Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, January 2022

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Topps Dan Gladden
Topps Danny Gladden

1/31/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #342 Dan Gladden, Tigers

More Dan/Danny Gladden Topps Cards: 1987 1987T 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1992T 1993

Gladden may be best remembered for scoring the winning run for Minnesota in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. He'd reached in the B10th via a hustle bloop double, advanced to third on Chuck Knoblauch's bunt, stood around through two IBB's, then raced home on Gene Larkin's walk-off single. For Gladden, it was his second title in five years—he was one of few to play for the 1991 AND 1987 World Champion Twins.

Originally, Gladden was a Giant, in the major leagues four years after going undrafted out of Cal State Fresno. Lacking much pop early on, Gladden made his name with speed and hustle and started almost 300 games in San Francisco's outfield 1984-86. He and a prospect were dealt to the Twins for three prospects in Spring Training 1987 (only one of the four prospects in the deal ever reached MLB: Bryan Hickerson, who went from Minnesota to S.F.)

The move paid off for Minnesota; Gladden held down LF for them 1987-91, usually in a platoon role. Here, he's just wrapped his second season with the Detroit Tigers, who signed Gladden for 2Y/$2.2M in December 1991 after Minnesota angered him with a reduced contract offer.

THIS CARD: Did the printer run out of ink? Gladden had been referred to as "Danny" from 1987 Topps on until this card; he'd been "Dan" on his 1985-86 Topps cards. Further mucking up things: as you can see, he's "Danny" on the reverse—his only Topps card with varying first names.

We see Gladden doing what he did best: motoring around the bases. It's a welcome image, because during his Minnesota days Gladden's front images were all pregame shots—nothing wrong with that, just not for five straight years, please.

Other notable Tigers to wear #32 over the years: uh...do Jamie Walker and Don Kelly count as notable? They at least held the number for several seasons each; SP/RP Michael Fulmer has worn #32 for Detroit since 2016.

(flip) Gladden only played 91 games in 1993 because of a torn quad suffered in early April; he was out just under two months.

It's strange Gladden, who spent so much of his career bereft of reliable power, joined that club of successive-day slammers. He victimized Oriole righties Ben McDonald and Anthony Telford as part of a 47-run explosion by Detroit over the final three games of their August 9-12 series—after the Tigers scored exactly once in the opener!

Gladden may have only hit .267 overall in 1993, but he was hotter than that in stretches. From 6/8 to 7/10 he hit .300 and slugged .480 with four homers in 100 AB. Then from 8/8 to 8/17 Gladden batted .367 and slugged .633!

AFTER THIS CARD: 36-year-old Gladden took his bat and glove to Japan for 1994; he hit .267, 15, 37 with just two steals for Yomiuri in what was his final professional season.

Dan/Danny Gladden appeared in 1985-94 Topps, as well as 1987 and 1992 Topps Traded.

CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, Detroit Tigers

 

More January 2022 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps Mike Hargrove
Topps Mike Hargrove

1/1/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #270 Mike Hargrove, Orioles

More Mike Hargrove Topps Cards: 1991T 1992 1993 2001 2002 2003 2005T 2006 2007

I would have loathed Mike Hargrove the player had I been old enough to witness his prime; the former Rangers/Indians 1B/DH was known as "The Human Rain Delay" for painfully dragging out the practice of entering the batters box to hit. I'm NO fan of prolonged hitting preparations (see this blog) and Hargrove's would have absolutely incensed me.

Luckily for all involved, I was only personal witness to Hargrove the manager—or should I say, Hargrove the perennial division champion manager. He was hired by Cleveland to succeed John McNamara in July 1991—coinciding with the Indians' new practice of locking up its young talent long-term.

By 1994, the team was a title contender, and Hargrove was extended through 1997. After guiding the Tribe to Game 7 of that year's World Series, he received another extension, this one through 2000.

But after the Indians fell in the 1999 ALDS, Hargrove was fired—though he quickly resurfaced as Baltimore's new skipper on a 3Y/$3M deal in November 1999. Despite Hargrove's addition, the 2000-02 Orioles tacked on three more fourth-place finishes to its existing streak of two.

Here, Hargrove has returned for a fourth year with Baltimore, having had his deal extended after the 2000 season. Roster-wise, there weren't many notable changes from the 2002 squad, but Hargrove managed to coax four more wins from the club while steering it through a very tough Spring.

THIS CARD: Hargrove was not quite as massive as this photo, and the silhouette, make him appear.

#30 has a respected place in Orioles history. SP Denny Martinez wore it for a decade, CL Gregg Olson took it over in the 90's, OF/DH Luke Scott had some good years with #30 in the post-Tejada era, and more recently SP Chris Tillman was Baltimore's ace with #30 on his back. More recently, the number was worn by ex-hitting coach Don Long.

More from Hargrove's 2003 season: one wonders how his 71-win Orioles might have fared had B.J. Surhoff (93 games) David Segui (67 games) and Melvin Mora (96 games) had been available more often. Jeff Conine was Hargrove's cleanup man for most of the first five months, and with all due respect to Conine, a lineup with him batting fourth wasn't about to compete with the 2003 Yankees, Red Sox or even Blue Jays.

No one believed the O's 16-13 start to be anything other than a mirage. And it was.

(flip) "Grover". Get it? Do you? HAHAHAHA. No, it is not because he wears a cape and fights injustice on Sesame Street.

Hargrove played for Texas 1974-78, twice leading the league in walks. He was traded to San Diego in a trade for the Afroed One, Oscar Gamble, but quickly swapped to Cleveland a few weeks into the 1979 season. As an Indian, Hargrove continued to display a keen eye and high average, but his already-limited power all but dried up. His playing career ended in 1985 at 36.

It took a while, but Hargrove finally upped those 996 wins to 1K on 4/13/2005. NO, he did not go 0-162 in 2004; read on below.

AFTER THIS CARD: Hargrove and Baltimore parted ways after the 2003 campaign, and he sat out 2004 before joining woeful Seattle on a 3Y/$??? deal through 2007. With the team increasing its win total in both 2005 and 2006, and having won seven straight games as of the end of June 2007, Hargrove's footing appeared to be fairly solid.
 

Which is why his resignation 7/1/2007 is among the most stunning of my pro sports fandom. Simply citing a loss of passion for the game, Hargrove walked away and never managed in MLB again, though he did return to the Indians as an advisor and part-time commentator a few years later.

Mike Hargrove appeared in Topps as a player 1975-86. Mike Hargrove appeared in Topps as a manager in 1991 Traded, 1992-93 Topps, 2001-04 Topps, 2005 Traded and 2006-07 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, Baltimore Orioles

 
Topps Joe Crede
Topps Joe Crede

1/2/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2005 Topps #235 Joe Crede, White Sox

More Joe Crede Topps Cards: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2006 2007 2008 2009 2009U

Crede's arrival in Chicago was more highly anticipated than the 2016 election, the COVID vaccine, Ross and Rachel's reunion and Prince George's birth put together. And with good reason—after Robin Ventura left as a free agent after the 1998 season, Greg Norton and Herb Perry received the bulk of playing time at 3B for the next three years. 

Greg Norton and Herb Perry were solid MLB role players, but not guys you'd want to watch play every day.

Crede, a 1996 #5 pick out of high school, finally got an extended look with the Sox in 2002. One year later, he got the keys to 3B and did not drop them down a grate. Here, however, Crede has endured a bit of a down 2004 campaign—his average dropped 22 points from 2003 as his K rate noticeably rose. Crede continued to supply a good glove, however.

THIS CARD: Crede with a good, balanced swing. Though 2004 was a bit of a disappointing year for the youngster, he still supplied 21 bombs—one of six White Sox to crack 20 in 2004. Crede batted 7th or 8th for most of April-July, but found himself batting 9th for much of August-September.

The partially-obscured uniform number is #24, also worn by quite a few good-to-very-good White Sox such as SP Floyd Bannister in the 1980's, OF Mike Cameron in the 1990's, and OF Dayan Viciedo in the 2010's. Catcher Yasmani Grandal has had #24 since 2020.

This is the second Crede common we've presented in COTD; his 2004 Topps card was randomly selected in August 2015.

(flip) Warmup jacket AND batting gloves is not a common combination. It does get windy in Chicago, though.

Detroit RP Steve Sparks served up the 5/25 walk-off. 
Detroit SP Jason Johnson served up the 7/24 double.

Detroit RP Ugueth Urbina served up the 7/24 walk-off.

In short, if Crede ever found his car egged after a 2004 game, chances are the Detroit Tigers bullpen was responsible.

As you see, Crede only batted .239 in 2004, but he did get that up to .267 in his final 40 games. Plus, Crede hit .329 in June even as his team struggled to a 12-13 record (after starting 29-20).

AFTER THIS CARD: Crede helped Chicago win the 2005 World Series, then exploded for 30 HR, 94 RBI and a Silver Slugger award in 2006. Crede was also named to the 2008 AL All-Star team.
But his back problems limited him to 144 combined games in 2007-08, after which Chicago decided to cut ties and go with former #1 pick Josh Fields at third base.

 

Crede hooked up with Minnesota for 2009, but was hampered by several aches and pains. In fact, he started just once after 8/22 due to back issues, and in that start he struck out four times. Crede spent 2010 out of the game, and retired after failing to win a spot with the 2011 Rockies in the Spring.

 

Joe Crede appeared annually in Topps 2000-09, with 2000-01 being shared Prospects cards. He appears as a Twin in 2009 Topps Updates & Highlights.

CATEGORIES: 2005 Topps, Chicago White Sox

 
Topps Brad Brach
Topps Brad Brach

1/3/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps Update #358 Brad Brach, Orioles

More Brad Brach Topps Cards: 2012 2016U 2017

Reliever Brad Brach hasn't had steady grip on an MLB roster spot for a few seasons now, but for a time in the mid-late 10's, he was one of THE finer late-inning guys in the game. Originally a #42 pick by the Padres, after the '13 season San Diego did what it does best—dealt a talented player with a bright future in exchange for, well, nothing (a failed prospect not even worth naming). 

Now with Baltimore, Brach's role grew; he helped the 2014 Orioles win the AL East, then made the All-Star team for a 2016 Orioles squad that lost the Wild-Card game in painful fashion (to Toronto). Here, the 31-year-old has wrapped his fourth season in Baltimore, one in which he was elevated to closer for most of the first four months while incumbent Zack Britton recovered from a forearm injury.

THIS CARD: According to GettyImages, we're seeing Brach following through against the White Sox 5/7/2017. The O's won that day, with Brach getting the final two outs for his seventh save.

For the record, it's pronounced "Brock", not unlike the candy.

Among Orioles, other notable #35's include four-time 20-game winner Mike Cuellar in the 1970's, Hall-of-Famer Mike Mussina in the 1990's, and, uh, 6'7" Daniel Cabrera in the 00's. Between the former two, NOBODY should still be wearing #35 in Baltimore but there P Adam Plutko was with it in 2021...

(flip) To any newer collectors, Topps didn't screw up in the blurb; Zack Britton used to spell it as "Zach".

Brach's Twitter account, if he ever had one, is no longer active. 

Relief wins must always be taken with a grain of salt. How many of them were the result of Brach's own blown saves? I wasn't going to look it up at first, but now I will...

...WOW. Only two of Brach's 26 wins from 2014-17 followed his own blown save. I now discard you, grain of salt. Brach was legit.

AFTER THIS CARD: In 2018, as the blurb indicated, Brach again got save ops in place of the unavailable Britton—but he was FAR less effective this time around. Still, Atlanta traded for him at the Deadline and he turned things around as a setup man.

Since then, Brach has moved through four organizations with limited success, largely due to his abrupt loss of reliable command. From 2019-21 Brach walked 63 in 96 innings, contributing to an unsightly 5.77 combined ERA for the Cubs, Mets and Reds (he went to camp with the 2021 Royals). Now 35, we'll see if Brach gets an opportunity to pitch in 2022.

Brad Brach has appeared in 2012 Topps, 2016 Update, 2017 Topps and 2018 Update.

CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps Update, Baltimore Orioles

 
Topps Jim Corsi
Topps Jim Corsi

1/4/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #623 Jim Corsi, Athletics

More Jim Corsi Topps Cards: 1989 1993

Reliever Jim Corsi arrived in Oakland just as they rose into an American League power—good timing! 

 

The big fella's journey to MLB began as a #25 pick of the 1982 Yankees and took him through the Boston organization in the mid-1980's as well. Unfortunately, the two storied franchises released Corsi three times in total before he landed in the majors with the 1988 A's.

Here, Corsi has just spent the majority of the '89 season with the A's, though he was used less and less frequently as the season wore on. Working largely in long relief, nearly half of Corsi's appearances stretched across multiple innings, and his 1.88 ERA topped everyone on the staff except for the legendary Dennis Eckersley (1.56).

THIS CARD: TSR presents this specially-selected card in memory of Corsi, who passed away 1/4/2022 from cancer, age 59. Though his career spanned 12 seasons, Corsi only had three Topps cards—since this one represents the year Corsi became a World Champion, it was a simple choice.

I built my 1990 Topps set exclusively through packs, and Corsi was either the last or the next-to-last Athletic I was able to acquire. So I always remembered Corsi well after he left the Bay Area—I didn't exactly root for him, but I was oddly pleased when he re-emerged in MLB with the Red Sox after fading in the early 1990's. You must understand, I was young and weird in the 1990's.

In team history, #41 has only been worn by three even kind-of-notable A's: SP Storm Davis in the late 1980's, RP Alan Embree in the late 2000's, and pitching coach Curt Young in the 2010's. Corsi wore #41 in 323 of his 368 career major league games (with five teams).

(flip) Corsi "Did Not Play" in 1984 due to a serious elbow injury, as reported by RIPBaseball.com. I'm not sure I would have unearthed that fact had Corsi not passed away; the only other reliable report I found (after an hour of online digging) merely said his arm "blew out" in 1984.

Corsi is listed at 210 on this card. Which I might believe if he didn't look smaller on his 1998 Pacific card, which listed him at 220.

Those 22 appearances in 1989? They were all made from 5/28 through 10/1. I couldn't confirm whether or not Corsi spent that entire time on the A's 25-man roster, but from a boredom standpoint, I sure HOPE he got demoted a couple of times.

AFTER THIS CARD: Limited to five MiLB appearances in 1990 (triceps...thanks again, RIPBaseball.com), Corsi resurfaced with the 1991 Astros (3.71 in 47 games). He enjoyed another fine year for the 1992 A's (1.43 in 32 games) but was allowed to get away again, this time to the Marlins in the 1992 Expansion Draft. But Corsi missed early 1993 with an inflamed rotator cuff, didn't impress upon recovering, and was out of MLB in 1994.

Corsi rejoined those familiar Athletics for 94 games 1995-96, though he battled minor aches and triggered a brawl that ranked 15th all-time according to The Sporting News. The veteran reliever hooked up with his native area Red Sox for 1997 and was excellent over 111 games 1997-98 before slumping and being released in June 1999. Corsi finished that season with Baltimore before his career ended at 38.

All in all, a 3.25 ERA in 368 games during The Steroid Era is nothing to sneeze at. Corsi was a HIGHLY underrated performer, but now you know the truth. 

Said Eckersley, Corsi's friend and teammate in Oakland and Boston: 

"The big thing that stands out with Jim is he’s not just your friend; he had like 24 other friends on the team, and not too many guys have that. Jim was as friendly as anything to everybody. Everybody had a relationship with him." Rest in peace, big fella.

Jim Corsi appeared in 1989, 1990 and 1993 Topps. If you want him on a Red Sox card, turn to 1998 Pacific.

CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, Oakland Athletics, Now Deceased

 
Topps Luis Severino
Topps Luis Severino

1/5/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2017 Topps #544 Luis Severino, Yankees

More Luis Severino Topps Cards: 2016 2018 2019 2020 2020U 2021

From 2017-18, there weren't many better hurlers in the AL than Luis Severino of the Yankees. He went 33-14 across 63 starts for Yankee teams that reached the Postseason both years. Then obstacles struck...more on that below.

Here, Severino is fresh off a 2016 season that, after his very impressive rookie year of 2015, disappointed in many ways. He opened the year in New York's rotation but was pulled after seven starts with a 7.46 ERA. Severino only made five MLB appearances from mid-May until September, when he served as a long man for manager Joe Girardi.

THIS CARD: If Severino looks like a high school kid here, it's because he was all of 22 during the 2016 season. These days, the majority of younger players actually look their age—unlike the 1990's, when 22-year-old major leaguers often looked 35. (That worked out well for certain FOX actors, it should be noted.)

According to GettyImages.com, we're watching "Sev" in action against the Tigers in a Spring Training outing 3/2/2016. New York outlasted Detroit 10-9.

More from Severino's 2016 season: it wasn't an absolute disaster, as he struck out nine Red Sox in 6.2 innings on 5/8. He picked up his first win of the year 8/3, with 4.1 innings of relief against the Mets. And Severino went 2-0, 2.29 in 10 September outings.

(flip) Both of those social media profiles are still active, though Severino doesn't tweet a whole lot, it appears. Scroll down his IG page far enough and you'll eventually find him wearing a shirt!

"Last season he was more effective in relief" that's one way to put it, Topps. Severino went completely winless as a starter in 2016, but has made up for it since.

Yes, Topps was doing the whole abbreviated statline thing in their 2017-18 sets. But there was room to include Severino's encouraging 2015 Yankee stats, especially in the wake of such a down 2016. And especially if the alternative is three innings at Tampa.

AFTER THIS CARD: We told you about Severino's ascension to the AL's elite in 2017-18, but as for that 2019 season...

Severino, who was extended in February 2019 for 4Y/$40M, hit the IL a month later with rotator cuff inflammation—and stayed there until making three closely-monitored late September starts. In February 2020, Severino underwent UCL surgery and did not return to the mound until late September 2021; the 27-year-old made four scoreless RA and also threw in the AL Wild Card Game.

Severino looked good in his return and is still plenty capable of returning to his 2017-18 levels. He's set for free agency or a $15M team option after 2022, so there's certainly incentive as well.

Luis Severino has appeared in 2016-21 Topps; he's also got a redundant 2020 Update card as well.

CATEGORIES: 2017 Topps, New York Yankees

 
Topps Ryan Franklin
Topps Ryan Franklin

1/6/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps Update #187 Ryan Franklin, All-Star

More Ryan Franklin All-Star Topps Cards: n/a

In 2005, if you had to pick any active major league pitcher who'd be named an All-Star closer in 2009, Ryan Franklin probably would have placed 323rd out of 360 pitchers. And he only places that high because you hadn't heard of 32 of the remaining 37 dudes.

 

Okay, enough hypothetical numbers.

 

Franklin had been a mediocre starter with the 2005 Mariners, so much so that they didn't bother re-signing him for 2006 despite uncertainty in their rotation behind ancient Jamie Moyer and teenaged Felix Hernandez. Franklin wound up working middle relief for the Phillies and Reds in '06, and not particularly effectively.

Fast-forward to 2008. With CL Jason Isringhausen battling physical problems, the Cardinals called upon Franklin—who'd been effective as a setup man for them in '07—to take over as closer. When Isringhausen departed after '08, Franklin continued nailing down 9th innings better than just about anybody else in the NL!

THIS CARD: Yes, that is the Arch in the ASG logo; Franklin got to hurl in front of his home fans. (No, not the Willie Beamen type of hurl. We meant "throw".)

This was far and away Franklin's only career All-Star berth. He began his MLB career as a so-so middle man, then went 23-44 as a full-time starter, then converted back to so-so middle man. Those type of dudes don't make All-Star rosters. They barely make MLB rosters. But the 2000's Cardinals (specifically pitching coach Dave Duncan) had a long history of doubling the effectiveness of guys like Franklin.

(flip) Tim Lincecum of my Giants pitched the NL's first two innings before giving way to Franklin.

Franklin's 21 first-half saves tied Francisco Cordero (CIN) for fifth in the NL; Heath Bell (SD) Francisco Rodriguez (NYM) and Brian Wilson (SF) all had 23 saves, and Huston Street (COL) had 22.

That 0.79 first-half ERA led the NL (30 IP minimum) by a wide margin. It grew to 3.33 in the second half, as you might expect from a 36-year-old doing his first ever full-season closing.

AFTER THIS CARD: As mentioned, Franklin never returned to the Classic. He converted 27-of-29 saves for the 2010 Cardinals, but fell apart in early 2011 and was cut in June—four months before his ex-teammates defeated Texas in the World Series. 

In early 2012, Franklin was named Special Assistant to GM John Mozeliak; I can't tell you how long he lasted in the role. This is Ryan Franklin's lone All-Star Topps card.

CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps Update, All-Stars

 
Nagy_03ToppsFront.jpg
Nagy_03ToppsBack.jpg

1/7/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #376 Charles Nagy, Padres

More Charles Nagy Topps Cards: 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2001 2002 

No known relation to embattled NFL coach Matt Nagy. And even if there was  a relation, I'm not sure Charles would acknowledge it anywhere in Illinois.

Here, the veteran SP Nagy has departed the Cleveland Indians after parts of 13 seasons, many of them damn good. Having battled numerous injuries from 2000-02, Nagy was not offered a new contract for 2003 by Cleveland, but the San Diego Padres took a flier on the 35-year-old. IF nothing else, the team hoped he could influence the youngsters in their rotation.

THIS CARD: It's been many moons since we had a classic STUN (Spring Training New Uniform) photo, mostly because Topps doesn't utilize them anymore except when circumstances dictated it in 2020. Here's how this photo sesh went down:

PHOTOGRAPHER: Mr. Nagy, we're gonna take two photos of you.

NAGY: Okay.

PHOTOGRAPHER: In the first one, we want you to look like a beautiful gal just called your name.

NAGY: No problem.

PHOTOGRAPHER: And in the second one, we want you to look like WE just called YOU a beautiful gal.
NAGY: I can do that.

Nagy appears in Topps COTD for the third time; we presented his 1997 Topps card as a special 50th birthday selection in May 1997, and we presented his 1991 Topps card back in February 2019.

More from Nagy's 2002 season: he opened the year as a long reliever, was placed on the DL  in June (elbow), then moved into the rotation for about a month after the All-Star break—with mixed results. From 8/11 through the end of the '02 season, Nagy made three RA and one ugly start.

(flip) Who the heck is "Charlie"? I didn't realize Topps was so tight with Mr. Nagy.

Today, Nagy's K total ranks eighth in franchise history. CC Sabathia (7th) Carlos Carrasco (4th) and Corey Kluber (3rd) have passed him since he left Cleveland. And had he not been, well, himself, Trevor Bauer would have, too.

Nagy's lone win of 2002 was the final one of his MLB career. In his defeat of the Devil Rays 8/6, he went seven innings, threw just 76 pitches, and allowed six hits and two runs. Nevermind that his fastball probably maxed out at 62—Nagy got the job done.

AFTER THIS CARD: Nagy​ didn't make the Padres roster out of Spring Training, but was called up in mid-May to make five relief outings. He was sent back down in early June and soon released altogether, ending his playing career at 36.

Not done with the Indians, Nagy coached Cleveland's AAA pitchers in 2009-10 and was a Special Assistant for the club in 2015. He also has been a MLB pitching coach for the 2011-13 Diamondbacks and the 2016-18 Angels; I wasn't able to nail down his current endeavors.

 

Charles Nagy appeared annually in Topps 1991-2003.

CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, San Diego Padres

 
Topps Sid Fernandez
Topps Sid Fernandez

1/9/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps Traded #28 Sid Fernandez, Orioles

More Sid Fernandez Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1997

The burly Hawaiian Sid Fernandez was acquired by the Mets in a December 1983 under-the-radar swap with the Dodgers. New York easily won the deal, as Fernandez went on to shine for the Mets for most of the next decade—helping them win the 1986 World Series, in fact.

From 1986-89, Fernandez went 54-27, 3.26 and made two All-Star teams. Still, he faced regular criticism for his conditioning, conditioning which never really improved during his career. In 1990 he fell to 9-14 despite a 3.46 ERA, and his 1991 season was ruined by a broken arm in Spring Training and August knee problems that required surgery.

Fernandez bounced back with a great 1992 season; his 14-11 record reflected hard luck as he continued to be one of the league's toughest pitchers to hit. Here, the 31-year-old has departed Flushing after 10 seasons, signing a 3Y/$9M deal (plus incentives) with the Orioles after injuries negatively impacted his 1993 season.

THIS CARD: Fernandez did sport the 'stache at times during his career, but I never got used to it. Thick facial hair can often make a dude look more intimidating, but it just made Fernandez look more like a coach.

After a disastrous start to his Topps career, from a redundancy standpoint, anyway (his 1985 and 1986 Topps front images were practically identical), the company mixed Fernandez's front images well. He's got action shots, posed shots, shots before, during and after his windup, and one horizontal shot. Fernandez's 1990 front image matched 1985 and 1986, however. But I guess that was bound to happen for someone who lasted as long as he did.

More on Fernandez the new Oriole: he had also been pursued by the Rangers and Indians, but chose Baltimore. His deal, which included a 1997 club option, came on the same day star free agent 1B Will Clark rejected the Orioles' contract offer, setting the stage for (fellow free agent 1B) Rafael Palmeiro's addition. Thank you, Baltimore Sun archives.

(flip) The Florida State League, now defunct, was Class A. Fernandez's no-no's, plus a 21-strikeout performance, got him promoted directly to AAA at mid-season.

As you can see, Fernandez filled his uniform out and then some, but I think this photo adds on about 15-20 pounds.

As you can also see (in the stats), Fernandez missed about half of 1993. He suffered a right knee cartilage tear 4/30, underwent surgery, and didn't return until 7/30. He pitched well, but wins were hard to come by on a troubled 1993 Mets team.

AFTER THIS CARD: Fernandez's Orioles tenure was an absolute disaster. His 1994 season debut was delayed two weeks by shoulder bursitis and he also missed time with a strained ribcage muscle. During the 19 starts he did make, Fernandez allowed 27 homers in 115 innings! 1995 was no better and the Orioles cut ties mid-season.

Still only 32, the Phillies took a flier on their former rival, and he went 9-7, 3.38 across 22 starts for them 1995-96—even starting on Opening Day 1996! Sadly, more injury woes surfaced—this time to his elbow—and Fernandez's '96 season ended in June. He made one start for the 1997 Astros, underwent elbow surgery that May, then retired that August at 34.

Fernandez made one start for AAA Columbus (Yankees) in 2001, but to the surprise of few, injured himself and soon terminated his comeback.

Sid Fernandez appeared annually in Topps 1985-97, except 1996. He's also got this 1994 Traded card.

CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps Traded, Baltimore Orioles

 
Topps Dustin May
Topps Dustin May

1/10/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2021 Topps #355 Dustin May, Dodgers

More Dustin May Topps Cards: 2020

As you know if you've spent more than 30 seconds on this site, I'm a die-hard Giants fan of 30+ years.

When the 2021 Dodgers eliminated my Giants in the NLDS this past October, I was—to put it mildly—rather upset. I had to turn the TV off immediately, because seeing Los Angeles celebrate on the Oracle Park field would have sent me over the edge.

I tell you this because I'm still not entirely over what happened that dark day, and selecting a 2021 Dodger for this feature could have triggered me. But Dustin May, having undergone elbow surgery in May, was not on the NLDS roster and thus played no direct role in eliminating my Giants. 

Of course, if that 1B umpire ends up writing a book, and reveals he called Wilmer Flores out because "Dustin May was screaming for me to ring him up", all bets are off.

THIS CARD: Are we profiling May or NFL superstar George Kittle? During the regular season, #85 has been worn by exactly zero other Dodgers ever, and only 11 other major leaguers ever.

May needs to show up one Spring Training with that poofy red hair dyed Dodger Blue. The notoriety will be worth the Marge Simpson jokes.

More from May's 2020 season: he was in LA's rotation most of the year, though two of his final three appearances came out of the bullpen after he was forced from his 9/10 start by a B1st liner off his foot. On 8/4 at San Diego, May struck out a season-high eight for his first win of 2020.

(flip) May got the Opening Day nod with Dodgers aces Clayton Kershaw (back) and Walker Buehler (babied) unavailable.

Fernando Valenzuela started Game 5 of the 1981 NLDS—which was tied 2-2—against Montreal when he was 13 days short of 21. May was tasked with holding down the Braves in Game 5 of the 2020 NLCS with the Dodgers down in the series 3-1 (though he wasn't likely to be used as a traditional starter).

Do not be fooled by the relatively low K/9 ratio seen in the stats—May reaches the high-90's with little effort, complementing it with a ridiculous two-seam sinker, a hard, tight curve and a mid-90's cutter. He was on his way to a 200-K season in 2021 before getting hurt.

AFTER THIS CARD: May opened 2021 as the Dodgers' fifth starter and was off to a superb start when he blew out his arm on a pitch to Milwaukee's Bily McKinney 5/1. The ensuing UCL surgery will likely keep him out until after the 2022 All-Star break. 

Dustin May and all his glorious hair have appeared in 2020-21 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2021 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers

 
Topps Tyler Skaggs
Topps Tyler Skaggs

1/11/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2014 Topps Update #29 Tyler Skaggs, Angels

More Tyler Skaggs Topps Cards: 2013 2014 2015 2016 2018U 2019

Here, Skaggs, the capable-but-health-challenged Angels lefty who passed away in July 2019, has just arrived in Anaheim. The ex-Diamondbacks prospect swapped uniforms after a December 2013 trade that we'll detail below.

THIS CARD: Just when I thought I was (at long last) able to tell 2013 Topps from 2014 Topps instantly, I pull this card and realize it might NEVER happen. Didn't help that in my personal life, the years 2013 and 2014 were pretty similar, too.

Skaggs with the leg cocked, about to deliver his low-to-mid-90's fastball, big-but-tight curve, or effective changeup. He had a steady, easy delivery that probably added a couple MPH to his heat.

More from Skaggs' early 2014 season: he opened in the Angels' rotation and fired eight sparkling innings in his first start. In fact, Skaggs completed seven or more innings in four of his five April starts—and went six innings in the other! Man, why did Mike Scioscia have to step down...

(flip) Perhaps with the sale of Topps to Fanatics, somehow the company will find a way to use "Los Angeles" on Angels cards even though the Angels don't really use it themselves. 

For those of you math-challenged, Skaggs debuted at 21 years, 40 days. Dylan Bundy of Baltimore eventually passed Skaggs up by 16 months, however.

That Trade With Diamondbacks sent slugging OF Mark Trumbo to Arizona, while OF Adam Eaton went from Arizona to the White Sox and SP Hector Santiago went from the White Sox to the Angels. Three days later, a pair of Players To Be Named Later also changed hands; neither did anything in MLB.

AFTER THIS CARD: Skaggs underwent UCL surgery in August 2014 and was out until July 2016; he made 10 hit-or-miss starts to close that season. Still, Skaggs showed enough to open 2017 in the Halos rotation—he went 2-6, 4.55 but was limited to 16 starts by an oblique strain. 

In 2018, Skaggs was 8-6, 2.62 through 7/25 (19 starts), but then he strained his groin, missed six weeks and was nowhere close to the same upon returning. He was 7-7, 4.29 in 2019 (15 starts) before his tragic death. You may know the Angels threw a combined no-hitter against Seattle in their first game without Skaggs.

Here's a terrific MLB.com Cut 4 piece covering said no-hitter, with plenty of trivia thrown in.

Tyler Skaggs appeared annually in Topps 2013-19, except 2018. He's also got 2014 and 2018 Update cards.

CATEGORIES: 2014 Topps Update, Los Angeles Angels

 
Topps Mike Minor
Topps Mike Minor

1/13/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2020 Topps  #684 Mike Minor, Rangers

More Mike Minor Topps Cards: 2010U 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2018 2019 2021 2021U

Let me get one thing out of the way: Mike Minor is a very good pitcher and has been for most of a decade now.

Let me also state this fact: no more than two years after he finishes playing, no one outside of pro baseball will remember Mike Minor ever played.

While Minor has made an All-star team (2019), he didn't actually play. He's never had what anyone would call a GREAT statistical season, has played on mostly ordinary ball clubs and doesn't do anything on the field that would catch anyone's eye (i.e. weird motion, 100-MPH fastball, wild hair, tattoos).

Minor just goes out every five days and more often than not, delivers 5-6 quality innings for whatever team he's currently pitching for.

Here, Minor has just finished up what is probably his best major league season to date. The 31-year-old, in his second season with the Texas Rangers, set career highs in wins, innings and K while being named to his first ever All-Star team!

THIS CARD: Minor visits COTD for the second time; we profiled his 2014 Topps card back in February 2017.

Every one of Minor's 11 Topps/Update front images depict him during his windup, yet the images manage to avoid redundancy. Still, I wouldn't mind seeing Minor laying down a bunt or chillaxing in the dugout one of these years.

More from Minor's 2019 season: he started on Opening Day for Texas, got knocked around a bit, then was brilliant into the All-Star break (8-3, 2.16 from 4/3 through 7/2). In his final start of '19, Minor allowed 10 hits and five earned runs—but was allowed to go 8.2 innings and 126 pitches by manager Chris Woodward, since Texas relievers had thrown 14.1 innings the previous two games.
Jose LeClerc got the final out of Minor's 14th victory.

(flip) I'm fascinated by Minor the 2017 Royals middle reliever. Many starting pitchers begin or end their careers in the bullpen, but almost none pitch a full season in relief sandwiched by years and years of starting. Of course, few dudes miss two full MLB seasons with arm issues as Minor did 2015-16 (he did get some MiLB run during that period).

That 2019 shutout represented one of two CG Minor notched that year. Since Topps no longer lists that stat, I'll tell you Minor only had one other CG in his career to that point (2013).

Minor earned seven AL Cy Young points, second among lefties to Boston's Eduardo Rodriguez (8). Lynn picked up 18 points.

AFTER THIS CARD: 2020 represented the final year of Minor's 3Y/$28M deal with Texas; he was traded to the A's at the Deadline that year and finished 1-6, 5.56 in 11 starts. Oakland used him out of the bullpen that Postseason.

In December 2020, Minor signed a 2Y/$18M deal to return to Kansas City, this time as a starter. He led the 2021 Royals in starts (28) innings (158.2) and K (149), but was just 8-12, 5.05 overall. Minor did post a 3.78 ERA in his final nine starts, something to build on for 2022.

Mike Minor appeared annually in 2011-15 Topps, went on injury hiatus from MLB, then returned for 2018-21 Topps. He's also got 2010 and 2021 Update cards.

CATEGORIES: 2020 Topps, Texas Rangers

 
Topps John Smoltz
Topps John Smoltz

1/14/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps  #355 John Smoltz, Red Sox

More John Smoltz Topps Cards: 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2010

Put down the phone.

No need to call 911.

You are not having a stroke.

John Smoltz IS wearing a Red Sox uniform.

And it is not Halloween.

Picturing the Hall-of-Fame SP Smoltz in a uniform other than Atlanta's, which he wore for 21 seasons, is difficult. But it did happen during the 2008-09 off-season, when the Braves' contract offer to the 41-year-old free agent didn't approach the 1Y/$5.5M offer posed by Boston. (Apparently, according to Smoltz, the Braves' offer came to 1Y/$10M only if unreachable incentives were met.)

Smoltz left a Braves team that missed the playoffs for the third straight year in 2008 (after reaching the playoffs about 49 times in a row, give or take). Smoltz joined a Red Sox team 15 months removed from its second championship in four years but with a rotation that struggled to fill the #5 spot in 2008.

THIS CARD: Smoltz always alternated between the full beard—which was damn intimidating even in my old Triple Play video games—and the goatee. Maybe it itched; except for 2017 when I went on a five-month razor strike, I can't go much more than a couple weeks before my beard itches beyond tolerance.

Go ahead and make your jokes about Smoltz's new Boston uniform being wrinkle-free. Smoltz has shot down the popular tale of him ironing a shirt while he wore it and I believe him...though the story still circulates as recently as 2021.

More from Smoltz's 2008 season: he was very good in the few games he was able to pitch, but he only made one (relief) appearance after April because of biceps tendinitis and later, a torn labrum which required surgery. Smoltz also battled shoulder inflammation during Spring Training; all those setbacks and it's not too hard to understand why the Braves—even for one of their legends—wouldn't pony up huge guaranteed bucks.

(flip) Squint—if you can see Smoltz's win totals during his years as a starter, you see only one season with over 17 wins. He was a top example of a great pitcher whose moderate annual win totals didn't reflect how great he actually was, or factor as much into his Cooperstown induction as much as it might have previously.
Because of guys like Smoltz, guys like Felix Hernandez can hope that future HOF voters judge his total package more than his unspectacular 169 wins.

I'm not going to bother looking up the lowest career OPS against Smoltz at his retirement, since he only pitched 15 more MLB games than what you're seeing on this card and the answers probably didn't change much.

Squint once more and you'll see Smoltz walked 47 hitters in over 200 innings in 2007. Remember, he once led the NL in walks (90 in 1990) and came a close second in '93 (100), but like Rocky said, anybody can change!!! 

AFTER THIS CARD: Smoltz did not return from his rehab until June 2009; he made eight starts for Boston, allowed at least five runs in six of those starts, and was let go in August. Enter the Cardinals, who gave the now-42-year-old seven starts and watched him largely thrive in the first six, as well as in a postseason relief appearance.

Smoltz garnered free agent interest that winter, but though he never officially retired that I'm aware of, he signed a deal with TBS and never pitched again in MLB. He was a first-ballot Hall of Fame choice in 2015, had his #29 retired by the Braves and has worked alongside Joe Buck on FOX MLB broadcasts for what seems like eons.

In 2021, Smoltz was a trending topic for both negative and positive reasons.

John Smoltz appeared annually in Topps 1989-2010 (yes, he's got a Cardinals Topps card which doubles as his sunset card). He's also got some excellent variants I wouldn't mind owning one day.

CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, Boston Red Sox

 
Topps Anthony Rizzo
Topps Anthony Rizzo

1/15/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps  #334 Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

More Anthony Rizzo Topps Cards: 2011U 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021

"RESPECT MEEEE!!!!!!"

So screamed Cubs star 1B Anthony Rizzo during the 2017 NLDS, when Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker opted to pitch to Rizzo late in a tie game with first base open, and Rizzo responded with an RBI single off Oliver Perez.

(Nevermind that it was a bloop single that fluttered and died between three Nats defenders; it's a line drive in tomorrow's box score!)

Rizzo will go down as a memorable character as well as a star first baseman. If Rizzo isn't tiptoeing along a wall to secure a popup, he's splitting his sides in the dugout over the Pirates' incompetence, or he's fielding Jon Lester's grounder as if he's asleep, or he's doing the impossible by making a pickoff play humorous, or he's taking the mound and striking out "Frederick" Freeman while laughing the whole time.

Rizzo's unique behavior wouldn't be nearly as charming if he couldn't back it up with great play. And he has: as a Cub, he banged out seven straight 20-plus homer seasons, and four straight 100-RBI campaigns. Rizzo is a World Champion, a three-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glover, which makes it okay to overload on fun sometimes.

Here, however, he's just a kid, new to the Cubs after being acquired from San Diego in a low-radar trade. Rizzo had a good 2012 Spring Training, but the Cubs opened the year with Jeff Baker and Bryan LaHair sharing 1B duties. (not the last time their regime would keep a good youngster down).

THIS CARD: On most of Rizzo's Topps base cards, he's shown batting, though the company has mixed in some fielding and running shots to prevent redundancy. Rizzo also has a number of quality short-print variants that make me wish I still collected packs.

This is clearly a Photoshopped/airbrushed image, because that is Petco Park's dugout roof in the background and yet Rizzo is shown in his Cubs home uniform. I initially thought maybe the company snuck in a Rizzo pic from Spring Training into 2012 Topps Series 2, but that is not the case.

More from Rizzo's 2011 season: though largely overmatched offensively, he got a fair amount of run with San Diego from early June into late July, and returned to the Padres in September after a pit stop at AAA Tucson. Rizzo's first and only big league homer of the season came 6/11 against the Nationals; his solo blast was the Padres' only scoring that day.

 

(flip) P Oliver Perez (yes, that one) debuted for San Diego 6/16/2002 at 20 years, 305 days old. Rizzo was 21 years, 305 days old when he popped his MLB cherry 6/9/2011.

See those gaudy numbers for 2011 Tucson? Rizzo earned back-to-back Padres Minor League Player of the Month awards for April and May.

Holy Christ. I never knew Rizzo was originally a Red Sox draft pick. He joined the Padres organization in the Adrian Gonzalez trade of December 2010.

AFTER THIS CARD: Rizzo took over 1B for the Cubs in late June 2012, and held the job until being traded to the Yankees in July 2021. In between: 242 HR, selection to the 2014-16 All-Star Games, Gold Gloves in 2016 and 2018-20, and an aggregate .340 performance in the 2016 NLCS and World Series. There were also two pitching performances; Rizzo retired three of four batters faced.

Plus all the laughs.

After joining the Yankees to fill the void left by incumbent 1B Luke Voit's injury, Rizzo hit .249, 8, 21 in 49 games (46 starts) and homered in New York's ALWC loss to the Red Sox. At present, he is a 32-year-old free agent.

Anthony Rizzo debuted in Topps as a Padre in 2011 Update; he's since appeared annually in the base set 2012-21.

CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, Chicago Cubs

 
Topps Ryan Church
Topps Ryan Church

1/17/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2006 Topps #154 Ryan Church, Nationals

More Ryan Church Topps Cards: 2007 2008 2009 2009U 2010 2010U

Outfielder Ryan Church, best known for his time with the mid-00's Nationals, also made a little noise with the late-00's Mets before going full journeyman. A former #14 pick of the 2000 Indians, Church went to Montreal via trade and packed up for D.C. with the rest of the 2004 Expos. (Well, most of them.) A star in the minors, Church had emerged as a superstar in 2004 prior to being called up to Montreal.

 

Here, the 26-year-old has completed an intriguing, but frustrating, 2005 season with the Nats. He was off to a superb .325/.381/.544 start when he injured his rib cage 6/22 crashing into a wall in Pittsburgh while making a game-ending catch of Humberto Cota's deep drive to LF. Out for nearly a month, Church revisited the DL in late August after Reds SP Ramon Ortiz broke his toe with an errant pitch.

THIS CARD: We see young Church following through; Church had a quick bat, and was generally a pull hitter. I'm not daring compare him to future Nats superstar Bryce Harper as an overall player, but there were some similarities in hitting approach.

That's Cubs manager Dusty Baker watching in the background. In 2005, Church only played at home against Chicago from 5/13 through 5/15, going 2-for-10.

More from Church's 2005 season: following his first DL stint, he never quite recovered his stroke, batting .232 in 45 games through the end of the season. Perhaps Church's best game of '05 was 6/18, when he went 3-for-4 with two solo homers at Texas. Ten days earlier vs. the Athletics, Church banged out four hits and missed the cycle by a double!

 

(flip) Why do the cartoon and blurb have matching information? I had a whole thing written up before noticing! Though Church homered just once in May 2005, it was against the VERY tough Arizona ace Brandon Webb.

I'm guessing those four games with 2005 Harrisburg were a rehab assignment for either the rib cage or toe injury.

That Trade With Indians sent RP Scott Stewart to Cleveland.

AFTER THIS CARD: In 2006, Church struggled at times and was twice demoted to AAA, but he stuck with Washington for all of 2007, starting 126 games for Washington in LF/CF and batting .272, 15, 70 with 43 doubles (good for 8th in the NL). But Church's career unraveled in 2008 shortly into his New York Mets career; he was concussed in a Spring Training collision, and concussed again in May after taking an accidental knee to the dome at second base.

Church continued to travel and play after the second concussion (which he now regrets) but was eventually sent to the DL on two separate occasions  as '08 went on. Later on, Church admitted he was never quite right after the second concussion, and it showed in his numbers. 

From 2009-10, Church bounced between four MLB teams (Mets, Braves, Pirates, Diamondbacks) in part-time roles, showing little of that old potential; he ended his career after the 2010 season at 32.

Trivia: Church made the final out at Shea Stadium in 2008, coming a few feet shy of a walk-off home run.

Ryan Church appeared in Topps 2006-10, as well as 2009-10 Topps Update as a new Brave and Diamondback, respectively.

CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps, Washington Nationals

 
Topps Randy Winn
Topps Randy Winn

1/18/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #281 Randy Winn, Devil Rays

More Randy Winn Topps Cards: 1996 1998 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2005U 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010U

Randy Winn taught me a couple of important things about baseball and sports in general.

First of all, Winn taught 18-year-old me that just because a dude is playing regularly DOESN'T mean he necessarily deserves to. When Winn was called up to the 1998 D-Rays, I was puzzled considering they already had three capable starting outfielders. Except they really didn't have three capable starting outfielders, and Winn was superior to what they did have.

Winn also taught me what a "good player" is. Other than speed, none of his tools were great, but he was very, very good defensively with a solid arm, strong bat and good power. Winn's head was always in the game and he did a number of "little things" that made a difference.
Which is why it's so puzzling he only played on two good teams during his 13-season major league career (2003 Mariners and 2010 Cardinals; I'm not counting his hour with the 2010 Yankees).

Here, Winn is just a rookie, called up to the expansion Devil Rays about six weeks into the 1998 season. He wound up leading the team in steals and triples despite playing just 109 games.

THIS CARD: Oh, yeah, Winn had a sixth tool: bunting. He laid down 11 successful sacrifices in 1998 while adding seven bunt hits.

Winn was not nearly as short as he appears to be here. 1999 Topps was inundated with full body shots and many of their subjects appeared up to six inches shorter.

More from Winn's 1998 season: he was used as a PH/PR in his first four games, and when he finally did start, he went 2-for-4 with a triple and run in a victory over Baltimore. On 7/3, Winn went 4-for-4 with a steal and two runs at Toronto, and on 9/1 at Minnesota, he went 3-for-5 with a walk, missing the cycle by a home run.

 

(flip) We saw Winn batting righty on the front; now we see him from the left side. Winn was one of those switch-hitters who was equally capable from either side of the plate, though for a time in 2000 he hit righty exclusively due to a sore wrist.

 

See that blurb? TOLD YA Winn had great speed. On 5/26/1998, the A's did not have a good defensive afternoon—in the T7th, RP Mike Mohler's pickoff throw wound up in the vast Oakland Coliseum foul territory, allowing Winn (who had walked) to score from 1B. Earlier in the game, throwing errors by Oakland 3B Mike Blowers and 2B Scott Spiezio turned a Miguel Cairo bunt into a two-run Little League homer!

Winn was Tampa's 29th pick in the 1997 Expansion Draft (#58 overall). He had a better career than at LEAST the 20 Devil Rays picked right before him. Just sayin'.

AFTER THIS CARD: Over the 1999-2000 seasons, Winn found himself bounced between AAA Durham and the majors, beset by his own slipping production and the Rays' addition of veteran outfielders such as Jose Canseco, Jose Guillen, Greg Vaughn and Gerald Williams. But by 2001, Winn was again receiving regular run for Tampa Bay (106 starts) and one year later, he was representing them in the All-Star Game! 

Winn's strong 2002 season (.298, 14, 75, 27 steals) might have gotten him paid in other places, but in Tampa Bay it got him moved to Seattle for manager Lou Piniella that October. Winn gave the Mariners a pair of solid years and was extended for 3Y/$11M in December 2003.

Seattle dealt Winn to my Giants in mid-2005 and he went on an absolute tear from the leadoff spot (.359/.391/.680 with 14 bombs in 58 games as a 2005 Giant), hitting for the cycle 8/15 and earning a new 3Y/$23M extension in February 2006. Though he never produced at that level again, Winn was a very solid contributor to the 2006-09 Giants as well, batting .300 twice, holding down the tricky RF at AT&T Park and playing through numerous nagging injuries (Winn had a horrible knack for fouling balls off his legs/feet).

After splitting 2010 as a reserve for the Yankees and Cardinals, Winn retired at 36. Today, he provides studio work as well as fill-in color commentary for the Giants; 47-year-old Winn literally looks exactly the same as in 2005.

Randy Winn appeared annually in Topps 1996-2009, except 1997. He's also got 2005 and 2010 Update cards with the Giants and Cardinals, respectively.

CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Tampa Bay Devil Rays

 
Topps Jay Payton
Topps Jay Payton

1/19/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #438 Jay Payton, Orioles

More Jay Payton Topps Cards: 1995 1996 1997 2001 2002 2002T 2003 2004 2004T 2005 2006 2007 2009

The mid-1990's Mets seemed to have a very bright future, if their minor league prospects were any indication. You see, Generation K was to lead the pitching staff into the new millennium, with Generation Jay providing them with ample run support.

Unfortunately, injuries delayed Jay Payton's rise to MLB eminence. He was able to put together a few strong seasons and helped the 2000 Mets reach the World Series, but he was always one of those guys everybody seemed to want on their team...until they got him. After leaving the Mets, Payton swapped uniforms six times in seven seasons. Why? Well, according to one respected publication: "There might not be a player in baseball with a more overinflated sense of self-worth."

Here, the 35-year-old has just completed his first of two years with Baltimore, who signed him for 2Y/$9.75M in December 2006. It was rough out at Camden Yards for the veteran outfielder in 2007, though he still tied for the team lead in triples.

THIS CARD: Payton got hurt a lot, and watching him attempt to make plays such as this one could trigger angst. Although not so much in 2007 when his frosty bat and temper tantrums hurt the Orioles more than helped them.

Payton, a full-time CF earlier in his career, played mostly LF for the Orioles in 2007. He recorded three assists, but his seven errors tied a career-worst. 

That is a quality signature from Jason Lee Payton! I wasn't expecting much from a guy whose elbow had been operated on twice.

(flip) No blurb, so I'll tell you that Payton drilled career hit #1000 on 6/13, a game-tying RBI single in the B9th off Washington CL Chad Cordero. It was part of a four-hit, three-RBI night.

Payton was limited to those 131 games in 2007 by a hamstring injury in Spring Training that kept him out until 4/22. He was also suspended for two games for throwing his equipment in protest over a call and ejected from three others for arguing. Hey, if I had the numbers Payton had in '07, I'd be a little tense, too.

Payton missed that 1997 season recovering from his second UCL operation since being drafted in 1994. Offhand, I can't recall any other major league position players who had that procedure done twice. But offhand, I can't recall what I wore yesterday, either, so take that info however you will.

AFTER THIS CARD: Payton returned to the Orioles in 2008—by that point, teams weren't exactly lining up to acquire him—and endured an even worse year at the dish. as well as two more ejections. After the season, Payton oddly expressed his desire to return to the Red Sox as a spare outfielder, three years after forcing a trade from the Red Sox over being used as a spare outfielder.

In the end, the Red Sox and all other 29 teams passed on Payton that off-season as shoulder surgery wound up sidelining him for all of 2009. The 37-year-old re-joined Colorado on a MiLB deal for 2010, was called up in September, and batted .343 (12-for-35) in 20 games. But that was not enough to secure any offers for 2011, and Payton officially retired prior to Spring Training.

Jay Payton appeared in 1995-97 Topps (even receiving a standard common before reaching MLB), went on hiatus, then returned for 2001-09 Topps. He's also got 2002 and 2004 Traded cards.

CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Baltimore Orioles

 
Topps Danny Duffy
Topps Danny Duffy

1/21/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2020 Topps #438 Danny Duffy, Royals

More Danny Duffy Topps Cards: 2011U 2012 2013U 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2021

In the 1980's and 1990's, my San Francisco Giants had a lefty pitcher by the name of Trevor Wilson.

Wilson sometimes relieved, but usually he was a starter. He had one very good season and a few other frustrating ones. He'd pitch just well enough to keep his roster spot, but never well enough to inspire lasting confidence.

Every year, though, he was on the team. Through coaching changes, a managerial change, a GM change, even an ownership change and a near sale, Wilson was just always...there. For eight seasons. I'd pretty much accepted he was going to be a Giant until he could no longer pitch. (For all intents and purposes, that's what happened.)

Though somewhat more durable than Wilson was, and with far more upside, Danny Duffy became that guy for the Royals. He only had one or two very good seasons and a number of frustrating ones, but year after year there he'd be, at or near the top of the Royals' rotation. Duffy ultimately spent parts of 11 seasons with Kansas City, helping them to a pair of World Series in 2014-15 (they won the latter, of course.)

Here, Duffy has completed his sixth full season, and ninth overall, with the Royals. Once again, his campaign was interrupted by injury; Duffy missed almost all of April with a left shoulder impingement  and almost all of August with a left hamstring strain. Still, he moved past Charlie Leibrandt into 8th place on the Royals all-time games started list.

THIS CARD: Kansas City wore the gold-trimmed uniforms on Fridays beginning in 2017 and lasting through 2020; it seems they abandoned the look for 2021. Duffy is mostly affiliated with #41, but he switched to #30 in 2021 in memory of late teammate Yordano Ventura, killed in a car wreck after the 2016 season.

Duffy attacks with either a fastball that once came in at 95-97 but is more in the 93-94 range today, a slider, a tailing changeup or a curveball.

More from Duffy's 2019 season: he finished strong, going 2-0, 2.37 in his final five starts (three of which the Royals won). He threw a season-high eight innings in a no-decision vs. Minnesota 6/22. And on 7/23 Duffy K'd a season-high 11 Braves in yet another no-decision. Kansas City was only 59-103 overall in 2019, but they were 12-11 in games Duffy started!

(flip) Not the MOST interesting blurb, though the shout-out to Mr. Gump was enjoyable. Sometimes I forget Yost is no longer KC's manager.

I've never heard of Goleta or Lompoc. They've either gotta be near the Oregon border or the Mexican border (more likely the latter if Duffy is hanging out around Santa Barbara these days). I usually will look up these cities, but I'm five days behind on COTD at the moment.

Yes, we randomly chose two consecutive card #438's. It has happened.

As you see, 2020 Topps still doesn't include games started, so I'll tell you Duffy started exclusively for KC in 2011-13 and in 2017-19. He made 26 starts in that 12-3 breakout of 2016.

AFTER THIS CARD: Duffy started for the Royals on Opening Day 2020, finishing 4-4, 4.95 in 11 starts during the abbreviated 2020 season. 2021 marked the final year of the 5Y/$65M extension Duffy signed in early 2017, and he was off to a brilliant start (4-3, 2.51 in 12 starts)​ when the Royals dealt him to the pitching-depleted Dodgers that July.

Unfortunately for Duffy and the Dodgers (not that I'm crying about it), a bad flexor tendon kept him from ever taking the hill for Los Angeles that year. He's undergone surgery for that injury and is currently a free agent.

Danny Duffy appeared annually in Topps or Topps Update 2011-21.

CATEGORIES: 2020 Topps, Kansas City Royals

 
Topps Gaby Sanchez
Topps Gaby Sanchez

1/22/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2011 Topps #312 Gaby Sanchez, Marlins

More Gaby Sanchez Topps Cards: 2009 2009U 2010U 2011A 2012 2012U 2013 2014

No, there's no typo, we are NOT discussing Gary Sanchez.

Gaby Sanchez was the Marlins' regular 1B during their final days as the "Florida" Marlins at the former Joe Robbie Stadium. The 25-year-old debuted in 2008, went 3-for-5 with two doubles in his first and only start, and had a shot at the everyday 1B job for '09 until a bad Spring Training landed him in AAA.

Florida called up Sanchez thrice that year, almost exclusively to pinch-hit, as veteran Jorge Cantu was enjoying a .289, 16, 100 season at 1B. In 2010, Sanchez competed with Logan Morrison for the Marlins' 1B job...and won this time! Here, he's just wrapped that first full season, one in which he led the Fish in doubles and finished second to Dan Uggla in RBI. A .375/.426/.587 June slashline earned Sanchez NL Rookie Of The Month honors.

THIS CARD: Sanchez was a member of the 2010 Topps All-Rookie Team. So where's the trophy? Check card #59; for whatever reason, 2011-12 Topps produced two cards for each All-Star Rookie—one with the trophy and one without. Sure, the images and blurbs varied, but still; those redundant cards could have been Brian Sanches or Joe Inglett or Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Thankfully, the change wasn't a permanent one. I dig 2011-12 Topps otherwise.

Sanchez wore #29 in 2008 and #14 in 2009-10 before switching to #15 in 2011 for some reason. Maybe incoming veteran C John Buck wanted it just that bad.

More from Sanchez's 2010 season: in a four-game series against the Mets, he recorded exactly four multi-hit games, scoring six runs and helping Florida to a sweep. He enjoyed a pair of four-hit games: 6/11 at Tampa Bay and 8/4 vs. Philadelphia. And per MLB.com, Sanchez became just the second Marlins rookie to ever bat .300 in the first half of a season! (.307; Uggla hit .300 in 2006.)

 

(flip) Of those 19 homers in 2010, two came in one game against Tampa 6/11, a game in which Sanchez also drove in six runs.

For those of you not inclined to do math at the moment, Sanchez tallied 256 TB in 2010.

That was Quisenberry's final Topps card. He's best known as the closer for the mid-80's Royals (including their championship season of 1985) but was a Cardinals setup man in 1990 Topps.

AFTER THIS CARD: Sanchez continued as the Marlins' 1B in 2011, banged out 19 homers in the first half and was a legit NL All-Star. He skidded hard in the second half, but retained his starting job into the 2012 season. Sanchez's struggles only worsened, however, and he wound up demoted to AAA twice before finally being dealt to Pittsburgh in July.

From 2013-14, Sanchez appeared in 259 games with Pittsburgh in a part-time role, batting .241, 14, 69 combined. He spent a so-so 2015 season playing in Japan, tried and failed to win a job with the 2016 Mariners, and hasn't played since. Sanchez has done some pre-and-postgame TV work for the Marlins in recent years.

Gaby Sanchez debuted in 2009 Topps, then appeared in the 2011-14 sets. He's also got 2009, 2010 and 2012 Update cards. (The 2009 Update card was not needed; he had not changed teams, names or positions.)

CATEGORIES: 2011 Topps, Florida Marlins

 
Topps Tim Salmon
Topps Tim Salmon

1/23/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #448 Tim Salmon, Angels

More Tim Salmon Topps Cards: 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2004 2005 

As a longtime Giants fan, selecting any Angel from 2003 Topps should trigger me. ​The 2002 Angels were five outs away from losing the World Series to my Giants, but wriggled out of that Game 6 mess and won Game 7 as well. I was so upset the night of Game 7, even my new girlfriend—who was not yet fully aware of just how much the Orange and Black meant to me—picked up on it as we took a ferry ride across San Francisco Bay for her birthday.

But selecting Tim Salmon doesn't trigger me because A) San Francisco has since won three other World Series, and B) Salmon was such a respected figure across baseball; him getting a ring was the silver lining in the otherwise dark cloud of the Giants' loss.

He was the 1993 AL Rookie Of The Year and the Angels' top slugger, good for about .300, 30, 100 or close to it throughout most of the 1990's and shortly into the 2000's. Then the likes of Garret Anderson and Troy Glaus fully blossomed, pushing Salmon into more of a supporting role. In fact, after a miserable 2001 season, he batted 6th for a good portion of 2002 before finally settling into the #3 spot. Salmon's .380 OBP led the 2002 Angels.

THIS CARD: Salmon takes a rip down at Anaheim Stadium. Most of his cards featured pretty basic front images, but Topps varied them better in Salmon's later years.

Prior to Salmon, #15 in Anaheim was best known as SP Kirk McCaskill's number 1985-91. It has not been worn by an Angel since Salmon's 2006 retirement, though it hasn't been officially retired.

More from Salmon's 2002 season: on 7/19 vs. Seattle, he went 5-for-5 with five RBI. Salmon also enjoyed a four-RBI game in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Yankees, and later went 4-for-4 with two homers in Game 2 of the World Series!

(flip) Salmon, unfortunately, never played in another postseason game. His Angels reached in both 2004 and 2005, but Salmon was injured both years.

Four of those 19 Angels wins were direct results of Salmon homers: on 5/25, he walked off Jack Cressend of the Twins in the B13th. On 8/3, he smoked a B8th, go-ahead solo shot that held up against the Yankees. And two other times, Salmon homered in the 9th to set up extra-inning wins by the Angels.

See those 269 career homers? At the time, that was 47 more than any other Angel had ever hit. Salmon reigned as the Angels all-time homer leader (299) until the final weeks of the 2020 season, when Mike Trout passed him.

AFTER THIS CARD: Unfortunately, Salmon fell victim to a number of physical issues after a pedestrian 2003 season. In 2004 shoulder and knee woes—both of which required surgery—limited him to 60 games. He missed the entire 2005 season recovering, won a reserve job with the 2006 Angels, then retired at 38.

Salmon was inducted into the Angels' Hall of Fame in 2015. He's done analyst work for the team since 2014 and still ranks high on several all-time Angels statistical lists. Salmon is one of three (Anderson, Darin Erstad) to play for the California, Anaheim and Los Angeles Angels.

Tim Salmon appeared in 1993-2005 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Anaheim Angels

 
Topps John Thomson
Topps John Thomson

1/25/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2006 Topps #148 John Thomson, Braves

More John Thomson Topps Cards: 1998 1999 2000 2001 2003 2004 2005

In recent years, the Rockies have been fortunate enough to trot out starting pitchers like Kyle Freeland, German Marquez and Jon Gray, pitchers who don't/didn't seem too affected by having the launching pad that is Coors Field as a home ballpark.

But in the late 1990's during Coors' early days, finding such a pitcher was next-to-impossible. One guy who held his own was John Thomson.

Thomson was a rarity: a Rockies starting pitcher who—for two seasons, no less—averaged 6+ innings per start with a decent (for Denver in the late 1990's) earned run average. He wasn't flashy, just effective. Even after labrum surgery, Thomson returned in 2001 more effective than before. The Mets acquired him at the 2002 Deadline.

After a year as the ace of the Texas Rangers (which, in 2003, wasn't all that bragworthy), Thomson signed with Atlanta for 2Y/$7M plus a 2006 option. He enjoyed his best all-round statistical year for the 2004 Braves but here, Thomson is fresh off a 2005 season interrupted by a strained flexor tendon in his right middle finger. Out from mid-May to mid-August, the 32-year-old served as a long reliever in the 2005 NLDS vs. Houston.

THIS CARD: We see Thomson attacking with what I'm guessing is the sinker or the slider. He also featured a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curve he added in 2003, and a changeup he'd only fooled around with until about 2002. Thomson was generally a two-pitch guy (fastball/slider) early on, with some sinkers mixed in.

For most of his career, that #52 was slapped across Thomson's back. Only with the '02 Mets (#50) the '03 Rangers (#46) and the '07 Royals (#56) did he wear anything else during his 11-year career.

More from Thomson's 2005 season: he opened the year 3-2, 3.42 before leaving his 4/16 start at San Diego in the 5th inning with the finger injury. Thomson returned 8/13, but was only 1-4, 5.48 in nine starts (two quality) to finish the year. He did throw seven innings of one-run ball against the Marlins 9/24, putting the first-place Braves up by five games with just seven to go.

(flip) That's one of the most deceptive 42-63 ledgers of my 32-year fandom. Thomson was by no means John Smoltz on the mound, but he was better than two losses every three decisions even before he reached Atlanta. Omit that 1999 season for a truer representation.

Instead of the redundant wins total in the stat box, Topps could have told you that Thomson, through 2005, owned a career BB/9 of just 2.5. He gave up his share of hits, no doubt, but he didn't put a whole lot of dudes on for free.

As for the toon, "ROY", of course, abbreviates "Rookie Of The Year". Since Lynn, only Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 has won both awards in the same season.

AFTER THIS CARD: Atlanta picked up Thomson's option for 2006; the veteran was off to a hot start that year until blister and shoulder issues cropped up yet again; he wound up just 2-7, 4.82 in 18 games (15 starts). Now 33, Thomson signed a 1Y/$500K deal with Toronto for 2007, but didn't make the team out of Spring Training—saving Toronto a $1.5M roster bonus—and was released from AAA Syracuse in June.

 

Kansas City quickly brought Thomson in, watched him make two starts (one good), then placed him on the DL with back spasms. He never pitched professionally again.

John Thomson appeared annually in Topps 1998-2006, except 2002.

CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps, Atlanta Braves

 
Topps Willie McGee
Topps Willie McGee

1/26/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Topps #380 Willie McGee, Athletics

More Willie McGee Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991T 1992 1993 1994

1991 marked only my second year actively following MLB, but after spending about 2/3 of my spare 1990 hours poring through 1990 Topps over and over again in addition to watching whatever games I could, I quickly associated most dudes with their current clubs.

So even aft