Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, July 2017

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Topps Anthony Young
Topps Anthony Young

7/2/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #359 Anthony Young, Mets

 

More Anthony Young Topps Cards: 1992 1993

 

Our 20th-century rewind continues for the seventh straight selection, although this time the selection was not random. TSR forgoes the usual card-picking process in memory of Young—the former Mets righty died of a brain tumor 6/27/17 , at the far too young age of 51.


Young is known for losing 27 consecutive decisions over the 1992-93 seasons, establishing the MLB record. The Mets were not good at all during Young's tenure, and it's universally accepted that Young was a far better pitcher than owning this record would suggest. (His lifetime ERA was 3.89 over six seasons during the Expansion/Steroid era. That means something, at least to me.)


Here, Young has completed a 1993 season in which he added the final 13 L's to The Streak, losing seven consecutive starts at one point despite largely pitching decently. Cliff Curtis's record of 23 straight losses (set 82 years prior) fell on June 27, but Young's run of misfortune finally ended when his team rallied late July 28.

 

 

THIS CARD: By and large, we chose Young's 1994 card because 1993 Topps is on hiatus—the season represented there was arguably Young's finest. But highlighting his fame-building, streak-ending season could also work. Plus, as it turns out, this was Young's final Topps base card (he did appear in 1994 Traded as a Cub.)


I'm guessing Young is bringing the heat here. His out pitch was his slider; he never really developed a reliable changeup and his curveball was, according to some, underused.


Young wore #33 as a Mets rookie. Current #19 wearer Jay Bruce is, conicidentally, the 19th Met with that number since Young.

 

(flip) Baseballreference.com lists Young as a #38 pick, not #39—either way, dude leapfrogged a TON of dudes with only two quality pitches. Furthermore, he was the only one of New York's final 34 picks to reach MLB at all! (The draft went 60 rounds.)


Check out Young's dominance for 1990 Jackson (AA). Not shown: he allowed three home runs that whole season!


Note Young's brief '93 stint at AAA Norfolk—it wasn't a true demotion; in August, the Mets sent him down in anticipation of shifting him to their rotation. He returned with one great start (eight shutout innings) and one blah start before being disabled.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Confident he'd recovered from late 1993 elbow surgery, the Cubs traded for Young in Spring 1994 (for SS Jose Vizcaino), and plopped him in their rotation. Through 18 starts, Young was 4-6, 3.98 with a 1.29 WHIP when more elbow issues disabled him in early July. 


Young, who had been hot before the injury—2.54 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .164 BAA in previous six starts—made just one more (shortened) start in '94 before undergoing another operation in mid-August.
Young returned to the mound in June '95, making 32 RA for the Cubs sandwiched around a month-long hamstring injury. After a 1996 stint with his hometown Astros, Young's MLB career wrapped—a 1998 comeback attempt with Cleveland failed.


Anthony Young appeared in 1992-94 Topps. His aforementioned 1994 Traded card as a Cub will have to suffice in lieu of the '95 Topps card he should have had.

 


CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, New York Mets, Now Deceased

 
Topps Shawn Hillegas
Topps Shawn Hillegas

7/4/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #523 Shawn Hillegas, Indians

 

More Shawn Hillegas Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1990

 

What is UP with this prolonged run of pre-millenium Topps? The Randomizer IS aware I've got 7,000 cards from this decade alone to choose from, isn't it? Believe me, I'd be all for a return to the '90's—but then this website wouldn't exist, and we here at TSR just couldn't break our visitor's hearts that way.


You don't get to be the #4 overall pick in the draft—even the Secondary Phase draft—without being a baller. And since Shawn Hillegas was the #4 overall pick in the 1984 Secondary Phase draft, one would assume he was a serious baller back then.


Only problem is, we can unearth no statistical or anecdotal evidence to back that up. Not online, not in my publications, not on my Shawn Hillegas cards. Even the school website tells nothing. It cries out "conspiracy", does it not? 
What was so off about Shawn Hillegas' collegiate performance that almost four decades later, powerful people are still trying to cover it up?


(Note: I did finally dig up some college stats for Hillegas: he went 11-0, 1.73 as a senior at Middle Georgia JUCO. But the above rant stays.)


Here, Hillegas is with his third MLB club in five seasons. Following a 1990 season spent mostly in AAA, the still-young (26 on Opening Day) righty won a spot on Cleveland's roster—which, granted, wasn't saying much in 1991—and wound up appearing 51 times (three starts) for the Tribe.

 

 

THIS CARD: 1992 Topps will be forced to take a seat next to its succeeding set in Hiatusville.
Hillegas returns to Topps after a one-year absence. Is that the fastball? Can't tell for sure. Doesn't look like Hillegas' curve. But what do I know.


#38 is not currently in use by the Indians.

 

(flip) Hillegas closed 1991 with those three starts, he had no decisions and allowed six ER in 14.2 IP. 


Four of the seven 1991 saves took place 5/20 to 6/3; Hillegas got to close while Steve Olin was hurt. Though Olin was out for another six weeks, Hillegas only received one more save op during his absence—the Indians went 6-28 over that stretch. Ouch.


The 12/4/90 trade sent Hillegas and P Eric King to the White Sox in exchange for slugger Cory Snyder (and a failed prospect). No one in their right mind would have bet on Hillegas having the better 1991. But Snyder had played himself back to AAA by season's end.


Dos Palos is about 96 miles SE of San Jose, and 64 miles NW of Fresno. A lot of open space out there.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Hillegas hooked up with the Yankees in early 1992, initially pitching in long relief (at one point, he ate up 20.2 IP over five consecutive RA) before joining the rotation.


Let's see, Hillegas: shut out the mighty Athletics on July 20, got cut six weeks later after struggling versus most everyone else, and was signed by...those very Athletics, who were obviously still impressed by the shutout.


Oakland's rotation fell on hard times in 1993; Hillegas received 11 starts but racked up a 7.80 ERA and 1.90 WHIP, earning demotions first to the bullpen, then to AAA Tacoma. Hit equally hard in nine MiLB starts, Hillegas never pitched professionally again. (Unless you count one game in the Texas-Louisiana league. Which we don't.)


Shawn Hillegas appeared in 1988-90 Topps, with one last hurrah in 1992 Topps. He has no known Yankee cards, but 1993 Stadium Club depicts him as an Athletic, if that interests you.

 


CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps, Cleveland Indians

 
Topps Kevin Frandsen
Topps Kevin Frandsen

7/10/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #113 Kevin Frandsen, Giants

 

More Kevin Frandsen Topps Cards: 2006U 2007U 2009 2010U 2013U 2014U 2015

 

I got to see plenty of Franny as a youngster with the San Francisco Giants—he was, for a brief time, the heir apparent to Ray Durham as their 2B. Being a local kid with ties to coach Dave Righetti, Frandsen was destined from the start to either dominate, or colossally flop.


Sadly, he wound up in the latter category, though he was still able to scrape together nearly a decade in MLB.


Frandsen emerged after blowing through four levels of the Giants MiLB system in barely a year's time—in 2005, his second professional season, the 23-year-old ripped .325 across three levels while avoiding serious injury despite being drilled 23 times. 


Frandsen reached MLB in 2006 when Durham's legs acted up, and would be shuttled back and forth two additional times until his luck with errant pitches ran out—his jaw was broken in August by an errant pitch while in AAA.


Here, even though FA Durham was brought back for two years, Frandsen—who tore up the Arizona Fall League—has received extended playing time with the 2007 Giants. 
Filling in at 2B, 3B, SS, and even LF while doing his share of pinch-hitting, the kid closed so strong (.427 OBP in September) that Durham's hold on the second base job for '08 was no given by year's end.

 

THIS CARD: Frandsen seems to be the third baseman here; given his throwing angle and position on the grass (way in), I'm guessing he's playing a bunt. If indeed he's the 3B, that's Padres coach Glenn Hoffman behind him.


Frandsen's signature looks like the outlines of two Pac-Man ghosts.

(flip) Why all the starts if the Giants still had Durham, you ask? Well, for August 2007, Durham batted .123—let's just say it was time for a change. Aiding Frandsen's .370 September: a 5-for-5 performance vs. Cincinnati on the 21st.


We listed four of Frandsen's 2007 positions already; he also got a couple of starts in RF.


I'd never heard of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes before, even though they've apparently been a short-season (low A) affiliate of the Giants—who I've spent the past 27 years rooting for—since their 1997 birth. 

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: As mentioned, Frandsen had a shot to unseat the veteran Durham as the Giants' 2B for 2008. Devastatingly, during Spring Training, his Achilles tendon ripped as he rounded first base after a single. Making matters worse—Durham was traded in midseason; Frandsen almost certainly would have inherited the job at that point.


The 26-year-old was determined not to miss the entire season; he returned to pinch-hit in Game 162, grounding out vs. Ramon Troncoso of the Dodgers.


After the Giants chose Manny Burriss over Franny as their '09 2B, called up non-roster 2B Matt Downs over Franny when an infield need arose, then acquired All-Star 2B Freddy Sanchez, it became clear Frandsen had no future in SF. In Spring 2010, he was dealt to the Red Sox, beginning his journeyman voyage.


From 2010-14, Frandsen got in 333 games for the Angels, Phillies and Nationals. In fact, in late July 2012 he took over as Philly's 3B after Placido Polanco got hurt—Frandsen stayed so hot (.338 through season's end) that Polanco didn't reclaim his everyday job upon healing!


Frandsen's MLB career ended with a very late-season stint with the '15 Giants, whose infield was ravaged by injuries. (He'd signed an MiLB deal with SF earlier that year.) He now co-hosts a show on San Francisco sports radio station KNBR.


Kevin Frandsen appeared in Topps base 2008-09 and 2015, as well as Topps Update 2006-07, 2010, and 2013-14. Good job getting him in all four of his MLB uniforms, Topps.
 

 

CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, San Francisco Giants

 
Topps Pedro Martinez
Topps Pedro Martinez

7/12/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #60 Pedro Martinez, Red Sox

 

More Pedro Martinez Topps Cards: 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009U

 

I'm both pleased and creeped out by random COTD selections tying in to current MLB ongoings. You see, Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw recently became just the fourth pitcher to enjoy a first half with at least 14 wins, a sub-2.50 ERA and 10 K/9 ratio. (courtesy of MLB Network)
Sandy Koufax did it first, in 1965. Pedro Martinez did it next, in 1999—which just happens to be the year represented on this card! 


Pitcher #3: 2000 Randy Johnson—Martinez' only competition for the title of "Best Pitcher In The Galaxy" over the 1999-2000 seasons. Martinez shot through three levels of MiLB in 1991, winning 18 combined games, then opened 1992 in AAA at the ripe old age of 20.
One season later, Martinez teamed with his big brother Ramon on the Dodgers, as a full-time reliever. But LA needed a speedster, and sacrificed their young flamethrower to acquire Montreal 2B Delino DeShields. Not a bad trade, but certainly lopsided in hindsight.


Martinez immediately returned to the rotation and put up four fine Expo seasons, capped off by a 1997 so dominant (17-8, 1.90) he won the Cy Young Award on a 4th-place team! But looming free agency left the destitute Expos with no choice but to deal him; enter Boston with pitching prospects Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. Both would enjoy periods of major league serviceability, but the Expos lost this trade. Badly.


Here, Martinez has just completed his second year with the Red Sox—as we referenced, it was a fairly decent one. He won the Triple Crown of pitching, started the All-Star game, led the league in WHIP and K/9 and nearly ripped the MVP award from Ivan Rodriguez ("settling for" his second Cy Young in three years.)

 

 

THIS CARD: IF memory serves—and do correct me if I'm wrong—Martinez kept a fairly shorter haircut in his early Boston years, growing it out as his tenure wound down. Short-haired Pedro was more intimidating IMHO, like a trained military assassin required to trim his locks. However, jheri-curled Pedro was just awesome, especially in his Expo days.


I know the Oakland Coliseum when I see it. Martinez pitched and won there on 5/1/99, striking out 13 in seven innings.

 

(flip) The above win was Game 4 of the blurbed streak—Martinez went 6-1 over those seven games. But why Topps chose to ignore his record-setting eight-game 10+ K streak later in 1999 is anybody's guess.


Of course, this year another Sox importee, Chris Sale, tied Pedro's record.


About those two 1999 relief appearances: Martinez arrived tardy to the ballpark on 8/15—he was scratched as punishment but went the final four innings for the win vs. Seattle. And he threw a tune-up inning vs. Baltimore in Game 161...precursors to his ALDS relief heroics.


I see Martinez turns 46 in two short weeks. Good lord, I'm old.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: One more Cy Young, arm problems, Jorge Posada feud, Don Zimmer slam, Yankees Are My Daddy, broken curse, Mets, injuries, half-season with Phillies, great final postseason start, Cooperstown in 2015.


A considerably-beefier Martinez can be seen on MLB Network giving strong analysis and insight. He's more than just some ex-jock in a suit—Pedro's good, especially considering English is not his first language.


Pedro Martinez appeared annually in Topps 1993-2008, plus he's got a 2009 Update card as a Phillie, for those interested.
 

 

CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, Boston Red Sox

 
Topps Justin Duchscherer
Topps Justin Duchscherer

7/19/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps Update #53 Justin Duchscherer All-Star

More Justin Duchscherer All-Star Topps Cards: n/a

I am small.

No, not physically, not by five longshots. What that means is I'm petty—the kind of person who holds grudges over small things, likes to "even the score", and seldom takes the high road. I'm not PROUD of these traits. But at least I recognize them and do not pretend to be different.

 

If I were Justin Duchscherer, American-League All-Star for the second time in 2008, I'd make a point of seeking out the scouts who doubted my below-average fastball could cut it in MLB, and rubbing their incompetence in their faces. "Oh, so my fastball isn't FAST ENOUGH, huh? Well, let's see who couldn't hit it this year: (runs off long list of fellow All-Stars)"

 

Duchscherer (Doo-shur), a converted All-Star reliever, was Oakland's sole representative at the Classic, but he probably makes it on the team regardless. He went into the break 10-5, 1.82, and had thrown at least seven innings in seven straight starts...miraculous for the times.

 

 

THIS CARD: Twice in three selections = hiatus time for 2008 Topps.

 

Duchscherer brings what I'm guessing is the changeup (I'm no grip expert, but I'm certain it isn't Duchscherer's signature curveball—he had a big, nasty 12-6 version.)

 

As the logo suggests, the '08 All-Star Game went down in Yankee Stadium. Duchscherer pitched the sixth inning, giving up three hits and the NL's second run. (The AL ultimately won 4-3.)

 

(flip) The injury referenced was Duchscherer's first hip surgery, which ended his season in May.

 

Topps didn't produce full All-Star subsets back in 2005, so I'll cover his first All-Star appearance here—Duchscherer went into the break with a 1.49 ERA and four saves in 35 games. He was not used in the game, but at least his teammate Miguel Tejada won MVP.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: You'd never believe it if told at the time, but Duchscherer would make only 11 more major league appearances after the 2008 All-Star Game. His bad hip, which eventually required more surgery, ended his 2008 season four weeks prematurely. Then he lost all of 2009 to elbow surgery and depression.

 

Just as it seemed he was ready to contribute again in 2010, Duchscherer's hip gave out once more; he underwent yet another season-ending surgery in May. The veteran tried to come back in 2011 with Baltimore, but it didn't happen, and he was done at 33.

 

This is Justin Duchscherer's only Topps All-Star card; as mentioned, his 2005 appearance wasn't recognized by the company.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, All-Stars

 
Topps Darryl Hamilton
Topps Darryl Hamilton

7/21/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #378 Darryl Hamilton, Mets

 

More Darryl Hamilton Topps Cards: 1989 1990T 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2001 

 

Hamilton makes his second COTD appearance—we ran his 1998 Topps card as special selection in the wake of his murder two years ago. This time, he's a totally random selection, albeit one that will force us to put 2000 Topps on hiatus. (It wasn't that long ago we were pulling too FEW 1996-2000 cards. Now they've become, um, "common".

 

Here, Hamilton has finished up the 1999 season with the Mets following a Deadline '99 trade from Colorado. Despite injuries, he started 45 of the team's final 57 games and batted .339, while completing the season error-free for both clubs!

 

 

THIS CARD: Not much to report on this card itself, so we'll expand on Hamilton's 1999 season: his nine HR would go down as a career-high tie. His .315 combined average would be a career-high. He played much of the year with a bad knee and toe—both of which underwent off-season surgeries.

 

Bobby Valentine's decision to bat Hamilton 6th and 7th—he'd been mostly a #1 or #2 hitter previously—worked out in the end; New York went on to cinch the Wild Card...though it took 163 games to do so.

 

Hamilton was just one of many to don Darryl Strawberry's old #18; none of them wore it longer than two years, however. (Current wearer Travis D'Arnaud could break this trend next year, however.)

 

(flip) The 7/31/99 trade, which also landed RP Chuck McElroy, sent .221-hitting Brian McRae and RP Rigo Beltran to the Rockies. Why would the Rockies want McRae? His contract was expiring; Hamilton's had two more years to run.

 

As a result of that robust RISP average (and the batting order position switch), Hamilton racked up 21 Mets RBI, just three fewer than he had as a Rockie in almost exactly half the at-bats!

 

I'm pretty sure the reverse photo is from the same at-bat as the front photo...maybe even the same follow-through.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: As mentioned, Hamilton got plenty of run with the '99 Mets, but went down very early in the 2000 season with a foot sprain (a byproduct of his problematic toe). He was out until August, and was not used on a full-time basis going forward.

 

Opportunity arose in Spring 2001 for Hamilton, but he did not capitalize and wound up injured again. When his playing time again dwindled upon returning, he and Valentine clashed and that spelled the end of Hamilton's New York—and ultimately, major league—career. 

 

Darryl Hamilton appeared annually in Topps 1989-2001; 1990 was a Traded card.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, New York Mets, Now Deceased