Monday, August 3, 2020

Prizm Team Break

Coming off of my success with the ten box break, I thought I would take a shot at a half case break of Prizm.  While there were no big hits, there were some really nice cards in the break.

Up first are the inserts and parallels.
It is sort of weird how both of the parallels were of Eduardo Rodriguez, but I am not complaining.  Unfortunately, E-Rod will miss the entire 2020 season due to a heart issue related to COVID-19.  Of the rest, there are inserts of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez.

And next are the base cards:
These are all four of the remaining base cards I needed, so I can cross the Prizm base team set off of my wantlist.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

10 Box Red Sox Break

I am glad baseball is back, but man, have the Red Sox been disappointing.  After a terrific Opening Day win, it seems like the team just cannot get it together.  So it has been a rough year so far.

Well, today I will be showing my results from a ten box team break from Ebay.  And this one went really well, as you will see.

Up first is a Gypsy Queen box.  I had most of the base cards, except Mookie Betts, so I was not expecting much from it.
Well, I got the Betts card as well as a Rafael Devers insert.  So, this went a bit better than expected.

Next was Bowman.
Here is a nice insert of 2019 second round draft pick Matthew Lugo.  Lugo is the nephew of Carlos Beltran, so some nice family ties to the sport there.  Hopefully ability runs in the family.  And then there is a card of 2017 first round draft pick Tanner Houck, who could make his Major League debut this season if things continue going south for the Red Sox.

Next was a box of Finest.
No base cards here.  The Xander Bogaerts is a refractor parallel.  I love the Finest Duals card here of Devers and Michael Chavis.  It probably would have been better to have Bogaerts instead of Chavis, but since Chavis is the hot(-ish) rookie for Boston, it is not surprising.

Next, I am going to have a scan featuring the results of the next three boxes, which had just base cards.  They were Prizm, Heritage and Select.
I have mentioned before how catcher cards are the best Panini cards, because the equipment covers up the airbrushed team logos.  So this Christian Vazquez is a good-looking card from a good-looking set.  I am having a rough time with Heritage this year.  I still have a few base cards, not to mention short prints, yet to find and I have opened a lot of it.  Select is set up in tiers.  The Chavis and Eduardo Rodriguez are the two Red Sox cards from the lowest tier.  The Bogaerts comes from the next tier.  I did not pull any from the highest tier (of which there is a Vazquez card that I have to find).

Up next was a one-card box from Archives Signature series.  I was obviously not expecting anything from that.  What a surprise then that this was pulled:
Now that is just awesome.  A Vazquez buyback autograph card.  I would have bought something like this on my own.  So this was great.

After that, I figured I had my big pulls from the break.  Then, Topps Tribute was opened.
This is a triple relic of ace Chris Sale.  Surely, now I had my best pulls, right?
Nope, in the final pack of the break came this Bogaerts autograph.  This is the Orange parallel.  This is my first Bogaerts auto.  I was just thinking about buying one since Bogaerts is now the big star on the team. 

There were two other small boxes that were part of the break that did not result in anything for my collection.  I don't remember what they were though.  But this was an awesome break for me.  Two autos, both of whom are favorite players, including a one-card box pull, and then a triple relic. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Diamond King Roundup: 1984

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.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS - ROBIN YOUNT
Coming off of an MVP season, Yount's power numbers declined somewhat, but he still hit .308/.383/.503 with 17 home runs and 80 RBIs, as a shortstop.  He was an All Star and led the league with ten triples.  Yount was first on the team in batting average, on base percentage and second in home runs.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Yes.  He was certainly the most complete player.  Cecil Cooper has an argument for being the biggest power threat (30 home runs, 126 RBIs) and hitting .307/.341/.508, but Yount had the higher WAR.

GRADE: A.  Sometimes giving the Diamond King to a player a season removed from an award is not the best decision.  Yount though was still the Brewers' best player.

CINCINNATI REDS - DAVE CONCEPCION
Concepcion was in his 14th season with the Reds in 1983.  He hit .233/.303.280 with one home run, 47 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.  He notched 123 hits and 54 runs.  He made 13 errors and had a .979 fielding percentage.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Yeesh.  No.  Definitely not.  By OPS+, Concepcion was the worst player on the team.  So, literally any other player would have been a better choice.  The best choice would have been Mario Soto, who 17-13 for a bad team and had a 2.70 ERA and 242 strikeouts while leading the league with 18 complete games.

GRADE: F.  This is one of the career achievement Diamond Kings for a player who was always pretty good, but never close to Hall of Fame-worthy.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS - DWAYNE MURPHY
Murphy led the A's in home runs (17, tied with Davey Lopes) and RBIs (75).  He won his fourth Gold Glove Award in 1983.  Murphy hit .227/.314/.380 and had 107 hits and 55 runs.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  Murphy had the biggest power numbers on the team, though to be fair it was not a great year for that.  Several other players turned in better seasons, with Rickey Henderson being the best.  Henderson hit .292/.414/.421 and stole 103 bases.  Henderson though was the Diamond King the previous season.  Carney Lansford hit .308/.357/.475 with ten home runs and 45 RBIs.

GRADE: D.  Murphy had been better in the past but this was a pedestrian season for him and Henderson was much better.  The card back reads that Murphy is "considered to be the player who makes the A's go", which is just blatantly not true in a lineup with Henderson.

MINNESOTA TWINS - JOHN CASTINO
Castino was the Rookie of the Year in 1979 and turned in a decent year in 1983.  He hit .277/.348/.403.  He hit eleven home runs and drove in 57 runs, stealing four bases and hitting 30 doubles, scoring 83 runs and gathering 156 hits.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Probably not, but he is not a bad one.  Castino was the WAR leader on the Twins, primarily due to his defense.  Kent Hrbek had the best year though, hitting .297/.366/.489 with 16 home runs and 84 RBIs.  

GRADE: B.  Castino was a steady, dependable player, and was the WAR leader, though no one knew what WAR was at the time.  Hrbek would have been a better pick.

CHICAGO CUBS - LEON DURHAM
Durham was in his fourth season in 1983 and was an All Star for the second time.  Durham played in just 100 games, but hit .258/.381/.466 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs.  He stole 12 bases.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Probably not.  He was the OPS+ leader, but played only two-thirds of the season.  He had been better in the past, and deserved the Diamond King the previous year, but injuries took their toll on him in 1983.  Lee Smith was the Cubs' best player as he saved 29 games, struck out 91 in 103.1 innings and had a 1.65 ERA.

GRADE: C+.  The Cubs were not stacked with great choices and Durham did have a decent year, when he was healthy.

NEW YORK METS - RUSTY STAUB
Staub played in 104 games and had just 132 plate appearances in 1983.  In other words, he was a pinch hitter more often than he actually played in the field.  He hit .296/.371/.426 with three home runs and 28 RBIs.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Definitely not.  How about Darryl Strawberry who was the Rookie of the Year after hitting .257/.336/.512 with 26 home runs, 74 RBIs and 19 stolen bases?  Jesse Orosco had a 1.47 ERA as a closer, and Keith Hernandez hit .306/.424/.434.

GRADE: F.  Staub was a pinch hitter.  This is the definition of a career achievement Diamond King.  He hit well enough, but he was not even a regular player.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS - JACK CLARK
Clark finished third on the Giants in most major offensive categories.  He hit .268/.361/.441 with 20 home runs and 66 RBIs, notching 132 hits and 82 runs scored.  

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  Clark deserved it in previous seasons, but his numbers dropped somewhat and he was the third most productive hitter on the team.  The eternally underrated Darrell Evans hit .277/.378/.516 with 30 home runs and 82 RBIs.  Jeffrey Leonard was second on the team with 21 home runs and 87 RBIs.  Atlee Hammaker had a 2.25 ERA.

GRADE: C.  Clark was good, but his numbers declined and there was one clearly better choice, and a couple of other choices that would have been just as good.

SAN DIEGO PADRES - DAVE DRAVECKY
Dravecky had the lowest ERA on the Padres staff among pitchers with at least 120 innings.  He had a 14-10 record with a 3.58 ERA and struck out 74 versus 44 walks in 183.2 innings pitched.  He was second on the staff in wins and fourth in strikeouts.  He was an All Star in 1983.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  Terry Kennedy, the Diamond King the previous season, was still the team's best player, by a significant margin.  He hit .284/.342/.434 and led the team with 27 doubles, 17 home runs and 98 RBIs, as a catcher.  

GRADE: C+.  Donruss did not like to repeat Diamond Kings at this point.  I guess Dravecky is probably the second best choice, though his numbers were hardly standouts.

MONTREAL EXPOS - AL OLIVER
Oliver followed up his first batting title by hitting .300/.347/.410.  He led the league in doubles (38) and was an All Star for the seventh time in his career.  Oliver had 184 hits, eight home runs and 84 RBIs.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Oliver was decent, and probably deserved to be the Diamond King the previous season, but Andre Dawson and Tim Raines were clearly better.  Dawson hit .299/.338/.539 with 32 home runs, 113 RBIs and 25 stolen bases.  Raines hit .298/.393/.429 and stole 90 bases to lead the league.

GRADE: C.  Oliver had a decent season, but Dawson and Raines had seasons that would help lead them to the Hall of Fame.

NEW YORK YANKEES - DAVE RIGHETTI
Righetti's biggest achievement was pitching a no hitter in 1983, but he turned in a 14-8 record, a 3.44 ERA.  He led the team in strikeouts (169), versus 67 walks in 217 innings pitched.  He was third on the staff with seven complete games.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No, he was not even the best pitcher on the staff.  Ron Guidry, who was the 1983 Diamond King, went 21-9 with a 3.42 ERA, striking out 156 in 250.1 innings.  Guidry was also the only player with a higher WAR than Righetti.  Donruss did not like to repeat Diamond Kings, but Guidry was a Diamond King when he should not have been and now could not be used when he should have been.

GRADE: C.  Righetti gets points for leading the team in strikeouts and pitching the no hitter, but Guidry was quite a bit better.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS - HAL MCRAE
The year before, McRae led the league in doubles and RBIs, but in 1983 his numbers slipped a little bit.  He hit .311/.372/.462, which was a better slash line, but his power numbers dipped to 12 home runs and 82 RBIs.  He led the team in batting average and doubles (41).

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  George Brett was still the best player on the team, as he hit .310/.385/.563 with 25 home runs and 93 RBIs, almost universally better numbers.  Dan Quisenberry actually led the team in WAR when he led the league in saves (45) and had a 1.94 ERA, and finished second in the Cy Young vote.

GRADE: B.  McRae was good, but he was better the previous season and Brett was clearly better than McRae.  Quisenberry also has a good argument.

HOUSTON ASTROS - RAY KNIGHT
Knight had been an All Star the previous season, but he was even better in 1983, even though he was not named to the team.  Knight hit .304/.355/.444 with nine home runs and 70 RBIs.  He led the team with 36 doubles. 

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  Jose Cruz hit .318/.385/.463 with 14 home runs and a team-leading 92 runs.  Dickie Thon had the highest WAR, hitting .286/.341/.457 with a team-high 20 home runs and drove in 79 runs, as a shortstop.

GRADE: C.  Knight was decent, but he was not a standout player.  Thon would have been the better pick, and Cruz was also better.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS - BRUCE SUTTER
The Cardinals closer, Sutter pitched in 60 games and had a 9-10 record, with a 4.23 ERA.  He saved 21 games.  He notched 64 strikeouts versus 30 walks in 89.1 innings pitched.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Those are frankly not good numbers for a closer.  Pick a player, and they likely had a better season.  Darrell Porter led the team in WAR, hitting .262/.363/.421 with 15 home runs and 66 RBIs and was a great defensive catcher.  George Hendrick had the best stats, hitting .318/.373/.493 with 18 home runs and 97 RBIs.  

GRADE: F.  Sutter was not even good in 1983.  This one makes no sense.

ATLANTA BRAVES - BOB HORNER
Horner missed some time with injuries in 1983, only playing in 104 games.  He had a very good season when he was healthy, hitting .303/.383/.528 with 20 home runs and 68 RBIs.  Despite missing time, he led the team with 25 doubles.  He even received some down-ballot MVP votes.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  Horner received MVP votes, but teammate Dale Murphy was the MVP when he hit .302/.393/.540 with 36 home runs, 30 stolen bases and a league-leading 121 RBIs.  Murphy was the Diamond King the previous season.

GRADE: B.  Murphy was clearly better, but Horner would have likely had a similar season had he not missed so much time due to injuries.  

DETROIT TIGERS - LANCE PARRISH
Parrish, the team's catcher, led the team in the major power categories, hitting 27 home runs, 42 doubles and driving in 114 runs.  Parrish hit .269/.314/.483.  He was an All Star and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards and finished ninth in the MVP voting.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  I am going to go with yes.  A couple players probably had better slash lines, with Alan Trammell hitting .319/.385/.471 and Lou Whitaker hitting .320/.380/.457, but Parrish had significantly more home runs and RBIs.  And Parrish also played a demanding defensive position.

GRADE: A.  He did not have the highest WAR or OPS+, but those power numbers from a catcher make it hard to deny Parrish as the Diamond King.

SEATTLE MARINERS - MATT YOUNG
Young was in his rookie season in 1983 and led the Mariners staff in most major pitching categories.  He had an 11-15 record (for a 102 loss Mariners team), a 3.27 ERA and 130 strikeouts (second on the team) in 203.1 innings.  Young was an All Star and led the team in WAR (5.1).

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  This is weird as a Red Sox fan who remembers him losing a game in which he gave up no hits, but yes, Young was the best choice.  He was clearly the team's best pitcher and their only good hitter, Steve Henderson, hit .294/.356/.450 with ten home runs and 54 RBIs.  Pat Putnam led the team with 19 home runs and 67 RBIs.

GRADE: A.  This one looks weird, but Young was pretty clearly the best player the Mariners had in 1983.

CALIFORNIA ANGELS - FRED LYNN
Lynn was the All Star Game MVP in 1983 when he hit a grand slam off of Atlee Hammaker.  Lynn led the team in triples (3), home runs (22) and RBIs (74), despite only playing in 117 games.  Lynn hit .272/.352/.483.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  It's probably pretty close.  Bobby Grich was probably a better player, hitting .292/.414/.460 with 16 home runs and 62 RBIs, while playing terrific defense at second base.  Lynn's better power numbers and All Star MVP are points for him, but he did miss quite a few games.

GRADE: B+.  Points off because Lynn missed a chunk of time, but he had a very good season and this one is pretty close.  Grich might have deserved it slightly more though.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX - RON KITTLE
Kittle was an All Star and won the Rookie of the Year in 1983.  He only led the league in one statistical category, strikeouts (150), but he hit .254/.314/.504 with a team-leading 35 home runs and 100 RBIs.  

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  It's complicated.  Kittle had the best power numbers on the team, but as a one-dimensional slugger, he was not close to the best WAR.  LaMarr Hoyt won the Cy Young Award, going 24-10 with a 3.66 ERA and 148 strikeouts in 260.2 innings, but may not have been the best pitcher on the team.  Richard Dotson was 22-7 with a 3.23 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 240 innings.  Carlton Fisk hit .289/.355/.518 with 26 home runs and 86 RBIs, lesser power numbers, but a much better slash line, and Fisk was a very good defensive player at an important position.

GRADE: B.  It is hard to ignore the Rookie of the Year and I will give Donruss credit for that, but power numbers aside, Kittle was not really great.  They did ignore the Cy Young winner and a pitcher who might have been better as well as some better hitters.  

TORONTO BLUE JAYS - JIM CLANCY
Coming off of an All Star season in 1982, Clancy was part of a good, young pitching staff with Toronto.  He was second on the staff in wins (15), ERA (3.91) complete games (11) and innings pitched (223).  He had a 15-11 record and struck out 99 versus 61 walks.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  No.  He was not the best pitcher on the team as Dave Stieb had him beat in virtually every pitching category when he was 17-12 with a 3.04 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 278 innings.  Willie Upshaw was probably the team's best hitter, with a slash line of .306/.373/.515 with 27 home runs and 104 RBIs.  Lloyd Moseby also hit .315/.376/.499 with 18 home runs and 81 RBIs and was a great defensive outfielder.

GRADE: D.  Clancy just does not stand out at all on a good, young team.  Stieb was a significantly better pitcher and they had a couple very good hitters.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES - BILL MADLOCK
Madlock won his fourth batting title in 1983 and was an All Star for the third time.  The Pirates third-baseman hit .323/.386/.444 with 12 home runs (tied for third on the team) and 68 RBIs (fourth on the team).  He had 153 hits and scored 68 runs (second on the team).

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Probably.  Madlock did win the batting title and had the highest OPS and OPS+ on the team.  Johnny Ray had the highest WAR due mostly to his defense, as he hit .283/.323/.399 with five home runs.  John Candelaria had a 15-8 record with a 3.23 ERA.

GRADE: A.  Madlock had the best traditional stats and highest OPS, even if his WAR was not the highest.  

TEXAS RANGERS - LARRY PARRISH
Parrish, no relation to Lance, hit .272/.326/.474.  He led the team in home runs (26) and RBIs (88), while also recording 76 runs, 151 hits, and 26 doubles.  He also led the team in OPS (.800) and OPS+ (121).

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Probably.  Parrish's stats were not eye-popping, but he was the best hitter on the team.  He had a lower WAR because he was fairly one-dimensional.  The highest WAR belonged to Buddy Bell, who hit .277/.332/.411 with 14 home runs and 66 RBIs, but was great defensively.  Charlie Hough was second with a 15-13 record, 3.18 ERA and 152 strikeouts.

GRADE: A.  The Rangers were fairly underwhelming and Parrish had significantly better power numbers.  

BALTIMORE ORIOLES - EDDIE MURRAY
Murray finished second in the AL MVP vote in 1983 and was an All Star for the fourth time.  He led the team in home runs (33), RBIs (111), on base percentage (.393), slugging percentage (.538), OPS (.930) and OPS+ (156), while hitting .306.  

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Surprisingly, no.  Murray was second in the MVP vote...to teammate Cal Ripken Jr.  Ripken did not quite have the power stats, but he hit .318/.371/.517 with 27 home runs and 102 RBIs while playing a more demanding position and led the league in WAR (8.2).

GRADE: B+.  Sure, they missed the AL MVP, but Murray was second, and had a great season, leading the team in most offensive categories.  

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES - MIKE SCHMIDT
Schmidt was third in the NL MVP vote and was an All Star, Gold Glove winner and Silver Slugger.  He led the league in home runs (40), walks (128) and on-base percentage (.399).  He hit .255/.399/.524 and led the team in RBIs (109).

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Surprisingly not.  Schmidt was second in WAR on the team to Cy Young winner John Denny.  Denny was 19-6, leading the league in wins, with a 2.37 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 242.2 innings.

GRADE: B.  Denny kind of came out of nowhere while Schmidt was clearly heading for the Hall of Fame.  Schmidt had a great season, Denny was just slightly better.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS - PEDRO GUERRERO
Guerrero was fourth in the NL MVP race and was an All Star for the second time.  He hit .298/.373/.531 with 32 home runs and 103 RBIs while stealing 23 bases.  Guerrero led the team in doubles (28), home runs, RBIs, and all three slash line categories, registering a .904 OPS and 150 OPS+.

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Clearly yes.  Bob Welch was second on the team in WAR when he was 15-12 with a 2.65 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 204 innings pitched.  

GRADE: A.  This one is very easy.  Guerrero had a fantastic season and was well ahead of anyone else on the team.

CLEVELAND INDIANS - ANDRE THORNTON
Thornton was the Indians' primary power threat.  He tied for the team lead in home runs with Gorman Thomas, hitting 17.  Thornton hit .281/.383/.439 and had 143 hits and 78 runs, driving in 77.  Thornton led the team in slugging and OPS (.822).  

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Tough to say.  No one on the Indians had eye-popping stats.  Advanced metrics show Thornton as a somewhat poor choice, and this was not his best season.  The WAR leader was Lary Sorensen, a pitcher with a 12-11 record and a 4.24 ERA in 222.2 innings.  Rick Sutcliffe was 17-11 with a 4.29 ERA and 160 strikeouts in 243.1 innings.

GRADE: C+.  I don't know.  Thornton was kind of ordinary in 1983 and had been much better in the past, but there just are not many standouts from this team.  I guess if I had to pick who I think it should have been, I would go with Sutcliffe.

BOSTON RED SOX - WADE BOGGS
Boggs won his first batting title and his first Silver Slugger Award in 1983.  He also led the league in on base percentage.  Boggs hit .361/.444/.486 with five home runs and 74 RBIs.  He led the team in hits (210), runs (100), walks (92), and OPS (.931).

WAS HE THE BEST CHOICE?  Yes.  Boggs did not have much power, but he was an exceptional hitter and truly great at getting on base.  The closest competitor was Jim Rice, who hit .305/.361/.550, while leading the league in home runs (39) and RBIs (126).

GRADE: A.  Boggs was the best player on the team, even if his power numbers paled in comparison to Rice.  

RECAP:
BEST CHOICE:  I think I will go with Pedro Guerrero here, with Wade Boggs a close second.  Both players had outstanding seasons, with Guerrero a bit better all-around.  

WORST CHOICE:  I think Dave Concepcion was the worst pick, with Bruce Sutter and Rusty Staub coming close.  Concepcion was just a bad pick with an extremely low slash line.  Staub was decent, but barely played, and Sutter had a bad year.

BIGGEST SNUB:  Dale Murphy.  The Braves' representative the previous season was the MVP once again, but lost out to Bob Horner who had a decent season, but Murphy was much better and played a lot more.

WEIRDEST PICK HISTORICALLY:  Matt Young.  He deserved it for a bad Mariners team, but this seems so odd, particularly for a Red Sox fan who has odd memories of Young.  Beats out John Castino, who at least was a Rookie of the Year at one point, and Jim Clancy, who was a decent pitcher for several seasons, but rarely great.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Red Sox Autographs: Frank Viola

I am showing off one of the Topps Archives Signature buyback cards.  This one is of "Sweet Music" Frank Viola.  This is my first autograph of Viola.  It is a buyback of his 1993 Topps card.

Frank Viola was the first player I remember being excited that the Red Sox acquired.  I started watching baseball in 1991 and he was signed as a free agent during the offseason, so he was really the first major player the Red Sox acquired since I was a fan.  Viola had been an All Star three times, including each of the previous seasons with the Mets.  In 1990, he went 20-12 with a 2.67 ERA, striking out 182 in a league-leading 249.2 innings.  He won the Cy Young Award in 1988 with the Twins when he went 24-7 with a 2.64 ERA, striking out 193.  Viola was 31, so he was a little past his prime, but he should have had a few good seasons left.

Boston signed Viola to a three-year deal to be the number two starter they lacked since Mike Boddicker left as a free agent to join the Royals after the 1990 season.  His first season in Boston was decent, as he went 13-12 with a 3.44 ERA and struck out 121 in 238 innings.  Unfortunately, pitching was not the problem for Boston in 1992.  The team's two best players were Roger Clemens and Viola.  Unfortunately, the offense was terrible, leaving the team in last place.

1993 was another decent, if injury-plagued season.  Viola pitched in six fewer games and threw 183.2 innings.  He was still the team's second-best pitcher, this time behind Danny Darwin who turned in a shockingly good season.  Clemens had the worst season of his career.  Viola had a record of 11-8 with a 3.14 ERA and struck out 91.  Despite the injuries, it was actually a slightly better season for Viola.  It would be his last productive season.

Viola had Tommy John surgery in 1994, his last season with Boston.  As a result, he pitched in just six games and was 1-1 with a 4.65 ERA.  He returned to the Majors in 1995 with the Reds, but pitched in just three games.  He then signed a deal with the Blue Jays to try to resurrect his career, but pitched in just six games with them and had a 7.71 ERA.  It was the last time he appeared in the Majors.

I have seen Frank Viola's contract with the Red Sox listed as a bust in the past.  I simply do not see that as true.  For two seasons, Viola gave the Red Sox exactly what they were expecting, innings and a low ERA, though he was a loss in the last season.  He was an effective number two.  Just because he did not win 20 games does not mean he was bad.  The offense was a problem, not Viola.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Five Box Team Break

Recently, I bought into a few multi-box breaks from Ebay, of course buying the Red Sox cards and tuning in to the box breaks.  The first such break included boxes of Bowman, Gypsy Queen, Diamond Kings, Inception and Tribute.  Unfortunately, there were no Red Sox cards in Inception or Tribute.  But there were some impressive pulls.

Up first are the new cards from 2020 Bowman:
Primarily, this box just gave me a bunch of prospect cards.  I am excited about Jarren Duran, who could make his Major League debut later this year.  He looks like an intriguing player, a contact hitter with a lot of speed.  The best card from the box is the Talent Pipeline insert with Triston Casas, Bobby Dalbec and Duran.  Casas is currently Boston's top prospects, a big slugger who could be up next year.  Dalbec is likely trade bait, in my opinion.

Up next is Gypsy Queen:
This was the best break for me.  Of course there were a couple of base cards, but then there is the Ted Williams short print, featuring a photo I have not seen before, a Michael Chavis insert and then, the big hit of the entire break for me, a Michael Chavis autograph.  I do not pull too many Red Sox relics and autos myself, so it is exciting to essentially get an autograph in a pack here.  Chavis is headed into a make-or-break season this year.  His versatility is important, and if he continues hitting with power, he may soon become a regular player.

And finally, Diamond Kings:
I only needed two base cards from the Diamond Kings set: Jimmie Foxx and Tris Speaker.  I got them both.  I also got a parallel of Foxx.  I still really want the Ted Williams All Time Diamond King card.

So, not bad breaks.  Gypsy Queen was definitely the highlight.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Tzu-Wei Lin Card #114

Lin has been impressive in summer camp leading into the season.  His versatility looks like it will pay off and he should be on the 30 man roster to start the season.  New manager Ron Roenicke has been impressed by his ability to handle all of the infield positions (including making some nice plays at first) and in the outfield.  It looks like Lin will take over the super-utility role Brock Holt held the last several seasons.

This is the red parallel of the online-only Topps Total card.  It is serial-numbered to just 10.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Vintage Red Sox: Clyde Engle

Today's vintage Red Sox card to show off is a little bit interesting.  This is an original T205 card that was collected by Topps and framed as part of the 2003 Topps 205 set.  It was an interesting idea and I always wanted one of them.  There was one I was watching a few years back, but the price was never right.  I am pretty sure it was Jake Stahl.  Well, I ended up with this one:
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Clyde Engle spent eight seasons in the Major Leagues, five of those years coming with Boston.  He was originally with the New York Highlanders (now the Yankees) and was sold to Boston early in his second season.  Engle played all over the diamond and seldomly settled on one position in a season, except in 1913 when he was the team's primary first-baseman. 

Engle was not a real good hitter, even for the Deadball Era.  He did have a very good year in 1913 when he was a regular player though.  That season, he hit .289/.363/.384 with 17 doubles, 12 triples, two home runs and 50 RBIs.  He did have some decent speed too as he stole 28 bases that season. 

In 1914, Engle was sold to Buffalo of the short-lived Federal League.  His total numbers with Boston included 512 games with a slash line of .265/.341/.338 with 55 doubles, 25 triples, six home runs, 163 RBIs and 80 stolen bases.  Not great numbers, but decent for a utility player.