Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, October 2019

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I own every Topps baseball set since 1987, and every Score baseball card ever made. For years I thought long and hard how I could put these cards "to use" aside from sitting in their binders until the end of time. The Card Of The Day was born.

I'd hoped to introduce a new card every single day but that quickly proved impossible under the weight of a regular job and fatherhood—now I'm aiming for 2-3 per week.

 

I initially planned to include Score cards here, but decided they would over-saturate the 1990's and make it tougher to pull modern players—we don't want to be TOO nostalgic. So please enjoy randomly-selected Topps cards from 1987-present.

A = Alternate Card  F = Factory Team Set  G = Giveaway Set  T = Traded Set  U = Update Set

 

Click on images for larger views.

Topps Hubie Brooks
Topps Hubie Brooks

10/30/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps #50 Hubie Brooks, Expos

More Hubie Brooks Topps Cards: 1987 1989 1990 1990T 1991 1991T 1992 1992T

Hubie Brooks was, for a brief period in the 1980's, the star offensive SS of the National League. He'd come up as a New York Met, playing three years as their primary 3B (1982-84), though he was decidedly below-average with the bat until '84. The Mets rewarded his improvement by...swapping him to Montreal in the Gary Carter trade.

The Expos slid Brooks over to SS full-time for '85, and he responded with 100 RBI—first on the Expos and sixth in the NL. Brooks claimed that year's SS Silver Slugger, and for good measure went out and won another in '86 on the strength of a .340/.388/.569 campaign (nevermind that he missed half the year with injuries).

Here, Brooks is coming off what could have been his most productive season were it not for an errant pitch from Houston's Danny Darwin breaking his wrist very early on (the only time all year he was drilled). Brooks' slashline columns all dipped by at least 77 points, but he still drove in 72 runs in just 112 games.

THIS CARD: Brooks looks some combination of insane and gassy in this image. One reputable publication describes him as a "smiling, friendly player", however, and I never heard a bad thing about the guy on-or-off-field, so we won't make too much of one crazed photo.

Brooks was a free-swinger, true. But is this even a swing?? It almost looks like he swung and missed at a pickoff throw.

Green and orange doesn't say Expos. It says mango.

Save for his rookie season, Brooks wore #7 throughout his Mets and Expos careers but cycled through several others at his later stops.

(flip) Exactly six steals for four years straight must be a record.

Had Brooks qualified for the NL batting title, that .340 average in '86 would have ranked numero uno. Instead, it went to his teammate Tim Raines (.334).

P Youmans was a bust. C Fitzgerald spent seven decent, if injury-wracked, years with the Expos. OF Winningham lasted 3+ mediocre seasons with Montreal as a part-timer. Brooks was far and away the top return in the Carter deal.

AFTER THIS CARD: Brooks, who shifted to RF for 1988 to replace the injured prospect Larry Walker, remained an Expo thru '89, then signed with the Dodgers for '90 (3Y/$6M). After Year One, LA traded Brooks back to the Mets, who needed a RF after Darryl Strawberry's defection to the Dodgers. Unsurprisingly, 34-year-old Brooks didn't come close to equaling Strawberry's production, and his days as a regular ended.

Brooks spent 1992 as a California Angels part-time DH, then moved on to Kansas City for '93. Used mostly as a reserve OF/DH by the Royals, Brooks was cut midway through the '94 season, ending his career. The LA native wound up in 1,645 games; among players whose careers began in 1980 or later, that's the 6th-most without a postseason appearance.

Hubie Brooks appeared annually in Topps 1981-1992; he also appeared in Topps Traded in 1981, 1985, and 1990-92, the final card depicting him as an Angel.

CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps, Montreal Expos

 

More October 2019 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps Tommy Pham
Topps Tommy Pham

10/2/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps #440 Tommy Pham, Cardinals

More Tommy Pham Topps Cards: 2015U 2017 2018 2019

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a young man suffered from keratoconus, an eye disorder. That same dude also wore leg braces as a youth.

Overcoming those obstacles, the young man got himself drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. In his first pro season, he broke his wrist. Then he tore a wrist ligament. The following year, he tore one labrum and for good measure, he tore the other labrum the year after that.

It's not unheard of for even one of these setbacks to end careers, but for one Tommy Pham, they were mere inconveniences—just a couple of flat tires on the highway to MLB.

Here, Pham—described just today by Alex Rodriguez as a guy who "plays with an edge, with a chip on his shoulder"—is coming off a partial rookie season; he found most of his time in CF but also subbed some in left. The kid did his share of hard hitting (unfortunately, one such hard hit caromed off the dome of Milwaukee P Jimmy Nelson in September) as evidenced by his .382 clip from 8/19 thru 8/28.

THIS CARD: I strongly suspect this image is from Pham's PH homer off Jon Lester in Game 1 of the 2015 NLDS against the Cubs. Same wristband, same right arm sleeve...besides, Pham only homered once at home during the regular season. 

Pham wore #60 his first two partial seasons before upgrading to #28.

The OT patch is in memory of the late Cardinals OF Oscar Taveras, who died in a 2014 car wreck. One wonders if Pham gets the same opportunity in St. Louis had Taveras lived...

(flip) That's a ton of time in Palm Beach. And even more time in Springfield, with all the aforementioned injuries. Say what you will about Pham—the man paid his dues. 

Pham was taken #16 in '06 out of Durango HS in Nevada. He was going to attend Cal-Stete Fullerton until the Redbirds came knocking.

Impressive: five triples in very limited 2015 duty after never tipping six in MiLB. WHY do I just know at least two came in SF against my Giants? (Note: I was wrong.)

AFTER THIS CARD: After a disappointing 2016, Pham earned legit MVP votes in '17 by slashing .306/.411/.520 for the Cardinals—despite spending the first month in AAA! Pham entered 2018 as the Cardinals #1 CF, but after a pedestrian first half, St. Louis stunned the baseball world by shipping the 30-year-old off to Tampa Bay in a deal for three prospects who had a combined one game of MLB experience at the time.

Pham moved back to LF for Tampa, got hurt, then caught fire at the plate to close 2018. He couldn't carry the sizzling streak over to '19, though he did lead the Rays in doubles, steals and walks while earning $4.1M. (Update: He also homered off Oakland's Yusmeiro Petit in the 2019 ALWC Game.)

Tommy Pham has appeared in 2015 Topps Update, and 2016-19 Topps base.

CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals

 
Topps Tom Waddell
Topps Tom Waddell

10/3/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #657 Tom Waddell, Indians

More Tom Waddell Topps Cards: n/a

Remember the Jim Morris story? Dude working as a teacher gets one last shot to reach the major leagues? Something similar happened to Tom Waddell—he was working as a salesman when umpire Tom Gorman helped him secure a tryout with the Braves (and none other than Hank Aaron).

Waddell impressed enough to earn a deal, but not enough to escape the minor leagues—he toiled three years in the Atlanta system before Cleveland snatched him up in the 1983 Rule V Draft. He worked 107 times for the Indians in 1984-85, in almost every role available, without returning to the minors even after his Rule V status expired.
Here, tough times have hit the lean righty; elbow surgery and a difficult rehab knocked him out for the entire 1986 season.

THIS CARD: In this image, Waddell kind of resembles a young (actor) Ken Berry. And if you know/remember who Ken Berry was, your lameness is rivaled only by mine.

You sure we got enough Chief Wahoo on this card, Topps?

Only in these times would a so-so reliever on a poor team who didn't even pitch in 1986 receive a 1987 card. Current Topps forgets about most of those dudes today...you will not see Koda Glover in 2020 Topps.

(flip) Please forgive the gum stain.

For a few years following his 1976 retirement, Aaron worked as the Braves director of player development before becoming an executive.

You're reading that right; Waddell was Scottish by birth. But he grew up in the States.

Note Waddell's comparatively low K/IP ratio. He maxed out in the high 80's, and besides, dudes didn't whiff in Waddell's day like they do now (at least, not without being benched/cut).

AFTER THIS CARD: Little. Waddell never recaptured his stuff following the surgery; he was scored upon in four of six appearances with the '87 Tribe before being demoted to AAA Buffalo, never to return. MiLB deals with Milwaukee and Montreal led nowhere, and Waddell's ultimately decade-long pro career ended in 1989. He passed away unexpectedly 9/14/19, just shy of 61.

Tom Waddell debuted in 1984 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in Topps base 1985-87.

CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, Cleveland Indians, Now Deceased

 
Topps Jeff Branson
Topps Jeff Branson

10/7/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #198 Jeff Branson, Reds

More Jeff Branson Topps Cards: 1993 1994

 

Branson was the classic example of a player being hurt by his versatility. Because he was such an outstanding pinch-hitter, and because he could play any position on the infield, he always carried the "utility player" label—even when given half of a third-base platoon.

Branson reached MLB in '92 at age 25, having slashed .325/.371/.520 for AAA Nashville to start the year. Early on, most of his run came at 2B or PH, but by 1993, new manager Dave Johnson used Branson equally at 2B and SS, with run at 3B and even a start at 1B mixed in. His bat didn't respond to all the shuffling (.310 SLG), at least not that year.

Here, with the Reds having acquired Bret Boone to play 2B and Tony Fernandez to play 3B alongside SS Barry Larkin, playing time for Branson shriveled up. Still, in his 18 starts, he batted .290 and slugged .500, helping Cincinnati to wins in all but three of those games!

THIS CARD: Branson holds down the hot corner at an unidentifiable stadium. In seven starts and 87 overall innings, he played errorless ball.

Branson wore #20, which was later retired in honor of Frank Robinson.

For some reason, SS is listed as Branson's first position, even though he played twice as much at 3B and 2B in 1994. In fact, he made exactly one start (and seven subs) at short all year.

(flip) Ray Knight became Reds' manager in 1996, and got a lot of mileage out of Branson.

Don't you see a little Luke Wilson in Branson?

I'm not positive what's wrong with period/quotes/comma, but something is.

Waynesboro, Mississippi is located...not close to anywhere you've heard of except the Alabama border.

 

AFTER THIS CARD: In 1995, Branson graduated into a platoon at 3B for the Reds (with righty-hitting Mark Lewis) and smacked a surprising 12 home runs. Knight continued to play Branson extensively (including an early platoon with Chris Sabo), starting him 71 times across the infield and using him off the bench nearly as often.

But Knight was fired in '97, paving Branson's way out of town via trade with Cleveland (SP John Smiley went with him). Back in a utility role, Branson lasted 92 games as an Indian thru 1998 but was now an offensive liability in the unfamiliar American League.
Most of Branson's final four pro seasons (1999-2002) were spent in AAA, though he did wrest his way into 31 games with the 2000-01 Dodgers (batting 10-for-38).

Jeff Branson appeared in 1993-95 Topps, excluded from the 1996-97 sets despite his vastly increased playing time.

CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, Cincinnati Reds

 
Topps Randy Wolf
Topps Randy Wolf

10/10/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps Update #61 Randy Wolf, Astros

More Randy Wolf Topps Cards: 1999 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2014U

 

We catch up with Wolf for the second time, having presented his 2006 Topps card back in December 2018. He was a Dodger in 2007 (ew), going 9-6 but missing half the season with a bad shoulder that eventually required surgery.

LA declined his $9M option for '08 but the Padres were not deterred, importing Wolf for 1Y/$4M + incentives. He was traded to Houston in July.

THIS CARD: As hard as it was to think of the Astros as an AL team, looking at this card, it is now equally as hard to think of them as a NL team! Even in the old uniforms.

Wolf's signature appears to read Rbll C Wef. Oh, well, he was paid for his pitching, not his penmanship.

Regarding Wolf's motion, as we mentioned on his previous COTD, he sort of gathered himself and exploded to the plate. Here, you're seeing him during the gather. I cannot identify the road ballpark, obviously, but Wolf only pitched in six road games for Houston after being traded. So we can narrow it down to Shea Stadium, PNC Park, Miller Park, Great American Ballpark or Wrigley Field.

(flip) Wolf is featured as an Astro, yet his blurb covers his Padre time. Without the "Trade With Padres" at the top, major confusion for those unaware of his 2008 movement.

Wolf proved to indeed be past his arm problems, making a combined 33 starts in 2008 and not missing another start to injury until late 2012.

OF Brad Hawpe broke up the no-no with a single to center; Wolf completed seven innings with the one hit allowed for the victory.

AFTER THIS CARD: The crafty lefty rejoined the Dodgers for 2009, leading the NL in starts with a 3.23 ERA. Next came two productive seasons for the Brewers followed by a very rough one (2012); he was cut and would up with Baltimore. Well, for five games anyway, until undergoing UCL surgery late in the year.

After healing, Wolf found work with the 2014 Marlins and 2015 Tigers, but went a combined 1-8. Wolf then announced his retirement at 38.

Randy Wolf debuted in 1999 Topps,  then appeared annually 2001-12 with one last 2014 Update card with the Marlins.

CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps Update, Houston Astros

 
Topps Dontrelle Willis
Topps Dontrelle Willis

10/12/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps #425 Dontrelle Willis, Tigers

More Dontrelle Willis Topps Cards: 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2012

 

Few players have enjoyed as much popularity early in their careers. Few players have so mysteriously lost their skillz in what should have been their prime. I'm fairly sure nobody has experienced both. But such was the career of Dontrelle "D-Train" Willis, an emoting, high leg-kicking ace on the mound who could also get it done with the bat.

Willis first became known to the nation in 2003; the rookie proved to be more than just an attraction by leading the World Champion Marlins in win percentage (14-6); he probably would have led several more categories had he opened the year in MLB. Two years later, at age 23, he was a 22-game winner with five shutouts for the Marlins—I'm telling you, the guy had no ceiling.

By 2007, however, Florida was no longer contending and Willis was no longer dominating—he continued to make every start but his ERA climbed above five; clearly, the kicking and twisting in his motion could no longer mask his ordinary stuff. In a blockbuster, the Tigers snagged Willis and Miguel Cabrera from Florida via trade that winter, hoping new scenery might get Willis going again.

Here, the still-young veteran has wrapped Year Two as a Tiger, a year marred by battles with anxiety and what some feel were the pitching "yips". 

THIS CARD: For those of you who didn't get to experience the phenomenon that was Willis, know that many of his early Topps cards depicted his unique delivery; here, he just looks like a "regular" pitcher. When Willis was demoted to AAA in 2008, his motion was toned down in an effort to restore his effectiveness. It didn't work.

Willis wearing anything but #35 just seems way off. But even way back then, he wasn't about to get Justin Verlander's digits. Willis did get #35 back in Arizona before switching to #50 in Cincinnati. Spoiler alert for those of you who heard nothing from Willis after he left Detroit.

Willis only made four road appearances in 2009, so you're watching him at Minnesota, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, the White Sox, or (most likely) a Spring Training field.

(flip) See the previous line, minus the Spring Training part.

Good GOD, those 2005 CG are misaligned.

Willis made those ASG's in 2003 and 2005; the injury referred to was a right knee hyperextension suffered when he slipped on the mound in early 2008. Plus, he gained weight.

Reminder: it was in that Trade With Marlins that the Tigers acquired Cabrera. We'll save the full trade deets for a future COTD.

AFTER THIS CARD: Enough minor league contracts to fill a dugout, 28 more major league games. Willis was cut by the Tigers in 2010. landing briefly with Arizona afterward. He next turned up with the 2011 Reds, spending much of the second half in their starting rotation and even hitting the last of his nine MLB homers.

Unfortunately, none of the 312 MiLB contracts Willis signed over the next four years led to major league action, and he finally retired for good in 2015 (after briefly doing so in 2012). Today you can see/hear him providing commentary for Fox Sports, specifically MLB Whiparound.

Dontrelle Willis debuted in 2003 Topps on a shared Prospects card, then received standard commons annually through 2012 (except 2011).

CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps, Detroit Tigers

 
Topps Jose Valentin
Topps Jose Valentin

10/15/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #223 Jose Valentin, White Sox

More Jose Valentin Topps Cards: 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2000T 2002 2003 2004 2005 2005U 2006 2007 

 

As far as guys who never made an All-Star team, Jose Valentin had to be among the best of his time, certainly among the best shortstops. A (mostly) switch-hitter with power and defensive skillz (despite high error totals), he would never be mentioned in the same breath as Jeter, Rodriguez or Tejada but if you had Valentin as your starting SS or 3B, you usually were in good shape.

Valentin came up with the Milwaukee Brewers, who'd acquired him from SD in the infamous Gary Sheffield trade of Spring Training 1992. He debuted that year, sniffed around in '93 and became the Brewers primary SS in early 1994. The 26-year-old took off in 1996 with 24 bombs and a career-high 95 RBI, earning a 3Y/$5.257M extension, but by 1998—despite a hot start—he was losing playing time to young Mark Loretta.

Still, Milwaukee kept Valentin around for one more (injury-plagued) 1999 season before offloading him to the White Sox in January 2000. Here, Valentin's rebounded in a big way during the 2000 season; his runs, hits, doubles, steals and average totals would all tie or set career-highs, PLUS he hit for the cycle in April and received a 3Y/$15.5M extension in November.

THIS CARD: Valentin dives into a corner base against an unidentifiable Minnesota Twin, most likely. I'm guessing third base, given how hard Valentin appears to have hit the dirt.

Valentin appeared in 15 consecutive Topps sets; his front images were well varied and, some years (like this one), pretty neat.

A host of notable White Sox have also worn #22, including Ivan Calderon and Scott Podsednik. Most recently, the since-demoted Charlie Tilson donned it in 2019.

(flip) I wouldn't recognize Valentin without his signature 'stache.

This would have made a solid special COTD selection, given that Valentin turned 50 just a few days ago. But I was not aware until now.

Valentin is listed as a switch-hitter, but at least twice in his career he temporarily gave up righty hitting; Valentin was always a better hitter with far more power from the left side.

Homers #100 and #101 were served up by Cubs SP Ismael Valdez. Still, the visiting Cubs won 6-5.

AFTER THIS CARD: Valentin remained with the White Sox through 2004, sometimes as their starting SS, sometimes as their starting 3B, sometimes as their starting both, sometimes as a part-time outfielder. He put up gaudy home run numbers annually, including reaching the 30 mark in 2004. However, that year his average sunk below .220, and the Sox decided to go with Juan Uribe at SS for 2005.

Now 35, Valentin was signed by the Dodgers to succeed Adrian Beltre at 3B for 2005, but a knee injury wiped out three months of that season and he was not re-signed. He hooked up with the Mets for 2006, starting 87 times at the unfamiliar 2B position and helping them to the NLCS that year. Valentin was back at 2B for the '07 Mets but torn knee ligaments and a broken leg (foul ball) limited him to the final 51 games of his MLB career.

It wasn't too long before Valentin entered the coaching ranks; after some work in the Puerto Rican League, Valentin managed in the Padres system and was eventually promoted to first base coach for the major league team for 2014-15. I'm not sure of his current whereabouts, but chances are he's involved in the game somewhere.

Jose's brother Javier was a longtime MLB catcher; his son Jesmuel got in 46 games at six positions including pitcher with the 2018 Phillies.

Jose Valentin appeared annually in Topps 1993-2007. He's also got a 2000 Traded card and a 2005 Update card.

CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps, Chicago White Sox

 
Topps Sandy Alcantara
Topps Sandy Alcantara

10/17/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps #594 Sandy Alcantara, Marlins

More Sandy Alcantara Topps Cards: 2019

 

Hard-throwing Alcantara was originally a St. Louis Cardinals farmhand, one who hit a lot of dudes, threw a lot of wild pitches, but somehow kept his walk totals manageable. The definition of lanky, Alcantara made the jump to MLB from AA in 2017 before joining the Marlins via trade.

THIS CARD: You probably don't need to be told that this is a Spring Training ballyard, most likely Chevrolet Stadium in Florida. Alcantara didn't open 2018 with the Fish, so if he was to be included in 2018 Topps as a Marlin, only Spring photos would be available.

Alcantara is firing off either his 96-97 MPH gas—he's occasionally hit 100—slightly slower two-seamer, slider, changeup or a curve he reportedly sought to model after Clayton Kershaw's.

(flip) That first major league strikeout victim? The Giants' Buster Posey. I don't remember it because I've blocked out pretty much all of the Giants 2017 season.

That December 2017 trade saw Alcantara, OF Magneuris Sierra and two other prospects join Miami in exchange for OF Marcell Ozuna.

"mph" in your Instagram handle suggests a lil' swag, doesn't it? I've read two Alcantara interviews and the dude certainly does not lack for confidence in his own ability.

AFTER THIS CARD: Alcantara didn't debut with the Marlins until late June 2018; he was then disabled with an axillary infection—whatever that is—returned to AAA upon recovering, then brought back to the Marlins in September 2018. The kid made five starts, three of which were pretty impressive.

2019 would put Alcantara on the map. He made 32 starts, just missed 200 IP, and though he tied for the league lead with 14 losses, he also tied for the league lead with two CG, both of them shutouts. Alcantara would rep Miami in the 2019 All-Star Game, pitching a scoreless 8th inning.

Sandy Alcantara has appeared in 2018-19 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps, Miami Marlins

 
Topps Kal Daniels
Topps Kal Daniels

10/20/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #466 Kal Daniels, Reds

More Kal Daniels Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993

Accolades were aplenty for young Kalvoski Daniels, who could hit, hit, hit and run, run, run as a prospect and young major leaguer. According to his 1988 Score baseball card, he was the Eastern League (AA) leader in SLG and OBP in '84, and leading the American Association (AAA) in homers before getting hurt the following season.

Additionally, Daniels stole between 27 and 43 bases each of his first three pro seasons. True, the guy was a liability in the outfield, but by calling him up in 1986, the Reds basically said the runs he'd produce would make up for any he allowed.

Which bring us here, to the end of Daniels' rookie season. The kid did nothing but hit—which created issue with management, since they also wanted him to field halfway decently. Though Daniels had to be demoted to AAA for a couple of months to work on his defense, it was hard to find much fault with his offensive production in 1986.

THIS CARD: Offhand, I can't come up with any ballparks featuring brown dugouts with blue trim. I'd suggest Atlanta, given the blue in the crowd, but I don't know how much team-colored fan apparel existed in 1986. So to summarize, if you want to identify this park, I'm no help. (I CAN tell you Daniels slashed .338/.440/.577 on the road in 1986, far surpassing his Riverfront Stadium stats.)

Hard to tell here but Daniels is wearing #28, which he wore his entire career. Other notable Reds with those digits? Randy Myers, Austin Kearns and Edwin Encarnacion. Anthony DeScalfini currently wears #28 for Cincinnati.

I believe this is our first COTD with the old-school, Eric Davis-era Reds uniforms, which were in use throughout the 1980's.

(flip) Northside is located in Warner Robins, Georgia. According to baseball-reference.com, Daniels is the only big leaguer that school has ever produced. We're going to assume that .500 average didn't result from a 2-for-4 career.

Daniels opened 1986 with the Reds before being sent to Denver in early May; he returned in late June. To illustrate how bad his D had become, Daniels was demoted after a .353 April!

Bell's effort actually took place 4/10/82. He helped Texas sink the Indians 8-3.

AFTER THIS CARD: For all the promise young Daniels showed as a rookie and 1987 sophomore (334, 26 HR batting mostly leadoff), his knees just wouldn't hold up to major league baseball—specifically the turf in Cincinnati. In all, he was operated on both knees a combined six times, including twice in 1989, a year he was traded to the Dodgers.

Briefly, it looked like Daniels had returned to form with the 1990 Dodgers, at least with the bat (his days of running were essentially over). But success didn't last, and Daniels was moved to the Cubs in 1992. Chicago hoped the still-only-29-year-old could supply the lefty bat it needed, but Daniels was ordinary at best. Released in October 1992, he never resurfaced in MLB.

Kal Daniels appeared annually in Topps 1987-93.

CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, Cincinnati Reds

 
Topps  Sergio Santos
Topps Sergio Santos

10/22/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #673 Sergio Santos, Diamondbacks Draft Pick

More Sergio Santos Topps Cards: 2010 2011U 2012 2012U 2013 2015

You might remember Santos from his glorious 2011 season closing games for the White Sox. In fact, you should pretty much only remember Santos from his glorious 2011 season closing games for the White Sox because he only experienced limited success/health in the big leagues aside from that.

Here, the future ace reliever has just been drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks #1 out of something called Mater Dei High School in southern California. He was a .388 batter and .835 slugger in HS!

THIS CARD: You may be asking yourself, "If Santos was a closer, why is he posing with a bat?" Well, he was (reluctantly) converted from SS to the mound in 2009 by the White Sox after seven years bouncing through the minor leagues without sniffing MLB.

Santos bears something of a resemblance to another high-drafted SS, Carlos Correa.

(flip) Draft Pick cards of this era showcased MiLB stats, as opposed to the amateur stats I would have liked to delve into further.

Santos was snatched up by Arizona #27 overall, BTW.

Rocket-powered arm indeed; Santos could reach 96 on the gun upon becoming a pitcher, which means he might have been hitting 100 prior to that.

AFTER THIS CARD: After his first year in AAA (2005), Santos was traded by Arizona to Toronto along with Troy Glaus in exchange for Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista. His first year as a Jays farmhand stunk, and Santos found himself on the move thrice more before the White Sox convinced him to go to the mound.

By 2010, 27-year-old Santos was in the majors as a setup man; the next year he converted 30 saves in 36 chances, signed a three-year extension and seemed on his way. But the rebuilding White Sox basically gave Santos  (back) to Toronto that winter.

Shoulder surgery all but wiped out Santos's 2012 season, and his 2013 was interrupted by elbow surgery. When healthy, he was very effective in '13, but was equally as poor in '14 and wound up outrighted twice by the Jays. During a 2015 season split with the Dodgers and Yankees, Santos underwent yet another surgery—this one on his UCL—and never made it back to pro baseball.

Sergio Santos appeared in 2003, 2010, 2012-2013 and 2015 Topps, as well as 2011-2012 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Draft Picks

 
Topps League Leaders
Topps League Leaders

10/24/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps #64 League Leaders, NL RBI

More 2018 Topps League Leader Cards: n/a

Seemed like it was Giancarlo Stanton, Charlie Blackmon and nobody else atop the NL leaderboards in 2017. For some time, everybody from fans to management wondered what kind of damage a seasoned Stanton would do if he could last a season without extended DL time. Well, the world found out in '17; Stanton rode three very good months into a breakout July—followed by possibly the most dominant August on recent record.

Not only did Stanton lead the league in RBI, he (and Marcell Ozuna) broke the 17-year-old team ribbie record. When all was said and done, Stanton's efforts secured three Player Of The Week awards, Player Of The Month for August, and of course, the league MVP award.

THIS CARD: 2018 marked the second straight year that Topps produced 30 total League Leader cards rather than the 10-12 usually found in their sets. This, of course, led to a lot of redundancy on both the front and backs of cards. Yours truly felt compelled to pipe up to Topps about it via email, though I didn't expect much.
To my surprise, 2019 Topps dialed LL cards back to the familiar 10, allowing for the inclusion of 20 more players. I'm not taking sole credit for the change, but I'd like to think it helped.

I'd also like to think Stanton is driving in a run in this photo; if so, it's one of the 68 home RBI for him in 2017.

With two selections out of the past four, 2018 Topps must go on hiatus now.

(flip) Stanton had to out-RBI Arenado 6 to 1 over the seasons final four games to claim the top spot.

Stanton's lone other Top 3 RBI finish was in 2014, when his 105 trailed only Adrian Gonzalez's 116 among NLers. Which has taught me to scour these LL cards a little closer because I'm not sure I ever knew Gonzalez was so productive as a Dodger.

It is unlikely we will ever see Zimmerman, Lamb or Shaw on an RBI leaderboard again; none of them are even guaranteed jobs for 2020.

The 10th spot was shared by Cincinnati's Joey Votto and Washington's Anthony Rendon.

AFTER THIS CARD: Following his trade to the Yankees, Stanton finished 2018 7th in AL RBI, but sat out almost all of 2019. Arenado, a two-time NL RBI leader, finished 2nd and 4th in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Though he's hardly played poorly, and drove home 28 runs in April '19, Ozuna has not cracked 90 RBI since 2017.

CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps, League Leaders

 
Topps Dave Hansen
Topps Dave Hansen

10/28/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #697 Dave Hansen, Dodgers

More Dave Hansen Topps Cards: 1993 1995 2001

Hansen, a semi-regular in 1992, did not come close to playing that much in 1993. It was partially his own fault—but not in the way you might be thinking. While the Dodgers did have newcomer Tim Wallach in the fold absorbing most of the at-bats at 3B, Hansen emerged as such a lethal pinch-hitter that even without Wallach around, he may have been kept on the bench.

Here, the 24-year-old has completed a 1993 season in which he set the Dodger single-season record for pinch hits (18). He appears in COTD for the second time; we broke down his 1995 Topps card back in March 2016. 

THIS CARD: My guess for ballpark? Shea Stadium (Mets); the blue dugout roof pretty much eliminates all other NL parks.

Hansen is shown wearing #5, although baseball-reference.com doesn't list him with that digit until 1994. '94 Topps wasn't released late enough to use actual 1994 photos, so BR might actually be misinformed. If so, it's the first piece of confirmed misinformation I've ever found on that site.

Topps Gold! For those of you who don't know, the company released parallel sets with gold lettering 1992-94. Each of those sets replaced their checklists with cards not included in the regular set. I found this out around, oh, 2013 or so.

(flip) Hansen finished seven shy of Jose M. Morales's all-time PH record (set in '76 for Montreal).

The two pinch homers Hansen ripped in 1993: a go-ahead shot off Florida's Charlie Hough on 9/5, and...gulp...a walk-off grand slam off the Giants' Mike Jackson on 7/24 that I'm sure left teenage me grumpy for a while. (Oh, wait: I was a teen. Probably already grumpy.)

One of those 21 BB in '93 led directly to the 27th and final loss of Anthony Young's infamous streak.

Today that #5 belongs to Corey Seager, and I'm kind of troubled that I knew that without looking it up. Who needs their brain cluttered up with icky Dodger knowledge...

AFTER THIS CARD: Hansen remained a pinch-hit specialist for the Dodgers through 1996, moved on to the Cubs for '97, then Japan for '98. The veteran then returned stateside for four more years with the Dodgers, becoming their all-time PH leader (110). His playing career ended in '05 following two stints each with the Padres and Mariners.

Hansen then hit the coaching ranks, most recently working as hitting coach for the 2016-17 Angels under old teammate Mike Scioscia.

Dave Hansen appeared in 1993-95 Topps, then disappeared during the small-set era before returning one last time in 2001. (He also received a 1991 Topps Major League Debut card.)

CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers