about 10 miles north of Newark. Use Route 21.
AFTER THIS CARD: DeRosa really busted out with a .285, 21, 87 line for the 2008 Cubs, which inspired Cleveland to trade for him after the season—so happy with the move were the Indians that they dealt him to St. Louis that July. The 34-year-old signed with the Giants for 2010, at 2Y/$12M.
As fate would have it, wrist problems dating back to his Cardinals days prevented DeRosa from ever getting untracked in San Francisco (201 combined PA, though he did come through big time for me in MLB 2011::The Show). Moving on to the Nationals, DeRosa missed four months of '12 with an oblique strain, but did get in 88 games with the 2013 Blue Jays to end his career.
To make up for seeing so little of DeRosa on the field towards the end, you can see him today on MLB Network's morning show, MLB Central.
Mark DeRosa debuted in 1999 Topps on a shared Prospects card, then appeared annually in either the base or Update sets 2003-14, except 2006 when he was excluded from both after a year of reduced run in Texas.
CATEGORIES: 2007 Topps, Chicago Cubs
12/13/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps Update #302 Lucas Harrell, Astros
More Lucas Harrell Topps Cards: 2013 2014
Given how far the Astros rose in the late '10's—three straight ALCS, two WS, one championship—it barely seems believable that the same franchise could have been so woeful during the early '10's. I can assure you, though: they were pretty darn bad just a half-decade ago.
Yet even the worst of teams will have their bright spots, such as the 2012 Astros. Young 2B Jose Altuve batted .290 with 33 steals. Justin Maxwell—Justin Maxwell?—led the team with 18 bombs. Brett Myers transitioned mostly well from starter to closer before being traded. And Lucas Harrell developed into a legit major league pitcher and the team's most dependable starter.
Here, Harrell's 2012 season has just commenced. After very short auditions with the 2010-11 White Sox, Harrell found himself in Houston via waivers in July 2011; in his first Astros appearance 9/2, he fired 5.1 shutout innings at the Brewers (who still won, but never mind that!)
THIS CARD: Harrell toils in the Astros' throwback uni from the late 1960's; I do not believe they've ever worn this as a regular alternate. According to uniformlineup.com, which seems pretty legit, the 2012 Astros turned the clock back with this look on 5/4 and 5/18—Harrell pitched and beat St. Louis on 5/4, so there's your photo source!
You are watching Harrell finish off either his 93-mph sinker, his 12-6 curve, or his changeup. He would also go sidearm once in a great while.
This is our second 2012 Topps selection out of three, which means hiatus time for that set.
(flip) Harrell missed 2007 after shoulder surgery; pre-operation, he could reach 96.
Those six 2011 appearances with the Astros included two starts; we told you about the first. In the second, Harrell was on the wrong end of a 19-3 drubbing at Coors Field (though he was "only" responsible for seven of the runs).
Notice in the bio box, Topps now gives extra details on waiver claimees. Back in the day, it would only say "Waivers" and the date.
AFTER THIS CARD: Harrell finished 2012 11-11, 3.76 for the 107-loss Astros and might have been the steal of the NL that year. Houston shifted to the AL for 2013 and brought with it a very different Harrell, one who led the league in walks and was dropped from the rotation in July. The following April, he was traded to Arizona but was equally poor for their AAA team—they cut ties in August 2014.
Following a year in the Korean League, Harrell returned stateside with a very strong five-start showing for the Braves, but lost that footing in subsequent stints with Texas and Toronto. He has not pitched professionally since 2017, and at 34, his time is almost definitely up.
Lucas Harrell debuted in 2012 Topps Update, then appeared in the 2013-14 base sets.
CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps Update, Houston Astros
12/16/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps #757 Brady Anderson, Orioles
More Brady Anderson Topps Cards: 1988T 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
For a decade, Brady Anderson was among the better two-way outfielders in baseball, certainly on the defensive end. For a season, Brady Anderson was among the best two-way outfielders in baseball, certainly on the offensive end. And because of that uncharacteristic 50-homer outburst of 1996, Anderson will be under PED scrutiny until the end of time.
It's hard to imagine Anderson with any franchise besides Baltimore but here, he's just joined the Orioles following his MLB introduction with the Red Sox. Boston needed pitching and to that end, swapped Anderson and prospect Curt Schilling to the Orioles in exchange for veteran SP Mike Boddicker just before the 1988 trade deadline.
THIS CARD: Anderson just doesn't look right without the gel and sideburns.
Who'd have guessed that logo on the hat would still be in use in 2019, especially considering how rotten the '88 O's were? (Thirty years from today, they'll be wondering why the bird is still around given how rotten the 2018-19 Orioles were. Watch.)
More from Anderson's 1988 season: he opened the year on Boston's roster but was demoted to Pawtucket in June and remained there until his trade. Despite continued problems at-bat, Baltimore started Anderson in CF 43 times down the stretch.
(flip) We don't count or delve into "Game-Winning RBI" on TSR; MLB's method for tallying them was too flawed, which is why it only lasted a few years.
Anderson's lone 1988 home run? An 0-2 shot off Milwaukee's Tom Filer on 8/6; the two-run blast helped Baltimore to a 7-2 victory. (It should be noted, that Filer was usually fairly stingy with the home run ball.)
Anderson's 44 SB in '86 ranked 7th in the Florida State League. His .319 average ranked a close second on the Winter Haven Red Sox.
AFTER THIS CARD: From 1989-91, Anderson played part-time in Baltimore—when not in AAA—but coinciding with the opening of Camden Yards in '92, he became the Orioles LF and cashed in a 21-homer, All-Star effort (I believe his infamous sideburns showed up around this time, though it could have been sooner.) Now a heartthrob in addition to a star, Anderson remained the Orioles primary LF through 1995 before shifting to CF for '96.
We mentioned his ridiculous numbers that year; he also led off four straight games with a jack which set a MLB record. After making his second straight All-Star team in '97, Anderson reached free agency but was re-signed by the O's for 5Y/$31M. The 35-year-old hit .282 with 24 HR in '99 but by 2001, he'd sunk to .202 with but eight HR in 131 games split among all three OF positions. The Orioles released him in November '01 with a year left on his deal.
Cleveland snapped Anderson up for '02 but he was through by then, lasting 80 AB before being cut. A minors deal with the Padres for '03 led nowhere.
Brady Anderson debuted in 1988 Topps Traded as a Red Sock, then appeared annually in the base set 1989-2002 (the final card as an Indian).
CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps, Baltimore Orioles
12/18/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #175 Charles Johnson, Dodgers
More Charles Johnson Topps Cards: 1999T 2000 2000T 2001 2001T
Johnson was a Marlins mega-prospect who did indeed make an impact in MLB, mostly behind the plate. The first ever draft pick of the team back in '92, the ex-Olympian possessed a strong bat and even stronger defensive skillz; he seemed destined for stardom from the get-go.
In 1995, Johnson got his crack at the Marlins' starting C job and didn't disappoint—okay, maybe a tad offensively, but he still made the Topps All-Rookie Team, won a Gold Glove and piled up a few Rookie of the Year votes. His bat slipped in '96 but he charged back in '97 with errorless ball all year; Johnson helped Florida to its first ever playoff berth and an eventual World Championship.
It seemed CJ would be in Miami for some time but here, he's been swapped to the LA Dodgers in the blockbuster Mike Piazza trade of May 1998. He promptly went into a 1-for-36 funk but, as the calendar flipped to June, Johnson put together a streak of six multi-hit games out of eight. What did that batting coach say, and what took him so long?!
THIS CARD: We're lucky we even have a Charles Johnson Topps card to talk about. Johnson was a member of the '92 Olympic team along with Alex Rodriguez and Jason Varitek, two dudes who did not sign with Topps for years based on a dispute with the company at that time. And since Johnson was missing from Topps sets for his first three MLB seasons and his entire prospect-dom, it's safe to assume whatever Topps did to tick off A-Rod and Tek, they did to him too. This 1999 card was his first from Topps since his 1992 Traded card with Team USA.
Johnson just got under this offering at Dodger Stadium...could have been part of the aforementioned slump.
Among Dodgers of my era, #26 has been passed around more than a joint at Burning Man. Alejandro Pena wore it throughout the '80's, and Chase Utley claimed it 2015-18, but in between, #26 belonged to approximately 712 dudes. And since they were Dodgers, all of them sucked.
A little Inside TSR: our random selection process makes it possible to select cards that do not exist—case in point, today's selection of 1999 Topps #698. When that happens, I simply halve the card number, but card #349 Hal Morris was profiled back in 2014. So I had to halve the selection number again, which gave us #175 Charles Johnson.
(flip) Johnson is on the basepaths in his reverse image; on zero of Johnson's Topps front or reverse images is he doing what he did best: catching.
The errorless streak ended when Johnson, attempting to gun Mickey Morandini of the Cubs stealing second, threw wildly and allowed Morandini third base in the very first inning. But Johnson later homered in an 11-6 Marlins win.
Fort Pierce is located along the eastern Florida coast about halfway between Miami and Orlando. It's just a bit south of Vero Beach, the Dodgers' longtime Spring Training home.
AFTER THIS CARD: Johnson was dealt to Baltimore for 1999, and to the White Sox in mid-2000. In the latter year—Johnson's walk year—he produced a well-timed 31 homers and received a 5Y/$35M deal to return to the Marlins in December 2000.
But despite being a 2001 All-Star, by 2002, he was considerably heavier and his defense had slipped—the Fish packaged Johnson in a trade to Colorado after that season, one that extracted the Rockies from underneath Mike Hampton's enormous contract.
Johnson spent his age 32-33 seasons with the Rox and belted 20 homers in '03, After the '04 season, Boston acquired him in a trade and immediately cut him; Tampa swooped in. But Johnson missed time with a personal matter and later, a bad shoulder—he was released in mid-June 2005 and never played professionally again.
Charles Johnson debuted in 1992 Topps Traded as a Team USA member. He returned in the 1999-2001 base and Traded sets before disappearing from Topps sets yet again for mysterious reasons.
CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers
12/20/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps #406 Kelvin Herrera, Royals
More Kelvin Herrera Topps Cards: 2012 2013U 2016 2017 2019U
Herrera will be known for his seven-year tenure with the Kansas City Royals—he was one of the AL's best late-inning men from 2014-16 and a key contributor to the Royals' back-to-back pennant winners of 2014-15.
In those days, when the filthy Herrera, the filthier setup man Wade Davis, and the even filthier closer Greg Holland (aka "The Back End Boys") went to work protecting a lead, opponents rarely got off good swings, let alone mounted comebacks.
Herrera debuted in 2011, and made 70+ appearances in four of the next six years. He made the 2015 All-Star team without recording a single save, then turned in a valiant 3-inning effort in Game 5 of the '15 World Series (with much more good stuff in between). With Davis on the DL, Herrera was elevated to closer in August '16—he didn't disappoint.
Here, the 27-year-old is coming off his first season as full-time closer—Davis was moved to the Cubs after the '16 season. Herrera was 26-of-29 in save ops before straining his forearm; he got lit up after returning and lost the job in September.
THIS CARD: Herrera gears up to throw his high-90's fastball (which often topped 100 in his younger days), it seems. He also has a high-80's changeup that can move like a screwball, and a wipeout slider.
In this pic Herrera looks like a big, beefy dude. But he's only listed at 5'10,", 200 lbs. Which is a little beefy, I suppose.
#40 was worn by Bud Black in the 80's, Runelvys Hernandez in the '00's, and no other Royal of real note. Jake Diekman wore it most recently, in 2019.
(flip) Herrera did not pitch in the 2015 All-Star Game, but in the '16 Classic he threw a perfect 6th inning.
Despite his new uniform number #41 in Chicago—read on—Herrera's social media handles remain unchanged. He is not very active on Twitter. Which is probably smart.
The 12 BB in 72 IP in 2016 is impressive anyway, but for a guy who throws 100 MPH?!
AFTER THIS CARD: With the Royals entering full rebuild mode, Herrera was dealt to the Nationals in June of 2018; he filled in as CL for Sean Doolittle for a time until injuring his shoulder. Then in August, Herrera tore the Lisfranc ligament in his foot, ending his season.
Undeterred, the White Sox signed Herrera for 2Y/$18M in January 2019 but despite the dollars, Herrera worked as a setup man for Alex Colome. It was a rough year marred by ineffectiveness and an oblique injury that just wouldn't heal.
Kelvin Herrera debuted in 2012 Topps and returned in the 2013 Update set, We next saw him in 2016-18 Topps followed by an appearance in 2019 Topps Update as a White Sock. (Despite receiving a 2015 Topps Update All-Star card, he received no common in that year's base or Update set.)
CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps, Kansas City Royals
12/22/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2005 Topps #508 Derek Lowe, Dodgers
It's rare for someone to transition from full-time closer to full-time starter in one off-season, but Derek Lowe was one of the select few to do just that. Lowe reached MLB as a starter with Seattle, but was used almost exclusively out of the bullpen for most of his early Red Sox years.
During the 1999 season, incumbent CL Tom Gordon's elbow acted up; Tim Wakefield got most of the save ops for a time but was eventually needed in the rotation—enter Lowe, who closed out 15 games down the stretch to help Boston return to the postseason. Come 2000, with Gordon on the mend from UCL surgery, Lowe continued as bullpen stopper and nailed down a league-best 42 contests out of 47.
He was not nearly as effective in 2001, and though the Red Sox initially used newly-imported CL Ugueth Urbina to set up for Lowe, within two weeks manager Jimy Williams was fired and Urbina was closing full-time. The team made Lowe a starter for 2002 and he thrived yet again, winning 21 games and throwing a no-hitter!
Lowe still won 17 times in '03 despite his ERA going up nearly two runs, and 14 more times in '04 despite his ERA climbing to the mid-fives. Lowe saved his very best for last, winning the memorable 2004 ALCS clincher over the Yankees as well as the World Series clincher over St. Louis.
THIS CARD: Here, Lowe is a shiny new Dodger (gag), having inked a 4Y/$36M deal in January 2005—there's no way in the year 2005 anyone pays him that kind of dough without that redeeming postseason performance.
Lowe appears in Topps Card Of The Day for the second time; his 2004 Topps card was one of our earliest profiles back in July 2014.
What's that Lowe stands in front of, a giant hot cocoa mural?
(flip) 28 unearned runs is a lot.
47 pitchers, you say? Lets see: Dennis Eckersley, John Smoltz...Hoyt Wilhelm...that's all I got.
Instead of that redundant 2004 wins stat, Topps could have relayed Lowe's far-less ghastly 4.55 home ERA. Just sayin'.
AFTER THIS CARD: Despite being a Dodger for four years, Lowe managed to avoid direct hate from yours truly, even as I watched him win an average of 13.5 games with over 32 starts and 200 IP annually for the Blue. Following that strong run in LA, he joined the Braves on a 4Y/$60M deal to start in 2009.
During Lowe's Atlanta stint, more and more of his induced grounders began to find holes and he led the NL in 2011 losses (17). The Indians, convinced he still had something left, nabbed the 39-year-old for 2012 via trade.
Lowe started very strong (7-3, 3.06 entering June) but won only once more over the next two months as his ERA soared into the mid-fives. He was cut after 21 starts, finishing out '12 as a Yankee reliever. Nine games in early 2013 with Texas signaled the end of Lowe's long career, though he refused to utter the "R" word—saying only that he was "officially done playing the game."
Derek Lowe appeared annually in Topps 1999-2013.
CATEGORIES: 2005 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers
12/24/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps #332 Jose Reyes, Marlins
More Jose Reyes Topps Cards: 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2013 2014 2015 2015U 2016 2016U 2017 2018
In the fall of 2006, I wrote an end-of-season MLB blog in which I talked up Jose Reyes like the second coming of Rickey Henderson—which coming from me is very high praise, as Rickey was and is my all-time favorite player.
Reyes could do it all. He could blaze the basepaths and led the league in triples every year. He could hit for power. He could hit for average. And more than all of that, he was fun to watch, even after plays were over. Reyes helped lead the Mets back to the playoffs in 2006, a year he won the Silver Slugger and finished 7th in MVP voting—obviously, I was not the only one high on the young Mets shortstop.
In ensuing seasons, even as the Mets fell from playoff contention yet again, I remained high on Reyes, who when healthy continued to be a dazzling, All-Star (4x) player. Then, in the blink of an eye, Reyes lost all the admiration I had for him when, on 2011's final day, he asked to sit on his .337 average to claim the batting title as he entered free agency for the first time.
I never rooted for him again.
Here, as part of the Miami Marlins' spending spree that also landed Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, Carlos Zambrano and manager Ozzie Guillen, Reyes has joined the franchise on a 6Y/$106M deal. He led the team in multiple categories in 2012, and perhaps most importantly, missed only two games.
THIS CARD: We were not supposed to choose this card—2012 Topps was on selection hiatus due to two previous picks real close together last week. But by the time I realized this, Reyes' write up above was just about complete. 2012 Topps' hiatus resets.
There exists an alternate of this card with Reyes making a casual toss on both feet as opposed to this action throw off one foot.
Reyes' 2013 Topps card is numbered #331; this is the only instance ever I've seen one player's card numbers so close together in successive years.
(flip) Old Marlins colors on the back, new Marlins colors on the front.
Willie Harris was a utility guy who played with Reyes on the Mets in 2011.
As I said, folks, that league-leading average is tainted. Reyes bunt-singled to lead off the season finale, then asked out of the lineup. Across the way, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun went 0-for-4 to finish at .332, leaving Reyes as "champion".
AFTER THIS CARD: The Marlins' reinvention lasted one mediocre season, and Reyes was dispatched to Toronto via 12-player trade for 2013 (which he was not happy with.) No one knew it at the time, but the now-30-year-old Reyes' days as a star were over. He did post decent numbers as a Blue Jay, but when the opportunity to land slugging Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki presented itself in mid-2015, the Jays jumped, and sent Reyes west.
A domestic violence suspension cost Reyes the beginning of 2016; Colorado chose to cut him when the suspension was up, and Reyes landed back with the reigning NL Champion Mets. This time around, he was asked to man a number of positions; Reyes found time at 2B, 3B, LF and RF along with his natural SS in 2016-17. But he hit .189 in 110 games in 2018, and was not signed by any major league club that winter.
Jose Reyes appeared annually in Topps 2003-18; hes also got 2015-16 Update cards.
CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, Miami Marlins
12/26/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1996 Topps #219 Derek Jeter, Yankees Future Star
More Derek Jeter Topps Cards: 1993 1994 1995 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
After watching Derek Jeter play at a Hall-of-Fame level for 20 years, looking back it's tough to recall the days when he was just cutting his teeth in the big leagues. You know, the days before he was "The Captain". For Jeter, it always seemed he was a superstar from the day he was drafted, didn't it?
Obviously, that was not the case—like all but a handful of major leaguers, Jeter had to make his rounds in MiLB. Three years, in fact, before he reached Yankee Stadium. We catch up with Jeter at the tail end of that minor league service, as he was called up to the Bombers to replace injured vets Tony Fernandez (ribcage) and Pat Kelly (wrist) in May of 1995.
THIS CARD: What do you know, it's a randomly selected 1996 Topps card! Those have proven to be extremely rare for Topps Card Of The Day.
I do not have, and am not willing to pay for, access to the Beckett Price Guide. But I can tell you this card is selling at multiple places for triple digits online. Lucky for me, I got it in a $1.50 wax pack.
As you probably know, Future Star designations used to appear on standard Topps commons. Starting with the 1994 Topps set, however, they received their own subset. Topps hit on most (Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, etc.) but whiffed on a couple (Alan Benes, Karim Garcia). There were 10 in all.
Judging by the way Jeter is playing this ball, my guess is the wind got a hold of it there at Yankee Stadium.
(flip) That 0 steals in 123 games for 1995 Columbus can't be right (and according to baseball-reference.com, it isn't; he actually swiped 20).
Even as a 21-year-old noob, Jeter just looked like something special, didn't he?
Those 15 games with the '95 Yankees came across what amounted to three stints: 13 games in May/June, one on 9/4 and another on 9/26. I do not know precisely why young Jeter got such little run in September '95, but the Yankees were chasing the Wild Card and likely didn't want some rookie messing anything up.
AFTER THIS CARD: Let's see: 3,453 more hits, seven World Series trips, five World Series championships, 12 .300+ seasons, 14 All-Star nods, five Gold Gloves, and a period of lovin' from Mariah Carey. Jeter wrapped up his career #6 on the all-time hits list, #11 on the all-time runs list, and #7 on the all-time at-bats list. (He's also pretty high up there in strikeouts, but we won't talk about that.)
Let's not forget: not long after this card was released, Jeter went from riding the pine to commencing his Rookie-Of-The-Year 1996 season. He never won regular season MVP, though he did finish Top-7 five times; Jeter was both a World Series MVP and an All-Star MVP, however (both in 2000).
Today, as a co-owner, Jeter and his leadership team are running the Miami Marlins franchise into the ground. They even moved the home run statue, my favorite feature of Marlins Park!
Derek Jeter appeared annually in Topps 1993-2015 (1993 was a Draft Pick card, 1994 was a shared Prospects card, and 1995 was also a Future Star card.) Yes, he even got a sunset card.
CATEGORIES: 1996 Topps, New York Yankees, Future Stars
12/28/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Topps #155 Dante Bichette, Rockies
More Dante Bichette Topps Cards: 1989 1990 1991 1991T 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1999 2000 2000T 2001 2002
Long before Toronto SS Bo Bichette slugged .571 with 11 bombs in 2019, his papa Dante reigned as one of the best sluggers in the National League—perhaps all of baseball. Originally an Angels prospect in the late 1980's, Dante Bichette went to Milwaukee in 1991 straight up for Dave Parker (who was near the end but still, that sounds pretty neat if you're young Bichette.)
The Brewers gave their new outfielder plenty of run in 1991-92 but ultimately dealt him to the brand-new Rockies following the 1992 Expansion Draft. Colorado plugged Bichette in RF for 1993, and the 29-year-old took off, destroying his previous offensive career highs.
An All-Star in 1994, Bichette reached a new level in 1995. leading the NL in hits, HR, RBI and SLG while placing second in the NL MVP race. That was followed by a 30-30, All-Star 1996 campaign.
Here, Bichette has struggled to adjust to LF for the 1997 Rockies, and his offensive numbers—which many would have gladly taken—have dipped from his 1995-96 peak as he played on a left knee reconstructed in the winter of 1996.
THIS CARD: The noticeably leaner Bichette—see reverse—slugs away at Coors Field, where he batted .362 with 20 of his 26 home runs in 1997.
I can't even remember our last 1998 Topps random selection. None of the Dark Era (1996-2000) Topps sets come up very often in the Randomizer for some reason.
More from Bichette's 1997 season: despite the knee seeming to affect his power, Bichette batted at least .289 in every month. And his final home run of the year broke an 8th-inning, 9-9 tie against the Dodgers, leading to victory (hurrah!)
(flip) Down to 215 lbs. here, Bichette was listed at 235 lbs. on his 1997 Topps card which was evidently being generous.
I'd be smiling, too, if I were about to sign a 3Y/$21M extension, as Bichette did in August 1998.
It was—who else?—Tony Gwynn who tied Bichette in 1995 hits.
AFTER THIS CARD: Bichette returned to the All-Star Game in 1998 and enjoyed a 34-HR, 133-RBI 1999 season, but the Rockies sought to make changes for 2000—exit longtime Colorado sluggers Vinny Castilla and Bichette, the latter via trade to Cincinnati to replace FA Greg Vaughn.
Bichette lasted a few months in Cincinnati before being traded to the Red Sox; the 37-year-old, clearly not the same player away from Coors Field, put up a very ordinary 2001 season and faded away after its close. Bichette finished up with a .299 average and 274 lifetime home runs; he is still 4th all-time in Rockies hits, 6th in HR and 3rd in RBI.
Dante Bichette appeared annually in Topps 1989-2002; he's also got Traded cards for 1991 and 2000. Look for his son Bo to debut in 2020 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 1998 Topps, Colorado Rockies