Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, June 2019

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6/28/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps Traded #7 Jesse Barfield, Yankees

More Jesse Barfield Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

Longtime Toronto Blue Jay Jesse Barfield was the right fielder on what was arguably the best outfield of my childhood. With CF Lloyd Moseby and LF George Bell alongside him for much of the 1980's, said argument was pretty damn strong.

Bell was the thump of the trio, Moseby was the speed, and Barfield was the arm—his was regarded as the game's best during his prime and he routinely threw out 20 dudes a year in spite of his reputation (think Ramon Laureano today).

Barfield's best year was easily 1986, a year he made his only All-Star team, won his only Silver Slugger, earned his first of two Gold Gloves and even scored some MVP votes. Barfield was the league HR champ that year, and he placed 5th in AL RBI.

Here, after nine seasons with Toronto, Barfield has just been traded to the Yankees—his production had dipped for two straight years and Jays manager Jimy Williams had begun sitting Barfield down. But the Yankees needed a RF once it became clear Dave Winfield wasn't returning from back surgery anytime soon...cue deal with Toronto.

THIS CARD: I'm guessing Barfield to be at Anaheim Stadium (now Angels Stadium) and here's why: early in his Yankee tenure when this pic would have been shot, Barfield only visited two parks with any kind of red color scheme—Anaheim and Arlington Stadiums. Sifting through 1991 Topps Angels cards, I came across what appeared to be those same red rails.

If that is indeed (pre-renovation) Anaheim Stadium, chances are the result of that swing wasn't positive—Barfield was only 2-for-13 in the four-game series. But he did go yard once.

Barfield gets another action shot; through the years his Topps base cards evenly divide his action and posed front images, which for the times was a high rate. However, he'd just had two consecutive posed headshots in Topps base, so good for Topps mixing things up here.

(flip) Pinch-homer #1: batting for Lloyd Moseby in the B8th, Barfield takes Tom Burgmeier of the Red Sox deep. The slam pulls Toronto to within 8-7 but they'd get no closer.
Pinch-homer #2: batting for Hosken Powell in the T8th, Barfield rips a three-run shot off the White Sox' Kevin Hickey—the last bit of dirt on Chicago's grave that day.
Pinch-homer #3: batting for Rance Mulliniks in the B7th, Barfield smokes a two-run homer off the White Sox' Bert Roberge. It ties a game that Toronto won in extras 7-6.

As I said earlier, you can see the notable dip in Barfield's stats since his big 1986. In '88 he missed three weeks with a sore left wrist, which he later admitted affected his swing. (The wrist had been operated on in 1987.)

The trade sent oft-injured young lefty Al Leiter to Toronto.

AFTER THIS CARD: Though Barfield continued to play regularly for New York through 1990, he was not the impact player he'd been with Toronto, which often times puts you on a hit list if you play for the Yankees.
But Yankee fans never got the chance to boo him out of town—after losing much of 1991 to hamstring and foot injuries, and most of 1992 to surgery for a wrist injury originally suffered in a sauna fall, Barfield was barely available to be booed.

Now 33, the veteran went to Japan for a year before attempting to win a job with the 1994 Astros. But Barfield lost the competition to James Mouton, ending his career. Later in the decade he coached for the Astros and Mariners, and in the following decade his son Josh enjoyed a solid season for the Padres before his own career disintegrated.

Jesse Barfield appeared in Topps 1982-92; '82 was a shared Prospects card.

CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps Traded, New York Yankees

 

More June 2019 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps John Burkett
Topps John Burkett

6/3/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #491 John Burkett, Giants

More John Burkett Topps Cards: 1990T 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995T 1996 1997 1998 1999 2001 2002 2003

Burkett was the All-Star ace of the improbable 103-win 1993 Giants, and their most dependable starter in the preceding three seasons. He wasn't a hard thrower, but he mixed locations and speeds as well as anybody in the NL. Moreover, the dude was never hurt—when it seemed like every other Giant starter battled injuries and/or ineffectiveness, Burkett was a rock. A small one, but a rock nonetheless.

22-year-old Burkett made three appearances for the '87 Giants, but didn't return to MLB until 1990—his 14-7 record for the defending NL champions placed him fourth in Rookie Of The Year voting. Though he slipped a bit in '91, Burkett bounced back in '92 to win five straight starts at one point en route to a 13-9 finish.

Then came that magical 1993, in which Burkett teamed with Bill Swift to win 43 games. For much of 1994 he pitched just as well, but battled a hell of a lot more hard luck and only won twice after May despite tossing eight quality starts.

THIS CARD: Burkett gears up to throw what I'm betting is a slow curve. He also featured a circle change and what seemed like about eight other pitches. Redundancy check: fail—this image is nearly identical to his 1994 Topps front image, and not too far off from his 1993 front image.

The ivy pretty much gives away Wrigley Field; Burkett pitched there twice in 1994, earning ND's both times.

Burkett wore three other numbers (Nos. 40, 51 and 32) before settling on #33. Benito Santiago and Aaron Rowand are the only notable Giants to have since worn #33.

(flip) According to Wikipedia, Burkett now has 32 perfect (300) games, but it isn't sourced, and I don't post unsourced information. Except just now.

I won't list all seven ahead of Burkett in 1994 BB/9, but I'll tell you the NL leader was New York's Bret Saberhagen (0.66 BB/9)

New Brighton is located about 30 miles NW of Pittsburgh.

AFTER THIS CARD: With fears of a salary cap looming, Burkett and  his $3.5M salary were offloaded by the Giants to Texas after the '94 season (Rich Aurilia joined the Giants in this deal); he was none too happy with the move. But Texas didn't retain Burkett post-strike either, and he ended up a Marlin for 1995.

Though Burkett never again threatened the 20-win ledger, and endured some tough seasons, he remained a mostly quality pitcher through the 2003 end of his career. From mid-1996—when he was traded back to Texas—through 1999 Burkett helped the Rangers to their first three AL West titles, but seemed done when, following a rough '99, the lowly Rays cut him prior to Opening Day 2000.
Atlanta swooped in and signed the 35-year-old, who rewarded them by making the 2001 All-Star team—he set a career high with 187 K and a 1.17 WHIP he'd only topped once in the preceding 11 seasons!

 

Burkett wrapped his MLB run with two years in Boston; he started 59 times combined, and won 25 despite his customary high H/9 figures. That's what happens when you throw so many strikes (and no, I will refrain from a bowling joke here.)

John Burkett appeared annually in Topps 1991-2003, except 2000. He's also got Traded cards for 1990 and 1995. 

CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, San Francisco GIants

 
Topps Bobby Ayala
Topps Bobby Ayala

6/5/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #673 Bobby Ayala, Reds

More Bobby Ayala Topps Cards: 1994T 1995 1998

Undrafted Ayala—who as a a teen signed with the Reds out of a tryout camp—was one of those guys with closer's stuff, closer's makeup...and toddler's command. You never knew where a Bobby Ayala pitch would end up—case in point, a 1999 game I remember vividly. Barry Bonds of my Giants was sidelined by elbow surgery, leaving Jeff Kent as their main thumper.


Well, late in the game (at Montreal), Ayala knocked Jeff Kent's helmet off with an errant pitch. Kent clearly wanted to do battle with him, but as the announcers pointed out, he could not get ejected from a close game and leave the Giants totally bereft of slugging. Kent took his base, and the Giants did eventually beat the Expos.

Ayala, of course, is best known for his time closing for the Refuse To Lose Seattle teams of the mid-1990's but here, he's a young Cincinnati Red looking to establish himself as a starter or reliever—the 1993 Reds gave him long looks in both roles.

THIS CARD: Orange seats outdoors mean, in all probability, Shea or Joe Robbie Stadiums. 

Ayala fires off either his mid-90's heat, his hard splitter, or a slider which one publication described as "diabolical", at least on that given night.

To show you how irrelevant #59 has been in Cincinnati over the years, Ayala, in his 48 shaky games wearing the number in 1992-93, is the most notable Red to have done so.

(flip) If Ayala looks a little strange here, remember: the Marge Schott Reds weren't allowed facial hair. As soon as he landed in Seattle for 1994, Ayala grew his familiar goatee.

Beginning in 1994 Topps, some commons received "Rookie Card" status. I never resolved just what a "Rookie Card" was—that player's first card, or that player's first card with Topps. Lucky for me, I didn't collect to potentially pull a valuable rookie card.

In Ayala's save, he threw eight pitches in preserving a 5-2, 10-inning win at New York (John Smiley went the first nine for the W...how rare is that?). In Ayala's win, he tossed three innings in relief of Tom Browning, cashing in when Joe Oliver ripped a late three-run jack.

AFTER THIS CARD: As alluded to, Ayala was moved to Seattle in the Bret Boone deal. He took over as their closer in 1994, but coughed away too many leads in 1995 and was replaced by Norm Charlton. He never closed full-time again but did scrape together 19 saves over the ensuing three years—the last of which was outright nightmarish (1-10, 7.29, nine BS in 1998).

Interestingly, his final season was one of his more statistically decent (3.51, 1.34 WHIP in 66 games for the Expos and Cubs in '99). Despite that, he couldn't crack the Twins, Cubs or Dodgers rosters in 2000, and that was that for Ayala in MLB.

Bobby Ayala appeared in 1994, 1995 and 1998 Topps, as well as 1994 Topps Traded. Nobody produced any cards of Ayala the Expo or Cub, but 1994 Stadium Club produced a card of Ayala the ...bandit?

CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, Cincinnati Reds

 
Topps Mark Thompson
Topps Mark Thompson

6/9/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #441 Mark Thompson, Rockies

More Mark Thompson Topps Cards: 1993 1994 1995 

Not to be confused with Mark Brownson, another Rockies pitcher whose career was short but eventful, Mark Thompson actually lasted parts of several seasons in Denver—although in only one of them, 1996, did he spend the whole year with the Rox.

Thompson was the first homegrown Rockie to reach the majors, the first Rockie to win at Coors Field, and the first Rockie to throw a shutout at Coors Field! Obviously, the guy had talent..just not durability.

In Thompson's second pro season, 1993, he lost half the year to a torn labrum. But after coming back healthy for AAA Colorado Springs in '94, the Rockies promoted the 23-year-old—he won his debut but only made one other start before the strike.

Here, Thompson is fresh off a 1996 season in which he led Colorado with three CG and was runner-up in just about every other category to Kevin Ritz.

THIS CARD: I just want to know how long that camera was trained on Thompson just waiting for the pitcher to play a little defense. Did the cameraman snap an image after every pitch?  Are there 110 eventless post-delivery images of Thompson out there somewhere on somebody's hard drive?

This looks to be shot at Wrigley Field. In '96, Thompson pitched and lost there on 8/1; according to BaseballReference.com there was one Cubs ball hit back to Thompson that day, by Luis Gonzalez. (Quit lyin', you forgot Gonzalez ever played for the Cubs.)

(flip) Russellville is not located near anywhere in Kentucky or Tennessee that you've heard of.

In the 10-3 win over the Cardinals, Thompson allowed seven hits and three runs (two earned). In the Marlins shutout, which was actually 11-0, Thompson walked four, whiffed four, and threw 127 pitches in beating John Burkett.

Somehow, it looks like a baseball is stuck in Thompson's jersey.

AFTER THIS CARD: Thompson tore his rotator cuff in 1997, missing most of that year and the next after an aggravation. In September 1999 the Cardinals called him up, and he turned in a 2.76 ERA over five starts and 29.1 IP.
That performance helped earn him a relief job for 2000, but an April groin injury set Thompson back, and he finished the year in the minors having made 20 RA for St. Louis. When the '00 season ended, so did Thompson's professional pitching career.

Mark Thompson debuted in 1993 Topps as a draft pick, returned in '94 as a Future Star, continued in '95 on the Star Track, then appeared one last time in 1997 Topps as a regular common.

CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, Colorado Rockies

 
Topps Bill Haselman
Topps Bill Haselman

6/13/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2002 Topps #496 Bill Haselman, Rangers

More Bill Haselman Topps Cards: 1994 2001

It makes sense with a guy like Robb Nen.

 

Because of the unconventional spelling of Nen's first name, (too) many publications either misspelled it as "Rob", or somehow transfer the goof to his last name ("Nenn"). Certainly, there's some term for this type of slip-up; in any case, I proudly claim to have never once made the mistake with either of Nen's names.

Now, as for longtime MLB backup catcher Bill Haselman...can anyone explain to me why, because of the "L" in his last name, my brain tries to spell Haselman's first name as "Bil" in just about every all-time instance of me referencing it? Even today, "Bill Haselman" doesn't look right at first. 

Okay, enough about my selective dyslexia. Haselman was a catcher with pop who thrice topped 15 home runs in the minors, reaching 20 once. He came up briefly with Texas in '90 but didn't resurface until '92 as a member of the Mariners, who claimed him off waivers.

1993 marked Haselman's famed MLB moment: unhappy with a plunking by Baltimore's Mike Mussina, Haselman charged him, triggering a brawl that ranks high among the decade's worst (best?). That melee cost Haselman three games and worse yet, nearly cost Cal Ripken Jr. The Streak.

Here, after runs with Seattle and Boston, Haselman is back with Texas playing behind Ivan Rodriguez. Though with Pudge healthy Haselman didn't play as much as he did in Y2K, he still managed to tie his career-high OBP, post his 2nd-best career average, and throw out 31% of enemy basestealers.

THIS CARD: Despite the reduced playing time, Haselman appears in Topps for the 2nd straight year after a six-set absence. (Score and Fleer produced just one Haselman card each during that time; he was on the MLB radar but got nearly no love from the card companies during the post-strike years.)

In all, Haselman completed three tours of duty with the Rangers, wearing #33 in the first and third and #37 in the second. He wore those two numbers for all but 12 of his MLB games.

(flip) Haselman, for whatever reason, took over for Pudge after the latter K'd in the 16th. After an error, wild pitch and pair of walks, Haselman grounded into a potential double play, but legged it out for the 8-7 victory. If he'd caught the first 16 innings a Pudge had...unlikely Haselman's safe.

1991 is not shown because Haselman spent the year in AAA.

That 1999 stint with Detroit: I'd long forgotten Haselman ever was a Tiger, or that he returned to Texas in the infamous Juan Gonzalez trade. He'd joined Detroit as a free agent in December 1998.

AFTER THIS CARD: Not a whole lot. Haselman remained in Texas through 2002 before re-signing with the Tigers for '03. He did not make the team, however, and wound up with just a handful of at-bats with Boston in September of that year. A minors deal with Baltimore that winter went nowhere, and Haselman's playing days ended.

He went on to coach for Boston 2004-06, left baseball for a time, but since 2010 has worked as a MiLB manager in the Angels and Dodgers systems.

Bill Haselman appeared in 1994, 2001 and 2002 Topps. He's also got a 1991 Topps Major League Debut card.

CATEGORIES: 2002 Topps, Texas Rangers

 
Topps Don Mattingly
Topps Don Mattingly

6/17/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #200 Don Mattingly, Yankees

More Don Mattingly Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996

There was plenty upheaval around the 1989 Yankees, but All-Star 1B Don Mattingly remained a constant. I remember pulling this card in 1990 and being thrilled, as Mattingly was one of about three non-Giants I'd heard of prior to starting my card collection that year—the dude was kind of a big deal back in the 1980's.

Here, Mattingly has just wrapped his sixth consecutive season among the game's elite. Though he was not the MVP contender he'd been during the mid-80's, he still led the Yankees in RBI by a mile, also topping the team in doubles, homers and slugging.

THIS CARD: There is a 1990 Topps Don Mattingly being sold on EBay for $60 because of an alleged error, but chances are the seller is "confusing" this card for the 1991 Topps Mattingly error card—several of his stats were screwed up on the back (it was eventually corrected).

Today this card can be had for $.50 through Beckett's marketplace, but back in 1990 I imagine that price was double.

Mattingly appears in COTD for the second time; we previously selected his 1989 Topps card back in October 2015.

(flip) I guess finding crud on the back of a card you've owned 29 years (since age 10) is to be expected. I scraped off most of it, but some is still visible along the bottom bar.

Incredible that Mattingly lasted til Round 19. No one else from Mattingly's draft round reached MLB.

As you can see, Mattingly had a tough April 1989 (.221, 0 HR) but was pretty much his usual self from then on.

AFTER THIS CARD: No more superstardom for Mattingly thanks to his back—he was limited to 102 ordinary games in 1990 and never again reached 20 HR or 100 RBI, which is not to say he was useless; Mattingly still flirted with .300 annually, plus Donnie Baseball remained a Gold Glove first baseman, adding four more to his collection in the 1990's (nine in all)

His Yankees didn't make much divisional noise until '93, when they tied the first place Blue Jays in early September before fading. But in 1994, New York was the second-best team in the game (70-43) when the strike wiped out Mattingly's best shot at making his first postseason. As it were, the Yankees ran it back in 1995 and won the A.L. Wild Card—Mattingly was finally playing in October, but the Refuse To Lose Mariners wouldn't be denied.

While not retiring, 34-year-old Mattingly chose to sit out the 1996 season—as cruel fate would have it, his replacement Tino Martinez would help power New York to the World Series that famously eluded his predecessor. The 14-year vet did ultimately hang 'em up in January 1997, finishing with 588 career BB against 444 career K. 

 

Mattingly's gone on to a decent second career as manager of the Dodgers (2011-15, division titles 2013-15) and Marlins (2016-present, led a few games).

Don Mattingly appeared annually in Topps as a player 1984-96; Topps has not produced manager cards during his tenure.

CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, New York Yankees

 
Topps Alfonso Soriano
Topps Alfonso Soriano

6/19/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2005 Topps #460 Alfonso Soriano, Rangers

More Alfonso Soriano Topps Cards: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2013U 2014

 

You again?

Though this marks the fourth random selection of Alfonso Soriano for COTD—no one else has been picked more than twice so far—it's our first meeting with Soriano the youngster. You know, the one before the $136M contract who played infield, stole piles of bases and almost never got hurt.

I don't know why Soriano keeps popping up in our Randomizer, but it's better than some Dodger, I suppose. Have I mentioned I loathe the Dodgers?

Here, Soriano has completed his first of two seasons with the Texas Rangers; you may recall Texas trading Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees in early 2004 and receiving Soriano in return. The 28-year-old played very well for Texas, making his third straight All-Star team and winning his second Silver Slugger. Soriano's 28 HR and 91 RBI led all AL 2B, with only Seattle's Bret Boone coming close at all.

THIS CARD: I must admit, it is strange seeing Soriano back at second base, even though I watched him play his first seven years there. He was not great defensively, which is why he was eventually asked (told) to play the outfield instead.

This has got to be Yankee Stadium; the only other possibility is Dodger Stadium and there's no way a positive message like that would be displayed at Dodger Stadium. (Besides, Soriano didn't play there in 2004.)

Of Soriano's 15 Topps base cards, this is the only one depicting him fielding. Which is just as well; he was in MLB for his bat, not his mitt.

(flip) Not many Rangers got green lights; Soriano's 18 steals led the club, which only managed 69 thefts total. (I'd long forgotten Soriano was once a steals champion.)

I'm going to assume Julio Franco was the previous 2B home run record holder in Texas. It certainly was not Scott Fletcher.

All-Star MVP Soriano rppped a three-run HR off ex-teammate Roger Clemens two batters after an NL error prolonged the first inning. He was 2-for-3 in all for the AL, who won 9-4.

AFTER THIS CARD: Soriano spent one more year with the Rangers before being traded to the Nationals, largely for financial reasons (already making $7.5M, Soriano was up for arbitration and set for free agency after the 2006 season...this is the same team that dropped $252M on A-Rod just five years prior.)

With Jose Vidro entrenched at 2B in Washington, the team attempted to move Soriano to LF; he famously resisted before finally giving in to the move. For the rest of his career, Soriano played four innings on the infield.

Despite the position switch and its challenges, the Dominican native became baseball's fourth all-time 40-40 player in 2006 (46 HR, 41 SB) and was rewarded handsomely by the Cubs (8Y/$136M). But, while fairly productive,  he began to absorb bites from the injury bug, not reaching 150 games played as a Cub until the 2012 season. Furthermore, the team slowly crumbled after postseason berths in 2007-08.
Chicago ultimately traded Soriano back to the Yankees in Year Seven of the deal; after a big post-trade resurgence, he was cut in mid-2014, ending his 15-year career at 38.

Alfonso Soriano appeared annually in Topps 2000-14, with 2000 being a shared Prospects card.

CATEGORIES: 2005 Topps, Texas Rangers, $100M Men

 
Topps Greg Holland
Topps Greg Holland

6/22/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps #216 Greg Holland, Royals

More Greg Holland Topps Cards: 2012 2013 2014 2016 2017U 2018

 

My lasting memory of the hard-throwing Royals closer Greg Holland: Game 3 of the 2014 World Series, my Giants down 3-2. With so much on the line, surely, we could scrape together at least one run, right?
 

Nope. Holland made very quick work (eight pitches) of the Giants in the 9th, putting his Royals up 2-1 in the series. It was the first (but not last) time I felt like SF might not beat those guys from Missouri (though they ultimately did). Holland—the final member of the "Back End Boys" trio along with Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis—was dominant in his day.

Stardom was never a given with young Holland, who didn't close full-time in the pros until his fourth year in the majors. Here, he's coming off that aforementioned 2014 season—his second straight among the league's elite firemen. Without him, it's probable the AL Champion Royals don't even finish third.

.

THIS CARD: There exists a variant of this card, with Holland getting a Gatorade bath from someone, although it looks more like snow than liquid.

As you can see here, Holland does not use a conventional motion, removing the ball from his mitt sooner than most and stepping toward first base as he releases the ball. In this particular pic he seems taller and slimmer than he actually is.

Holland has worn #56 his entire career.

(flip) Here I was, thrilled over the size of the blurb—until actually reading it. Not nearly as much material to work with as initially thought, although I can tell you DQ saved 40+ in both 1983 and 1984.

Those 16 saves in 2012? Holland was appointed closer following the trade of incumbent Jon Broxton. Who we all forgot ever pitched for the Royals, no?

Holland's 47 saves in '13 broke the KC team record, held by Quisenberry and Jeff Montgomery (45).

AFTER THIS CARD: Though he continued to close games, Holland was not as effective in 2015 as in 2013-14, and near season's end he underwent UCL surgery that knocked him out for 2016 (which he spent as a free agent).

Upon signing with Colorado for 2017, Holland re-emerged as an All-Star closer—feeling so confident in his value that he subsequently rejected his $15M player option for '18. However, all off-season Holland heard crickets and ultimately settled for a 1Y/$14M deal from the Cardinals just prior to Opening Day.

The 32-year-old inexplicably stunk up Busch Stadium and was cut in August, but did get things back on track with Washington to close the season. He is currently closing for the Diamondbacks.

Greg Holland has appeared in Topps annually since 2012 (2017 was an Update card).

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps, Kansas City Royals, 

 
Topps Stephen Strasburg
Topps Stephen Strasburg

6/25/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2011 Topps #183 Stephen Strasburg, Nationals

More Stephen Strasburg Topps Cards: 2010U 2011A 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

 

ACQUAINTANCE: Skillz, I got tickets to the Nats game tonight. Wanna go?

ME: Nah, I'm too tired.

That was me, on the afternoon of 6/8/2010, passing up the free opportunity to watch Stephen Strasburg's major league debut.
You know, the one where he made history by striking out 14 Pirates.

Ever since, I've lamented that decision, coping with it by telling myself things like if I'd gone, I'd have done something to foul up Stras's gem like get hit by a foul liner or distract him with my clashing outfit (I was on a cross-country trip to D.C. at the time and painfully low on clean laundry.)

Here, the hard-throwing, highly-touted righty is just getting started in the bigs. Strasburg made 12 electric MLB starts before arm surgery sidelined him; he still managed to lead all Nats pitchers (50+ IP) in WHIP, while placing sixth among NL rookies in K.

.

THIS CARD: Like almost every 2011-12 Topps All-Star Rookie selection, Strasburg has two commons in the set—one with the trophy, one without. No clue why this is; Topps never did it this way before or since. Stras's other card could have gone to Luis Atilano! How else will anyone remember he ever existed?

The other notable #37 in Nats history: Mike Bacsik, who wore it when he served up #756 to Barry Bonds in 2007.

Strasburg didn't start throwing a slider until around 2016, otherwise that'd be my guess as to what he's firing here. So...curve? He's got a mean one.

(flip) Surprising the powers-that-be allowed "puking" in a blurb. I'd kill to be just 30 pounds overweight.

The other two righties to average 12 K/9 in 12+ starts at the time of this card's release? Pedro Martinez and Kerry Wood; Jose Fernandez, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer (twice) have since done it.

Hall-of-Famer Earle Combs was a 12-year Yankee, a triples machine who batted .325 for his career. He was also part of a select group to wear #1 before BIlly Martin.

In case ya hadn't heard, Strasburg was the #1 overall pick in 2009, out of San Diego State.

AFTER THIS CARD: It's hard to believe Strasburg is in Year 10 with the Nationals, but it's true—after recovering from his 2010 surgery, Strasburg quickly re-established himself in 2012 to the tune of 15 wins—you may recall the controversy when Nats management shut him down prior to that year's postseason run.

Only once has Strasburg gone a whole season without missing multiple starts, but he's been very good-to-great when he has pitched—certainly Washington thought so when they presented him with a 7Y/$175M extension in 2016. To date, he's won 15 games thrice, made a trio of All-Star teams, and finished third in the 2017 NL Cy Young vote (15-4, 2.52, 204 K vs. 42 unintentional BB).

As of this writing, the soon-to-be-31-year-old is 9-4, 3.88 in 17 GS so far in '19; if he maintains health that 15-win career high could fall. By a lot.

Stephen Strasburg debuted in 2010 Topps Update and has appeared annually in the base set ever since.

CATEGORIES: 2011 Topps, Washington Nationals, $100M Men