Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, September 2019

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Topps Omar Quintanilla
Topps Omar Quintanilla

9/30/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #677 Omar Quintanilla, Athletics Draft Pick

More Omar Quintanilla Topps Cards: 2005U 2009U 2014U

Omar Quintanilla was the 33rd overall pick in 2003, but stardom was not meant to be for the height-challenged Texan. Quintanilla, who never played for the A's, is best known for his five-season stint as a part-timer for the Rockies—Quintanilla played 216 games for the team 2005-09, most of them at SS or 2B.

But here, the sky is the limit for the 21-year-old. Selected as compensation for the free agent loss of Ray Durham to San Francisco, Quintanilla slashed a combined .358/.414/.491 at two levels of Class A in his first professional go-round. He entered 2004 as Oakland's #7 prospect!

THIS CARD: Here, Quintanilla resembles the long-lost love child of Nick Swisher and Jake Peavy.

Some "First Year" dudes got First Year cards in 2004 Topps; others were plain old Draft Picks. No obvious pattern to the groupings.

More from Quintanilla: Though he branched out to 2B and eventually 3B in the majors, he played shortstop exclusively while in the A's system—but young Bobby Crosby firmly blocked his path in Oakland. I have no idea if Quintanilla actually wore #9 in the minors; he never wore it in the majors.

(flip) Those leagues, which we alluded to, were the Northwest and California Leagues.

Slashing .347/.400/.518 over three years will make you popular at Texas or any other university. But doesn't everybody worth anything have downloadable wallpaper now? I guess in the early 2000's it meant much more.

Draft Pick cards of yesteryear would display the player's amateur stats, but obviously 2004 Topps does its own thang.

AFTER THIS CARD: After he continued to rake MiLB pitching in 2004, the A's—still employing Crosby—moved Quintanilla to the Rockies in a July 2005 trade for Eric Byrnes; he earned his first MLB run filling in for injured Clint Barmes that year. 

Over 2006-07, Quintanilla shuttled between MiLB and the Rockies; he even played 2B regularly for a short while in 2007 (with Troy Tulowitzki on scene, Q had no hope of starting at SS anytime soon.) But he barely showed the offensive skillz displayed in college and the minors.

Still, injuries allowed Quintanilla over 230 PA in '08, although he struggled with a .635 OPS. In a weird twist, the 27-year-old spent all of 2009 with Colorado...but managed but 58 AB and was outrighted that winter.
Elbow surgery and a PED suspension headlined his 2010, and we didn't see much of Quintanilla again until 2013, when he started 89 times at SS for the Mets (Ruben Tejada tore a quad.) His last MLB run came in 2014.

Omar Quintanilla debuted as a 2004 Topps Draft Pick, returned in 2005 Updates and Highlights as a prospect, then appeared in 2009 and 2014 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, Draft Picks

 

More September 2019 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps Ben Oglivie
Topps Ben Oglivie

9/3/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #586 Ben Oglivie, Brewers

More Ben Oglivie Topps Cards: n/a

Oglivie, for a time, was among the better home run hitters in the American League, but it took him a LONG time to get there. You see, a bad defensive reputation followed young Oglivie around for years, and was ostensibly the reason the Red Sox (his original team) and Tigers (his second team) refused to give him an everyday job despite promising showings with the bat.

Still, by 1977 Oglivie was playing far more often than not, and whacking 21 HR in 450 AB for the Tigers. Enter Milwaukee, who swapped a pair of pitchers to acquire him for 1978.

It wasn't until '79, however, that Oglivie got his big break—fellow Brewers OF Larry Hisle tore his rotator cuff, and by the next year Oglivie was the Brewers #1 left fielder. How did he respond? By tying Reggie Jackson for the league lead in home runs (41).

During his career, the 16-year vet enjoyed three three-homer games, and also hit a three-run homer in the 21st inning of a 1984 game (that his Brewers lost in 25 innings).

Here, Oglivie has wrapped his ninth and final season with the Brewers. Starting 91 times between LF and DH, the 37-year-old's power was pretty much gone (though Milwaukee continued to often bat him cleanup). But he hit .283, stole his first base in three years and drew six IBB, second on the team to Robin Yount's seven.

THIS CARD: You are looking at the last of 15 Oglivie Topps base cards, the majority of the front images posed. Topps gave him three straight action front images 1982-84, then went right back to poses.

Oglivie appears to have caught a very strange-looking bird in his sights. All those bumps are courtesy of the gum in whatever wax pack this card was pulled from.

For the record, it's pronounced Oh-gil-vee, at least according to the 1982 ALCS broadcasters.

(flip) Ugh..damn gum stain.

Doesn't it go without saying that if he made it to MLB, Oglivie played baseball in high school? It's not an activity you take up in your early 20's.

Oglivie was born in Panama but moved to the States as a child, attending Roosevelt High School in New York.

This being my lone Oglivie Topps card, I won't have any other chance to tell you that along with his 34 regular season HR in '82, Oglivie added two more during the postseason.

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Nothing, at least in MLB. Oglivie took his talents to Kintetsu of the Japan league for 1987-88, averaging .306, 23, 69. He returned to the U.S. on a minors deal with Milwaukee, but a knee injury truncated the comeback after two games. Oglivie worked as a minors hitting coach for over 15 years beginning in 1995—he made too many stops to list here— and served the 2000 Padres in the same role.

Ben Oglivie appeared annually in Topps 1972-87, except 1974.

CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, Milwaukee Brewers

 
Topps Jorge Sosa
Topps Jorge Sosa

9/6/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2006 Topps #584 Jorge Sosa, Braves

More Jorge Sosa Topps Cards: 2005U 2007U 2008

When I think Jorge Sosa, what comes to mind first is how happy he must have been to join the 2007 Mets. You see, Mets star Carlos Delgado homered in five of his first six AB vs. Sosa dating back to their AL days (the sixth AB was a double!) and he finished his career 14-for-28 with seven bombs off the beleaguered righty.

Everybody's got their nemesis, and for Sosa it was Mr. Delgado (who, to be fair, walloped 466 other home runs through the years.)

Sosa was signed as an outfielder, but was converted to the mound in 2001 after being acquired by Seattle. Overall, he passed through three organizations before reaching Tampa Bay in 2002; the D-Rays shuttled him between the rotation, the bullpen, and AAA for three solid seasons before (mercifully) trading him to the Braves in Spring Training 2005.

THIS CARD: Sosa toils at his home park, Turner Field. Interestingly, he was 4-3, 3.64 there in 2005, but 9-0, 1.81 on the road.

Sosa reaches back for his 97-MPH gas, or his hard slider, or effective changeup. He didn't lack for stuff early on, but like so many hard-throwing youngsters, command escaped him too often.

This is Sosa's first appearance in Topps base; they didn't feature him during his D-Ray years.

(flip) The Randomizer chooses card #584 right after choosing #586...just a pointless oddity.

Note Sosa's dazzling 2005 pitching stats—he entered the depleted Braves rotation in June, remaining there for the rest of the season save for four days in mid-August. At one point, he won four straight starts and six of seven.

 

Technically, Sosa made 20 starts. But rain knocked Sosa from one of them after exactly ⅓ IP.

The Trade With Devil Rays sent IF Nick Green to Tampa Bay.

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Sosa, needless to say, entered 2006 with reasonable expectations. In short, they were not close to met, and in July—shortly after being demoted to the pen—he was D4A'd to make room for veteran reliever Danys Baez. St. Louis picked him up, but Sosa didn't get hot again until subbing for El Duque Hernandez in the 2007 Mets rotation. (3-0 beginning)

The magic didn't last all that long, and Sosa combined for a 6.75 ERA with the Mets and Nats in 2008-09, respectively. 22 games with the 2010 Marlins wrapped his big league career at 32; Sosa then spent three seasons relieving in Japan, two of which were pretty darn good statistically.

Jorge Sosa appeared in 2005 and 2007 Topps Updates and Highlights, as well as 2006 and 2008 Topps base.

CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps, Atlanta Braves

 
Topps Chris Duncan
Topps Chris Duncan

9/8/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2007 Topps #127 Chris Duncan, Cardinals

More Chris Duncan Topps Cards: 2003 2008 2009

Chris Duncan didn't have a long career, but he timed it well—his rookie effort helped propel the Cardinals to the 2006 postseason, and eventually to a World Series victory. The son of longtime Cardinals coach Dave Duncan was a 1999 #1 compensatory pick (for the free agent loss of Delino DeShields to Baltimore) who reached St. Louis as a 2005 September call-up.

Unable to win a job the following spring, Duncan was recalled in late May and homered in his season debut—which wasn't enough to keep him from being optioned and recalled two more times in the coming weeks. Duncan finally stuck in early July, soon went on a 7-for-11 tear, and by the end of the month was playing almost every day.

Here, Duncan has completed his fantastic rookie season of 2006. He batted .361 with nine HR in August, then closed September by going deep four times in nine games. 

THIS CARD: This is not a randomly-selected card; we chose it in memory of Duncan, who passed away at 38 from brain cancer (which he'd battled for years) on 9/6/19. 2007 Topps represented Duncan's breakout, championship season...fairly easy choice.

Duncan appears to be trotting in from the outfield here; he's obviously managed to get a little dirty which the St. Louis fans surely appreciated.

I can read the "Chris". But the rest is too large and/or complicated.

#16 looks strange on any Cardinal except Ray Lankford. Duncan wore it his whole career; Kolten Wong has had it since 2013.

(flip) Duncan was the 46th overall pick in '99, not a 46th-round pick as the card indicates. It was never corrected on Duncan's future cards, although his first Topps card (2003) got it right.

Note Duncan never put up great MiLB numbers, but good enough to move up the ladder. When called up to St. Louis for good in '06, he'd gone yard "just" seven times in 52 AAA games, making his power barrage in MLB all the more stunning.

That .589 SLG ranked 2nd on the Cardinals, behind Albert Pujols (NL-best .671). It would have ranked 5th in the NL had Duncan enough PA to qualify.

AFTER THIS CARD: Duncan started 94 times for the Cardinals in '07, mostly in LF, and enjoyed a .259, 21, 70 output before a September sports hernia prematurely ended his season. 

The league began to catch up to Duncan in 2008, as he was limited to six homers in 76 games before a herniated cervical disk shelved him in August. Midway through 2009, Duncan continued to scuffle with the bat and was finally traded to Boston for Julio Lugo. The Red Sox assigned Duncan to AAA, never recalled him, and let him go three weeks later.

A MiLB deal with Washington for 2010 led nowhere, and BOOM! Just like that, Duncan was done in MLB, although he became a popular St. Louis-area radio host for years until his health worsened.

Chris Duncan debuted in 2003 Topps as a First-Year player, then returned for the 2007-09 sets.

CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals

 
Topps Gerald Young
Topps Gerald Young

9/11/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #196 Gerald Young, Astros

More Gerald Young Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1991 1992

If only Gerald Young had picked the brain of ex-Blue Jay Lloyd Moseby on the art of stealing first base, he might have had a longer major league career.

All facetiousness aside, Young was quite talented at stealing second and third base, but after 1988, he just didn't hit enough to put that talent to prominent use. He came up to the Astros in mid-'87 and went right to work lighting up the National League basepaths, garnering some NL Rookie Of The Year consideration. In '88, he continued as Houston's center fielder, swiping 65 bags (2nd in the NL to Vince Coleman) in 92 attempts.

Here, despite an unappealing .233 average, Young has spent another season playing CF full-time for Houston. Though overall it was a tough year, Young did hit .259 after June 15, and went on to lead the NL in putouts (412) while gunning 15 runners.

THIS CARD: Switch-hitting Young takes a lefty AB at the Astrodome. Young batted .231 left-handed in 1989, and was a career .234 lefty hitter (versus .267 righty). All three of Young's lifetime MLB home runs came from the right side.

This is Young's first and only action shot in five years of Topps, although they did a nice job varying the inaction shots he was given.

Hard to see, but Young is wearing #2, a number that may well be retired in Houston someday (for Alex Bregman, not Young.)

(flip) Young was the first major leaguer born in Honduras. Per baseball-almanac.com, there have been two others since: ex-Oriole Chito Martinez, and current Giant Mauricio Dubon.

Young's first big league steal was on the battery of Doc Gooden and Gary Carter; he took 3B on Carter's TE but was stranded there. That first major league home run was served up by Dave Dravecky, his only run allowed in a CG win for the Giants.

Young finished up with two 4-SB games, the other taking place in May 1989.

AFTER THIS CARD: Young's lack of offense cost him his job in 1990, and eventually his roster spot as well—he spent 1990-92 shuttling between AAA and MLB, never able to regain his footing for long. His career ended after short looks with the expansion 1993 Rockies and 1994 Cardinals. still, Young left a legacy of sorts; his 65 SB in '88 remains the Astros record today.

Gerald Young appeared in 1988-92 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, Houston Astros

 
Topps Andrew Miller
Topps Andrew Miller

9/12/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2017 Topps Update #291 Andrew Miller All-Star

More Andrew Miller All-Star Topps Cards: 2016U

During his career's infancy, some predicted All-Star games in Andrew Miller's future—he was just that good as a prospect. 
Those crystal ballers were dead-on, as it turned out. It just took some extra time and a complete role shift for Miller to fulfill expectations.

2017 marked Miller's fourth consecutive year essentially shutting down the American League, and his second straight year being recognized for the Midsummer Classic. Miller was one of five Indians (Michael Brantley, Corey Kluber, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez) representing the defending AL champions.

THIS CARD: Miller chops it up with brief former Yankees teammate Gary Sanchez, presumably after saving the AL's 10-inning, 2-1 win at Marlins Park.

Miller entered in the B10th, retiring Dodger Corey Seager (hell yeah!) and Ender Inciarte before walking Joey Votto. As mentioned, he held on, striking out another Dodger Cody Bellinger (God, they suck) to end it.

I wonder, did Miller pitch with all five fingers in his glove (unlike, well, the whole MLB universe) or did he slip it in postgame? I've never understood exposing the index finger and never did it during my own baseball/softball days.

(flip) "CREDS". So cool. 

Miller finished the year with a 0.83 WHIP, 27 holds, a 1.44 ERA, and 95 K. I have no idea where any of that ranked among AL relievers and will not be researching.

Making the K especially sweet: Bellinger had taken Miller deep in June, then walked to key a four-run rally the next night (thanks, MLB.com). But on this night, Miller made the kid look real bad with a filthy outside slider. 

AFTER THIS CARD: Battling physical problems in 2018 and the home run ball in 2019 (like everyone else), Miller has proven to be mortal again. At 34, his All-Star days are probably over, but you never know.

Andrew Miller has received All-Star cards in 2016-17 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2017 Topps Update, All-Stars

 
Topps Miguel Olivo
Topps Miguel Olivo

9/15/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps Traded #165 Miguel Olivo, White Sox Prospect

More Miguel Olivo Topps Cards: 2000T 2002T 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2011U 2012

"I'm a nice guy. I don't want to hurt nobody," - Miguel Olivo, as quoted in 2013

Cue Maury Povich and his envelope:

"The evidence says that was a lie."

suppose it could be Jose Reyes' fault that Olivo once charged across the diamond to punch him, or that it could be DJ Carrasco's fault Olivo once charged the mound to punch him, or that it could be (his own teammate) Alex Guerrero's fault Olivo once bit off part of his ear during a dugout fight.

Listen: I don't know Olivo, but I do know odds, and after reviewing the evidence the odds are Olivo did want to hurt somebody at least some of the time.

Which is unfortunate, because he was a better-than-decent player for a decade in MLB.
Here, Olivo is just a prospect, a highly-regarded one whose throwing arm was often compared to Pudge Rodriguez. Acquired from the A's in a December 2000 trade for RP Chad Bradford, the kid responded by more than doubling his HR output despite moving up a minor league level.

THIS CARD: I'll grant him this: Olivo certainly didn't look like somebody always looking to fight, at least not at age 22-23.

This must be a Spring 2001 photo; I doubt Topps would track Olivo down on the farms just to pose for a card and I don't see them airbrushing him, either. It looks like he's considering firing to a base—something he did quite well as a prospect—after, perhaps, a pitch in the dirt, since he's not holding his mask (as he would likely be after a CS attempt).

Olivo the (A's) prospect also appeared in 2000 Topps Traded And Rookies.

(flip) "Not Drafted?" Topps usually puts "Signed" in these instances; don't know what happened here.

I covered some of the blurb above, and I hate when I do that. The Sox kept Olivo down until September 2002, and while I can't speak for all base runners, base stealers didn't enjoy the kid's arrival—he threw out 35% of attempted thieves as a White Sock.

Technically, Olivo was not acquired 12/7/00. He was a player to be named later, on 12/13/00.

This reverse image looks posed in front of a DMV screen.

AFTER THIS CARD: Olivo made the 2003 Topps All-Rookie Team, but tracking Olivo after he left the White Sox proved challenging—I wonder why—as he'd change MLB uniforms eight times between 2004-14. Along the way, he enjoyed a .249, 23, 65 season for the 2009 Royals, and made headlines as a 2010 Rockie for passing kidney stones during a game...and finishing it!

As you may have guessed, Olivo's MLB career ended in controversial fashion. He walked out on the 2013 Marlins during a game after falling to #3 on their catching depth chart; rather than reward his behavior with the release he sought, Olivo was placed on the restricted list by Miami.

Still, the Dodgers signed him to a MiLB deal for '14, setting up the Guerrero incident (which took place in AAA) and his instant release—perhaps he should have bit a Marlin's ear? 
Somehow, that didn't immediately end Olivo's pro career; he went to camp with the 2016 Giants, but not even a .636 Spring average could win him a job. As a Giants fan, perhaps that was for the best.

Miguel Olivo appeared annually in Topps 2004-12, with Traded cards 2000-02 and an Update card in 2011.

CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps Traded, Chicago White Sox

 
Topps Carlos Guillen
Topps Carlos Guillen

9/17/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #427 Carlos Guillen, Tigers

More Carlos Guillen Topps Cards: 1999 2002 2003 2004 2004T 2005 2006 2007 2009 2010 2011 

When I remember Carlos Guillen, obviously what first comes to mind is the Mariners/Astros Randy Johnson trade of 1998 that accelerated his rise to MLB.

 

Then, of course, is the infamous melee he helped start in 2011—an already-peeved Angels pitcher Jered Weaver completely came unglued after Guillen over-the-top pimped a home run. Weaver buzzed Alex Avila next, and the fun began.

Finally, I remember his what-the-hell-was-that 2004 season in which he obliterated his previous career-high slugging numbers moving from Safeco Field to Comerica Park. Naturally, there were whispers Guillen had a little "help" improving his production, but nothing was proven, and Guillen did enjoy a couple more similar seasons.

Here, the 10-year vet is coming off his second All-Star season. Batting mostly 5th for Jim Leyland, Guillen finished 2nd on the Tigers in triples and RBI while setting career highs in HR, RBI and perhaps most importantly, plate appearances (630).

THIS CARD: Guillen rips away at Comerica Park. He batted .291, 15, 75 from the left side in 2007, and .291, 12, 57 at home.

More on Guillen's 2007 season: he made the All-Star team on the strength of a .325, 14, 67 first half (the 67 RBI ranked 7th in the AL at the break). Guillen cooled off significantly in the second half, but not enough to ugly up his final numbers.

As you can see, Guillen didn't look much like a ballplayer from the neck up. He had some extra chin and a face appearing 15 years older than it was. But...

(flip)...from the neck down, according to McClendon, he sure was built like a ballplayer. (Note: this might be my only card with the word "butt" on it.)

The Trade With Mariners sent IF Ramon Santiago and a prospect west—Detroit badly needed a talent infusion after a 119-loss 2003, while Seattle had upgraded offensively with FA SS Rich Aurilia...or so it thought.

 

Of those 151 games in 2007, 36 came at 1B; most of the rest were at SS, his longtime primary position. And of those 36 games, he only started 15! So why is Guillen listed only as a 1B? Because in late '07, Leyland announced Guillen would be his 1B in 2008. (At least, that's the only reason that makes sense.)

AFTER THIS CARD: Guillen wasn't done switching positions in 2008, eventually moving across the diamond from 1B to 3B that year, from 3B to LF the next year, and from LF to 2B later on. With all the shuffling, not to mention myriad injuries which included microfracture knee surgery and a shoulder injury that forced him to give up RH batting for a time, it's no wonder Guillen never approached his '07 production again.

After being limited to 28 games in 2011, the Tigers let Guillen walk. He ended up back in Seattle on a MiLB deal, but retired at 36 before the 2012 season started.

Carlos Guillen debuted in 1999 Topps as a brand-new Mariner, then appeared annually from 2002-11. He's also got a 2004 Traded card.

CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Detroit Tigers

 
Topps Jay Howell
Topps Jay Howell

9/19/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps #425 Jay Howell, Dodgers

More Jay Howell Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1988T 1990 1991 1992 1993 

Not to be confused with Jay Powell or J.P. Howell.

Early on, MLB wasn't sure what to do with Jay Howell—his first 21 major league games were with three different teams, and he was shuffled between starting and relieving as well. After joining the Yankees in '82, he landed deep in manager Billy Martin's doghouse the next year, but with Martin gone in '84, Howell finally blossomed as a full-time setup man for CL Dave Righetti. In fact, he led AL RP in K/9.

Howell pitched so well, the Yankees included him in the Rickey Henderson deal with Oakland. As an Athletic, Howell saved 29 of 36 in '85, but from then on was plagued by repeated injuries culminating in 1987 elbow surgery that prematurely ended a rough year (even though he made the All-Star team).

Here, Howell has just completed his first season with the LA Dodgers, who acquired him in the three-team (Mets) Bob Welch trade of December 1987. It was quite the bounceback year for the 32-year-old, who saved 21 of 27 and posted a career-low (to that point) 1.00 WHIP

THIS CARD: Howell, the former starter, fires off one of his four pitches: fastball in the low-90's, slider, changeup, and a curveball that, when working, made Howell "unhittable" according to one publication. He had a high leg kick which made him easy prey for basestealers, though it did improve somewhat with age.

Howell has five Topps base cards as a Dodger (ew). All depict him mid-pitch, though the angles vary. This is the only one taken at Dodger Stadium.

More from Howell's 1988 season: as is well known, the veteran was ejected from Game 3 of the 1988 NLCS and later suspended for having pine tar in his mitt. He returned for the World Series, losing Game 3 on a homer to former A's teammate Mark McGwire, but recording a 2.1-inning save the next night. That'd be the only October action of Howell's long career.

(flip) In Howell's debut, he mopped up a 7-1 loss to the Dodgers by pitching a scoreless 9th, retiring the side around a HBP.

On 4/6/83 at Seattle, Howell—in his season debut—relieved Bob Shriley in the 3rd, racking up his nine K in 4.2 innings of relief! He allowed three BB, five hits and two runs as New York fell 6-2.

 

Howell had been named to the '85 All-Star team, but didn't pitch. His '87 ASG debut wasn't the smoothest; he allowed a game-winning, 13th-inning two-run triple to Montreal's Tim Raines that broke a scoreless tie.

Yes, that's that Parkland. By the end of Howell's Topps days he was long departed, though.

AFTER THIS CARD: Howell remained with the Dodgers through 1992, battling injuries each year but pitching well when healthy. In '92, Howell transitioned to setup relief for the lowly Dodgers and despite a pristine 1.54 ERA, settled for a MiLB deal with the Braves for '93. He made the team, enjoyed a good year, struggled early for the '94 Rangers, turned it around...then retired at 39.

Jay Howell debuted in Topps on a shared 1982 Prospects card, then appeared annually in the base set 1984-94. He's also got 1985 and 1988 Traded cards.

CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers

 
Topps Brad Fullmer
Topps Brad Fullmer

9/21/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #134 Brad Fullmer, Expos

More Brad Fullmer Topps Cards: 2000 2001 2002 2002T 2003 2004 2004T

I don't like when I fail to recall pivotal Giants moments that I actually watched. It doesn't happen very often but it does happen from time to time. I blame age and fatherhood.

So when researching Fullmer's career and finding that not only A) did he pull off a steal of home against them in the 2002 World Series, but also B) it was his single that prompted Dusty Baker to remove Russ Ortiz with the game ball in the infamous Game 6, I'm troubled by my fading baseball memory. Which means I've gotta go back and immerse myself in old books, videos and DVDs.
Including the 2002 World Series DVD...I've got to re-watch it start to finish, painful as that may be.

Fullmer was a five-year vet at that time but here, he's coming off his rookie season with the youth-laden Montreal Expos. Finding much of his early run in the cleanup spot, Fullmer led the Expos in doubles and was second to Vlad Guerrero in runs, hits and RBI.

THIS CARD: We see Fullmer showing off his defensive skillz. Fielding was not his specialty, however, and as soon as he reached the AL in Y2K he became a regular DH.

It seemed like half of 1999 Topps commons had dirt taking up well over half the card.

This is Fullmer's first Topps card. Given his 1997 MiLB statline and impressive cup of coffee with the Expos, it's surprising he didn't even make his way to a 1998 shared Prospects card. But hey, it was the Dark Era.

(flip) Reverse pic, unidentified ballpark. Fullmer hit .305 with 10 of his 13 HR on the road in 1998.

Why bat the rook cleanup, besides being a man? He slugged .575 during his cup-of-coffee with the 1997 Expos. And entering the 1998 season, the Expos didn't really have anybody proven to be better besides Guerrero, who hit third until late July.

Chatsworth is a small community located just west of the 405 in Los Angeles.

AFTER THIS CARD: Fullmer remained in Montreal for exactly one more season; he was moved to Toronto in a three-team deal that sent fellow 1B's David Segui and Lee Stevens to Texas and Montreal, respectively.

At least in 2000, Toronto looked like the runaway winners of the trade when Fullmer broke out with 32 homers and 104 RBI for his new club. But the next year his SLG dropped over 100 points, and rather than risk an arbitration raise, the Jays dumped Fullmer in Anaheim for '02—which we alluded to above. He did indeed secure a raise, up to $4M.

Though not the slugger he'd been in 2000, Fullmer—now down to $1M somehow—hit well enough for the 2003 Angels until wrecking his knee stepping awkwardly on first base in July; the ensuing surgery ended his season and his Angels career. The 29-year-old signed with Texas for '04, but continued soreness in his knee sent him to the 60-day DL in August...from which he never returned.

Brad Fullmer appeared annually in Topps 1999-2004, and he's also got 2002 and 2004 Traded cards as an Angel and Ranger, respectively.

CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Montreal Expos

 
Topps Leo Nunez
Topps Leo Nunez

9/25/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps #246 Leo Nunez, Marlins

More Leo Nunez Topps Cards: 2004T 2011

If your baseball fandom didn't initiate until 2012 or later, know this is the former Rays pitcher known as Juan Carlos Oviedo—Nunez was actually Oviedo's childhood bestie, and when it came to contract signing time, Oviedo decided he liked Nunez's identity and age better. He lasted seven years in MLB as Nunez before the truth was revealed.

Nunez had been, once upon a time, a halfway decent starting pitcher in the Pirates organization, but they eventually moved him to Kansas City in a trade for the washed-up Benito Santiago. Though he began '05 in Class A, by June the 21-year-old was in MLB...getting pounded in relief. After spending most of '06 in AAA and missing two months of early '07 with a fractured wrist (comebacker), Nunez was back in KC starting games. He had his moments, but finished the year in the bullpen.

Winning a job with the '08 Royals, Nunez—now 24, allegedly—turned in a strong season working 45 times out of the KC bullpen. Here, injuries have elevated Nunez to closer for the 2009 Florida Marlins, who swapped 1B Mike Jacobs for him on Halloween 2008. The still-young veteran ran with the opportunity, and in doing so, upped his 2010 salary by nearly 500% up to $2M.

THIS CARD: That does not look like Nunez's vaunted changeup grip, though I can't say with certainty. Though that was his out pitch, he also threw a 95-MPH fastball in his youth, along with a slider. As far as I can remember/research, Nunez was always a three-pitch guy.

More from Nunez's 2009 season: he saved 26 of 33 overall, but 26 of 31 after actually being named closer in June. I've always hated the middle reliever blown saves; can't they be called blown holds? If I were in charge of things, pitchers couldn't get charged with a blown save until the actual 9th inning. (Vote Skillz for commissioner.)

Through Marlins history, #46 has been worn by a couple other notable righties, including Ryan Dempster and much later, Kyle Barraclough. Nunez wore #43 and #46 during his Royals days.

(flip) Nunez' 2009 ERA is somewhat raised because he had a major problem with the gopher ball (13). It turned out he was tipping his pitches for a time.

According to baseballreference.com, Nunez racked up 13 saves for nine different professional teams in three organizations through 2009.

Lindstrom went down with an elbow sprain in mid-June, and sat two months.

Nunez/Oviedo's actual birthday turned out to be 3/15/82.

AFTER THIS CARD: As alluded to above, Nunez closed for Florida through 2011. Well, until very late 2011, when he was placed on the restricted list—MLB found out Nunez was actually Oviedo. During his 2012 post-suspension rehab, his arm blew out, leading to September Tommy John surgery that sat him all of 2013.

Oviedo finally returned to MLB with the 2014 Rays and didn't pitch all that poorly, at least statistically. But in a staff shakeup, the team cut Erik Bedard and Oviedo on the same day, and except for a brief MiLB deal with the 2015 Rangers, Oviedo simply faded away.

Leo Nunez debuted in 2004 Topps Traded as a Pirates prospect, then appeared in the 2010-11 base set. His identity issues cost him inclusion in the 2012 set.

CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps, Florida Marlins

 
Topps League Leaders
Topps League Leaders

9/27/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2002 Topps #344 League Leaders, NL R

More 2002 Topps League Leader Cards: #345

HOW?

HOW did the Randomizer pick 2002 Topps #344 less than a month after picking 2002 Topps #345? 

I own over 20,000 Topps cards and we're left with this. I'm not pleased, but my rule is simple: whatever card the Randomizer picks—as long as it exists and hasn't been previously chosen—we profile it.

Tonight, we return to the year 2001, specifically focusing on the three men who touched home plate more than anyone else that year.

THIS CARD: As you might imagine, all three of these men were at/near the height of their powers in 2001. Sammy Sosa, the MVP runner-up, also led the NL in RBI, reached 400 TB for the second time, and accrued 37 IBB, tied for the 4th-most ever by people not named Bonds.

Young Rockie Todd Helton, taking full advantage of his friendly home ballpark, put up numbers across the board that even MVP winners would envy. He also topped 400 TB for the second time and finished 9th in MVP voting.

Barry Bonds, who won his 4th of seven MVPs, broke baseball's three-year-old home run record (73) despite being walked 6,452 times. His .515 OBP would be, by far, his lowest during his 2001-04 MVP run. It doesn't hurt when your massive elbow pad allows you to crowd the plate.

(flip) Sosa's run total is tied for the third-highest in MLB in the past 82 years, with Craig Biggio (1997) and Rickey Henderson (1985). Ted Williams scored 150 in '49, and Jeff Bagwell scored 152 in 2000. 

Helton's 132 runs, surprisingly, are only the 6th-most in Rockies history. Shoot, they're only the third-most Helton ever scored.

It speaks to the 2001 Giants offense that Bonds only scored 56 times via other players despite those 6,452 walks.

This was Floyd's lone All-Star campaign; he never topped 85 runs in any other season. Giles finished 10th in the NL (not 9th...I previously scolded Topps for its misnumbered leaderboard) for the 2nd straight year. Biggio placed Top 10 for the sixth time in seven years.

AFTER THIS CARD: In 2002, Sosa led the NL in runs once more, fell off the board with "just" 99 in '03, then watched his career gradually fade out. Helton finished Top 6 in runs annually through 2004 before transitioning into a mere mortal offensively. Bonds ranked Top 5 in runs annually through 2004 before knee surgery and age sapped his invincibility. (Insert roid-related jab here).

CATEGORIES: 2002 Topps, Subsets