Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, January 2015

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Topps Brady Clark
Topps Brady Clark

1/2/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2006 Topps #325 Brady Clark, Brewers

 

More Brady Clark Topps Cards: 2004 2005 2007

 

Of all men to play any position for any team regularly during the 25 years I've followed MLB, I may know the least about Brady Clark. I remember he was an outfielder. I remember he was white. That's it. I had no clue Clark was Milwaukee's regular CF in '05 until I purchased this set in the summer of 2006—his name only evokes thoughts of "journeyman utility outfielder." That label is hard to shed.

 

Clark, an undraftee from the University of San Diego, signed with the Reds and hit .325 with 11 HR and 31 steals in his first pro season (1997, for A Burlington) and continued to put up good numbers as he rose up the Reds' chain. By 2000, after slugging .511 with 79 RBI for AAA Louisville, 27-year-old Clark was finally in the majors. He'd spend the final four months of 2001 with the Reds as well; more than half his action came as a pinch-hitter/runner.

 

Clark's Brewers career started in 2003, and he started 155 games for them in 2003-04 covering each outfield spot. His 2005 salary grew to $1.1M, and he won the Brewers CF job left vacant by Scott Podsednik's departure for Chicago.

Clark didn't hit one of the postseason's most memorable homers ever or help his team end an 88-year championship drought as his predecessor did...but he played well, entering June over .340 before "slipping to" .306 (tied for 9th in the N.L.) Among NL players with 300 AB at the break, only three owned a higher average than Brady's .317. He also cracked six leadoff homers!

 

 

THIS CARD: God...2006 Topps seems to get uglier every year. Hope Clark doesn't trip over that sash featuring his name. (Those things always remind me of the San Antonio Spurs logo.) 

 

Clark was/is a big guy, with a good balance of speed and power—not unlike the Brewer CF who now wears #27 (the slightly more accomplished Carlos Gomez.)  Unable to determine if Clark wore #27 in homage to his MLB debut age.

 

(flip) Good for Brady; when people tell me I can't do something—dunk, manage money, hold my liquor—they're usually right. The blurb is too open-ended; it could suggest doubt over his baseball skillz, but it could also suggest doubt over his ability to juggle, tame lions, give birth, etc. Re-wording, or adding detail, would have gone a long way.

 

In reference to the toon, Clark also led the 2005 Brewers in hits and batting average; his 45 May hits set a Brewer record. Also in reference to the toon: somewhere, a man-sheep baseball league exists.

 

Sigh...another wasted stat box that COULD HAVE informed the collector of Clark's .372 OBP in 2005.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Clark was rewarded with a two-year, $7M deal in spring 2006, but stumbled out of the gate and lost playing time; he hit .375 in May and July but only .208 otherwise as injured ribs slowed him late.

Traded out of Milwaukee after the season, Clark would only bat 134 more times in the major leagues before quitting in early 2010 at 37. Success sure can be fleeting in the world of pro sports, can't it? At least he got paid.

 

Clark received one last Topps card, a 2007 Update in his shiny new Dodger uniform.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps, Milwaukee Brewers

 
Topps Len Dykstra
Topps Len Dykstra

1/6/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #635 Len Dykstra, Phillies

 

More Len Dykstra Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1995 1996 1997

 

Dykstra (pronounced Dike-struh) can best be summarized with an excerpt from Michael Lewis' famed book Moneyball, recounting a pregame exchange between Dykstra and teammate Billy Beane about the opposing starter:

 

DYKSTRA: "So who's that big dumbass out on the hill?"

BEANE: "You're kidding me, right? That's Steve Carlton, maybe the greatest left-hander in the history of the game!"

DYKSTRA: "...what's he got?"

BEANE: "Lenny, come on...he's got heat and also maybe the nastiest slider ever."

DYKSTRA (unimpressed): "S---, I'll stick (hit) him."

 

Physically, not much about Dykstra said "professional athlete" whatsoever; he more closely resembled a used car salesman. He was not particularly gifted nor was he ever mistaken for a student of the game—see above excerpt. Yet, because so few matched Dykstra's competitveness and confidence levels, he was able to reach—and excel in—the majors for a decade.

 

Dykstra cut his teeth as a New York Met, playing the popular Mookie Wilson out of the lineup in 1986 (after subbing for him during a DL stint.) He helped the Mets win the '86 championship in improbable fashion, but was traded away 2½ years later. The chaw-loving centerfielder nearly ran off with the 1990 N.L. batting title in his first full Phillies season!

 

After two trying years—one of which was literally wrecked by his own drunken driving—the 31-year-old Dykstra returned to the elite in 1993, enjoying one of the best individual seasons of the decade for N.L. Champion Philadelphia (which this card represents.)

 

 

THIS CARD: "Len" Dykstra. Is that Lenny's dad? Referring to Lenny Dykstra as Len is akin to calling the former New Edition lead singer Bob Brown.

Topps stubbornly refused to adopt the designation that literally everyone else had by, oh, 1987—even as they did so for peers such as "Benny" Santiago. Going further: Dykstra's reverse refers to him as Lenny on each of his final three Topps cards! Yet, the front always came up two letters short. 

 

Dykstra's main image evokes memories of a quote I once read in an old publication, made in response to the replacement of dirt at Veterans Stadium some 25 years ago: "They had to replace it. All the old dirt is on Lenny's uniform." Here, some of the new dirt has found its way onto Dykstra as he appears to hustle from second to third. 

 

(flip) Look at all that 1993 red—Dkykstra led the league in at-bats, runs, hits and walks (the latter still stands as the Phillies all-time record). The other two men to reach 300 times in that 35-year span: Tony Gwynn (303 in 1987) and Pete Rose (many times between 1969-79).

 

No NLer had scored that many runs in a season since ex-Phillie Chuck Klein in 1932 (152). Dykstra's 773 plate appearances set a major league record (since broken by Jimmy Rollins' 778 in 2007).

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Sadly, the man known as "Nails" only played 186 MLB games after his magical 1993 season. After an appendectomy took out a chunk of his 1994, spinal stenosis cut into his 1995 and eventually ended his career following 1996 surgery (a spring 1998 comeback attempt failed.) Dykstra appeared in every Topps set from 1987-97.

 

The list of Dykstra's post-baseball issues runs too long for this space; click here for a detailed Newsday account.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, Philadelphia Phillies

 
Topps Len Dykstra
Topps Len Dykstra

1/9/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps #655 Len Dykstra, Mets

 

More Len Dykstra Topps Cards: 1987 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997

 

 

Wow. Fresh on the heels of 1994 Topps #635 Len Dykstra, the Randomizer spits out...1988 Topps #655 Len Dykstra? Totally at random. I had zero to do with it. Clearly, the cosmos need a second helping of Nails.

 

Here, Dykstra is fresh off his second full season. One year removed from an unforgettable walk-off home run in Game 3 of the 1986 NLCS, Dykstra shared the CF job with Mookie Wilson in 1987, playing mostly against right-handers (against whom he hit .303 as opposed to .203 off southpaws.)

 

Dykstra did some smashing in 1987. On May 23, he smashed two homers for the first time in his career. 13 days later he smashed faces with Wilson as both tracked down a deep fly ball—not unlike the more famous Beltran/Cameron collision of 2005, but not nearly as debilitatling. Lenny played the next day.

 

 

THIS CARD: If Dykstra looks considerably leaner than in his later years, it's because he was. 1994 Topps lists him at 185; here he's 160. True, listings aren't always accurate—Cecil Fielder was listed below 300 in 1995. But the difference in Dykstra is discernable.

 

For some reason, the underlapping text in 1988 Topps doesn't irk me nearly as much as in 1990 Topps (which, if you're a regular visitor to our COTD page, I've made multiple stinks about.)

 

(flip) Between 1988 and 1994, Dykstra moved from Mississippi to Philly. Going out on a limb and guessing his trade to the Phillies played a role. He must have moved to Mississippi when the Mets sent him to Jackson...just a guess.

 

Look at Dykstra's 1983 season for A Lynchburg (the 96-43 Carolina League champions). 107 walks, 105 steals, 132 runs, 14 triples, a .358 average, and even 81 RBI! (Plus, his OBP was .472) If you pitched around him, he'd walk and steal one or two bases. If you pitched to him, he'd triple home two runs. He's possibly the Minor League Player of the Year if not for teammate Doc Gooden.

 

Pines was a mediocre Royals minor leaguer in the early 70's; he was only 32 himself when he signed Dykstra.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: As the Mets began to decline in the late 80's, management began to shake things up. Dykstra and RP Roger McDowell were traded to the Phils for Juan Samuel in mid-1989 (a total failure for New York.) Now playing full-time, Dykstra became a star in 1990, was derailed for two years by injuries, then re-emerged better than ever in 1993. See the below COTD entry for more.

 

Once again, the list of Dykstra's post-baseball issues runs too long for this space; click here for a detailed Newsday account.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps, Philadelphia Phillies

 
Topps Albert Belle
Topps Albert Belle

1/11/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #142 Albert Belle, Orioles

 

More Joey/Albert Belle Topps Cards: 1990 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

 

 

Is it possible the Randomizer is really some sort of cyberspace specter that lives on my server?

Wasn't it just yesterday that we posted a new Video Of The Day starring Albert Belle?

Wasn't it just three COTD selections ago we posted 1994 Topps Paul Carey, whose write-up specifically pointed out he was one of only three Orioles to wear #88—one being Albert Belle?

 

20,000 cards and an Orioles' Belle card is selected. Sorry...it's just mystifying. Almost as mystifying as two consecutive Lenny Dykstras.

 

Though he didn't know it at the time, Belle is near the end here in 2000 Topps. He'd opted out of a lucrative (record-setting, in fact) White Sox deal for an even more lucrative deal with Baltimore after the 1998 season. Of course, Belle made his name as a Cleveland Indian, where he was among the top five most feared hitters of the mid-1990's.

 

If he wasn't so...what's the word...difficult, and he added a couple more great years to his resume, Albert Belle would have been a Hall-of-Famer.

 

But Belle's transgressions generated as much publicity (or more) as his dominant bat. And believe me, Belle could hit with anybody. For someone with such a menacing...everything, his distinctive batting stance didn't conform—that is, until he started gearing up to swing. An ordinary ballplayer might appear awkward using Belle's stance. But it obviously worked for him.

 

 

THIS CARD: At last, the seal has been broken on 2000 Topps! The 2015 Topps set will have borders similar to these—not a moment too soon; the all-white got old two years ago. That might be Belle's old Indians team in the visiting dugout. As alluded to, only Belle, Rene Gonzales and Paul Carey ever wore #88 in a regular season game for Baltimore.

 

(flip) Look at that insane stretch from 1993-98...from a strictly baseball standpoint, it's tragic his career was cut so short. From a karma standpoint...yeah. At least the guy made a boatload of cash.

 

Let me try to guess the other 13 with 100-RBI seasons for three teams: Gary Sheffield, Jimmie Foxx, Andres Galarraga, Dick Allen, Jack Clark, Fred McGriff, Matt WIlliams, Jose Canseco, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Harold Baines, Dave Kingman and Don Baylor. 

 

Answers: I got Jackson, Sheffield, McGriff, Winfield, Williams, Allen...and that's it. Missed Joe Carter, Danny Tartabull, Rogers Hornsby, Lee May, Al Simmons, Rocky Colavito, Goose Goslin, Vic Wertz and Orlando Cepeda. Which equals 16 with Belle. But both Sheffield and Williams didn't qualify until the year this set represents—1999. There's your discrepancy.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Not much. Belle played an ordinary 2000 season, but could not shake hip pain during 2001 Spring Training. He was found to have degenerative osteoarthritis in the hip, and though his career ended immediately at 34, he officially remained an Oriole with a roster spot until his contract expired after the 2003 season so that insurance would cover his final two years of salary ($27M).

 

For the most part, Belle laid low for a decade until a surprisingly upbeat reunion with several members of his old Indians squad in Spring Training 2012. Click the link—it's worth it.

 

Albert Belle debuted in 1990 Topps as Joey—short for his middle name Jojuan—then was omitted in 1991 (just nine MLB games in '90). He returned in 1992 Topps as Albert and appeared continuously thru 2001.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, Baltimore Orioles

 
Topps Carmelo Castillo
Topps Carmelo Castillo

1/13/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Topps #266 Carmelo Castillo, Twins

 

More Carmen/Carmelo Castillo Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990

 

The only memory I have of Castillo is the confusion brought on by card manufacturers who alternately referred to him as "Carmelo" and "Carmen"; it took a couple years to confirm they were one and the same. To this day, I confuse him with ex-Padre Carmelo Martinez. At least I can differentiate him from Carmelo Anthony. 

 

Castillo spent parts of seven seasons with the Indians. In his "prime", 1984-87, he'd bat 200 or so times a year and contribute about 10 homers and 30 RBI while being used as a corner OF or DH by Pat Corrales. At the outset, most of Castillo's run came against LHP, but by 1987—when Corrales was fired—he faced righties nearly as often. 

 

Things shifted dramatically in 1988, when the Indians A) gave Mel Hall the full-time LF job he'd been sharing with Castillo, B) moved Joe Carter to CF full-time, C) gave RF to Cory Snyder full-time, and D) brought in veteran outfielders Ron Kittle and John Moses as free agents.

 

With Doc Edwards now in charge, Castillo's six years of Tribe service meant little—the now-30-year-old had to fight for one of two 1988 roster spots with a guy who was nothing like him (Moses) and a guy who was exactly like him but with a sexier resume (Kittle) for a role he'd never had (strictly a backup). Castillo and Kittle won the fight; Moses was cut.

 

That '88 season wrapped Castillo's Cleveland career; he was dealt to the Twins in late Spring Training 1989 (by GM Hank Peters, who died recently.) Though hopeful of more playing time than he ever got from the Indians, Castillo's role never really changed much.

 

 

THIS CARD: This is the second year Topps referred to the big guy as "Carmelo" after going with "Carmen" previously. 1991 Score also used "Carmelo", while Fleer continued with "Carmen". Donruss, which still used "Carmen" in 1990, didn't issue a 1991 Castillo with either name for some reason.

 

Castillo appears smaller than he was in this photo, which might have been shot at SkyDome—I can't be sure. He joined a long list of forgettable Twins to wear #22, including the man he was traded for: Keith Atherton. In the past 35 years, the only noteworthy Twin who primarily wore #22 was Brad Radke; see for yourself if you don't believe me. (And no, Carlos Gomez doesn't count.)

 

(flip) Good job with the position listing—in 1990, Melo played 35 games at DH and 21 in the outfield. Topps doesn't always sink that shot.

Castillo's first hit was an RBI single at home against Oakland's Steve McCatty. The five-RBI game was against Texas; Castillo smoked a grand slam off Joey McLaughlin, which followed an earlier RBI groundout.

 

His first—but not last—dual-dinger performance came against Seattle lefty Mark Langston in a game Cleveland still lost. Castillo similarly victimized fellow lefties Bill Krueger and Jamie Moyer in 1989.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: As the card shows, Castillo's numbers took a dive in 1990, and he was let go in early 1991 in favor of young Pedro Munoz.

Milwaukee signed Castillo and assigned him to AAA Denver, where he became their latest veteran outfielder attempting to resurrect an MLB career. John Cangelosi succeeded. Mickey Brantley—and Castillo—did not.

 

This was Carmelo Castillo's final Topps card. He'd appeared in every Topps set since 1985 (1986 was a Traded card).

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1991 Topps, Minnesota Twins

 
Topps Brian Schnieder George Arias
Topps Mark Sweeney Richie Sexson

1/20/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps Traded #122 Prospects

 

 

1995 Topps Traded is one of the most recent additions to my collection. I'm not sure why it took nearly 20 years—I was long bitter about the slimmer base set, and the Traded set threw in many veterans absent from Base. Which should have sparked a shopping trip. At least I obtained it in time to give you our second Prospect COTD selection.

 

This is one of two Prospect cards in the 165-card set. Cards like this are partially why Topps can no longer feature non-major leaguers in their sets—far too many prospects never reached MLB, resulting in cards showcasing a bunch of nobodies.

In this rare case, however, all four of these young men reached the majors, and three even had good careers! 

 

 

THIS CARD: None of these guys were higher than 5th-rounders. Sweeney made his MLB debut in '95, Arias in '96, and Sexson in '97, but Schneider didn't reach the majors until 2000. As good as his HS stats are, they're not earth-shattering. And none of Schneider's rookie numbers were impressive on either side of the ball—I'm wondering why he's even on this card. Perhaps it's a Pennsylvania thing? (He's from there, and Topps is based there.) 

 

Mark Sweeney looked 35 at age 25. And he still looks 35 today at 45.

 

(flip) Fielders? Guess that's an official position now. "With their 7th pick in the 1993 draft, the California Angels select George Arias, fielder, Arizona." A baseball novice might see this card and mistakenly believe the guys that play defense aren't the same ones on offense—like in football. Why not simply use "Prospects" as a blanket term for all youngsters? 

 

Mike Sweeney was actually a Royals catching prospect at the time, Topps. Oops.

 

Both Sweeney and Arias had rookie cards in 1994 Topps. 

 

Which stat surprises you more: Sexson with only 15 homers in 585 MiLB at-bats to that point, or Sexson with only 108 K in 585 MiLB at-bats to that point? (BTW, Columbus makes me think Yankees, not Indians.)

 

Is that Schneider himself in the rear image?

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Sweeney never played for the Angels but enjoyed a 14-year career as a top pinch-hitter for several teams—wrapped around nearly 800 minor-league games spread throughout those 14 years. Arias (briefly a teammate of Sweeney in San Diego) received a long 1996 audition at third for California in '96, but he didn't pass and was out of the game within three years.

 

Sexson enjoyed the best career, bashing 306 homers mostly for the Indians, Brewers and Mariners before losing his bat speed and vanishing from the game likethat. Schneider caught 13 seasons with the ExpoNats, Mets and Phillies. 

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps Traded, Prospects

 
Topps Alejandro De Aza
Topps Alejandro De Aza

1/24/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2013 Topps #583 Alejandro De Aza, White Sox

 

More Alejandro De Aza Topps Cards: 2007  2009  2012  2013  2014

 

 

If you watched the 2014 ALCS, you know De Aza from the Baltimore Orioles; he hit the infamous 70-foot bloop just over the mound that briefly tied Game 1.

 

Seven years prior, De Aza—a total nobody at the time—beat out several challengers for the Marlins' center field job out of Spring Training. Early in that '07 season, he proved himself worthy by hitting in each of the first eight games of the season before badly spraining his right ankle and missing four months.

 

Unbelievably, De Aza would then badly sprain the left ankle in 2008 Spring Training—and miss the whole year this time. Florida outrighted him after the season, and let him go altogether in October 2009. Enter the White Sox.

 

The Dominican native was a September call-up in 2010, and chosen to supplant the benched Alex Rios in mid-2011. In 2012 De Aza received another chance to start...and broke out.

 

 

THIS CARD: Most of the past few selections have strayed away from the vertical front/horizontal back so commonplace in COTD; this one is no different. Kind of complicates the formatting when this happens. 

 

2013 Topps has some of THE BEST horizontal cards ever produced by the company. De Aza's is ho-hum, but his teammate A.J. Pierzynski's card is almost elegant enough to make people like him. De Aza wears #30, also donned by notable Sox outfielders Tim Raines and Magglio Ordonez a generation ago.

 

(flip) To catch Rickey, the then-29-year-old outfielder would have had to average 100 steals annually until the age of 43. I suppose he could steal 100 bases at age 43...if they start counting advances on sacrifices as steals. Told you I'd enjoy mocking the Career Chase. It didn't belong on every last common.

 

Florida acquired De Aza via Rule V Draft from the Dodgers; they lost him to Chicago via waivers.

It's not really fair to call him THE White Sox surprise—not when converted middle reliever Chris Sale won 17 games, rookie Addison Reed notched 29 saves and Pierzynski almost out-homered his past three seasons combined. Maybe an em dash was omitted between "stellar" and "leadoff".

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: De Aza drilled a shocking 17 home runs in 2013; still, the White Sox acquired the younger, cheaper, better-suited-for-leadoff Adam Eaton in the off-season. De Aza, now 30, making $4.25M and playing left field, spent months on the trading block until finally being dealt to the Orioles in August 2014.

 

Alejandro De Aza appeared in 2007 Topps and 2009 Update before a three-year hiatus. He's been in every base set since 2012.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2013 Topps, Chicago White Sox

 
Topps Joe Mather
Topps Joe Mather

1/26/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps Update #25 Joe Mather, Cubs

 

More Joe Mather Topps Cards: 2009

 

 

Honk if you've ever uttered the following: "...and Joe Mather, as The Beav!" No? Uh...me neither.

 

In my leisure time, I frequent the website Sporcle.com. There are a zillion quiz games on this site, including about a million MLB-related. 

One such game involves naming each team's top 200 players of 1980-2010—by number of games played. The final entry for the St. Louis Cardinals? One Joe Mather (90). I'm not sure I'd remenber he'd ever existed otherwise.

 

Mather was a #3 pick by the Cardinals back in 2001, yet he didn't reach the majors until 2008—a rarity for one guy in one organization (most are granted minor league free agancy after six years and bolt). He spent six years in A ball, with mediocre-to-half-decent numbers.

 

Oddly, it was after finally being promoted to AA in '07 that Mather broke out with a 31-homer season—the final 13 for AAA Memphis. In May 2008, he reached the majors at last. But a wrist injury ended his '08 prematurely and subsequent surgery wiped out half of his '09.

 

Back up in 2010, Mather—an outfielder by trade—famously took the mound when the Mets and Cardinals played to an 18-inning scoreless tie! He allowed a run in the 19th—which the Cards answered! But he gave up another in the 10th which went unanswered.

 

 

THIS CARD:  Gee, I wonder where this pic was taken?

Topps of yesteryear never featured photos like this; many of their millenium images seem to be shot by either freelancers or other media photographers. In the 1990's, Topps' own photographers had very limited on-field access—especially during games—but maybe that has changed now that Topps is MLB's official card company.

 

Mather was off the radar much of 2011, hence no base card. He spent the first half with the Braves before joining Colorado, who never called him up. Now 30, Mather was with the Cubs start-to-finish in 2012 and started strong—a .292 April included a walk-off two-run single against St. Louis! But from then on, hits were a struggle. Mather finished at .209 in 103 games and was cut after the season.

 

(flip) As alluded to, that is a lot of minor league bus rides. Mather played in five different cities/levels of A-ball! That's got to be at least near a record. Let's also use this space to applaud Topps for writing out "Drafted". The "Drft" used on their older cards bugged me endlessly. ("JUST PRINT THE 'A'!")

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Not much. Mather failed to make Phillies and Reds rosters, getting in 52 Independent League games over 2013-14. Now 32, the well-traveled outfielder took a managerial position in the Diamondbacks system (Mather resides in Arizona) for 2015.

 

Joe Mather had one other Topps base/Update card: 2009.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps Traded, Chicago Cubs

 
Topps Ian Desmond
Topps Ian Desmond

1/29/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps #196 Ian Desmond, Nationals

 

 

More Ian Desmond Topps Cards: 2011 2012 2013 2014

 

As of this posting, Desmond is the only current National with a direct link to the Expos days—in 2004, he was selected #3 in Montreal's final draft. 

 

On some teams, a player like Desmond would be the face of the franchise. But on a club featuring Stephen Strasburg and his 100-mph fastball, Bryce Harper and his swag, Ryan Zimmerman and his decade of production, Jayson Werth and his contract, etc. Desmond isn't the first guy you think of when you think of the Washington Nationals. 

 

That relative obscurity is through no fault of his own; Desmond can do some of everything, and is capable of scalding hot offensive stretches (see his two-week early September 2012 stretch). Since 2010, he's been Washington's main man at shortstop, improving annually and making the 2012 All-Star team. He's a three-time 20-20 man and two-time Silver Slugger award winner.

Additionally, he's generally viewed as the Nationals team leader—no less than Zimmerman had this to say in 2014: “He’s gone from a very talented baseball player to becoming one of the better leaders we have on this team...I’ve known Desi for a long time, and I’m proud of the person he’s become, the player he’s become.”

 

Here, "Desi" has just popped the top on his MLB career, which began with three weeks remaining in the '09 season.

 

 

THIS CARD: Somewhere, Chad Cordero was smiling at Desmond's flat cap bill; that thing looks ironed. 

 

There's something symbolic about a Washington D.C. player wearing #76. (If you don't get the significance, you don't belong on this site and I can't help you.) Desmond must have donned those digits in Spring Training; he's only worn #6 and #20 during the regular season according to BaseballReference.com.

If that isn't a giveaway, the ballpark is—the straight edge dirt cutout extends into foul territory; no MLB parks with this feature come to mind. If I'm wrong, please enlighten me.

 

(flip) In his MLB debut, 10 days before his 24th birthday, Desmond took Joe Blanton deep—then ripped four hits the next night! The "since 1920" stems from MLB not officially tracking RBI until then.

Desmond displaced incumbent Christian Guzman that September and beat him for the SS job in Spring 2010.

 

Desmond has only played five MLB games at 2B and two in the outfield. His second OF appearance came 6/30/10—he pinch-hit in the 9th spot and Mike Morse pinch-hit in the following 1st spot for RF Roger Bernadina. Manager Jim Riggleman then put incoming reliever Doug Slaten in the 1st spot, defaulting Desmond to RF.

 

When Slaten was lifted, Desmond was flip-flopped with SS Alberto Gonzalez and finished the game there. It's unclear why this wasn't done from the get-go, but Desmond was in a defensive slump that was costing him starts at the time (he booted 34 balls that year) which may or may not have factored in.

 

This may be our first rookie card asterisk—they will be ranted about when a more rant-worthy card is selected.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Since late 2014 Desmond has: hit a solo HR for the lone scoring in Jordan Zimmermann's 9/28/14 no-hitter; created a stir by nearly missing a postseason game to attend his (third) child's birth, which would have left Washington short a man—a top man, no less—at a most crucial time; and been dogged by trade rumors as his final year before free agency approached and Washington added other veteran shortstops. That's all.

 

Ian Desmond has annually appeared in Topps since 2010.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps, Washington Nationals