Thursday, October 22, 2020

Derek Lowe Fan Favorites Autograph

Here is yet another Red Sox Fan Favorites auto I tracked down: 


Derek Lowe was acquired in the same deal as Jason Varitek.  He was a two-time All Star (2000 and 2002) and is one of the few pitchers to save 40 games in a season and win 20 games in a season.  He pitched a no-hitter in 2002 against the Devil Rays.  Lowe also was the winner in the clinching games in the ALDS, ALCS and World Series in 2004.  Lowe is shown here on a 2001 Topps design.  2001 was a bad year for him, but marked the turning point in his career.  He started the season as the closer, but after a few bad outings, he was moved to the rotation, a move that paid off in a big way.  In 2001, Lowe went 5-10 with a 3.53 ERA with 82 strikeouts to 29 walks.  He saved 24 games.  He was coming off a terrific 2000 season though which saw him save a league-leading 42 games with a 2.56 ERA.  Lowe was definitely a fan favorite.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Topps Now: August 30


On August 30, 2020, Red Sox prospect Bobby Dalbec made his Major League debut, playing first base and batting eighth against the Washington Nationals.  He struck out in his first at-bat, but then came on again in the third inning with Kevin Plawecki on second base.  He homered for his first hit to right field.  Dalbec was one of the bright spots on the team for the last few weeks of the season, smacking eight home runs in 23 games.  He looks like a good bet for being the full-time first-baseman next season, provided he can cut his strikeouts down.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Diamond King Roundup: 1994

I am doing something a little different with this series. I have mentioned before that the Diamond Kings subset is one of my favorites of all time. The purpose of the subset is to highlight one player from each team who has made a big impact on the team. It is also true that sometimes the choices were a little suspect. I wanted to go through and look at the choices each year and determine which are the strangest choices. Then I will grade the picks in the context of the team, only. For this series, I only want to examine the years when there was one pick per team. In the mid 1990's, the set kind of went off the rails.

1994 again featured an extra pick, celebrating one player's career achievement, but this time labeled him as a "King of Kings", which is something Donruss did in 1990 with Nolan Ryan.  As a result, I will not cover that player, who is Dave Winfield, in this post.  Winfield notched his 3,000th hit, which is certainly something worth celebrating.  But since this was not a true Diamond King, I will not go over it.  Donruss moved away from including the Rookies of the Year, who ended up both being Diamond Kings anyway.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS - BARRY BONDS


In Bonds's first season in San Francisco after signing a major free agent contract, he won his third N.L. MVP award, and his second in a row.  Bonds hit .336/.458/.677 and led the league in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs (46), RBIs (123) and total bases (365).  He also had 181 hits, 38 doubles, 129 runs scored, 29 stolen bases and 126 walks.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Hell yes.  Bonds was amazing in 1993, easily one of the best players in the game.  The Giants were very good in 1993, led by Bonds, but also having terrific seasons from Robby Thompson, Matt Williams, Bill Swift, John Burkett and Rod Beck.  Thompson hit .312/.375/.496 with 19 home runs and 65 RBIs.  Williams hit .294/.325/.561 with 38 home runs and 110 RBIs.  Swift had a 21-8 record with a 2.82 ERA and was the runner-up in the Cy Young vote.  Burkett was 22-7 with a 3.65 ERA and was fourth in the Cy Young vote.  Beck saved 48 games with a 2.16 ERA.

GRADE: A.  The Giants had a lot of great choices in 1993, but Bonds was easily the best of the bunch.


BOSTON RED SOX - MO VAUGHN


Vaughn broke out in 1993 after a couple of seasons of lying in wait.  Vaughn hit .297/.390/.525 and received some down-ballot MVP consideration.  He led the Red Sox in on base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS (.915).  He also led the team in runs scored (86), home runs (29), RBIs (101) and walks (79).

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  By OPS and pure traditional offensive numbers, he was.  By WAR, he was sixth, due to limited defensive abilities.  Danny Darwin was the team's WAR leader behind a 15-11 record with a 3.26 ERA, 130 strikeouts to 49 walks in 229.1 innings pitched.  He led the league in WHIP (1.068).  The top position player by WAR was shortstop John Valentin, who hit .278/.346/.447 with 11 home runs, 66 RBIs and a team-leading 40 doubles.  Scott Fletcher was third in WAR, behind his terrific defense and a decent line of .285/.341/.402 and 16 stolen bases.  Frank Viola was fourth with a record of 11-8 with a 3.14 ERA.  Mike Greenwell hit .315/.379/.480 with 13 home runs and 72 RBIs, while leading the team in average and hits (170).  Finally, Aaron Sele finished third in the Rookie of the Year vote with a 7-2 record and a 2.74 ERA.

GRADE: B+.  Vaughn's offense was an easy choice, even if his WAR did not quite measure up.  Darwin would have been a slightly better selection if Donruss was aware of more advanced metrics.  But Vaughn definitely had the eye-popping numbers that were lacking in the players who finished above him in WAR.


ATLANTA BRAVES - STEVE AVERY


Still just 23 and in his fourth Major League season, Avery had a record of 18-6.  He was named to the All Star team for the first time.  He pitched 223.1 innings, striking out 125 and walking just 43, and had an ERA of 2.94.  

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Avery was not even the team's best starting pitcher and finished fifth on the team in WAR.  Newly acquired Greg Maddux followed up his 1992 Cy Young Award by winning the 1993 Cy Young Award.  Maddux had a record of 20-10 with a league-leading 2.36 ERA, eight complete games and 267 innings pitched.  He struck out 197 batters to 52 walks.  Ron Gant was the team's WAR leader behind a line of .274/.345/.510, 36 home runs, 117 RBIs and 26 stolen bases.  He finished fifth in the MVP race.  David Justice also had a great season, hitting .270/.357/.515 with 40 home runs and 120 RBIs.  Justice finished third in the MVP vote.  Jeff Blauser hit .305/.401/.436 with 110 runs scored, 182 hits, 15 home runs and 73 RBIs.

GRADE: C.  I am not sure how Avery got this over the Cy Young Award winner and two players who finished in the top five in the MVP race.  Avery was good, but there were much better choices.  And how the hell is it that Maddux STILL had not been a Diamond King, despite winning two Cy Young Awards at this point?


CALIFORNIA ANGELS - TIM SALMON


Salmon won the A.L. Rookie of the Year Award in 1993.  The Angels' right-fielder nearly won the Pacific Coast League Triple Crown in 1992 and followed that up by hitting .283/.382/.536 with 31 home runs, 93 runs scored, 35 doubles and 95 RBIs.  He led the Angels in doubles, home runs, on base percentage and slugging percentage.  

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  Salmon was certainly the best position player, but the Angels had two pitchers with higher WAR scores.  Mark Langston was first with a record of 16-11, an ERA of 3.20, 196 strikeouts to 85 walks in 256.1 innings pitched.  Langston was an All Star and won a Gold Glove.  Chuck Finley was second, behind his 16-14 record. 3.15 ERA. 187 strikeouts and 82 walks in 251.1 innings pitched.  

GRADE: B+.  I am giving Salmon extra credit for winning the Rookie of the Year Award with a very impressive season, and Salmon had obviously never been a Diamond King before, but Langston would have been a better choice.  


CHICAGO CUBS - RICK WILKINS


The Cubs catcher was in his third Major League season and first in which he played in more than 100 games.  He hit .303/.376/.561 with 78 runs scored, 23 doubles, 30 home runs and 73 RBIs.  He led the Cubs in slugging percentage, was second in home runs and fourth in RBIs.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Yes.  Wilkins led the Cubs in WAR in 1993, as well as OPS.  Mark Grace was second as the first-baseman led the team in average, on base percentage and RBIs, hitting .325/.393/.475 with 14 home runs and 98 RBIs.  Sammy Sosa led the team in home runs and stolen bases, hitting .261/.309/.485 with 33 home runs, 93 RBIs and 36 stolen bases.  Randy Myers had a great season out of the bullpen, saving 53 games with 86 strikeouts and 26 walks in 75.1 innings pitched and had a 3.11 ERA.

GRADE: A.  Wilkins was already a very good defensive catcher and in 1993 his hitting took a huge step forward.  He was easily the best player on the Cubs.


MINNESOTA TWINS - BRIAN HARPER


Twins catcher Harper hit .304/.347/.425.  He led the team in batting average, unusual for a catcher.  He also contributed 52 runs scored, 161 hits, 26 doubles, 12 home runs and 73 RBIs.  He walked just 29 times, but only struck out 29 times.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Probably not.  Harper was sixth in WAR, but most of the better Twins players had similar WAR scores, and most did not stand out from a traditional numbers perspective.  Chuck Knoblauch was the team WAR leader, but he hit .277/.354/.346 with 82 runs scored, 167 hits, 27 doubles and 29 stolen bases.  The OPS leaders were Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett, neither of whom were good defensively so they had low WAR scores that did not even rate them in the top 12.  Hrbek hit 25 home runs and drove in 83 runs.  Puckett hit .296/.349/.474 with 22 home runs and 89 RBIs.  

GRADE: B.  The Twins were pretty bad in 1993.  Knoblauch would have probably been a better selection than Harper, but Harper was an acceptable selection.


COLORADO ROCKIES - ANDRES GALARRAGA


The Rockies had the league's batting leader in their inaugural season.  Galarraga rebounded from a poor 1992 season to hit .370/.403/.602 with 71 runs scored, 174 hits, 35 doubles, 22 home runs and a team-leading 98 RBIs.  He finished tenth in the N.L. MVP vote and was named to the All Star team.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Yes.  Hard to ignore a batting leader, and Galarraga had some big power too.  He was also the team's WAR leader.  Charlie Hayes was second and was the team's home run leader and tied for the lead in RBIs, hitting .305/.355/.522 with 25 home runs and 98 RBIs.  Dante Bichette also had a big season, hitting .310/.348/.526 with 21 home runs and 89 RBIs.

GRADE: A.  Galarraga gave his team a legitimate thrill in the inaugural season, chasing the .400 mark until July.  


CLEVELAND INDIANS - ALBERT BELLE


Belle was named to his first All Star team and won his first Silver Slugger in 1993, while finishing seventh in the A.L. MVP race.  Belle hit .290/.370/.552 with 93 runs scored, 172 hits, 36 doubles and 38 home runs.  He led the league with 129 RBIs.  He even stole 23 bases.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  As good as Belle was, he was third on the team in WAR.  Kenny Lofton was first, as he hit .325/.408/.408 with 116 runs scored and 185 hits.  Lofton led the league with 70 stolen bases.  Carlos Baerga was second in WAR after hitting .321/.355/.486 with 105 runs scored, 200 hits, 21 home runs and 114 RBIs.  

GRADE: B.  Lofton would have been the best choice and Baerga would have been a better choice than Belle, but Belle is a fine choice.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES - JOHN KRUK


Kruk was an All Star in 1993 and received some down-ballot MVP consideration and was one of the embodiments of the N.L. Champs.  Kruk led the team in OPS (.905) and on-base percentage, hitting .316/.430/.475 with 100 runs scored, 14 home runs and 85 RBIs.  He walked 111 times compared to 87 strikeouts.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  Kruk was third on the team in WAR, behind Len Dykstra and Darren Daulton, the other two faces of the team.  Dykstra was the runner-up in the MVP vote after hitting .305/.420/.482 with 19 home runs, 66 RBIs and 37 stolen bases.  He led the league in runs scored (143), hits (194) and walks (129).  Daulton hit .257/.392/.482 with 24 home runs, 105 RBIs and 117 walks.

GRADE: B.  I would have gone with Dykstra here, but Kruk had a very good season. 


TEXAS RANGERS - IVAN RODRIGUEZ


Rodriguez was in his third Major League season in 1993 and was named to his second All Star team and won his second Gold Glove Award.  Rodriguez hit .273/.315/.412 with 56 runs scored, 129 hits, 28 doubles, four triples, ten home runs, 66 RBIs and eight stolen bases.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  Rodriguez was not a great hitter at this point in his career as his below-average OPS+ would attest.  He was seventh on the team in WAR.  Two hitters stood out on the team, leading the team in WAR with scores above 6.5.  Rafael Palmeiro led the league in runs scored (124), while hitting .295/.371/.554 with 37 home runs and 105 RBIs.  He also stole 22 bases.  Juan Gonzalez led the league in home runs (46) and slugging percentage, while hitting .310/.368/.632 and drove in 118 runs.  Gonzalez finished fourth in the MVP vote.

GRADE: C.  Rodriguez was great defensively, one of the best of all time, but he was not much of a hitter at this point.  Juan Gonzalez or Rafael Palmeiro would have been better choices at this point. 


SAN DIEGO PADRES - TONY GWYNN


Despite missing 40 games, Gwynn hit .358/.398/.497.  He led the team in hits (175) and doubles (41) along with batting average and on-base percentage.  He also had 70 runs scored, three triples, seven home runs, 59 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.  He only struck out 19 times, compared to 36 walks.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Gwynn was the OPS leader and the WAR leader among position players, but he was not the overall WAR leader.  Andy Benes had a record of 15-15 and had a 3.78 ERA in 230.2 innings pitched, striking out 179 and walking 86.  Greg W. Harris had a 10-9 record with a 3.67 ERA in 152 innings pitched.  The team's big slugger was Phil Plantier, who hit 34 home runs and drove in 100 runs, but hit .240/.335/.509.

GRADE: B+.  Gwynn had a great season, which would have been even better had he not missed 40 games.  The Padres were not awash with great candidates and Gwynn had some impressive numbers.  Even so, Andy Benes would have made a good choice.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS - BRIAN MCRAE


McRae led the Royals in hits (177) and triples (nine).  He hit .282/.325/.413 with 78 runs scored, 28 doubles, 12 home runs, 69 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.  He was second on the team in runs scored, RBIs and stolen bases.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No, definitely not.  McRae was fifth on the team in WAR, mostly due to his improved defense in center field, but he was still not much of a hitter.  Kevin Appier was easily the team's best player as he finished third in the Cy Young vote by leading the league in ERA (2.56).  He had a record of 18-8 and struck out 186 batters compared to 81 walks in 238.1 innings pitched.  David Cone had a good first season back with the Royals, going 11-14 with a 3.33 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 254 innings pitched.  Jeff Montgomery continued to impress as a closer, saving 45 games with a 2.27 ERA.  The team's OPS leader was catcher Mike Macfarlane, who hit .273/.360/.497, driving in 67 runs and hitting a team-leading 20 home runs.  

GRADE: D.  I do not understand Donruss's obsession with McRae.  This is the fourth bad Royals pick for Diamond King in a row, though McRae was marginally better.  Still, missing Kevin Appier is a huge mistake.


NEW YORK METS - BOBBY BONILLA


Bonilla had been a major free agent signing by the Mets for the 1992 season, but had a disappointing season.  He bounced back in 1993, making the All Star team and hitting .265/.352/.522 with 81 runs scored, 133 hits, 34 home runs and 87 RBIs.  He led the Mets in runs scored, home runs and walks (72).

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Probably.  Technically, he was second in WAR to Dwight Gooden, but Gooden's numbers (12-15, 3.45 ERA, 149 strikeouts and 61 walks in 208.2 innings pitched), were not eye-opening.  Eddie Murray had an impressive season in his second year in New York, hitting .285/.325/.467 with 174 hits, 27 home runs and 10/ RBIs.  

GRADE: A.  I will give this one to Donruss.  Bonilla lived up to his contract in 1993 after failing to do so in his first season with the Mets.


SEATTLE MARINERS - KEN GRIFFEY, JR.


Still just 23 years old, Griffey had the best season of his career to this point, finishing fifth in the A.L. MVP vote, being named to the All Star team and winning both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.  Griffey led the league in total bases (359) and hit .309/.408/.617 with 180 hits, 113 runs scored, 38 doubles, 45 home runs, 109 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Easily.  Griffey had a huge season.  Randy Johnson was another highlight for the team, going 19-8 with a 3.24 ERA in 255.1 innings pitched.  He led the league in strikeouts (308) while walking 99.  Erik Hanson was third on the team in WAR, behind a record of 11-12 with a 3.47 ERA in 215 innings pitched with 163 strikeouts.  Jay Buhner also emerged as a rising star, hitting .272/.379/.476 with 27 home runs and 98 RBIs.

GRADE: A.  Griffey had long been considered a player with a sky-high ceiling.  1993 was the first year he truly showed it.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS - MIKE PIAZZA


Piazza was a unanimous selection for N.L. Rookie of the Year, finished ninth in the MVP race, and was named to the All Star team and won the Silver Slugger as a catcher.  Piazza hit .318/.370/.561 with 35 home runs and 112 RBIs.  He also contributed 174 hits, 81 runs scored and 24 doubles.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Yes.  Piazza was the WAR leader by a large margin.  In second place was Tom Candiotti, who had a record of 8-10, but had a 3.12 ERA in 213.2 innings pitched.  He struck out 155 batters and walked 71.  Ramon Martinez was third behind his 3.44 ERA in 211.2 innings pitched, though he had a record of 10-12.  Pedro Astacio had a record of 14-9 and a 3.57 ERA in 186.1 innings pitched with 122 strikeouts and 68 walks.  And Pedro Martinez emerged as an impressive arm out of the bullpen, compiling a record of 10-5 with a 2.61 ERA and 119 strikeouts and 57 walks in 107 innings pitched.  He saved two games and started two out of his 65 games pitched.

GRADE: A.  Piazza was a major phenom in 1993, easily the top rookie in the Majors and one of the best players in the league.


NEW YORK YANKEES - DON MATTINGLY


Mattingly won a Gold Glove and received some down-ballot MVP consideration in 1993.  He hit .291/.364/.445 with 154 hits, 78 runs scored, 27 doubles, 17 home runs and 86 RBIs.  He was second on the Yankees in RBIs.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  Mattingly was eighth on the team in WAR.  The WAR leader was Jimmy Key, in his first season in the Bronx.  Key had a record of 18-6 with a 3.00 ERA, striking out 173 and walking 43 in 236.1 innings pitched.  Key was an All Star and finished fourth in the Cy Young race.  Catcher Mike Stanley was second, with a huge season for which he was awarded a Silver Slugger.  Stanley hit .305/.389/.534 with 26 home runs and 84 RBIs.  Wade Boggs had a decent comeback season, hitting .302/.378/.363 and Danny Tartabull contributed 31 home runs and 102 RBIs.

GRADE: D.  Mattingly was decent, but not really great, and his numbers paled in comparison to his earlier work.  As a first-baseman, his numbers really do not stand out.  Key or Stanley would have been much better picks.


CINCINNATI REDS - BARRY LARKIN


Larkin was an All Star in 1993.  The Reds shortstop hit .315/.394/.445.  He missed a third of the season, but still contributed 57 runs scored, 121 hits, 20 doubles, eight home runs, 51 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.  

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No, but even though he was hurt for a big part of the season, he was still second in WAR.  Jose Rijo had a terrific season, accumulating 10.1 WAR.  He had a record of 14-9 with a 2.48 ERA, striking out 227 and walking 62 in 257.1 innings pitched.  Rijo finished fifth in the Cy Young vote.  Reggie Sanders had a very good year, hitting .274/.343/.444 with 20 home runs and 83 RBIs, also stealing 27 bases.  Kevin Mitchell played in just 93 games, but hit .341/.385/.601 with 19 home runs and 64 RBIs.

GRADE: B.  Larkin was good, but was hurt quite a bit.  Rijo was great though and really should have been the pick.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS - RUBEN SIERRA


Sierra was acquired the previous season in the deal that sent Jose Canseco to Texas.  He led the A's in home runs (22) and RBIs (101) and was second in stolen bases (25) in 1993.  Sierra hit .233/.288/.390 with 77 runs scored, 154 hits, 23 doubles and five triples.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Definitely not.  The A's were pretty bad in 1993 for the first time in many years, but they still had several players with better seasons than Sierra.  The team's WAR leader was Rickey Henderson, but he was traded to the Blue Jays during the season.  Bobby Witt, who was acquired in the same deal as Sierra, was next in line with a 14-13 record and 4.21 ERA with 131 strikeouts and 91 walks in 220 innings pitched.  Terry Steinbach had a good season, being named to the All Star team and hitting .285/.333/.416 with ten home runs and 43 RBIs.  Rookie Troy Neel hit .290/.367/.473 with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs.  He finished seventh in the Rookie of the Year vote.

GRADE: D.  I was tempted to give this an F, but Sierra did lead the team in home runs and RBIs and the team's best player was traded away.  Sierra had a negative WAR and a below-average OPS+ though, meaning he was really not a very good player in 1993.  If I had to pick, I think I would have gone with Troy Neel or Terry Steinbach.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES - ORLANDO MERCED


Merced broke out in 1993, giving the Pirates a bright spot in a season marred by losing Barry Bonds as a free agent.  Merced led the Pirates in average, on-base percentage and OPS (.857).  He hit .313/.414/.443 with eight home runs and 70 RBIs.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No, he was second in WAR by a decent margin.  Jay Bell was the Pirates' best player.  Bell hit .310/.392/.437 with 102 runs scored, 187 hits, 32 doubles, nine triples, nine home runs, 51 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.  He was an All Star and won both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.  Jeff King had a nice season, hitting .295/.356/.406 with nine home runs and a team-leading 98 RBIs.  Al Martin led the team in home runs (18) and hit .281/.338/.481.

GRADE: B.  Merced had a decent season, but Jay Bell would have been the best choice, by a fairly significant margin.  


MILWAUKEE BREWERS - GREG VAUGHN


Vaughn made his first All Star team in 1993.  The Brewers' left fielder led the team in runs scored (97), home runs (30), RBIs (97), on base percentage and slugging percentage.  He hit .267/.369/.482 and also had 152 hits, 28 doubles and ten stolen bases.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Yes.  Vaughn was the OPS leader as well as the WAR leader.  Cal Eldred was second in WAR, despite a record of 16-16 and a 4.01 ERA.  He led the league in innings pitched (258) and struck out 180 while walking 91.  Darryl Hamilton was third, hitting .310/.367/.406 with nine home runs, 48 RBIs and 21 stolen bases.  He led the team with 161 hits.

GRADE: A.  Vaughn was easily the best player on the team in 1993.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS - GREGG JEFFERIES


Still just 25 years old and on his third organization, Jefferies had the best season of his career in 1993.  He was named to his first All Star team and finished eleventh in the MVP race.  He hit .342/.408/.485 with 89 runs scored, 186 hits, 24 doubles, 16 home runs, 83 RBIs and 46 stolen bases.  

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Easily.  Coming in second in WAR behind Jefferies was Bernard Gilkey, who hit .305/.370/.481 with 16 home runs, 70 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.  Ozzie Smith was third, hitting .288/.337/.356.  Bob Tewksbury was the team's best pitcher, going 17-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 213.2 innings pitched.  

GRADE: A.  Jefferies looked like he had finally harnessed the massive talent that made him a first round draft pick.  He was easily the team's best player.


DETROIT TIGERS - CECIL FIELDER


Fielder made his third All Star team in 1993.  He hit .267/.368/.464 with 80 runs scored, 153 hits, 23 doubles, 30 home runs and 117 RBIs.  He also notched 90 walks.  Fielder led the team in RBIs.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  Apart from his RBI total, none of Fielder's stats stood out on the team and he was not even among the top 12 in WAR.  The team's WAR leader was utility-man Tony Phillips, who hit .313/.443/.398 and led the league with 132 walks.  Travis Fryman was second, as he hit .300/.379/.486 with 22 home runs and 97 RBIs.  Alan Trammell missed 50 games, but still hit .329/.388/.496.  Mickey Tettleton hit 32 home runs and drove in 110 RBIs while hitting .245/.372/.492.  Offense was not a problem for Detroit.

GRADE: F.  There were so many great hitters on the Tigers in 1993.  Only Fielder's RBI total stood out.  Tony Phillips or Travis Fryman should have been the pick.


MONTREAL EXPOS - MOISES ALOU


Following up on being the runner-up in the N.L. Rookie of the Year in 1992, Alou improved to .286/.340/.483.  He hit 18 home runs, stole 17 bases and drove in 85 runs.  He also notched 70 runs scored, 138 hits, 29 doubles and six triples.  

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  Alou was decent, but he was ninth on the team in WAR.  The leader was Marquis Grissom, who hit .298/.351/.438 with 104 runs scored, 188 hits, 19 home runs, 95 RBIs and 53 stolen bases.  Grissom finished eighth in the N.L. MVP race, was an All Star and won a Gold Glove.  Larry Walker was second, hitting .265/.371/.469 with 22 home runs and 86 RBIs, while stealing 29 bases.  John Wetteland had a terrific season as the closer, finishing with a record of 9-3 with a 1.37 ERA, 113 strikeouts to 28 walks in 85.1 innings pitched.  He saved 43 games.

GRADE: C.  Alou had a good year, but several players had better seasons.  Marquis Grissom, who had not previously been a Diamond King, would have been the best choice.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS - JOHN OLERUD


Olerud had a huge season in 1993, finishing third in the MVP vote and being named to his first All Star team.  The Blue Jays first-baseman won the batting title, as well as leading the league in on-base percentage, doubles (54) and OPS (1.072).  Olerud hit .363/.473/.599 with 109 runs scored, 200 hits, 24 home runs and 107 RBIs.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Yes, Olerud was the Blue Jays' WAR leader.  The Blue Jays actually had the top three batting leaders.  Newly-acquired DH Paul Molitor was second, hitting .332/.402/.509 with 22 home runs, 111 RBIs and 22 stolen bases, and winning the World Series MVP.  Roberto Alomar was third, hitting .326/.408/.492 with 17 home runs, 93 RBIs and 55 stolen bases.  Their best pitcher was Pat Hentgen, who had a 19-9 record, 3.87 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 216.1 innings pitched.

GRADE: A.  The World Champion Blue Jays were once again dominant and had a number of great players.  Olerud stood out however and was the team's best player.


FLORIDA MARLINS - GARY SHEFFIELD


In June of the Marlins' inaugural season, they made a blockbuster trade for Sheffield.  He played in just 72 games, but he had the top OPS on the team.  Sheffield hit .292/.378/.479 with ten home runs, 37 RBIs and 12 stolen bases during his time with Florida.  He was an All Star.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Not really.  He was easily the biggest star once he was acquired, but since he played less than half the season with the team, there were other options.  Bryan Harvey was the team's WAR leader as the closer made the All Star team and saved 45 games with 1.70 ERA, 73 strikeouts to 13 walks in 69 innings pitched.  Chuck Carr finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year vote after hitting .267/.327/.330 and led the N.L. in stolen bases with 58.  Orestes Destrade was the team's big slugger, hitting 20 home runs and driving in 87 runs.

GRADE: B.  This one seems kind of odd, but Sheffield impressed in his short time that season.  Still, Bryan Harvey probably would have been the better selection.  


BALTIMORE ORIOLES - MIKE MUSSINA


Mussina followed up his breakthrough 1992 season by being named to his second All Star team in 1993.  He had a record of 14-6, with a 4.46 ERA in 167.2 innings pitched.  Mussina struck out 117 batters and walked 44.  He threw two shutouts and three complete games.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No way.  Mussina was not even among the team's top 12 in WAR.  Chris Hoiles was the WAR leader as the catcher hit .310/.416/.585 with 82 RBIs and a team-leading 29 home runs.  Ben McDonald may not have had as good a record as Mussina, but he had a 3.39 ERA in 220.1 innings pitched.  He had a record of 13-14 with 171 strikeouts to 86 walks.  Harold Baines had an impressive season as the DH, hitting .313/.390/.510 with 20 home runs and 78 RBIs.  Gregg Olson had another great season as the closer, saving 29 games with a 1.60 ERA.

GRADE: F.  Between injuries and a high ERA, this was just not a good pick.  Mussina was great in 1992, but basically average in 1993.  Chris Hoiles would have been a much better choice, as the A.L. equivalent of Rick Wilkins.


HOUSTON ASTROS - JEFF BAGWELL


Bagwell received some lower ballot MVP consideration in 1993.  The first-baseman hit .320/.388/.516 with 20 home runs, 88 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.  He also accumulated 171 hits, 76 runs scored, 27 doubles and four triples.  He led the team in RBIs and all three slash line categories.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Yes, Bagwell was the team's WAR leader.  In second place was Luis Gonzalez, who hit .300/.361/.457 with 15 home runs, 72 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.  Craig Biggio came in third with a line of .287/.373/.474 and a team-leading 98 runs scored and 21 home runs.  That's right, Biggio out-homered Bagwell.  Mark Portugal was the team's best pitcher, behind a record of 18-4 and a 2.77 ERA in 208 innings pitched.  Portugal finished sixth in the Cy Young vote.  

GRADE: A.  Bagwell was still just 25 and still improving.  He was the best player on the team.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX - FRANK THOMAS


Thomas was the A.L. MVP in 1993.  He was also an All Star and won the Silver Slugger Award.  Thomas hit .317/.426/.607 with 41 home runs and 128 RBIs.  He also collected 106 runs scored, 174 hits and 36 doubles.  He led the team in all of the above categories.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Yes.  Thomas was the WAR leader for the White Sox, but just barely over Lance Johnson.  Johnson hit .311/.354/.396 and notched 14 triples and 35 stolen bases.  He was also a very good defensive center-fielder.  Alex Fernandez was third, with a record of 18-9 with a 3.13 ERA and 169 strikeouts to 67 walks in 247.1 innings pitched.  The White Sox had the Cy Young winner as well in Jack McDowell.  McDowell had a record of 22-10, leading the league in wins.  He had a 3.37 ERA in 256.2 innings pitched with 158 strikeouts and 69 walks.  

GRADE: A.  Thomas was easily the best offensive player on the team in 1993 and it is very hard to look past the league's MVP.  


RECAP

We have seven future Hall of Famers here, plus Barry Bonds, who would be if not for the PED thing.  Donruss did get both Rookies of the Year and both MVPs, but they missed both Cy Young winners.  The A.L. winner played for the same team as the MVP, which explains that one, but there is not much excuse for missing the N.L. winner.

BEST PICK:  Barry Bonds.  Bonds was an absolute monster in 1993, easily winning the MVP award.  Runner-up is Ken Griffey Jr., who may have been the best player in the American League.

WORST PICK:  Mike Mussina.  I do not understand this pick, he just did not do all that much and the O's had some much better choices.  Runner-up goes to Ruben Sierra, who was technically a worse player, but the A's did not have many good choices.  Sierra was below-average by OPS and WAR.

BIGGEST SNUB:  Jose Rijo.  Rijo was the Major League leader in WAR and should have been the selection for the Reds.  Kevin Appier is the runner-up.  Appier should have won the Cy Young Award and should have been an easy selection for the Royals.  But Donruss screws up the Royals selection a lot.

WEIRDEST PICK HISTORICALLY:  Brian Harper.  Harper was a utility man for the first several seasons of his career and had a career WAR of 12.3.  He was never an All Star and never led the league in any category.  Runner-up is Brian McRae, who had a career WAR of 14.3 over ten seasons and only led the league in at-bats on year.  He had a slightly better career WAR than Steve Avery, but at least Avery had been an All Star and finished sixth in the Cy Young vote one year.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Topps Total Wave 8

 One card grabbed my attention from Wave 8 of Topps Total:


This is the first Red Sox card of reliever Austin Brice who was acquired in a trade with the Marlins in January.  He was coming off of a good season in Miami last season and, other than a couple of bad outings, impressed in his first season with the Red Sox.  Brice appeared in 21 games, starting one as an opener, and threw 19.2 innings.  He had a 5.95 ERA that was, again, inflated by one or two bad games.  He struck out an impressive 25 batters while walking 13.  Brice will likely be back next season.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Jerry Remy Fan Favorites Autograph

Here is yet another Fan Favorites autograph, of former player and current broadcaster Jerry Remy. 


Remy fits the definition of Fan Favorite.  He is a very charismatic commentator during Red Sox games and was elected President of Red Sox Nation back in 2007.  He is also a Massachusetts native.  I do think his playing career probably qualified as well.  Remy spent seven of his ten seasons with the Red Sox and made his only All Star team as a member of the 1978 Red Sox.  Remy appears here on the 1982 Topps design.  1982 was one of Remy's better seasons.  He played a full season for the first time since 1978 and hit .280/.337/.324 with 178 hits, 89 runs scored and 16 stolen bases.  He was coming off of a season in which he hit .307/.368/.338 with nine stolen bases.  1978 would have been a better choice though.  That was his best season in Boston, as he hit .278/.321/.350 with 162 hits, 87 runs scored, and 30 stolen bases.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Another A&G Blaster

This is likely my last A&G blaster.  They have now disappeared from shelves completely.  I only pulled one card, but it is one I am excited about:


The scan here is terrible.  I am so happy to see Mo Vaughn starting to appear in some sets again.  Vaughn was one of my absolute favorite players growing up.  He made his Major League debut in 1991, the year I started watching baseball.  He was the team's biggest star from 1993 until Nomar Garciaparra emerged in 1997.  His was the first jersey I ever had.  I was heartbroken when he left the team as a free agent, more than almost any other player.  I felt like I grew up watching Vaughn.  This is a short-printed card from the set, so I am definitely okay with this being the only Red Sox card I pulled.  Vaughn also has a card in the Longball Lore insert set.  I am hoping for a Fan Favorites autograph in next year's Archives.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Rico Petrocelli Fan Favorites Autograph

In my ongoing quest to get as many of the Red Sox Fan Favorites cards, I came across this Rico Petrocelli, which I originally bypassed because I already had a couple of Petrocelli autographs.  I have it now.


Petrocelli definitely qualifies as a Fan Favorite.  He spent 13 seasons in the Majors, all of them with the Red Sox.  He was a member of the Impossible Dream Red Sox of 1967 and was a two-time All Star.  For his career, he hit .251/.332/.420 with 210 home runs and 773 RBIs.  The question is whether the 1971 Topps design he appears on is appropriate.  He was with the team that season and had one of his better years, hitting .251/.354/.461 with 28 home runs and 89 RBIs.  He was coming off of a season in which he hit .261/.334/.473 with 29 home runs and 103 RBIs.  But neither of those were his best season.  In 1969, Petrocelli hit .297/.403/.589 with a then-A.L. shortstop record of 40 home runs.  The 1969 design would have been better, but the 1971 design is fine.