Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Set Addition: 1983 Topps

Unlike yesterday's review of the 1984 set which outside of the Mattingly card was fairly lackluster, the 1983 set was absolutely full of key cards, most notably the Topps rookie cards of three future Hall of Famers:  Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, and Ryne Sandberg.

This blog has revered the career of Ryne Sandberg before.  But those of Boggs and Gwynn also deserve appreciation.  Tony Gwynn was undoubtedly the best hitter in the NL during the 1980s, and in the 1990s perhaps only Barry Bonds would merit an argument. Gwynn also wins respect points for spending his entire career with the Padres.

Perhaps Wade Boggs' most lasting legacy was his ill-fated agreement to go into the HOF as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray when he signed with them toward the end of his career.  Thankfully the HOF took that decision away from the player, and instead made that determination in a more objective manner.  While Boggs had a terrific beginning of his career with Boston, my lasting memory is of Boggs riding a police horse around Yankee Stadium after a mid-90s World Series Championship.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Set Addition: 1984 Topps

The 1984 Topps set is most widely known for its most valuable card, a Don Mattingly rookie card, #8. The design featured a large full action shot with a second profile picture. The set was fairly nondistinguishable otherwise, featuring second year cards from Sandberg, Gwynn, and Boggs, plus cards from several Hall of Famers.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Making the HOF Case: Brandon Webb

Up first for analysis in the current poll is Brandon Webb. Webb has a career record of 87-62, and he is arguably just now entering his prime. He has been injured early this season, but he has either been #1 or #2 in the NL Cy Young voting the past three seasons. Webb stands to cash in with a big pay day in the near future, so his future with the D-Backs may be limited. Moving to a more high profile team could elevate his status in the game. But he is certainly on track for a Hall of Fame career.

Webb's rookie card of choice is the 2003 Topps Traded, #T169.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

New HOF Poll: National League Pitchers

The results of the first poll are in, and it was a tie between Mark Teixeira and Miguel Cabrera among AL hitters. The next poll is National League pitchers. I excluded Johan Santana because I felt he was the most obvious choice. I also excluded young candidates such as Cole Hamels and Tim Lincecum because they have not yet pitched five seasons. Thus, four candidates emerged:

1) Jake Peavy: 87 wins, 2007 Cy Young winner, 2 All-Star appearances

2) Brandon Webb: 87 wins, 2006 Cy Young winner and runner up in 2007 and 2008, 3 All-Star appearances

3) Carlos Zambrano: 97 wins, 3 All-Star appearances, two-time Silver Slugger, no-hitter in 2008

4) Roy Oswalt: 129 wins, 3 All Star appearances

To this author, none of these four are a slam-dunk candidate for the Hall at this time. I also considered adding Tim Hudson to this poll (146-77, 3.48 career ERA), but with his Tommy John surgery I am hesitant to predict the future for him. Of these four, Brandon Webb seems to be the most likely to continue improving his game. Both Peavy and Oswalt have taken a step back in recent years, and Zambrano is volatile.

So this should be an interesting poll. Vote early and vote often.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Latest Set Additions: 1993 Topps Factory and Topps Traded

In my continuing quest to collect the complete Topps set from each of the past thirty years, I recently acquired a few sets off the Bay. The newest of these sets is the 1993 Topps set. The Series 1 and 2 factory set was huge, with 825 cards plus 10 Topps Gold and 3 Topps Black Gold cards. Of course one of the three Black Gold cards I received was a C/D winner card, but that has long since expired. The regular set contains scores of current and future HOF cards, but it is best known for containing the first regular issue Topps card of Derek Jeter:

Of the many Jeter rookie cards, this one often gets overlooked in favor of some of the more premium sets he was featured in. This collector prefers the Stadium Club Murphy card as his coolest rookie, but this one is great because it is from the regular set. The set also contained rookie cards from notable players including Jim Edmonds, Preston Wilson, and an unofficial rookie card of future catchers including Mike Piazza and Carlos Delgado. The set was also the first to contain those lovely teal hats that the Marlins featured in their early years.

Although I have not committed to purchasing each full Traded set, I did grab the 1993 Traded set. This set contained traded cards of Barry Bonds, Greg Maddux, Paul Molitor, Wade Boggs, and Andre Dawson. It also featured Olympians from 1992, most notably rookie cards of Todd Helton and, to a much lesser extent, Todd Walker.

Todd Helton probably warrants a separate post to consider his borderline Hall of Fame caliber career. It will be interesting to see if he can overcome the Colorado thin air stereotype to become the Rockie's first Hall of Fame player (assuming Larry Walker is not elected).

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Opening Night, with Predictions!

In honor of tonight's season opener between the Braves and Phillies, here is a stylin' 1992 Bowman rookie card of tonight's starter for the Braves, Derek Lowe.

And I thought I would provide my two cents for this season:

AL Division winners: Yankees, Indians, Angels
AL Wildcard: Red Sox

NL Division winners: Mets, Cubs, Diamondbacks
NL Wildcard: Phillies

AL Division Series: Yankees over Angels, Indians over Red Sox
NL Division Series: Cubs over Phillies, Mets over Diamondbacks

ALCS: Indians over Yankees
NLCS: Mets over Cubs

World Series: Indians over Mets

MVPs: Grady Sizemore, David Wright

Cy Young winners: CC Sabathia, Johan Santana

Rookies of the Year: David Price, Cameron Maybin

Managers of the Year: Eric Wedge, Tony LaRussa

Thursday, April 2, 2009

HOF Tribute: George Kell

George Kell passed away earlier this week, at the age of 86. He is arguably one of the ten greatest third basemen of all time, playing in 10 All Star games with a career batting average of .306. Kell was a most unusual third baseman, in that he only hit 78 career homers at a power position.

He was revered as a Tigers legend, although he also played for the Philadelphia A's, the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and Baltimore Orioles. After his retirement he had a successful broadcasting career, most recently with the Tigers. He was known for hanging around Tiger Stadium (and later Comerica Park) to sign autographs for fans.

Kell was inducted into the Hall in 1983. While he debuted in 1943, his first baseball card was a 1949 Bowman, #26.