Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, May 2018

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Topps Bobby Cox
Topps Bobby Cox

5/3/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #263 Bobby Cox, Braves

More Bobby Cox Topps Cards: 1990 1991 1992 1993 2001 2002 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 

 

I want you to picture a generic supervisor in a generic profession. Just humor me.

 

Let's establish this person as good at his job, maybe even great. Let's say he's popular, well-respected, and people want to work for him.

 

BUT—let's also establish that about eight times a year on average, this supervisor gets upset and has fits when things don't go his way, to the point he has to be ordered off the premises each time just so the workday can continue.

 

Should this person: lose his job, or be kept at said job for 20 years, be revered for all the positive traits, and basically have the negative traits humorously glossed over?

 

Baseball is a funny industry.

 

Bobby Cox is universally recognized as among the best skippers of his time—14 consecutive division titles with the Braves, five NL pennants, and a 1995 World Series championship win will do that. Unlike other Hall-of-Fame managers of his time, practically no one spoke ill of him once the Braves became a juggernaut. So what if Cox got thrown out of 158 games, just under an entire season's worth? He was doing it for the right reasons!

 

Here, Cox is in Year 11 of "The Streak"—with Gary Sheffield, not exactly known for his even keel, now in town, down years from fellow newcomer Vinny Castilla and Javy Lopez, a displaced Chipper Jones, plus a very old bullpen, there were plenty ingredients for letdown soup. But despite a 23-23 start, Atlanta won 13 more games than in 2001, cruising to the NL East title.

 

 

THIS CARD: Of the roughly 500 Topps manager cards I own, it's a fairly safe bet this is the only one whose subject is wearing a mitt—if Cox is out there pregame warming up one of his players at age 61...that's just so damn cool.

In case you aren't versed on Cox's early baseball days, he was a former infielder who started 129 games at 3B for the 1968 Yankees, and 50 more the next year before bad knees helped end his playing career in 1971 (both knees were replaced in 1993.) He was decent with the bat as a Dodgers prospect in the early 60's, averaging 17 homers a year his first five pro seasons.

 

A very cool stat from The 2002 Scouting Notebook: Cox called eight pitchouts with the runner moving in 2002, best in the league (not sure how many were successful, but still impressive IMHO).

 

(flip) Cox finished his career #4 in managerial triumphs with 2,504—2,149 with the Braves and 355 more with Toronto. Only Connie Mack, John McGraw and Tony LaRussa won more regular-season contests.

 

Of those 16 wins referenced in the blurb, seven were indeed by one run...and Smoltz nailed down six of them (the seventh was a walk-off win). Topps doesn't mention the Braves' overall 21-5 June mark, presumably because of the lowered density of one-run wins.

 

Julio Franco, Matt Franco and Wes Helms were the trio of first basemen in question.

 

With the team up 19 games on Montreal at year's end...no need for those makeup games vs. the Phillies and Pirates.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Cox's Streak lasted through 2005, his last year with famed pitching coach Leo Mazzone. But with a roster in endless flux, Andruw Jones leaving town, Chipper Jones' availabity decreasing annually, iffy starting pitching outside of Tim Hudson and John Smoltz, and Philadelphia's rise to prominence, Cox did not return to the postseason until a 2010 Wild Card berth (although his team was within four games of first with a week left in '09).

 

It was a series I remember well—in what he'd announced were his final games, Cox faced my Giants in the NLDS. He got tossed from Game 2 for old time's sake, then was forced (by injuries and Brooks Conrad's comically poor fielding) to scrape together a Game 4 infield. 

 

The Giants ultimately prevailed in four games—though if Buster Posey is properly called out in Game 1 and Billy Wagner is healthy to close out Game 3, maybe they don't. I'll never forget the rousing round of applause Cox received after the final out, including from the Giants dugout. Never one for the limelight, Cox semi-sheepishly waved to the home crowd before disappearing down the tunnel and into the Hall of Fame four years later.

 

Bobby Cox debuted in 1969 Topps as a player, returned in 1978 as Braves manager, was sort of included 1979-81 as Braves skipper—in those sets, team checklists showcased a team photo accompanied by a manager inset pic—then appeared 1983-86 as Toronto pilot.

 

Running the Braves again, Cox popped up in 1990 Topps Traded, went on to grace 1991-93 Topps, then made annual appearances in 2001-09 Topps with one more "sort of" inclusion in 2010.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Atlanta Braves

 
Topps Jermaine Dye
Topps Jermaine Dye

5/7/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #10 Jermaine Dye, Royals

More Jermaine Dye Topps Cards: 1996 1997 2000 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

 

Dye rose to, and disappeared from, burgeoning stardom in the blink of an eye after his original franchise, Atlanta, swapped him in late Spring Training 1997.

 

Of course, without Dave Justice's May 1996 shoulder separation, Dye wouldn't have even had much (if any) MLB opportunity that year, so one could argue Dye's own subsequent injury struggles were the universe's way of evening things out—from a foot fracture and quad strain in '97 to another quad strain and knee cartilage tear while climbing in his car in '98, the San Francisco Bay Area native just couldn't stay on the field. And when he did play, he struggled badly enough to be demoted to AAA each year, totaling about 10 weeks.

 

Then came 1999—finally able to shake off injury, Dye responded with a huge year for the Royals, which included a team record-tying 32 RBI in July, an AL-best 17 outfield assists, and AL Top-Ten rankings in doubles, triples, RBI, and XBH. Map...meet Jermaine Dye.

Here, the 26-year-old has followed up that breakout year with quite the encore—Dye made his first All-Star team in 2000, took home a Gold Glove, and put up the 5th-most total bases in the AL. At no point after the third game of 2000 was Dye below .300, and he gunned down 11 more runners from right field.

 

 

THIS CARD: Dye was strong enough that he didn't need perfect balance to generate power—this swing could well have produced a jack. Unlike many dudes who come out of their shoes at-bat, Dye's swings generally looked effortless.

 

Without much else to discuss concerning this card, I'll use this space to drop a lil' 2000 season trivia on you—Dye's 337 total bases are the second-highest total in KC history, behind George Brett's 363 in 1979. His 118 RBI tied for fourth-most (Dye's 119 the year before rank third), and his 107 runs rank eighth. 

 

(flip) You may be asking: if the Braves thought so highly of Dye, why'd they let him go? Simple—they needed lefty hitting, and the Royals needed righty hitting. Lefty OF Michael Tucker went to Atlanta in the deal, along with IF Keith Lockhart. 

 

In that All-Star Game—won by the AL 6-3—Dye went 0-for-2, but did draw a walk vs. Al Leiter and score the AL's second run. He also played in the '06 Classic as a reserve.

 

Dye's 1996 walk total is not a misprint. (He drew five in 36 games for AAA Richmond pre-callup.)

 

Only four others from Dye's draft round reached MLB; he was the fastest and far and away the best to do so.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Little-remembered fact: when Dye was traded to Oakland in 2001, it was technically not from Kansas City—the Royals had swapped him to Colorado for Neifi Perez shortly beforehand.

Lots-remembered fact: Dye's own foul ball shattered his leg in the '01 playoffs, and kept him out into '02. More injuries struck in '03 (torn knee cartilage, separated shoulder), contributing to a league-worst .172 BA. The veteran spent one last season with Oakland, but with young Nick Swisher on the horizon, Dye wasn't re-signed for '05.

 

It worked out, however—signed by the White Sox for 2Y/$10.15M, Dye went on to win 2005 World Series MVP, then place fifth in 2006 AL MVP voting, after which he signed a 2Y/$22M extension. By 2009, the 35-year-old still supplied decent enough production despite a waning average, but Chicago did not sign him for 2010—and despite much interest, neither did anyone else! As it turned out, Dye never played again, officially retiring in March 2011 at 37.

 

Jermaine Dye debuted in 1996 Topps, on a shared Prospects card, then returned in '97 following his strong rookie season. After a two-year absence, Dye returned in 2000 Topps and appeared annually through 2010.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps, Kansas City Royals

 
Topps Steve Ontiveros
Topps Steve Ontiveros

5/13/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #161 Steve Ontiveros, Athletics

More Steve Ontiveros Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1995 1996

 

TSR visitors: let's play a quick game of "One Of These Is Not Like The Other". I'm going to list the names of five MLB pitchers who share a commonality, and you determine which one—on the surface—doesn't really fit.

 

  • Roger Clemens

  • Kevin Appier

  • Steve Ontiveros

  • Randy Johnson

  • Juan Guzman

 

These are the five A.L. ERA leaders 1992-96, a list populated with four of the 1990's top pitchers and a guy who once went five years between big league victories. Ontiveros, with a MLB career on life-support (25 big-league appearances in the five years preceding 1994) took advantage of the shortened season and logged just enough innings to qualify for the title.

 

With all due respect to all parties, this would be like Keenan Ivory Wayans beating Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman, and John Travolta for Best Actor that year...stifle laughter and applaud nervously.

 

Not that Ontiveros was a bad pitcher; the guy's lifetime ERA was 3.67 in a career spent mostly in the AL as PED's were rising to prominence. What held him back was a right arm as cooperative as witnesses to a rapper's shooting—Ontiveros visited the disabled list 10 times during his career and never exceeded 150.2 IP in any season.

 

Here, Ontiveros is still a youngster, having wrapped his second MLB season. Used exclusively out of the 'pen by the Athletics, he struggled at times and missed most of the second half—though he did set his career high in appearances (leading the team), converted 10 of 13 save ops, and recorded a 1.068 home WHIP.

 

 

THIS CARD: Despite being a SF Bay Area native, I had no idea the A's used that logo thru 1992...COTD teaches yet again.

 

Most players from Ontiveros' era look like they're from that era (have you seen anybody resembling Charlie Kerfeld in MLB lately?). But this guy could pass for a 2018 major leaguer easily.

 

This Steve Ontiveros is not related or tied to the Steve Ontiveros who played 3B for the Giants and Cubs in the 1970's.

 

Oakland restored that "Kelly Green" shade in their 2018 50th anniversary alternate jersey.

 

(flip) Check out 1983 Albany: not too often you see a dude with five CG and five saves in the same season. Ron Guidry might have done it in '79...offhand I'm otherwise drawing blanks.

 

No idea what brought the Ontiveros family from New Mexico to Indiana...huge Bob Knight fans?

 

Ontiveros obviously had skillz to have been a #2 pick; Oakland took him #54 overall out of Michigan. (Bo Jackson and Barry Larkin went four and three spots prior, respectively.)

 

Colavito—who victimized three different Orioles pitchers that day—was a damn good player (mostly for Cleveland and Detroit) that nobody talks about anymore. From 1958-66 he averaged 35 HR and 103 RBI, sluggied .503, made six All-Star teams and finished Top Ten in MVP votes four times. But he was essentially done after age 32—when his career ended in '68 only 13 men ranked ahead of Colavito on the all-time HR list (374).

 

Tularosa is about 100 miles west of Roswell, so maybe the Ontiveroses left the area because they knew too much...

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Ontiveros entered the A's rotation in June '87, winning 10 times. Elbow tendonitis struck in June '88; he pitched just once after that, officially commencing his slew of injury troubles—he made the '89 Phillies in Spring Training, but lasted just three weeks (eventual Tommy John surgery).

In the Phillies system thru '91, Ontiveros sat out 1992, then made 14 solid late-1993 RA's with Seattle. Oakland re-signed him for '94; he made a mid-season switch to the rotation and led the AL not only in ERA (2.65) but also WHIP (1.032, qualifying two days before the strike).

 

Now 34, the veteran spent '95 exclusively starting, "earning" an All-Star nod—but only because a beaning kept Mark McGwire, the only Athletic, from participating. Ontiveros signed with California for '96 but missed the season after more surgery, then drifted through seven more organizations 1998-2001—amassing exactly five more MLB innings (2000 Red Sox).

 

Steve Ontiveros appeared annually in Topps 1986-89, then returned in 1995-96—each card depicting him with the Athletics. (If interested, 1989 Topps Traded features Ontiveros with Philly.)

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, Oakland Athletics, Not Related

 
Topps Carlos Pena
Topps Carlos Pena

5/17/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 topps #640 Carlos Pena, Rays

More Carlos Pena Topps Cards: 1999 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 

 

For the first time in a long while, we break the usual COTD random selection process for a reason other than death—it's Carlos Pena's 40th birthday!

 

It's been my intent all along to acknowledge the milestone birthdays of former stars; early in TSR's run we celebrated Ozzie Smith's 60th and Doc Gooden's 50th birthdays with special selections. But over time...yeah. This month I set out to finally highlight a noteworthy ex-player from 1987 Topps or later turning 40, 50 or 60, but came up empty—until Pena's May 17 birthdate. 

 

Pena's path to stardom wasn't the smoothest; he went from Rangers top prospect to Athletics flop to Tigers budding star to unemployed to Red Sox space-filler to Devil Rays superstar in just six years—in terms of surprise impact, Pena ranks right up there with 1990 Cecil Fielder or 2017 Eric Thames...without the overseas stints.

 

Here, the almost-29-year-old is basking in the afterglow of a truly phenomenal season. Among American Leaguers, Pena finished #2 in HR, #1 in HR/AB, #4 in RBI, #2 in SLG, #5 in OBP and #3 in walks—each of those set franchise records that still stand today! (Did we mention Pena went to camp that year as a non-roster invitee?!)

 


THIS CARD: This card wasn't my first choice to use here; I initially wanted to use Pena's first Topps card—kind of a "coming full-circle" sort of thing. One problem: I do not own 1999 Topps Traded, which is where Topps collectors first met Pena. (I also don't own 2000 or 2002-05 Topps Traded...too many "rookies" i.e. dudes who never reached MLB. But I probably will someday.)

 

With this being a Series 2 card released during the 2008 season, we see Pena as a Ray rather than a Devil Ray. Works for me, since I'd incorrectly believed 2008 was Pena's breakout season until researching this card.

 

If not for that sliver of bat we see in the bottom left corner, Pena's pose here would look more than a little bizarre.

 

The signature seems to read "Carlo Scent".

 

(flip) That brief stint with Oakland was chronicled in the famed Michael Lewis book Moneyball—A's GM Billy Beane wanted Pena, got him, watched him (and the whole team) struggle in early '02, demoted him, then sent him packing in a three-team deal with the Tigers and Yankees. Beane ended up with P Ted Lilly, cash, and—a few months later—a division championship.

 

Delving into Pena's later travels: he was cut by Detroit in late Spring 2006, spent a few months at AAA Columbus (Yankees), then signed with the Red Sox in August.

 

As for the blurb, Topps must mean no one had been released, then hit 40 jacks the next season. Offhand, David Ortiz comes to mind as a dude released by the Twins after '02 who hit 40+ homers in '04-06 for Boston.

 

Pena's from the D.R....but was drafted? HOW, Skillz?! Easy: His family moved to Massachusetts in the early 1990's; he attended high school and college there, ultimately becoming the #10 overall pick in 1998.

 

(flip) Pena remained with Tampa for several more years, never reaching his 2007 peak but remaining productive from a power standpoint. However, K's plagued him and when he hit under .200 for the entire 2010 season, Tampa said goodbye...temporarily.

 

Following a .225/28/84 year with the Cubs, the Rays re-signed Pena—this time he hit under .200 without the accompanying power numbers, and was let go again. Houston signed him for 2013, but he didn't make it to August; one year later Texas cut him, closing his career full-circle at 36.

You can now watch Pena on MLB Network as an analyst; he's pretty insightful.

 

Carlos Pena appeared in either Topps base, Traded, and/or Update sets each year 1999-2013, except 2000. 1999 and 2001 were shared Prospects cards.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Tampa Bay Rays

 
Topps Zach Duke
Topps Zach Duke

5/21/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps #621 Zach Duke, White Sox

More Zach Duke Topps Cards: 2004 2005U 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2015 2017

 

True, Duke has been around 14 years. But most of it has been spent with A) bad teams, and B) non-NL-West teams, so my notebook on the guy ain't that thick. However, I'll always remember him for this Duane Kuiper (Giants broadcaster) line:

 

(5/20/13; Kuiper is very deliberate in pronouncing the name of Nationals starter Zach Duke)

 

KUIPER: "If you're wondering why I'm saying (Duke's) name so slowly, he's got one of those names if you say it too fast, it might come out Zuke Dach."

 

Say it out loud in a broadcasting context; I'll give you $1 if you don't laugh.

 

Following the footsteps of Rick Honeycutt, Greg Swindell, Oliver Perez and many more, Duke's gone from good lefty starter to mediocre lefty starter to standout lefty reliever in a career which would have ended long ago without Duke adjusting his delivery and refining his repertoire back in 2013.

 

The former #20 pick blew into MLB at 22 in 2005, going 8--2, 1.81 for the lowly Pirates. Over the next five seasons, he went 37-68 for the Bucs, with an ugly 4.80 ERA and ghastly 1.51 WHIP—but still led Pittsburgh in innings twice and tied for #1 in wins once over that span.

You see, back then the team sucked. Having no other alternatives, Pittsburgh kept running Duke out there in spite of the numbers—which were so ghastly by 2010 that even they had to cut ties.

 

From 2011-13, Duke's career nosedived even further—as a 2011 Diamondback, he never got going after a preseason broken hand, losing his rotation spot around the All-Star break. In 2012 he went 15-5, 3.51...for AAA Syracuse (Nationals), but was cut loose in mid-2013—cue reinvention.

 

Here, following a superb 2014 season out of Milwaukee's bullpen, Duke has completed Year One of a 3Y/$15M deal with the White Sox. The 32-year-old led the team in appearances and though he allowed way too many homers (nine), he was one of just three Sox pitchers to record a save.

 

THIS CARD: Great job by Topps illustrating Duke's new sidearm release point...he did not throw from that angle during his Pittsburgh starting days. Even back then, Duke didn't throw hard, averaging in the high-80's with the usual off-speed assortment. As a reliever, he's relied less on the changeup, and added a sinker—I'm guessing the latter here.

 

Not enough to even attempt a ballpark guess. 

 

(flip) We will have to supply the blurb here: Despite Duke's high 2015 HRA, he didn't serve up any in April or July and just one in September. That year he allowed a .181 BAA to lefties, a .170 BAA at home, and a .196 BAA after the break.

 

Compare the 2015 K (66 in 60 IP) to the 2007 K (41 in 107 IP)...all that changed about Duke in that period was his role and his arm slot. Of course, as a starter you do have to pace yourself more...but it wasn't like Duke started unleashing 97 on dudes upon shifting to relief.

 

Three other dudes from Duke's draft round reached MLB—one was 2009 semi-sensation Matt Palmer, one I'd never even heard of but was with Detroit for parts of three years (Eddie Bonine). The other...eh, who cares.

 

Clifton, Texas is about 35 miles northwest of Waco and 96 miles southwest of Dallas.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: With Chicago going nowhere, Duke was swapped to the contending Cardinals in July 2016. He stunned the baseball world by undergoing Tommy John surgery that October...and returning the following July!!! (Nobody recovers that quick; Will Smith of my Giants just returned after a 13.5-month absence.) He's currently on a one-year deal with Minnesota.

 

Zach Duke debuted with a First-Year Player card in 2004 Topps, then returned in 2005 Topps Updates & Highlights. Since then he's received cards in the 2006-11 and 2015-17 base sets.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps, Chicago White Sox

 
Topps Ross Detwiler
Topps Ross Detwiler

5/24/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps Update #75 Ross Detwiler, Braves

More Ross Detwiler Topps Cards: 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 

 

This is one of those rare Cards Of The Day where most of you don't know the guy, and the ones who do didn't know he played with the featured team.

 

Detwiler makes his second COTD appearance—we presented his 2013 Topps card back in August 2016. Best known for his time with the Nationals, the tall lefty has made the rounds since his eight-season stint in D.C.; Atlanta was his second of four stops in 2015-16 alone. Detwiler was only a Brave for about 10 weeks—10 trying weeks (2.35 WHIP in 24 games).

 

 

THIS CARD: Detwiler also received a 2015 base card (#405) with Texas, where he landed after requesting a trade out of the Nationals bullpen. His Rangers stint lasted 17 games (seven starts), but as with Atlanta later on, the numbers weren't pretty.

 

To guess the park, all I have to go on is a green left field wall and fans sporting red/orange garb. While with the Braves, Detwiler pitched in six ballparks besides his own—only Wrigley Field and Petco Park can be immediately eliminated. 

After some research, I'm going to place Detwiler at Camden Yards; he pitched the 5th inning there on 7/28/15, allowing four hits and two runs. It was his fifth Braves outing.

(flip) Topps puts a positive spin on Detwiler's July 15, 2015 release by Texas; he was indeed signed by Atlanta July 17.

 

The lefty referenced in the blurb: Detwiler's future Braves teammate Freddie Freeman, who doubled off him in a 10-2 Braves win 4/13/14.

 

Since Topps had long discontinued the "Games Started" column by 2015, I'll tell you that 2014 was/is Detwiler's only start-free season (largely why he asked for that trade).

 

In this day and age, if Topps must omit a column, it should be shutouts—complete games are now the achievement shutouts once were, and you almost have to pitch a shutout to even be allowed to complete a game these days. There's going to be a load of zeroes in the SHO columns, but there'll still be a smattering of CG. (For the record, Detwiler has one lifetime CG, back in '09.)

 

AFTER THIS CARD: With a combined 7.25 ERA and 2.02 WHIP combined in 2015 (across 41 games), Detwiler was certainly in no position to demand anything as he had the previous winter, and accepted a minor-league deal from Cleveland for 2016. Though he made the team, he was outrighted before April's end and eventually sold to Oakland. 

 

Now 30, Detwiler debuted in grand fashion with the A's, firing eight shutout innings vs. Baltimore. But after that, not a whole lot, and he began '17 with AAA Nashville before opting out of his contract. Detwiler's since thrown for AAA Iowa (Cubs) and the Independent League.

 

Ross Detwiler appeared in Topps or Topps Update annually 2008-15.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps Update, Atlanta Braves, Debuted In Draft Year

 
Topps Tyler Clippard
Topps Tyler Clippard

5/28/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps #503 Tyler Clippard, Nationals

More Tyler Clippard Topps Cards: 2008 2009 2010 2011 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

 

Prior to the 2005 season, my Giants signed closer Armando Benitez from the Marlins. Though always enigmatic in his career, he'd been one of the game's best in 2004, and I boosted him to my then-girlfriend as such.

After just a few weeks of Benitez struggle—and eventual injury—said girlfriend would just look at me and utter "THIS guy was one of the best?" with sheer disbelief. Eventually she just wrote off any of his successes, past or present, as "steroids".

 

This past season, as Tyler Clippard proved utterly unreliable with the contending Yankees and Astros (sandwiching a brief recovery with the White Sox), trying to convince the unfamiliar that he'd recently been one of baseball's top relievers would have been at best difficult.

 

But Clippard the National got guys out. An absolute steal from the Yankees (they got Jonathan Albaladejo, a RHP who pitched 49 times over three partial Yankee seasons, then was essentially out of the majors) in December '07, Clippard was a valuable bullpen piece by '09, and a mainstay by 2010. Here, he's wrapped up his finest year, allowing 48 hits in 88 innings and making the 2011 NL All-Star Team—as a set-up man!

 

 

THIS CARD: As you see, Clippard's delivery is not exactly artful—a number of today's relievers pause or "hitch" during their motion, but Clippard did it before it was vogue. He gets the four-seam fastball up there at 94, complementing it with a four-seam changeup. Because of those identical grips...no guess as to what he's about to throw here.

 

About the goggles: Clippard only wears them when he pitches; he's bare-faced off the field.

 

That could be Chinese, Japanese or plain scribble on Clippard's left arm.

 

#36 has been worn by several different Nats pre-Clippard, none of them significant. Lefty reliever Sammy Solis has sported it since Clippard departed Washington.

 

(flip) Note in 2007-08, Clippard threw 37 innings over eight games—no, he wasn't a Kevin Cash gimmick; Clippard actually started all of those games before switching to the bullpen. According to this article, he wasn't exactly enthused about the transition.

 

That May 6 Nats/Marlins clash helped preserve a 3-2 Washington road win; 19 of those 22 pitches went for strikes. True, Clippard's gaudiest strikeout victim was Omar Infante. But still a fine feat.

 

Billy Buckner (not the Red Sox goat) pitched 44 MLB games. Another dude pitched two. Nobody else from Clippard's draft round reached MLB.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Clippard was (eventually) elevated to closer in mid-2012 by manager Davey Johnson after incumbent Drew Storen was disabled—he nailed down 32 of 36 save ops until Storen's late September return, helping Washington to its first ever postseason (which they lost in heartbreaking fashion to St. Louis.)

 

The Kentucky native returned to set-up duties for 2013-14, adding a splitter and earning a raise to $5.85M along the way—essentially stamping his ticket out of D.C. via trade to Oakland, who used him as their primary closer until dealing him to the Mets in July. 

In part due to Clippard's dip in effectiveness, more movement awaited. He currently sets up for the Toronto Blue Jays—his seventh team in four years since leaving the Nats.

 

Tyler Clippard the Yankee prospect debuted in 2007 Topps Updates and Highlights; he's since appeared annually in Topps or Topps Update 2011-17.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, Washington Nationals