Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, October 2016
A = Alternate Card F = Factory Team Set G = Giveaway Set T = Traded Set U = Update Set
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10/2/16 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2007 Topps #516 Bartolo Colon, Angels
More Bartolo Colon Topps Cards: 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2002T 2003 2004 2004T 2005 2006 2008 2011 2011U 2013 2014 2015 2016
Today, Colon is basically a big, goofy cartoon. He receives as much press for his sludging on the basepaths, swinging his helmet crooked, etc. as for his fine pitching well into his 40's. Baseball lacked a true goofball after Manny Ramirez' career ended, and his old teammate Bartolo Colon has received the torch and run with it. (Very slowly.)
But back when this card was issued, Colon was actually among the game's top pitchers, just one year removed from a Cy Young award for the division-winning Angels and not quite as big. From 1998 (his first full season) thru 2005, Colon averaged 17 wins, 216 IP and 171 K per year. He could also reach triple-digits as a youngster.
He won 20+ games twice in that span and was so good, Montreal gave up three All-Stars—Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore—and a proven veteran slugger to get him from Cleveland in mid-2002! (To be fair, at the time of the trade those three All-Stars combined for 0 days of MLB experience, and that slugger was batting .190 and out of baseball two months later. But still.)
Colon spent '03 with the White Sox, then signed a 4Y/$51M deal with the Angels. Here, he's just wrapped Year 3 of said deal...albeit prematurely, due to ongoing shoulder issues that first crept up in the 2005 ALDS. Colon rehabbed his troublesome rotator cuff, but by the time this card was issued, he was not yet healthy.
THIS CARD: Colon's signature is easily the most legible of all our 2007-08 Topps COTD selections to date. Which is ironic, as he seems like the type who'd sign like a doctor. Or draw a picture of himself.
Note his figure—he's big, noticeably bigger than when he broke in MLB, but not as big as he is today.
In case you wonder why no city has been listed on Topps cards along with "Angels" in over a decade, it is because they're officially and legally known as Angels Baseball, LP—you may recall all the controversy surrounding their name change from Anaheim Angels to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; neither city appears on any of their official merchandise and hasn't since the year before the change.
Colon has worn #40 his whole career except his first year as an Angel (Troy Percival was still around) and Athletic (evidently, Colon had nothing Pat Neshek wanted.)
(flip) "Who the hell else had nine CG in 2003?" I thought when reading the stats. Turns out Roy Halladay and Mark Mulder. I'd have known that once upon a time.
Bartolo Colon walked 98 batters in the 2000 season?! He's walked 86 batters the past three seasons in just under 600 innings.
Viewing Colon's 2006 statline, obviously the Seattle shutout was his only win that year (he'd been 0-4, 5.77 entering.) He threw 91 pitches, struck out two, walked none—and was done for the year three starts later.
AFTER THIS CARD: Colon would be at or near 300 career wins were it not for a spate of injuries that limited him to 47 starts 2006-10—of which he won 14. After issues with White Sox management in 2009, Colon did not pitch at all in 2010 and wasn't a sure bet to ever do so again.
But the 38-year-old re-emerged with the 2011 Yankees—initially as a reliever before joining the rotation. He played a big part in Oakland's 2012 resurgence—until a PED suspension—then won 18 games and made the 2013 All-Star team! Nobody even talks about the suspension anymore...just Bart being Bart.
In 2014-16 as a New York Met, Colon's popularity reached new heights as his body reached new widths. Of course, none of his many batting/baserunning adventures generate the same amusement if the big fella wasn't getting it done on the mound—which, even past birthday #43, he was. Arguably more impressive than the 44 games Colon won during that span: the home run he smoked at San Diego in May 2016...his first in the bigs! He will open 2017 with the Atlanta Braves.
Bartolo Colon debuted as a (svelte) prospect in 1996 Topps, then appeared annually through 2007 and again from 2013-present. He only received Update cards for 2008 (Red Sox) and 2011 (Yankees) in between, which is why I forgot he returned to the White Sox in 2009. Colon also appeared in 2002 and 2004 Topps Traded.
CATEGORIES: 2007 Topps, Los Angeles Angels
10/5/16 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps #464 Jay Tibbs, Expos
More Jay Tibbs Topps Cards: 1985 1986 1987 1989 1990
Being the new kid in class isn't easy for the majority of folks. Being the new kid in a class that booted out a well-respected, popular student to make room for you? Let's just say it's not on anyone's bucket list. Welcome to the Baltimore Orioles, Jay Tibbs—go ahead and take Scott McGregor's old locker; we just cut him.
Long before that challenge, the Mets made high-schooler Tibbs the first pick of Round 2 of the 1980 draft. He didn't exactly turn heads off the bat, changing organizations thrice before reaching the majors in 1984 with the Reds. The 22-year-old righty excelled for Cincy that year, going 6-2, 2.86 in 14 starts and averaging over 7 IP. He spent all of '85 in their rotation, allowing just 14 homers in 218 IP—but when the Reds had a chance to acquire Expos workhorse BIll Gullickson that winter, they sacrificed Tibbs (and three others) to do it.
Tibbs started his Montreal career hot, but leveled off and was even briefly demoted to the 'pen—though he still made 31 starts and approached 200 IP in 1986. Here, Tibbs is coming off his second and final Expo season—he struggled and spent much of 1987 back in AAA.
THIS CARD: Yes, Topps. What says "Montreal Expos" better than green and orange? How did they go from the 1987 (accurate) color schemes to...this? And for the rest of the decade, no less.
Not sure why I expected Tibbs to be the last Expo to wear #50—he wasn't; a dozen other Expos did. The most prominent was Geoff Blum. At least Sid Fernandez visited a lot.
Guys like 1987-88 Tibbs—low-upside journeymen, in and out of the rotation, up and down from the minors, no name recognition—seldom appear in Topps sets these days. Tibbs threw for a good team, which probably made the difference. Well, that and the sets were bigger with fewer teams in 1988.
(flip) That 1983 season was his first decent one in the minors; from 1980-82 young Tibbs was 11-26 with a WHIP around 1.60. Topps doesn't mention Tibbs' efforts for Lynchburg contributed to a Carolina League (A) championship! They were affiliated then with the Mets, now with the Indians, several others in between.
Of the six men in that winter 1985 deal, only McGaffigan was still with his new team by Opening Day 1988. Stuper, in fact, was cut by Montreal before Opening Day 1986 and never played professionally again.
AFTER THIS CARD: Not a whole lot. The Orioles acquired Tibbs just prior to Spring Training 1988...but he wasn't good at all in camp and opened in AAA. Upon replacing the washed-up McGregor, TIbbs went on to start 24 times, largely because the roster lacked anyone better.
Just when Tibbs seemed to turn a corner in 1989 (4-0, 1.73 in his first six starts; 5-0, 2.82 overall), he strained his shoulder and was done before Independence Day. The 1990 season, split between Baltimore and Pittsburgh, was his last as a professional.
Jay Tibbs appeared annually in Topps 1985-1990.
CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps, Montreal Expos
10/7/16 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps #613 Kendry Morales, Angels
More Kendry/Kendrys Morales Topps Cards: 2006U 2007 2008 2010 2011 2012 2013 2013U 2014 2014U 2015 2015U 2016
Heaps upon heaps of defensible-at-the-time decisions look, well, silly in hindsight. The Trail Blazers drafting Sam Bowie when Michael Jordan was available, for example. The 49ers keeping Colin Kaepernick instead of Alex Smith. Brandon Walsh turning down a dream job across the country to stay with Susan Keats, only for Susan to accept a job across the country soon after (20 years later...I still haven't forgiven that witch.)
It is hard to believe today, knowing which paths their careers took, but just eight years ago a well-run major league franchise chose 25-year-old Casey Kotchman over 25-year-old Kendry Morales (as he was then known) as its regular first baseman.
At the time of this card, it was not a catastrophe—Kotchman, in fact, was a .448 slugger and excellent fielder with the Angels in 2008, while Morales batted .213 and never stayed on the roster for long. Today, with Morales established as a dependable slugging run-producer and Kotchman nearly four years removed from his last MLB game...it is hard to reconcile.
THIS CARD: I tend to forget Morales is a switch-hitter and usually picture him as a lefty. The 'S' was added to his first name in 2010 during his injury absence—turns out Kendrys was his name all along; the 'S' had been omitted by whoever prepared his original Angels deal, and for whatever reason he waited seven years to fix it.
Morales is listed as a 1B, even though he played twice as much outfield while with the Angels in '08.
(flip) As you see, Morales got plenty of run with the 2006-07 Angels; in fact he played regularly for two months in '06 after Kotchman opened the year on ice.
Guerrero and Rojas teamed up on the 1996 Expos, Rojas/Cerone on the 1992 Expos (Cerone's last year), and Cerone/Peterson way back on the 1976 Indians. Peterson and Mantle teamed up 1966-68.
Fomento is located right in the center of Cuba, nowhere near capital city Havana where Morales eventually took residence.
AFTER THIS CARD: With Kotchman and his replacement Mark Teixeira departed, Morales took over 1B for the '09 Angels and became their main power supply. He'd begun 2010 strong when he capped a June walk-off HR with a celebratory leap onto home plate—the resulting broken leg sidelined him until 2012.
By the winter of 2013-14, the now-30-year-old had fully re-established his slugging prowess entering free agency. One small problem—supposedly, Morales' suitors deemed him unworthy of the draft pick he'd cost, and he went unsigned until June 2014 (Twins)! Morales spent only a few weeks with the Twins before a trade to Seattle; he'd spend the following two seasons with the Kansas City Royals, aiding their 2015 championship run.
The big Cuban has long been one of baseball's best bargains. In two years with KC, he earned a combined $15.5M for 52 home runs and 199 RBI—30% less than Matt Cain got to win four games last season. Morales' new deal with Toronto pays $33M over three years, less than ex-teammate Mike Trout will earn in 2018 alone. Obviously, the "S" added to his name does not represent $.
Kendry(s) Morales debuted in 2006 Topps Update and has appeared annually in Topps since, with Update cards 2013-15.
CATEGORIES: 2007 Topps, Los Angeles Angels
10/11/16 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps #200 George Brett, Royals
More George Brett Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
We all know George Brett played a very long time (1973-1993). As a handsome superstar on a top team—the 1976-85 Royals made six playoff appearances, won two pennants and one title—cameras were never far away from him. Even though he was largely active in the pre-digital era, Brett was probably photographed at least a million times during his career.
Which begs this question:
Why did Topps use so many redundant images of George Brett? Take this 1989 card, for example—what is Brett doing/wearing on his 1990 card? Check that, then compare 1988 and 1987. Then compare 1993 and 1994.
Topps has obviously never employed a redundancy checker. Once again, I offer my services.
Brett, of course, was a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer; only Mike Schmidt outranked him among major league third basemen of their era (and according to Bill James...ever). The West Virginia native eventually became the only player to win batting titles in three decades (1976, 1980, 1990), cracked well over 3,000 hits, became synonymous with hemorrhoids without really trying, and for a few moments in 1983, adopted the persona of a crazed linebacker on-field.
Here, Brett is a still-productive 36—in fact, he made his 13th consecutive (and final) All-Star appearance in 1988 and even won his third Silver Slugger! Maintaining health was Brett's main shortcoming as a player, but staying on the field in '88 enabled him to rank second in the AL in doubles, 4th in total bases (300) and 6th in RBI.
THIS CARD: "Wait...what's on Brett's hand? I thought he was a third baseman!"
Tired of hurting himself diving, Brett switched to first base after the 1986 season, only playing a handful of games at third after that.
For the first time, I catch a slight resemblance between Brett and Fred Dryer (formerly of the NFL and Hunter).
(flip) Yes, George Brett was a three-time triples (co) champion. Royals/Kauffman Stadium used slick astroturf back then, which surely factored in.
More about his .390 season: on May 21, he was batting .247. He hit .427 in 90 games after that, and was at .400 as late as 9/19! Brett also slugged .716 in those 90 games and struck out a grand total of 17 times (check out those BB/K ratios from 1976 on.)
You know that little "index finger" of NW West Virginia? Glen Dale is near the base of that "finger", just a short drive south of Wheeling.
AFTER THIS CARD: Brett was an impact player through 1990, when he beat Rickey Henderson out for the AL batting title. He became essentially a full-time DH for his final three seasons, only playing 28 games in the field during that time (including three at third base in 1992...didn't know that until now.)
He joined the 3,000-hit club in late 1992 and retired at age 40 13 months later, having completed 20 full seasons (and part of a 21st) in Kansas City. He's been linked to the Royals ever since, currently serving as VP of Baseball Operations for the team—he was very visible during KC's 2014-15 pennant marches.
George Brett appeared annually in Topps 1975-1994.
CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps, Kansas City Royals
10/15/16 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps #591 Trevor Plouffe, Twins
More Trevor Plouffe Topps Cards: 2010U 2011U 2012 2013 2014 2015
Not that anyone in authority is listening, but I've long been an advocate of banning bullpen mounds in play. It's just a recipe for disaster—that pitching rubber isn't soft, people.
You may recall Bryce Harper memorably tumbling over one while making a catch at AT&T Park, I believe, last season—if someone of his stature had even sprained an ankle that day, a mound-banning committee is formed before Harper's even off the DL.
That said, for one glorious night in 2015 I suppose I was okay with bullpen mounds in play, because my family and I spent a solid minute laughing at Trevor Plouffe falling over one in Oakland while unsuccessfully pursuing a popup. (Childish? Perhaps. But you'd have laughed too had you been in our seats.)
Plouffe (pronounced Ploof) was playing third base for the Minnesota Twins at the time, something he did regularly from 2012 to 2016. Drafted as a shortstop, Plouffe went through several stints in the bigs playing just about everywhere but third base—young Danny Valencia still had that job—and even was the Twins' regular SS for a while until being shifted to the outfield because of defensive issues.
When Valencia was demoted in 2012, Plouffe (eventually) took over the 3B job. Here, Plouffe—who was disabled seven times in his five full Twins seasons—is coming off a 2015 season spent entirely off the DL. He started 151 times and drove in a career-and-team-high 86 runs, despite leading the league in GIDP (28).
THIS CARD: Ignore that All-Star Game stamp. I had the opportunity to acquire this special ASG edition of 2016 Topps for very few dollars—every 2016 Topps base card we present will have the stamp. A small concession for a huge bargain.
Does anyone else see a little Ben Affleck in Plouffe?
Plouffe has worn #24 his whole career. That was Tom Brunansky's old number. Good company.
(flip) Let's touch on something else I'd like to ban—referring to "DH" as a position. It is NOT a position! It does not take skill to "play" DH. It takes a bat and a pulse. You do not have a coach to help you properly DH. (For the record, Plouffe played all four infield and both corner outfield spots.)
That 2015 RBI total was a very distant second, to Josh Donaldson's 123.
Plouffe was the 20th overall pick in 2004.
West Hills is a community just northwest of Los Angeles, near where the famed 101 and 405 freeways connect.
AFTER THIS CARD: Plouffe was disabled thrice in 2016 with separate injuries to the same general area of his body (intercostal strain, cracked ribs, oblique strain) and only started 80 games. With young slugger Miguel Sano in the wings, Plouffe was cut after the season. As of this writing, he remains unsigned.
Trevor Plouffe's first two Topps appearances were in the 2010-11 Update sets; he's appeared in every base set since.
CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps, Minnesota Twins
10/18/16 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #43 Ruben Amaro Jr., Phillies
More Ruben Amaro Jr. Topps Cards: 1992
Since I just completed the film Rampart, we'll use law enforcement as an example.
When one goes into police work, their path usually begins at the police academy. Graduates go on patrol. Down the road—as their performance warrants it—they may rise to seargant and lieutenant, perhaps even to captain and commander.
If that captain or commander does well and leaves that position with their reputation intact, they don't then choose to be a meter maid. It just isn't done.
Which is what's fascinating about Ruben Amaro, Jr. This guy played in the majors for parts of eight years (mostly with the Phillies), then became a Phillies assistant GM. Eventually, he was promoted to Phillies GM after the team won the 2008 World Series.
But Amaro kept the aging championship core together too long; the team slipped and he was fired after the 2015 season. A few months later, Amaro accepted a job not as the Boston Red Sox president...or general manager...or assistant general manager...but as first-base coach.
It's easy to picture him with some ex-Phillies bust on first base with instructions such as "Okay, Miller. I want you to steal on 2-0, kind of like you stole $2-0 million from me stinkin' it up in Philadelphia."
Here, Amaro is still a puppy, having completed his first of what would be 22 years with his hometown Phillies in varying capacities. Helping fill in for injured Lenny Dykstra, Amaro started 88 times split across all three outfield spots in 1992, and set most of his tallied career-highs.
THIS CARD: This looks like the same 1940's throwback uniform Ryan Howard wore in a previous COTD. Since the Phillies didn't use it as a regular alternate until 2008, Amaro must have been photographed on Turn Back The Clock Day.
Note he is not addressed as "Jr." even though his father did play in the bigs. These days, just about all "Jr's" like Jackie Bradley, Steven Souza, even Carl Edwards are explicitly addressed as such even when their dads have no sports ties and no distinction is necessary...just another of my arbitrary gripes, I suppose. It's a lengthy list.
(flip) Not a pretty overall 1992 batting average—despite the big day covered in the blurb, Amaro didn't get over .200 to stay until August 23. However, if you throw out Closing Day, he hit .272 and slugged .440 in his final 41 games! (More on the blurb: Ken Patterson surrendered Amaro's homer.)
That trade was with the California Angels and also included fellow rookie Kyle Abbott; aging Phillies mainstay Von Hayes went west.
Do a little math and you notice Amaro scored 101 times in 128 MiLB games in 1988...impressive.
AFTER THIS CARD: Amaro spent much of 1993 back in AAA, then was traded to Cleveland for Heathcliff Slocumb after that season. Continuing to shuttle between the majors and AAA through 1996, Amaro stuck with Terry Francona's Phillies for all of 1997-98—accumulating over 200 games played before retiring to the front office position originally offered to him that spring (and kept open specifically for him just in case.) Post-1998 was detailed above.
Ruben Amaro Jr. only appeared in 1992-93 Topps (as well as 1992 Traded). Though he lasted through 1998, none of the major companies produced cards of him after 1994.
CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, Philadelphia Phillies
10/25/16 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #44 Roger Salkeld, Mariners Draft Pick
More Roger Salkeld Topps Cards: 1992 1994 1997
After striking first-round gold in 1988 (Ken Griffey, Jr.), the Seattle Mariners made Salkeld the third-overall pick in the 1989 draft out of Saugus High School (Saugus, CA, about 40 miles north of Los Angeles). The 19-year-old righty threw a 96-mph fastball, curveball and changeup...and was 6'5", for good measure!
(Disclaimer: Salkeld also had a slider by the time he reached MLB, but we're not sure if he had it in high school.)
THIS CARD: Did we really just pick a card #44 after a #43?
If that's indeed Salkeld's high school...what a backdrop. His uniform looks like the Chicago White Sox' alternates.
(flip) Bill Salkeld passed away four years before Roger's 1971 birth, unfortunately.
Salkeld's high walk total as an amateur would be a sign of troubles to come.
To be fair to Salkeld's opposing batters, some high schools have baseball fields with non-existent or unreachable fences, such as mine—its CF fence stood about 450 feet from home plate. Of course, that'd allow for more triples, so maybe Salkeld was indeed just that dominant.
AFTER THIS CARD: By 1991, Baseball America rated Salkeld its' #3 prospect, but shoulder soreness/surgery torpedoed his entire 1992 season; he returned to the minors in June 1993 and was in the majors that September—Salkeld threw 6.1 solid innings at the division champion White Sox just before season's end.
After a promising start to 1994, Salkeld was battered mercilessly (8.55 ERA, WHIP over 2); he'd be demoted to AAA Calgary and battered there as well. In early 1995, the M's traded him to Cincinnati for proven veteran Tim Belcher, who helped Seattle to its first-ever playoff berth while Salkeld languished in AAA all season.
In '96, Salkeld resurfaced for pitching-starved Cincinnati. Armed with a new two-seamer, he was a pleasant first-half surprise of sorts, going 4-2, 3.63 in 11 starts. But he regressed badly after the break and never pitched in the majors again, drifting through MiLB another four years before retiring.
Roger Salkeld appeared in 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1997 Topps (1992 was a shared Prospects card).
CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, Seattle Mariners
10/27/16 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #465 Dennis Eckersley, Athletics
More Dennis Eckersley Topps Cards: 1987 1987T 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1995 1996 1997 1998
This card documents Eckersley's 1993 transition from deity to mere mortal—nothing else signified the official end of the LaRussa-era Athletics semi-dynasty like the sight of Eckersley actually allowing meaningful runs to score. Most of that Oakland championship core had moved on by 1993, and those who remained—such as Mark McGwire, Dave Henderson, Bob Welch and the man known as "Eck"—were in decline.
For the preceding five years, no closer had been as dominant as Eckersley. For the decade preceding that, as is well known, Eckersley was a talented (two-time All-Star, 20-game winner in 1978) starting pitcher for the Indians, Red Sox and Cubs until switching to the bullpen in 1987—he essentially enjoyed two long and productive careers, the entirety of which equaled Hall-of-Famer in the eyes of 83% of 2004 Hall voters.
Here, the 38-year-old is fresh off a 36-save season, which for a 68-win team seems laudable initially...until you factor in Eck's 10 blown saves (including an unfathomable three straight during Week Two.) It was quite the dropoff for a man named AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner just the season before.
THIS CARD: Eckersley's classic delivery has never been duplicated before or since. And the post-K pointing...watching Eck was only slightly less fun than hating him. And you only hated him in a good way, if that makes any sense—unlike your traditional baseball villains (Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, A.J. Pierzynski) Eckersley was likable, and you'd be dejected if a high-velocity baseball struck his temple.
Eckersley's #43 is now retired by the A's, and unlike fellow honorees Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers and Rickey Henderson, nobody else wore the number after he did.
(flip) This is why I do COTD—me, a supposed baseball junkie, had no idea Eckersley recorded three saves before age 22, or that he'd ever started a game with the Athletics, or one more nugget I'll list below.
That could be pre-renovation Oakland Coliseum Eck is signing at. Sudbury is about 23 miles west of Boston. And that 1987 trade sent Brian Guinn, Mark Leonette and Dave Wilder east to Chicago. Those three men combined to play as many MLB games as Fred Flinstone.
AFTER THIS CARD: Though his superstardom faded, Oakland continued to give Eckersley the ball in the 9th inning through 1995. Though he still only walked one or two guys per month on average, his overall effectiveness slipped—understandable given his age (41 by 1995) and previous sky-high standard.
After that season, Eck moved on to newly-hired Tony LaRussa's Cardinals via trade for 1996-97, converting a more-customary 66 of 77 saves for St. Louis before returning to Boston for his 24th and final season.
Aside from John Smoltz, nobody else can boast a 20-win and 50-save season during their career, and his 390 saves—all but three recorded after age 32—rank 7th all-time today, but behind only Lee Smith and John Franco at the time of his retirement...there's that final nugget.
Dennis Eckersley appeared annually in Topps 1976-98. That's a lonnnng time. (If you're after a card of Eck from his Boston 2.0 stint, look no further than 1999 Fleer and Upper Deck. The more I mention those sets, the more I want them.) Eckersley can also be found in 1984 and 1987 Traded.
CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, Oakland Athletics
10/31/16 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps #647 Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox
More Eduardo Rodriguez Topps Cards: 2015U
I follow baseball closely, but not obsessively. What's the difference?
A close follower can name all 30 ballparks and most, if not all, of said ballparks' name changes. An obsessive follower can also recite their capacities, dimensions and even menus from memory. (I could not even do that in my teenage prime.)
So, being only a "close" follower, every season one or two of notable guys slip through my observational cracks. In 2016, that guy was Jon Gray—in Colorado's rotation all year and I didn't know it until his final start of 2016. And only then because it was against my Giants.
In 2015, that guy was Eduardo Rodriguez (I dislike the Red Sox and generally avoid their broadcasts.) I knew zilch about his very existence until pulling his 2015 Topps Update card in early 2016.
Originally an Orioles prospect, Rodriguez was acquired in July 2014 in a trade for RP Andrew Miller. Ten months later, the kid was in the majors, dominating a Texas lineup featuring the likes of Prince Fielder, Josh Hamilton, Mitch Moreland, Shin Soo-Choo and Adrian Beltre in one of the decade's finest debuts.
Here, Rodriguez has completed a strong 20-start rookie season of 2015. His 2016 unveiling would be delayed by a Spring Training freak knee injury, however—the lefty dislocated his kneecap during a February fielding drill.
THIS CARD: Wow, two 2016 selections within a month of adding them to the database. It took almost three months to break in 2015 Topps.
Never heard of the Marucci company before, so I looked them up—they've been around for 15 years, apparently, and have quite a sizable MLB clientele. Jose Bautista is even on the board of directors. I'd always assumed the "M" on mitts stood for Mizuno...get with the times, Skillz..
We previously explained the All-Star Game stamp.
(flip) The youngest IL pitcher was 22? Surprising.
Topps, you had plenty of space to print the name John Curtis; he was the 1972 rookie in question and unlike Pete Rose in 2014 Topps, you cannot use his ban from baseball as an excuse for omitting his name from the blurb. Though Curtis was decidedly ordinary, he lasted until 1984 starting and relieving extensively, and later managed in the now-defunct (independent) Western League.
AFTER THIS CARD: Not much yet—it's still 2016, after all. We can tell you Rodriguez' knee injury kept him out until May 31. But even then he admittedly wasn't right and was demoted one month later with an 8.59 ERA.
Rodriguez—who features a 94-MPH fastball, tough slider and hard changeup—returned after the All-Star break, and though he only won two of 14 starts, he pitched to a 3.24 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .210 BAA and 79 K in 77.2 innings...not too shabby. The Venezuela native has a chance to ensure he's never overlooked by me, or anyone else, ever again.
Eduardo Rodriguez has appeared in 2015 Topps Update and 2016 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps, Boston Red Sox