Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, June 2022
A = Alternate Card B= Bonus Factory Set Card F = Factory Team Set G = Giveaway Set T = Traded Set U = Update Set
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6/29/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps Update #234 Matt Downs, Giants
More Matt Downs Topps Cards: 2011U 2012 2012U
The former Giants/Astros utility player Downs was just a rookie in 2009, called up by San Francisco to replace the struggling 2B Emmanuel Burriss in mid-June and immediately penciled into their everyday lineup. The former #36 pick out of Alabama produced two hits against the Angels in his second MLB start.
THIS CARD: We see Downs appearing to make a throw home from second base. He went errorless in 17 games (16 starts) with the 2009 Giants, so however this play turned out, at least we know Downs didn't throw the ball away.
No idea why the "RC" emblem is missing from this card; Downs never appeared on a Topps card of any kind before this one.
More from Downs' 2009 season: he played regularly for the Giants until being sent to the minors in early July. He returned in late July for a week, only to be sent down again for the season's duration.
(flip) LOL TOPPS!!! "Downs"...I see what you did there!!!
Downs was named to the 2007 Northwest League (A-) and 2008 California League (A+) All-Star teams. Shout-out to thebaseballcube.com for that information.
As mentioned, Downs was selected in the 36th round of the 2006 Draft; exactly zero others from that round who signed ever reached MLB. (Future big leaguers J.D. Martinez and Kyle Gibson were also drafted in that round, but chose not to sign with the Twins and Phillies, respectively.)
AFTER THIS CARD: Downs didn't make the 2010 Giants roster out of Spring Training, but was recalled two weeks in after OF Aaron Rowand's beaning. He got in 29 games for SF that season, but was in an 0-for-16 slump when waived in August. Downs soon landed with the Astros and in 2011, he batted .276 with 10 homers in 106 games for Houston!
The 28-year-old returned to the Astros for 2012 and enjoyed the game of his life on 7/18, but was otherwise frigid with the bat including a 3-for-32 May. He was demoted to AAA for a time in August and let go after the season; Miami brought Downs in on a MiLB deal but he couldn't crack the roster and never played in MLB again.
Matt Downs appeared in 2012 Topps, and in 2010-12 Topps Update. The 2012 Update card is redundant, but not identical.
CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, San Francisco Giants
More June 2022 Topps Cards Of The Day
6/1/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps Update #157 Jason Marquis, Nationals
More Jason Marquis Topps Cards: 1997 1998 2001 2002 2003 2004 2004T 2005 2006 2007 2007U 2008 2009 2009U 2010 2011 2011U 2012U 2013
For a while, Marquis was one of baseball's top pitching prospects, even after his original team (Atlanta) packaged him to St. Louis in a December 2003 trade for OF J.D. Drew (the Cardinals also got fellow pitching prospect Adam Wainwright in that deal, FYI). Marquis had been up and down with the Braves since 2000 but was still very young and lacked consistency.
The 2004 Cardinals made Marquis a full-time starter, and he responded with a 15-7, 3.71 campaign, helping the Redbirds to the World Series! (They lost to Boston despite Marquis's strong performance in the deciding Game 4.) Marquis slipped to 13-14 in 2005, then plummeted to 14-16, 6.02 in 2006 following an awful second half (though the Cards actually WON the World Series that year).
Following a pair of adequate years with the Cubs 2007-08, Marquis went 15-13, 4.04 for the postseason-bound 2009 Rockies, earning his first (and only) All-Star nod in the process. This caught Washington's attention...
THIS CARD: Marquis dealing at an unidentified road ballpark. He attacked with a sinker that was rediscovered with the Cardinals, as well as a four-seamer, tough slider, occasional curve and fine changeup.
Marquis wore #21 for almost all of his post-Atlanta career (Warren Spahn might have taken issue with any Braves wearing it). This includes Marquis's two Cubs seasons when many felt the the number should have been retired—or at least taken out of circulation—in honor of the controversial Sammy Sosa.
More from Marquis's early 2010 season: he initially looked like one of the biggest free agent busts of all-time. On 4/18 vs. Milwaukee, he allowed four hits, hit two batters, and walked another without getting an out; they all scored, swelling his ERA to 20.52. But after late April surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow, Marquis threw much better.
(flip) Marquis's free agent deal with the Nats was for 2Y/$15M after Colorado didn't try all that hard to retain him (he slumped a bit down the stretch and didn't start in the NLDS).
Only Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs (87) and Roy Oswalt of the Astros (94) won more than Marquis in the NL from 2004-09.
Not shown: Marquis's hitting stats, which were good enough to earn him the 2005 NL Silver Slugger Award. Lifetime, he hit .196 with five homers and 57 runs batted in.
AFTER THIS CARD: Marquis was off to an 8-5, 3.95 start with the 2011 Nationals when he was swapped to Arizona in August. In his third start there, a comebacker broke his leg and ended his season.
From there, Marquis struggled with the 2012 Twins, improved with the 2012 Padres, threw pretty well for the 2013 Padres until July UCL surgery, then mounted an unsuccessful comeback with the 2015 Reds. He ended his 16-year career with a 124-118, 4.61 line in 377 games (318 starts).
Marquis continued to compete for Israel in the World Baseball Classic; he even aimed for a spot on the 2021 team—at age 42—before the WBC was postponed by COVID to 2023.
Jason Marquis appeared in 1997-98, 2001-11 and 2013 Topps. He's also got a 2004 Traded card plus 2007 and 2009-12 Update cards.
CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps Update, Washington Nationals
6/2/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #494 Greg Gagne, Royals
More Greg Gagne Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1996 1997 1998
Not related to ex-Dodgers CL Eric Gagne—Greg pronounces it GAG-NEE while Eric pronounces it GONE-YAY.
By 1994, the veteran shortstop Greg Gagne was a two-time World Champion and (largely) free of the good-field/no-hit reputation many shortstops of his time were saddled with. In fact, Gagne could do a bit of everything on the diamond, one of those valuable and underrated pieces every good team needs.
Here, the 33-year-old has just wrapped his second season with Kansas City after a decade with Minnesota. Gagne rapped his 1,000th career hit in early 1994, and only OF Brian McRae (114) appeared in more contests for the '94 Royals.
THIS CARD: Gagne's front image depicts him defensively for the fifth straight Topps set.
In the field in 1994, Gagne made 12 errors, fielded .977, and turned 65 double plays, all of which were a bit down from his excellent 1993 campaign but still pretty darn good. Only one of those errors happened after 6/15.
More from Gagne's 1994 season: on 6/3 at Yankee Stadium, Gagne went 4-for-4 and missed the cycle by a triple in leading the Royals to a 7-4 win. And on 6/19, he hit a three-run, inside-the-park homer off Seattle's Bill Risley to add some late insurance for the Royals. It was the fourth and final ITPHR of Gagne's career!
(flip) Gagne committed between 14 and 26 errors annually 1986-90, so I don't know what the heck Topps is talking about with that "only once" nonsense.
Yes, Gagne was originally a Yankee farmhand; he went to Minnesota with tough setup man Ron Davis in an April 1982 trade for veteran SS Roy Smalley. The Twins won this deal in the long term.
Gagne was signed as a free agent by the Royals for 3Y/$10M, very nice dollars for the times. Few in Kansas City cared all that much because the Royals signed premier SP David Cone the same day. And no one outside of KC cared at all because the Giants signed megastar OF Barry Bonds the same day.
AFTER THIS CARD: Except for a continued drop in his fielding percentage, Gagne's 1995 season greatly resembled his 1994 season, and he signed with the Dodgers for 1Y/$2.6M (even though Los Angeles offered two years). He was a welcome replacement for erratic incumbent Jose Offerman—who'd ironically replace Gagne with the Royals in 1996.
Gagne helped the 1996 Dodgers return to the playoffs for a second straight year and re-signed for 1997. Though he still produced at his career norm and was "only" 35, Gagne chose to retire after that 1997 campaign, finishing up with 1,440 hits, a .254 average, and 111 homers. He was elected to the Twins Hall of Fame in 2010.
Greg Gagne debuted in 1985 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in the base set 1986-98.
CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, Kansas City Royals
6/3/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #337 Bret Boone, Padres
More Bret Boone Topps Cards: 1993 1994 1994T 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 1999T 2001 2001T 2002 2003 2004 2005
Few players' careers endured the peaks and valleys that Bret Boone's did. In 1994, his first full year in MLB, he was a .320 hitter. Then he barely stayed over .220 for a time. Then he was a 1998 All-Star. Then he decidedly wasn't. Then Boone put together one of the greatest seasons by a second baseman in MLB history. Less than three years later he was released, with his career hanging by a thread.
If your club had the good Bret Boone, you were in good shape, as the 1994 Reds and 2001 Mariners especially proved. If your club had the slumping Bret Boone, well, you weren't getting far.
Here, the 2000 Padres have just acquired Boone after one of his decent seasons—he didn't seriously challenge for the 1999 All-Star team, but he didn't drag Atlanta down, either. In fact, Boone was second on the 1999 Braves (to Chipper Jones) in runs and doubles, finished up as one of five Braves to smack 20+ home runs, and batted .373 (20-for-54) in the 1999 postseason.
THIS CARD: Assuming this isn't an airbrushed pic, Boone completes a cut during 2000 Spring Training, possibly? He receives his second straight vertical front image after three straight sets with a horizontal front image—which may be a Topps record.
Among Padres, #29 has mostly belonged to journeymen and flameouts, but Fred McGriff had it during his 2.5 years in San Diego. Today, SP Dinelson Lamet has #29, and he still may yet do something with it—the guy is talented, just fragile.
More from Boone's 1999 season: Atlanta acquired him from the Reds in the Denny Neagle Trade of November 1998. Boone took over Atlanta's unsettled 2B position and on 4/12 at Philadelphia, his two-run homer in the T7th put the Braves ahead to stay.
(flip) Check out Boone's neck. No, I'm not a thirsty vampire; just want to point out Boone had one of the longest necks of his time. You can't fully tell in this pic, however.
That Trade sent Boone, OF/1B Ryan Klesko and a prospect to the Padres in exchange for OF Reggie Sanders, 1B Wally Joyner and 2B Quilvio Veras. At first glance, the Braves appear to have won this deal, but none of those dudes stayed with Atlanta long, while Klesko gave the Padres many fine seasons.
Overall, Boone hit .538 (7-for-13) with four doubles in that 1999 World Series. He batted .474 (9-for-19) in the NLDS against Houston.
AFTER THIS CARD: For the 2000 Padres, Boone hit .251, 19, 74, missing the last several weeks with a bone bruise in his knee. San Diego declined his $4M option for 2001 and he signed with the Mariners for 1Y/$3.25M (plus incentives) in December 2000.
I'm guessing Boone's .331, 37, 141 output for the record-setting 2001 Mariners secured those incentives—Boone was an All-Star for the second time and placed third in AL MVP voting! Over the next two seasons, Boone hit an aggregate .286 with 59 homers and 224 RBI for Seattle, who re-signed him for 3Y/$25M in January 2002.
Though only so-so in 2004, Boone earned a fourth year on his deal by batting 400 times. However, he only produced a .231/.299/.385 slashline through 74 games in '05, and the Mariners let him go in July. Boone then spent the next three weeks going 9-for-53 with no homers for Minnesota, who also cut him. (It should be noted that during the '05 season, Jose Canseco's tell-all book "Juiced" described Boone as an admitted PED user, though he strongly denied that.)
We next saw Boone attempting to win a job with the 2006 Mets, but he instead retired before camp broke. Boone attempted a comeback with the 2008 Nationals, but didn't make the team and retired for good a few weeks later at 39.
Bret Boone appeared annually in Topps 1993-2005, and in 1994, 1999 and 2001 Topps Traded.
CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, San Diego Padres
6/4/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps Traded #72 Keith Moreland, Padres
More Keith Moreland Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1989T
Here, we catch up with the former Cubs masher as he begins a new journey down in sunny San Diego. Moreland, coming off a strong 1987 (.266, 27, 88), got off to a fast start as a Padre, hitting in each of his first 10 games of 1988. That included a two-run double on Opening Day!
THIS CARD: TSR presents Moreland in COTD for the second time; his 1989 Topps Traded card was profiled back in January 2020.
Topps depicts Moreland chugging up the line here. One of my favorite stats ever comes courtesy of Moreland—he routinely stole between zero and one bases in almost all of his first eight seasons, suddenly figured things out in 1985 and swiped 12, then returned to his previous norms.
More from Moreland's early 1988 season: despite his hot start (.326 through 5/4), he did not hit a home run until 5/4. Perhaps he was making a conscious effort to improve his (already-fine) contact rate, as Moreland went 39 at-bats without a K in April 1988.
(flip) Unusual to print the full hit/at-bat totals when referencing an entire season, but there you go.
1988 Topps was notorious for its blurbs referencing minor league feats from god knows when. As you can see, the pattern carried over to Traded. Why anyone would find Moreland's run-of-the-mill AA stats interesting after 10 years in the majors is beyond me. If he'd hit 134 doubles, perhaps...
That February 1988 Trade sent Moreland and UT Mike Brumley to the Padres in exchange for CL Goose Gossage and P Ray Hayward (who was dispatched to Texas a month later).
AFTER THIS CARD: Despite the fast start, Moreland finished 1988 at just .256, 5, 64 and was traded to the Tigers (with 3B Chris Brown) for SP Walt Terrell in October.
Moreland, after batting a team-best .299 in 90 games for the Tigers, was dealt to Baltimore for P Brian DuBois in July 1989. But too many cold streaks left him at .215 as an Oriole, and Moreland's career ended at 35 after that season.
His number 3 was retired by the University of Texas in 2010; for a time he did radio work for them and later, the Cubs.
Keith Moreland appeared in Topps 1981-89. He's also got 1982, 1988 and 1989 Traded cards.
CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps Traded, San Diego Padres
6/6/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2021 Topps #256 Keibert Ruiz, Dodgers
More Keibert Ruiz Topps Cards: n/a
There isn't a whole lot of "book" on Ruiz just yet, but the guy has skillz. With young Will Smith entrenched as the Dodgers' #1 catcher, however, he was not going to capitalize on his potential until/unless he was dealt—which he mercifully was in July 2021.
But here, the youngster is fresh off a 2020 season spent almost exclusively at the "alternate training site". Ruiz did get in a pair of games for the Dodgers in August 2020.
THIS CARD: Per Getty images, we're seeing Ruiz celebrating an 8-3 win over the Angels on 8/16. There were limited opportunities to capture Ruiz with the Dodgers; this was literally the first image to pop up. (BTW, that's the formidable arm of Dodgers CL Kenley Jansen you see at left.)
More from this game: Ruiz started behind the plate and caught SP Dustin May, who wasn't particularly sharp but escaped with a ND. Ruiz produced one of the Dodgers' FOUR homers on the day; more on that below.
Ruiz receives a full base card despite only appearing twice for L.A. in '20. This is largely because of his top-prospect status; the kid hit .374 in rookie ball (2016) and followed that up with a .317 year in Class A. Ruiz played in the 2018 Futures game, but a broken finger shortened his 2019 campaign. Still, L.A. still had plans for the young receiver entering the pandemic year.
(flip) Ruiz's defense hasn't been statistically stellar; he's averaged around 24% throwing out base stealers and his passed ball totals have been a tad high in the minors. To his credit, he's up to 34% with the 2022 Nationals, with only one PB through 41 games to date.
Julio Teheran, then of the Angels, served up that homer to Ruiz in his first MLB at-bat! Per MLB.com, only six other Dodgers—four in Brooklyn, two in Cali—had EVER done so, with the last being the immortal Garey Ingram back in 1994. (I'd list them, but the only other guy you've heard of is Jose Offerman, who debuted with a bomb in 1990.)
Switch-hitting Ruiz is shaping up to be a good contact guy. So far in 2022 he's walked 15 times vs. 17 strikeouts; Mickey Tettleton is somewhere smiling at this news.
AFTER THIS CARD: Obviously unwilling to have Smith bumped off, Ruiz only got in six games with the 2021 Dodgers before being packaged to Washington in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner blockbuster Deadline trade. Ruiz hit .284 in 23 games with the Nats that year before earning a regular job with the 2022 squad. To date, the soon-to-be-24-year-old is slashing .248/.320./338 as Washington's primary catcher.
Keibert Ruiz has appeared in 2021 Topps. While he's got a card with Washington in their 2022 Topps Factory Team Set, he was omitted from 2022 Topps—though I'm willing to bet he'll pop up in the Update set.
CATEGORIES: 2021 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers
6/7/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #83 Shane Andrews, Cubs
More Shane Andrews Topps Cards: 1991 1995 1997 2000
The former Expos bopper Andrews had moved on to the Cubs by the 2000 season, and while his uniform had changed, his bat remained as powerful as ever. Initially the 2000 Cubs' starting 3B, Andrews slugged 14 homers in just 192 at-bats while batting .295 against left-handers before problems arose...
THIS CARD: Andrews makes his second COTD appearance; we profiled his 1991 Topps Draft Pick card back in January 2016.
I have to continually remind myself that Andrews was indeed this svelte. In my mind, he was built like Troy Glaus. largely because of said 1991 Topps card.
Though Andrews only received three standard Topps commons in his career—he was grossly omitted from 1999 Topps for reasons I can't grasp—those three front images were well-varied. Here, he's fielding; on his prior cards he's shown sliding into second base and starting up the line after making contact.
(flip) Aramis Ramirez and, later, Kris Bryant finally gave the Cubs some consistency at 3B for the better part of 2003-2021. Maybe Patrick Wisdom is a keeper, too.
Andrews had to re-establish himself as a starter because despite his breakout 1998—one in which he and Vlad Guerrero Sr. set an Expos record for homers by a duo with 63, per 1999 Fleer—he was displaced at 3B by hot rookie Michael Barrett in 1999. Andrews' bat never warmed up that year, and he wound up joining the Cubs in September after Montreal cut him.
The way Topps phrases the blurb, it sounds as if Andrews missed the rest of the season following his back surgery (herniated disk) when in fact, he was only out from 5/15 thru 8/24. Andrews returned to the team in a part-time role and went 2-for-22, but as a regular over the final two weeks, he slashed .327/.400/.596!
AFTER THIS CARD: Despite his hot finish, Andrews was essentially done in MLB after 2000, as
306 of his final 313 professional games were in AAA—his MLB career wrapped with a seven-game cameo as a 2002 Red Sox September call-up.
Shane Andrews was a sporadic Topps inclusion during his career. He debuted with that 1991 Topps Draft Pick card, then appeared in Topps in 1995 (a shared "On Deck" card) 1997 (his only Topps common as an actual Expo) and 2000-01, both with the Cubs.
CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps, Chicago Cubs
6/8/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2002 Topps #563 Shawn Wooten, Angels
More Shawn Wooten Topps Cards: 1994 2003 2004
Shawn Wooten was once so highly regarded as a prospect that he appeared in 1994 Topps on a shared Prospects card. Now, that in and of itself doesn't mean Wooten was necessarily destined for stardom—none of the four dudes on that card even became an MLB regular—but Topps generally picked guys with upside, skillz and good numbers for those cards, not #38 picks who hit .212 in Rookie ball.
What I'm trying to tell you is: eyes were on Wooten back in the early 1990's.
Wooten, however, would not reach MLB until the 2000 season at age 28. But once he did, he continued to mash just as he'd done 1997-2000 in the minors. Well, for a couple of years, anyway. Here, we find the ex-Tigers farmhand on the heels of his first full year in MLB. He won a job in Spring Training and became quite the apt PH, while also serving as fill-in DH, C and 1B for Mike Scioscia.
THIS CARD: I admit to not seeing the All-Star Rookie trophy at first. As good as Wooten was in 2001, I didn't think he played enough to be considered for the honor, but 2001 didn't produce any rookie catchers in MLB who played both as well and as frequently as Wooten.
You're in good company, Shawn. From Hall-of-Fame DH Reggie Jackson in the 1980's to OF/DH Chili Davis in the 1990's to C Mike Napoli in the 2000's to OF Mark Trumbo in the 2010's, a lot of baseballs have traveled very, very far after an Angel wearing #44 has unloaded. (Current Angels #44 Aaron Whitefield, however, doesn't seem destined to join the party.)
More from Wooten's 2001 season: among AL rookies, only Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners boasted a higher average at the All-Star break than Wooten's .328 mark. On 7/6 at Colorado, Wooten went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI, helping Anaheim to a 6-5 win. And on 4/10, Wooten notched what would be the only triple of his MLB career; he tagged Texas SP Darren Oliver and quickly scored on Benji Gil's single (though the Rangers won that day).
(flip) Man, try not to look TOO enthusiastic, Shawn! It's only Major League Baseball!
Given the time it took for Wooten to reach MLB, one might think he voyaged through several organizations on the way there. But no, it was just Detroit and Anaheim. Check out those very fine offensive numbers Wooten posted on the farms in 1997-2000.
I'm not sure precisely why he didn't get "The Call" sooner—the late 1990's Angels could have used him—but three knee surgeries couldn't have helped.
Not only did Wooten face wrist surgery late in the '01 campaign, but his pops also passed away. Yet the kid never stayed cold for long.
AFTER THIS CARD: Wooten's 2002 debut was delayed for months by a strained side muscle and a torn thumb ligament, but upon returning in July, he batted .292 in 49 games down the stretch—then went 9-for-19 with a homer in the 2002 postseason! Wooten's efforts, especially in the ALDS against the Yankees, contributed to the Angels' first and only World Series title (OVER MY GIANTS.)
Whether or not this played a role, Wooten did not hit at his expected levels for the 2003 Angels, and he spent the next two seasons going 9-for-54 for the 2004 Phillies and 2005 Red Sox. Many MiLB deals followed, but Wooten never made another MLB roster.
Once the playing offers dried up, Wooten resurfaced as a coach in the Padres and Dodgers chains before returning to the Angels as assistant hitting coach for 2019-20.
Shawn Wooten appeared in 1994 and 2002-04 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 2002 Topps, Anaheim Angels
6/9/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2017 Topps Update #300 Cody Bellinger, Home Run Derby
More Cody Bellinger Home Run Derby Topps Cards: n/a
While I will forever scorn Cody Bellinger for delivering the single that put the Dodgers ahead to stay in the 2021 NLDS (I stop short of calling it the game-winning hit because L.A. won due to a garbage ruling), I can't deny he's got some of the best pure lefty power in the game today. Even Dodgers don't win MVP awards by accident!
Bellinger put his ball-launching skillz on display in the 2017 Home Run Derby held at Marlins Park. He might have been just a rookie at the time, but he was a rookie who'd finish the regular season with 39 homers and add three more in October. In short...Bellinger belonged.
THIS CARD: This is only the third Derby Topps card we've selected in the eight-year history of TSR. We previously selected Matt Kemp's 2012 Derby card in August 2019, followed by Albert Pujols's 2009 Derby card in September 2021.
This is also the first time we've pulled the final card of any Topps, Traded or Update set. While Pujols's 2009 Derby card was also Update #300, that year the set was 330 cards.
We're obviously seeing Bellinger during the Derby, but a more exciting/interesting pic shouldn't have been too difficult from a guy who walloped 27 total home runs. What's he even doing here, watching somebody else hit while awaiting his turn?
(flip) Clay Bellinger was a former Yankees infielder in the late 1990's, in case you weren't aware.
At least Bellinger's 27 blasts were necessary. Nothing annoys me more than when a dude blasts 25~ homers in a round where it only took about seven to win...then does nothing the rest of the way.
Judge went on to win the whole Derby with an 11-10 defeat of Minnesota's Miguel Sano in the Final Round. Other participants: Miami's Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour, Judge's Yankee teammate Gary Sanchez, Kansas City's Mike Moustakas, and Colorado's Charlie Blackmon.
(Also, T-Mobile SUCKS. They did me wrong in 2005 and I still ain't forgot. I hold grudges, people.)
AFTER THIS CARD: Bellinger has made one All-Star team since 2017, but has not participated in any additional Home Run Derbies. To date, he's got 140 career bombs thru age almost-27, and that number would probably be around 200 if not for COVID and his mind-boggling 2021 slump. Belli has been better in 2022 than in 2021, but is still far from his old MVP form and might not be long for the Dodgers unless things change.
CATEGORIES: 2017 Topps Update, Home Run Derby
6/11/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps #584 Steve Trout, Yankees
More Steve Trout Topps Cards: 1987 1989
No known relation to Mike, though Dizzy is his father.
Steve Trout, at times, was among the better pitchers in the league. Steve Trout, at other times, would pitch himself out of whatever rotation he was in and take a long while to recapture his touch. Described by one publication as "a non-traditional type of pitcher", Trout was the starts and innings leader on the 1984 Cubs team that advanced to the NLCS after 39 years out of postseason play.
Originally a member of White Sox, Trout joined the Cubs in January 1983 via six-player trade. He didn't do much that year, but in the 1984 home opener, Trout two-hit the Mets on the way to his finest all-around season (he also fired a brilliant NLCS start). Chicago signed Trout to a 5Y/$4.5M free agent deal in late 1984, pretty hefty dollars for the times.
Trout's 1985 might have been even better than his 1984 were it not for a pair of absences stemming from elbow inflammation. By 1987, he was again healthy and pitching some of the best ball of his career when the Yankees came calling. Trout was not thrilled with the trade, and Yankeeville was not thrilled with his performance.
THIS CARD: That's #35 on Trout's back; he claimed the digits of one of the men swapped for him, SP Bob Tewksbury. Previously, #35 was Yogi Berra's second of three numbers with the Yankees; ace CL John Wetteland and Hall-of-Fame SP Mike Mussina later wore those digits as well.
We see Trout about to deliver possibly his vaunted sinker; he also threw a changeup and a slider to go with a 90ish fastball.
More from Trout's 1987 season: he'd thrown back-to-back shutouts for Chicago right before the trade, but there was nothing good about his 1987 Yankees stint to report on. Forget shutouts, Trout had major difficulties just getting outs post-trade.
(flip) That Trade sent pitching prospects Bob Tewksbury, Dean Wilkins and Rich Scheid to the Cubs; only Tewksbury panned out—and that was after moving on to the Cardinals.
Nice ERA, but 48 K in 71 innings isn't really boastworthy, even in 1978 AA ball.
Trout's career numbers remind me of current veteran SP Zach Davies. Davies is a guy who's been pretty good at times, but has also been equally bad at other times. Just when you think he might be out of chances, Davies rewards some team's faith with a fluke 3.00 season that buys him another couple years of MLB auditions—he's just good enough to disappoint.
AFTER THIS CARD: Trout only made 34 appearances (16 starts) after the 1987 season. Still being mostly paid by the Cubs and Yankees, the Mariners acquired Trout in a December 1987 trade but watched him go 8-10, 7.40 with terrible command across the 1988 and 1989 seasons. That marked the end for Trout as an MLB pitcher; much later he briefly coached in the Can-Am and Independent Leagues.
Steve Trout appeared in 1980-89 Topps, as well as 1983 Topps Traded.
CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps, New York Yankees
6/12/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps #620 Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks
More Daniel Hudson Topps Cards: 2010 2010U 2011 2012 2013 2015 2016U 2017U 2018F 2020U 2021U
Let's get one thing out of the way: while I have never batted against Daniel Hudson IRL, I have faced him many times in MLB: The Show, and the man may have the toughest changeup in video game history. The thing just STOPS in mid-flight, no matter when you start to swing; fouling it off is a victory in and of itself.
If the flesh-and-bone version of Hudson is anything like the virtual version, I don't know how anybody ever scores against him unless they're using the ol' trash-can method. You CANNOT hit that changeup unless you know it's coming...and even then it's a challenge.
Here, Hudson is fresh off his first full year back from TWO UCL surgeries! An up-and-coming starter before the operations, Hudson was reinvented in '15 as an effective reliever and was even successful in a handful of save ops. He did not hit a batter all season.
THIS CARD: Do you see anything missing? Well, if you're a regular COTD visitor, you may remember that my 2016 Topps set included an "All-Star Game" stamp on every last card. I didn't mind it when I purchased it for $30 six years ago, but over time I grew to hate it and FINALLY replaced it with a standard factory set earlier this month! No more stamps!
Other notable Diamondback #41's include...uh...mostly no-names. Though #41 Wilmer Flores hit .317 while passing through Arizona in 2019.
According to Getty Images, this pic was shot 5/10/2015 and depicts Hudson warming up against the Padres. That day, Hudson made his only start of the season and threw 3.1 scoreless innings (56 pitches) as the D'Backs triumphed 2-1.
For some reason, Hudson also appears as a Diamondback in 2016 Topps Update. He was hardly that set's lone redundant inclusion.
(flip) Topps should have noted those two TJ surgeries were virtually back-to-back; Hudson was first operated on in July 2012 but re-tore his UCL in June 2013 during his first rehab start. I would have told the first surgeon "I WANT MY MONEY BACK!"
See Hudson's 2010-11 stat lines? He was shaping up to be quite a fine SP before the injuries, though he's had a pretty successful go in his second career out of the bullpen.
Hudson WAS in Arizona a long time. When he arrived via trade (for SP Edwin Jackson) in mid-2010, Mark Reynolds, Chris Young and Miguel Montero were still D'Back regulars, and frikkin' Aaron Heilman was a setup guy.
AFTER THIS CARD: Hudson was not terribly effective in 2016, especially after the break, and wound up joining the Pirates for 2017. They represent one of six uniform swaps Hudson has made since then, the most prosperous one leading to a World Series ring with the 2019 Nationals! He was also Washington's closer for most of the abbreviated 2020 campaign and has also thrown for the 2019 Blue Jays and 2021 Padres.
At present, the 35-year-old is in his second stint (2018) with the Dodgers and off to a fine start in 2022.
Daniel Hudson has appeared in Topps 2010-16, except 2014. He's also got 2010, 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2021 Update cards and can be found in the 2018 Topps Pirates Factory Team Set despite being excluded from both the base and Update sets that year.
CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps, Arizona Diamondbacks
6/13/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps Traded #104 Reggie Jackson '82 Traded Reprint
Though he retired a couple years before I started following MLB, I am more learned on Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson than perhaps any other non-Giant around. I read his first book Reggie about 125 times— somehow managing to discover something "new" each time—and was so fascinated by his experiences that I read pretty much any other book that had a chance of mentioning him.
Balls by Graig Nettles, The Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle, etc.
So without doing any research, I already know a little about Jackson signing with the Angels in January 1982 despite me being less than two years old at the time. According to Jackson's book, the club initially tried to lowball him, leading him to jerk them around just a little ("Play home games only? Sounds great! Wait, just join the team in August and pick them up down the stretch? I could do that!") until famed owner Gene Autry got directly involved.
Jackson eventually signed a four-year deal worth nearly $4M when reachable incentives were factored in. After an early slump, Mr. October damn near put the '82 Angels in the World Series.
THIS CARD: Jackson did not actually autograph this particular card; it's a copy of his signature similar to those used in 2007-08 Topps.
Did Reggie ever use the earflapped helmet? I gotta go back and look. Given the fact he WAS beaned at least twice in his pro career, I'd like to think he did take advantage of the flaps.
Every Topps Traded set through 1999 had at least one reprinted card in 2001 Traded & Rookies, except 1994 Traded. There were 45 in all.
I like the 1982 Topps design and would start collecting this set if I thought I'd know more than a third of the featured players.
(flip) Jackson didn't have the gaudiest homer totals, but he was a consistent threat for 25-30 bombs for nearly 20 years. And the ones he hit were exciting and often jaw-dropping.
The actual card number for this set is seen in the fine print below the stats. 47T was the card number in the original 1982 Topps Traded.
Yes, kids, Jackson was an Oriole for one season. In March 1976, he was traded by Oakland in exchange for OF Don Baylor before he could walk as a free agent (as ace SP Catfish Hunter had done the previous season).
Remember: there was a 50-day strike in 1981, which is why Jackson played just 94 games that year.
AFTER THIS CARD: Jackson wound up in Anaheim for five seasons (1982-86), though only the first one could be considered great statistically. On 9/17/1984, he cracked his 500th homer off Kansas City's Bud Black; Jackson retired after the 1987 season (spent with Oakland) with 563 homers, 6th-most in history at the time but just 14th today. He also tried to kill a queen once; nobody talks much about that anymore.
He remains the all-time MLB leader in K with 2,597, though Adam Dunn would have passed him if not for his premature retirement and Giancarlo Stanton could pass him sometime around 2027 given favorable health.
CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps Traded, Subsets
6/14/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2002 Topps #373 Toby Hall, Devil Rays
More Toby Hall Topps Cards: 2001 2003 2004 2005 2006 2006U
Toby Hall is best remembered as the D-Rays' starting catcher in the early 2000's, after the tandem of John Flaherty and Mike Difelice moved on. Probably the toughest catcher to strike out in MLB during his "heyday", Hall tore up the minors in 2000 prior to joining the Rays as a September call-up.
Here, the 25-year-old is coming off a 2001 season split between Tampa Bay and AAA Durham, who he represented in the International League All-Star Game. Hall joined the Devil Rays to stay in late July after Difelice was traded, and before long was playing regularly. In fact, when Flaherty missed most of September with a neck injury, Hall started 24 of the Rays' final 25 games!
THIS CARD: Hall doesn't look like a "Toby". Maybe I'm biased from watching so much The Office, but that's my stance.
Having a second MLB team with green as a primary color was fun while it lasted. A past girlfriend also had a little thing for Giants RP Tyler Walker, and when she spotted Walker warming up for the Devil Rays in that green uniform later on, she got a bit excited thinking he was now pitching for her Oakland Athletics. Sorry, not quite.
Tampa Bay, as you'll see in the reverse image, did use the blue seen in that upper banner as a secondary color. Which was just one of many bad decisions made during the franchise's first decade.
(flip) Later in his career, that facial hair of Hall's would sometimes change colors. I can't imagine dyeing my facial hair any color for any reason, not even to cover up grey; I guess Hall's just a far more fun guy than I am.
Check out Hall's offensive numbers for ALL his MiLB stops but especially 2001 Durham, where he struck out just 22 times in 373 at-bats. In 2002 and 2003, Hall's K/AB ratios would have ranked third and first in MLB if he had just a handful more at-bats to qualify in those years.
With his offensive skillz, how did Hall last to Round 9 of the 1997 draft? Some of the catchers who went ahead of him: Cameron Hahn (Round 2). Giuseppe Chiaramonte (Round 5). Paul Chiaffredo (Round 6). And many more who never escaped the minors. They couldn't have ALL been concussed out of pro baseball.
(Of course, after reading this interview, it could be the others had better attitudes than Hall...)
AFTER THIS CARD: Hall remained the Rays' #1 catcher through 2005, but like SO many others, his MLB production never reached his gaudy MiLB levels. Hall did reach .287 in 2005 after three straight seasons in the .250's, but slipped again in '06 and was traded to the Dodgers (for whom he hit .368 in 21 games).
From there, Hall signed a 2Y/$3.65M deal with the White Sox in December 2006. As A.J. Pierzynski's backup, Hall hit .235, 2, 10 over 79 combined games 2007-08, and his $2.2M club option for 2009 was declined.
Now 33, Hall's MiLB deal with the '09 Astros was voided once he underwent shoulder surgery. Out all year, his 2010 comeback consisted of a lone Rookie League game; after an unimpressive go in the Independent League in 2011, Hall ended his playing career.
Toby Hall debuted on a shared Prospects card in 2001 Topps, then appeared annually in the 2002-06 base sets. He's also got a 2006 Update card as a new Dodger; if you want a card of Hall with the White Sox, 2007 Upper Deck is your sole option.
CATEGORIES: 2002 Topps, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
6/16/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #51 Al Martin, Pirates
More Al Martin Topps Cards: 1993 1994 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003T
Today, we go from Toby Hall to his 2003 Devil Rays teammate, Al Martin.
Prior to landing in Tampa Bay, Martin was Pittsburgh's LF for much of the 1990's and a pretty good one for a time. In fact, here, Martin was second on the Pirates in many categories despite missing 30 games with injury (which might say more about the lack of talented Pirates than Martin's skillz, but whatever). The up-and-comer improved his average vs. lefties from .191 in 1993 to .289 in 1994.
THIS CARD: Martin appears in COTD for the second time in 18 months; we profiled his 1999 Topps card in January 2021.
The timing of this pic makes it appear Martin is about to run over the handle of his bat with his junk. I'm guessing that didn't happen, since Baseball Weekly—which was always on top of bizarre injuries—didn't report anything about it.
More from Martin's 1994 season: he was named Pirates Player of the Month for May, when he hit .310 with three homers, 11 runs batted in, and three steals. In fact, on 5/26 he went 4-for-7 with two doubles and four RBI in a wild 11-10, 13-inning victory over the visiting Mets.
(flip) Martin amassed only 14 at-bats after June, as wrist soreness was eventually determined to be caused by ligament damage. He was co-leading the Bucs in homers and steals when he was sidelined. (How crazy would it have been if, instead of wristbands, the Pirates were giving away Al Martin surgeries?!)
Martin had/has one of the more distinctive faces of his time. To this day, I couldn't pick Martin's longtime Pirates teammates Orlando Merced, Kevin Young, or even Jay Bell out of a lineup. But I would recognize Martin after five beers from across a crowded auditorium.
West Covina is a suburb just east of Los Angeles. It is also Jason Giambi's birthplace.
AFTER THIS CARD: Martin broke through in 1996, missing just seven games, batting .300 with 18 home runs, and swiping 38 bases (5th in the NL); Pittsburgh extended him for 3Y/$7/7M that October while dumping salary elsewhere. Martin was on pace to bypass those fine numbers in '97, but a hand injury interfered.
Platooned in 1998 for some reason, Martin endured a rough year but perhaps due to improved vision, he had an excellent 1999 (.277, 24, 63) and had his year-old trade request granted after that season (Padres).
Off to a fine first half with San Diego despite major off-field issues, Martin was acquired by Seattle in July 2000. He'd be a member of their 2001 116-win squad, but not a productive one; Martin spent 2002 out of baseball after failing to make the Cardinals roster. He resurfaced with the 2003 Rays, but slugged .357 in 100 games and faded from MLB for good.
Al Martin appeared in Topps 1993-2002, with a final appearance in 2003 Traded.
CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, Pittsburgh Pirates
6/17/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps #770 Lou Whitaker, Tigers
More Lou Whitaker Topps Cards: 1987 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
In recent years, a handful of MLB teams have relaxed their long-standing policies on retiring uniform numbers. My Giants are among them—after only retiring the numbers of Hall-of-Famers for decades, they gave the honor to non-inductees Barry Bonds (#25) in '18 and Will Clark (#22) later in '22, fittingly.
The Athletics will also break from their practice and retire #34 for SP Dave Stewart later this year, even though he never sniffed Cooperstown induction. (Actually, that's re-retire, since #34 Rollie Fingers got the honor first.) And this upcoming August, 27 years after he last wore it, star 2B Lou Whitaker's #1 will be retired by the Tigers.
Since the Detroit Tigers only retired HOFer's numbers—with the notable exception of Willie Horton (#23), whose contributions to the team/city went beyond baseball—the numbers of celebrated 1980's Tiger trio Whitaker, SS Alan Trammell (#3) and SP Jack Morris (#47) officially remained available (and occasionally, in use!) until 2018, when Trammell and Morris finally had their numbers retired after their respective Cooperstown elections.
"Sweet Lou" may not be in the Hall of Fame, but at least he'll be on the bricks of Comerica Park.
THIS CARD: Whitaker's swing was quick and compact; he could pull the ball or drive it the other way with authority. Even though the particular swing we see here doesn't look like one of his finest.
Whitaker received very similar front images to this one on his 1983 and 1984 Topps cards, then was depicted fielding for three straight sets. He was then shown either batting or preparing to bat 1988-90; Topps gave Whitaker non-standard front images for four of his final five cards.
More from Whitaker's 1987 season: it marked his 5th straight All-Star campaign, and he also walked away with his fourth and final Silver Slugger award. Despite playing alongside league MVP Trammell, it was Whitaker who led the '87 Tigers in doubles and triples, and he smacked his 100th career homer off Twins lefty Allan Anderson 5/23.
(flip) The Florida State League is Class A; 19-year-old Whitaker hit .297, 1, 62 with 48 stolen bases for Lakeland in '76.
As you see in the stats, it took the diminutive Whitaker some time before he developed reliable power. Try as I might, I couldn't uncover specifically how it happened (weightlifting, new hitting coach, etc.) and since I was only two when Lou's homer totals shot up, I have no personal observations to fall back on. My bad, visitors.
Card #770: for each Topps set 1984-95, Whitaker was given the Topps semi-honor of a card number ending in 0 or 5—except 1987, when he somehow wound up as #661. As much as this bugs me the collector, I doubt the star Tiger was calling the company demanding an explanation.
AFTER THIS CARD: Even though the Tigers fell into mediocrity following their 1987 division title and Whitaker was not selected to any further All-Star Games, he remained productive and effective for several more Tiger seasons under manager Sparky Anderson's "load management".
In 1989, the 32-year-old banged 28 home runs with 85 RBI—both substantial career-highs. He continued to rake and scoop from 1990-92 (60 combined homers and a ridiculous .994 fielding percentage in 1991), earning a 3Y/$7.5M free agent deal from the Tigers after the '92 campaign. During the 1994 strike, however, Whitaker caused a stir when he unapologetically showed up to a 1994 players union meeting in a limo.
1995 marked Whitaker's 19th season as a Tiger; he hit .293, 14, 44 in just 84 games and had free-agent interest, but opted to hang up his cleats at age 38. Whitaker's 1,918 games played with Trammell—most of that as their regular double-play combo—are a big league record.
Lou Whitaker appeared annually in Topps 1978-95; he was denied a sunset card in the miniscule 1996 Topps set, although every other major company issued him one.
CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, Detroit Tigers
6/18/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2020 Topps Update #42 Kris Bryant, All-Star
More Kris Bryant All-Star Topps Cards: 2015U 2016U 2019U
If you have been a regular visitor to TSR this past year, you know the 2021 Giants are my favorite Giant team of all-time, despite the disastrous way their season ended.
They began the season unexpectedly kicking ass and continued to kick ass into the summer.