Saturday, April 23, 2022

I Kind of Like These Uniforms

 

This was my first card with the City Connect uniforms.  When I first saw them, I thought they were kind of a dumb gimmick.  It was a commercial pairing between MLB and Nike and I just did not really see the point.  Besides, the uniforms were a vast difference from the team's traditional appearance.  But once I saw them in use, they kind of grew on me.  The Red Sox wore them quite a bit last year and even went on a bit of a tear at one point down the stretch in them.  Honestly, I kind of like them now.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

A Couple of Quintanas

Something that I feel I talk a lot about on this blog is how I was a big fan of Carlos Quintana when I first started watching baseball.  He was the first kind of obscure player of whom I was inexplicably a big fan.  Guys like Felix Doubront and Tzu-Wei Lin have joined him over the years.  I still grab cards when I can find them, though there are not too many left.  Last year, I picked up two off of Ebay on the same day.


Buybacks have been one was to expand this collection.  This is a Bowman buyback from his 1991 card.  That was not the most exciting set in the world.  Kind of boring design.  No action photos.


This one is a bit more interesting.  One of those unlicensed photo cards from the 1980's, commonly referred to as Broder's.  

On a somewhat related note, I kind of had this fascination with contributing to the SABR bio project by writing the bio on Quintana.  Unfortunately, someone beat me to it recently.  I was sort of devastated by that.  I had been harboring this idea for a few years now, but just had not gotten going on it.  I should have done it.  My biggest hangup was trying to find out what he was doing now.  How that was going to happen.  I will have to pick someone else to write about I guess.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

A&G Blaster


Every once in awhile, I have been able to actually find cards at Walmart.  Usually when that happens I have to buy stuff quickly.  They never seem to last long.  It was on one of these trips that I managed to buy a box of Allen & Ginter.  That has never been my favorite set.  I may be in the minority, but I just do not really care for the non-baseball player cards.  But cards have been so scarce, I will buy just about anything.

My blaster netted me two base cards, but they are two of my favorite players: Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo.  Devers is turning into a beast.  I really hope Boston manages to get him locked up for a long-term deal.  I am still waiting for Verdugo to break out in a big way.  Hopefully this will be the year he does just that.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Dalbec and Chavis Relics and More


One of these days I might get caught up.  I suppose it would help if I actually posted every day.  Anyway, here is a random insert/relic lot I picked up, primarily for the relics of Bobby Dalbec and Michael Chavis.  

This was my first relic of Dalbec.  I really do not have any idea what to expect from Dalbec this year.  He had a great Spring and he was excellent down the stretch last year, but he strikes out way too much.  Chavis is a cautionary tale.  He too came to Boston with some big power but high strikeout rates.  Eventually, the strikeouts ate him alive and he could not be a productive hitter with that strikeout rate.  He was dumped at the trading deadline last year for Austin "Big Fudge" Davis, a lefty middle reliever.  I did have a couple of Chavis autographs previously, but no relics.

Beyond the relics, the lot consisted of a bunch of inserts.  I really like the Select Phenom card of Dalbec and the die-cut Platinum Players card of Roger Clemens.  And then there is the parallel mini of Alex Verdugo, one of my favorite current Red Sox players.

Friday, April 8, 2022

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #970


Still going...strong...ish.

Anyway, 2021 had a few new Jason Varitek cards released.  Not enough to make the last hurdle easy, but there were some.  This is the Allen & Ginter relic card of Varitek.  Nothing too exciting.  Just a gray swatch of uniform, but still.  Any new Varitek cards are greatly appreciated.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Project 70: Rafael Devers/Nolan Arenado by Lauren Taylor


Of all of the artists that were involved with the Project 70 set last year, I have to say that Lauren Taylor was my favorite.  Her photo-realistic renderings of the players using elements from the cities in which they played caught my attention from the very beginning.  I seriously considered buying other cards from this set if there was not to be a Red Sox card.  Luckily, there would eventually be two. 

This one came from the subset of All Star starters that were released around the All Star Break.  Taylor had the two third base starters: Nolan Arenado from the Cardinals and Rafael Devers.  Devers made his first All Star team in 2021, though it likely should have been his second.  He had a huge season last year, hitting .279/.352/.538 with 38 home runs, 101 runs scored and 113 RBIs.  As good as he was, he is still just 25 years old.  The sky may very well be the limit with Devers.  Boston needs to lock him up.  Do not make the same mistake they made with Mookie Betts.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Zippy Zapped


Kenny hit me up with one of the Baseball Card Day singles last year.  Kenny, I want to personally apologize for not being great about sending stuff back.  I will start to compile something shortly for you.  These cards are tough to come by for me, so I always appreciate other collectors helping me out.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

A Bunch of Topps Online Cards

Packs have been tough to come by the last couple years and I have been too busy to organize my tradelist to make trades.  So, a lot of cards have been coming through the various Topps online sets.  Player selection is generally pretty good, particularly with Topps Now.  The big drawback is the price.  So I usually buy my singles through sellers on Ebay who offer discounts.  Here are a whole bunch of them from various sets:


From the Sports Illustrated covers set, comes this Pedro Martinez.  The magazine this was taken from was released very shortly after the Red Sox acquired Pedro and locked him up on a longterm deal.  This was before he even threw a pitch for Boston, but his best years were yet to come.  I had to get this one because I actually bought this magazine at the time.  I don't think I still have it though.

I have always liked multi-player cards, so I grabbed this one from the Throwback Thursday ongoing sets.  It is a little odd to put Xander Bogaerts with Bobby Dalbec, instead of Rafael Devers.  Dalbec of course was the big, hyped rookie last year for the Red Sox, so Topps wanted to take advantage of that.  Still, it seems more natural to put Bogaerts and Devers together since they play right next to each other and seem to have a very close friendship.

June 11, 2021

The Blue Jays led this game 5-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning before the Red Sox bats came alive.  Jays reliever Tyler Chatwood came unglued, allowing two runs to score on a walk and a wild pitch.  In the eighth, Christian Arroyo homered to tie the game.  In the ninth, Alex Verdugo laced a single to left to score Danny Santana with the winning run.  Verdugo had three hits in four at-bats that game.

June 16, 2021

In one of the biggest clutch hits of the season, Christian Arroyo demolished a pitch in the seventh inning with the bases loaded.  Boston was down 7-6 at the time to the eventual World Champion Braves.  Arroyo was pinch-hitting in the pitcher's slot at the time.  You cannot ask for a bigger clutch hit.

July 17, 2021

Topps Now likes to highlight the first major achievements of the top prospects upon their debuts.  Jarren Duran was a bigtime prospect who made his Major League debut against the Yankees and ripped a single in his first at-bat.  Unfortunately, the Red Sox lost that game in a rain-shortened six innings 3-1.

Here is another multi-player card from Throwback Thursday.  The design here was the 1993 Topps All Star subset, which was a pretty decent design from the junk wax era.  Of course, the point at the time was to highlight players from each league at the same position.  Still, can't go wrong with the two most recent Red Sox Hall of Famers, David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez.

July 19, 2021

The Red Sox exploded for eight runs in the first inning against the Blue Jays en route to a 13-4 drubbing.  Duran drove in the first two runs with his first Major League home run, scoring Enrique Hernandez.  It was Duran's only hit of the day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Gypsy Queen Blaster

Unfortunately cards have still been hard to come across in retail stores around me.  So, I grab them when they are available.  I was lucky to find a blaster of Gypsy Queen at one point last year.

It was a reasonably successful break, yielding four Red Sox cards.  All base cards, but still.  Two of them were rookie cards, so there is that.  Both Tanner Houck and Bobby Dalbec made appearances.  And the other two were the big, homegrown stars.

Houck bounced between the majors and minors all year, but seemed to nail down a permanent spot by the end of the season, even if he still alternated between the rotation and bullpen.  He finished with a record of 1-5, but had a 3.52 ERA with 87 strikeouts and 21 walks in 69 innings pitched.

Bogaerts and Devers had their usual huge seasons.  Bogaerts was an All Star and hit .295/.370/.493 with 23 home runs and 79 RBIs.  As good as he was, Devers was better.  Devers hit .279/.352/.538 with team-leading 38 home runs and 113 RBIs.  He was also an All Star.

Dalbec struggled at times and strikes out way too much, but had a couple months where he was on fine.  He ended up hitting .240/.298/.494 with 25 home runs and 78 RBIs.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Random Topps Now Cards

Still playing catch-up here.  Topps Now and the other online sets have become a go-to for me in the last couple of years.  Particularly due to player selection, but also because I can actually get my hands on them.


May 14, 2021
In the seventh inning of the game against the Angels, Red Sox rookie Bobby Dalbec crushed a two-run, go-ahead home run.  The Red Sox would not relinquish the lead.  It was Dalbec's only hit in the game, but he did walk and steal a base as well.


June 25, 2021
Unfortunately, Dustin Pedroia's career was cut short due to injuries.  He suffered a knee injury in a play back in 2017 when Manny Machado slid into him.  He attempted to come back a few times, but it became clear that he was not going to be able to make it back.  It sucks because Pedroia was on the verge of a Hall of Fame career.  On June 25, the Red Sox held a retirement ceremony for the long-time second-baseman.  Pedroia finished his career with a line of .299/.365/.439 with 1,805 hits, 140 home runs, 725 RBIs and 138 stolen bases.  He was a Rookie of the Year, AL MVP, four-time All Star and four-time Gold Glove winner.


June 27, 2009
And now for a Turn Back the Clock card.  I had to grab a Tim Wakefield card.  On this date in 2009, Wakefield tied Roger Clemens for the club record in games started.  Wakefield would end up blowing that number out of the water.  He started 430 games during his career.  That club record will hold for a long time.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Topps Series 2 Case Break

Here are the results from another one of those case breaks I bought into last year.  This was Topps Series 2.


Up first are the inserts.  There really is not anything mind-blowing here.  No relics or autographs, but it is a nice collection of players.  I got a couple of the Silver Pack cards, Tanner Houck and Alex Verdugo.  The Platinum Players die-cut of Ted Williams is definitely my favorite.  Then there is the Gold parallel of Christian Vazquez, a card I probably would have picked up on my own since Vazquez is one of my favorite players.  I love the 70 Years of Topps card of David Ortiz, primarily due to the action shot.  The Ted Williams is a nice shot that I have not seen before.


And here is the first scan of base cards.  I love the player selection here.  Sure there are stars like Xander Bogaerts and Chris Sale, as well as well-represented players like Matt Barnes, Tanner Houck and Michael Chavis.  Chavis also appears as the player riding the laundry cart in the home run celebration.  I want to bring attention to the fourth card in the scan.  That is Christian Arroyo and it is my first card of him.  Arroyo turned into a pretty important role player for Boston in 2020 and that continued into 2021.  And finally, the sixth card features Yairo Munoz, who does not have a Red Sox card of his own.


And here are the rest.  Jackie Bradley, Jr. makes an appearance, despite the fact that he was with the Brewers in 2021.  Jonathan Arauz also shows up with a nice action shot.  Speaking of nice action shots, check out this Enrique Hernandez card.  Hernandez has had great cards seemingly every year.  It's nice to see that with the Red Sox now.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

All-Time One-Year Wonder Update: Utility


I did one of these updates recently, giving Hunter Renfroe the nod over previous All-Time One-Year Wonder Right Fielder Cody Ross.  Since Kyle Schwarber recently signed a free agent deal with the Phillies, it is fair to ask how he measures up.  Also, two other players, Marwin Gonzalez and Danny Santana fit the position as well.

Kyle Schwarber split his time with Boston almost evenly between left field, designated hitter and first base, so he would fall into the utility position.  Marwin Gonzalez appeared primarily at second base, but also spent significant time at first, left field and shortstop.  He also appeared at third, right field and even pitched.  Danny Santana primarily played first base and center field, but also played in left field and designated hitter.  The previous utility man who was my pick was Bill Hall.  Hall spent the 2010 season in Boston after being acquired from the Mariners.  Hall played in 119 games primarily between left field and second base, but also appearing at the other two outfield spots, third base, shortstop and even pitching.  Hall hit .247/.316/.456 with 18 home runs, 46 RBIs and nine stolen bases.

Schwarber was acquired at the trading deadline in 2021 for Aldo Ramirez.  He was injured at the time of his acquisition so it was a couple of weeks before he appeared in a game for the Red Sox, but he proved to be worth the wait.  He played in 41 games, hitting .291/.435/.522 with seven home runs, 18 RBIs and ten doubles.  He hit three more home runs with six RBIs in the postseason.  


Marwin Gonzalez and Danny Santana also fall into this discussion, but neither had numbers anywhere close to good enough to unseat Bill Hall.  Gonzalez played in 77 games, hitting .202/.281/.285 with two home runs, 14 doubles, 20 RBIs and three stolen bases.  Boston eventually released him and he returned to the Astros, where he had his most success.  Gonzalez was actually acquired by the Red Sox way back in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft, but was immediately traded to the Astros for Marco Duarte, who never played for Boston.

Santana had hit 28 home runs as recently as 2019 and was acquired to provide versatility as well as speed from the bench.  It did not work out well.  Santana hit just .181/.252/.345 in 38 games.  He did add five home runs and stole four bases, but only add two doubles, a triple and 14 RBIs.  He did notably score the winning run in the ALDS against the Rays. 

Hall played in more games, spending the entire season with the team and did have more in the way of counting stats, obviously.  He also has a slight edge in WAR (1.8 to 1.3).  Schwarber has the lead in the rate stats though.  Hall has more versatility, playing every position except first base and catcher.  He even pitched.  I think the fact that Hall played the entire season and is a bit more of a classic utility player will carry the decision.  Schwarber was fantastic and I am disappointed he is no longer with the team.  I just think for these purposes, Hall has a slight edge.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Topps Now: August 11, 2021

 



On August 11, the Red Sox beat the Rays 20-8 in Fenway Park.  Seven of the Rays runs came in the ninth inning when Boston left Phillips Valdez out to dry.  The offense exploded that day with 19 hits.  Every starter except Kevin Plawecki got a hit.  Topps Now of course issued a card, showing five of these hitters.  Xander Bogaerts was 2-4 with a home run and a double.  Hunter Renfroe went 3-5 with four RBIs and two doubles.  J.D. Martinez was 4-4 with a double.  Marwin Gonzalez, who was a big disappointment in 2021, had a rare good game as he had two hits in five at-bats.  Finally, rookie Bobby Dalbec drove in five runs on two hits, including a triple.  Boston had some difficulty with Tampa Bay during the regular season, but this was a hell of a game for them.  Lost in the offensive explosion was the pitching performance by Nathan Eovaldi who pitched seven strong innings, giving up just one run, one walk and struck out ten.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Living Set Singles

I have had three jury trials in the last two-plus months.  So things have been a little hectic.  I am 1-1 with my client not showing up for the other one.  I still did the work in preparation though, even if it did not actually go forward.  By the way, not showing up for your own jury trial is bad.

So, up first in my return is a couple of Living Set singles.  Boston suddenly got a bunch of these last year, and I grabbed up some of the not-as-prevalent players:

Nathan Eovaldi was Boston's ace in 2021.  He led the league in FIP (2.79), starts (32) and walks per nine (1.7).  He was an All Star for the first time and finished fourth in the Cy Young vote.  2022 is his last year of his contract, and I have a difficult time seeing him back with the team.  If it is his last year, he has had some big moments with the team.

Kyle Schwarber was the big midseason acquisition.  Hopefully Boston can find a way to bring him back, but with the universal DH now, the chances are getting slimmer.  Schwarber hit .291/.435/.522 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs in his couple months with the team.  The move was criticized at the time after the Yankees got assumed-target Anthony Rizzo and Schwarber was hurt, but he really turned out well.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Congratulations David Ortiz!


David Ortiz was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot last night, garnering 77.2% of the vote.  I will have a bigger post about this later on, but just wanted to comment.  I am absolutely thrilled about this.  Ortiz was one of the most dynamic Red Sox players that I have seen and he has so many great moments with the Red Sox.  He was a part of three World Championship teams and was a terrific postseason hitter.  On top of that, he hit more home runs than any Red Sox hitter not named Ted Williams.  I may have to consider a trip to Cooperstown this summer.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Season in Review: 2021

Well, 2021 was quite the surprise.  After the 2020 season was so bad, there were not a lot of reasons to be optimistic in 2021.  Especially since many of the offseason moves were not exactly of the blockbuster variety and there were some pretty major questions about the pitching staff.  Nevertheless, Boston got off to a quick start and ended up sneaking into one of the Wild Card spots.  Then, the fun really began as they dispatched the Yankees in the Wild Card game and shocked the Rays in the ALDS.  Three games into the ALCS with a 2-1 lead, they looked like they could surprise everyone by beating the Astros but, as was an issue frequently during the season, the bats suddenly went cold.  Still, for a team that was not expected to finish higher than fourth, this season was a shocking success.  Hopefully they build on it for 2022 rather than taking a step back.

FIVE FAVORITE PLAYERS

RAFAEL DEVERS
At this time, it is pretty clear that Devers is the best player on the team.  He was voted to his first All Star team this year and won his first Silver Slugger.  He finished the season ninth in the league in home runs (38) and fourth in RBIs (113).  Devers hit .279/.352/.538 and finished eleventh in the MVP race.  Only poor defense kept him from being considered one of the top players in the league.  Hopefully Boston gets him locked up for years to come.

XANDER BOGAERTS
Bogaerts is very close to Devers as far as visibility and star-power go on this team.  He provides veteran leadership and a steady bat early in the lineup.  Bogaerts was named to his third All Star team and won his fourth Silver Slugger while finishing 12th in the MVP vote.  He struggled in the second half due to illness, but he ended the season hitting .295/.370/.493 with 23 home runs and 79 RBIs.

NATHAN EOVALDI
Eovaldi was healthy for the full season for the first time in years and led the league in games started (32).  He is a large part of why the team was able to have the success it did as he stabilized the rotation.  Eovaldi was named to his first All Star team, finished fourth in the Cy Young vote and 15th in the MVP race.  He had a record of 11-9, but with a 3.75 ERA, 195 strikeouts versus 35 walks in 182.1 innings pitched.

EDUARDO RODRIGUEZ
The weirdest season of the team belonged to E-Rod, whose traditional stats looked less-than-impressive, but whose advanced metrics showed a very good pitcher.  He had a record of 13-8 and an ERA of 4.74, but that was misleading as his FIP was 3.32.  He struck out 185 batters, while walking 47, in 157.2 innings pitched.  After missing the entire 2020 season with COVID complications, it was a successful return in 2021.

J.D. MARTINEZ
Martinez had a rough 2020 season, but he rebounded in a big way in 2021.  The designated hitter made it into his fourth All Star roster, his third with Boston, and led the league in doubles (42).  He hit .286/.349/.518 with 28 home runs and 99 RBIs.  He struck out too much and was prone to slumps, but it was a season much closer to his prime than the lost 2020 season.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

ALEX VERDUGO
Verdugo's second season with the Red Sox was a bit of a mixed bag.  He improved in some ways, but he struggled in others.  He is still young but needs to mature a bit more if he is going to be viewed as a reasonable return for Mookie Betts.  Verdugo hit .289/.351/.426 with 13 home runs, 32 doubles and 63 RBIs while scoring 88 runs.  

MATT BARNES
As great as he was in the first half, Barnes was just as horrible in the second half.  It looked like he was one of the best closers in the game and was named to the All Star team, but Barnes completely fell apart in the second half and lost the job.  He finished with a record of 6-5, a 3.79 ERA, 84 strikeouts and 20 walks in 54.2 innings pitched.  Barnes saved 24 games.

JOSH TAYLOR
Another player that struggled in 2020 but came back in a big way, Taylor turned into a legitimate bullpen weapon in 2021.  He started off slow, but he had a stretch where he was essentially unhittable.  Taylor had a 1-0 record with a 3.40 ERA.  He pitched in 61 games, throwing 47.2 innings.  He notched 60 strikeouts and 23 walks and picked up his first career save.

FAVORITE ACQUISITIONS

ENRIQUE HERNANDEZ
After several seasons with the Dodgers as a jack-of-all-trades player, Hernandez signed a two-year deal with the Red Sox to provide versatility to the roster.  What was surprising then was that he turned into one of the best defensive center fielders in the league and a competent leadoff hitter.  Hernandez hit .250/.337/.449 with 35 doubles, 20 home runs, 84 runs scored and 60 RBIs.  He won the Fielding Bible Award for multiple position players.

HUNTER RENFROE
Renfroe was non-tendered by the Rays after a 2020 season in which he hit just .156.  Boston picked him up and it was one of the best bargain signings of the season.  Renfroe led all outfielders in assists (16) and had a big offensive season.  He hit .259/.315/.501 with 31 home runs, 33 doubles, 89 runs scored and 96 RBIs.  Renfroe was a finalist for the Gold Glove for right fielders.

FAVORITE MID-SEASON ACQUISITION

KYLE SCHWARBER
In a surprising move, the Red Sox swung a deal for Schwarber at the deadline.  Schwarber had been having a monster season for the Nationals at the time, hitting 25 home runs.  He was injured at the time of his acquisition, so his debut was delayed.  It was worth the wait though as he hit .291/.435/.522 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs in 41 games.  

FAVORITE ROOKIES

BOBBY DALBEC
In his first full season in the Majors, Dalbec showed off his impressive power, but his strikeout issues continued.  Dalbec struggled early in the season, but he had an impressive second half.  Dalbec hit .240/.298/.494 with 25 home runs and 78 RBIs.  He struck out 156 times, while walking 28 times, in 453 plate appearances.  He was third among A.L. rookies in home runs.

TANNER HOUCK
With a pitching windup best described as a right-handed Chris Sale, Houck can be incredibly deceptive.  He bounced between Boston and Worcester throughout the season but was largely impressive in the Majors.  Houck had a record of just 1-5, but a 3.52 ERA.  He worked as both a starter and a reliever and notched his first career save.  He also picked up 87 strikeouts while walking 21 in 69 innings pitched.

GARRETT WHITLOCK
Despite the seasons by Dalbec and Houck, the best rookie in 2021 was Whitlock.  He was snatched from the Yankees in the Rule V Draft and easily had the best season any such pick has had for Boston.  Whitlock had a record of 8-4 with a sparkling 1.96 ERA in 73.1 innings pitched across 46 games.  He picked up two saves while striking out 81 batters and walking 17.  Whitlock looks like a potential closer candidate in 2022, but he could also find his way into the rotation.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS

CHRISTIAN VAZQUEZ
One of the few players who had a significant decline in 2021 was Vazquez, who had been a pretty good hitter the last couple years.  His numbers across the board declined after a quick start to the season.  Vazquez ended up hitting just .258/.308/.352 with only six home runs and 49 RBIs.  Vazquez did surprisingly lead the team in stolen bases, though eight is not a real impressive number.

FRANCHY CORDERO
Cordero was the only Major League piece acquired in the three-team deal that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City.  Cordero has big power potential, but he tends to strike out too much.  He turned in a mostly miserable season with a line of .189/.237/.260 with just one home run and six RBIs.  He played well in the minors, so there may be some hope for him to meet his potential yet, but at 26 years of age, he is running out of time.

MARWIN GONZALEZ
Boston acquired Gonzalez around the same time as Enrique Hernandez to provide some roster versatility.  The players ended up having very different years though.  Gonzalez did play all over the field, but the results were not good.  He ended up playing in just 77 games before being released and hit .202/.281/.285 with two home runs and 20 RBIs.  He stole three bases.  Gonzalez returned to Houston after his release.

POST-SEASON HERO

ENRIQUE HERNANDEZ
Hernandez was a wrecking ball in the postseason.  He has usually turned in big numbers in the postseason with the Dodgers, so it was not shocking how well he did in Boston.  He hit five home runs, which is a team record, with nine RBIs.  To top it all off, he drove in the clinching run to walk off Tampa Bay in the ALDS.  Had Boston won the ALCS, Hernandez would have been a likely candidate to win the MVP.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

2021 Stadium Club Break

Here is another of those case breaks I picked up on Ebay.  Stadium Club is a must-have every year due to the amazing photos on the cards.  So I jumped on it as soon as I could.


Unfortunately, there were not a whole lot of photos that REALLY jumped out at me.  I do like the Ted Williams quite a bit because it is one that has not been on a card before.  Topps re-uses photos a lot, so any time we can get a new one is welcome.  The best photo here is undoubtedly the J.D. Martinez with the huge shot of the ballpark in the background.  I also like the Alex Verdugo because of the sparkle reflected off his sunglasses.  It is nice to see Eduardo Rodriguez in the set.  He did not appear nearly often enough in sets, and now that he is gone, I wish I had been able to get more cards of him.


Sorry for the bad picture here.  The David Ortiz is a nice photo, but not exceptional.  The Rafael Devers and Bobby Dalbec pictures are more fun.  The Dalbec would be better if Topps did not do a few laundry cart home run celebration photos this year.  

So, my favorite photo is the J.D. Martinez.  I did not buy any packs of this, so I have not seen if there are any other great photos out there.  I am sure there are.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

2022 Hall of Fame Ballot

We are a few weeks away from the announcement of who the BBWAA has elected to the Hall of Fame.  Current polling shows five players have a pretty good chance, but if anything, early polling is always higher than the final numbers.  I will get to my predictions later.  

The Eras Committees have elected six new players that will join the possible players from this ballot.  After the election of Harold Baines a couple years ago, it seems the Eras Committees are throwing the doors open to almost anyone with a reasonable argument.  Buck O'Neill is a much-deserved addition to the Hall, and I can not argue with Minnie Minoso either.  I do not know much about Bud Fowler, so I won't complain there, but Jim Kaat, Gil Hodges and Tony Oliva are pretty iffy.  Maybe this helps get Dwight Evans and Luis Tiant in.

Anyway, here are the players on the ballot.

BOBBY ABREU
TEAMS: Astros, Phillies, Yankees, Dodgers, Mets
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 2x All Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Phillies
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Possibly.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?:  Maybe at some point.

Abreu has a better case for election than I thought he did.  It is true that at no point during his career that I thought he was a Hall of Famer.  Abreu though did have a career line of .291/.395/.475 with 288 career home runs and 1,363 RBIs.  He also had 574 career doubles.  Abreu received MVP consideration in six seasons.  It would be surprising to see him in, but stranger things have happened.


BARRY BONDS
TEAMS: Pirates, Giants
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 7x MVP, 14x All Star, 8x Gold Glove, 12x Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Giants
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Yes.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Probably.

I don't know that there is anything to say about Bonds at this point.  He is one of the greatest players in history and holds the all-time and single season home run records.  Steroid allegations taint his legacy, but he should already be in.


MARK BUEHRLE
TEAMS: White Sox, Marlins, Blue Jays
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 5x All Star, 4x Gold Glove
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: White Sox
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Buehrle was a very good pitcher for many years, turning in a 16-year career.  But he only received Cy Young consideration in one year.  Generally the only thing he led the league in were durability-related stats like starts and innings pitched.  I do not see a strong case here, but he was very good.


ROGER CLEMENS
TEAMS: Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: MVP, 7x Cy Young, 11x All Star
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Red Sox
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Yes.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Yes.

Like Bonds, Clemens is one of the greatest of all time.  Like Bonds though, steroid allegations have affected his chances at the Hall.  I am sure he will eventually get in, maybe even this year.  


CARL CRAWFORD
TEAMS: Rays, Red Sox, Dodgers
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 4x All Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Rays
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Crawford looked like he could be headed to the Hall when he hit free agency.  He had 409 stolen bases under his belt and led the league in the category four times, as well as triples four times.  But he struggled in Boston after signing a huge contract and never regained his earlier success.


PRINCE FIELDER
TEAMS: Brewers, Tigers, Rangers
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 6x All Star, 3x Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Brewers
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Like his father, Fielder hit 50 home runs one season during his career.  He led the league in home runs once, RBIs once and walks once.  He finished in the top five in the MVP race four times.  But his career was shortened due to injuries, and he failed to come close to any major milestones.


TODD HELTON
TEAMS: Rockies
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 5x All Star, 3x Gold Glove, 4x Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Rockies
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Maybe.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Possibly.

Helton looks like a dark horse candidate to get in the Hall of Fame at some point.  His early years were terrific as he was a complete hitter.  He eventually lost much of his power but settled in as a high-average contact hitter.  He probably should have won the 2000 N.L. MVP.  If he had, his chances at election might be even better.


RYAN HOWARD
TEAMS: Phillies
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: MVP, Rookie of the Year, 3x All Star, Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Phillies
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Howard had a promising start to his career, winning the Rookie of the Year and MVP in his first two full seasons.  Unfortunately, he declined quickly and precipitously in his early 30's and simply does not have the numbers to make a compelling case.


TIM HUDSON
TEAMS: Athletics, Braves, Giants
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 4x All Star
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Athletics
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Hudson was part of the great A's rotation in the early 2000's and had the best career among the three aces.  He finished in the top five in the Cy Young race three times.  Ultimately though, he was not elite long enough.  


TORII HUNTER
TEAMS: Twins, Angels, Tigers
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 5x All Star, 9x Gold Glove, 2x Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Twins
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Hunter was most known for his dynamic defensive abilities.  He has some decent offensive numbers as well, but he was generally better defensively.  He has a better case than I thought, but he still falls short, being more of a Mike Cameron-type.  He pales in comparison to Andruw Jones as well, who has a much better chance.


ANDRUW JONES
TEAMS: Braves, Dodgers, Rangers, White Sox, Yankees
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 5x All Star, 10x Gold Glove, Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Braves
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Maybe.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: At some point.

Jones's case is the better version of Torii Hunter's.  He was an elite defensive center fielder who also had some great offensive numbers.  His case would be even better if he had not declined so much in the second half of his career.  Still, I think he gets in eventually.


JEFF KENT
TEAMS: Blue Jays, Mets, Indians, Giants, Astros, Dodgers
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: MVP, 5x All Star, 4x Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Giants
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Yes.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Yes, at some point.

Kent's Hall of Fame case is based primarily around the fact that he is the all-time home run leader for second-basemen.  That should be enough to get him in.  Plus, he was an MVP before and was one of the better players in the league for several seasons.


TIM LINCECUM
TEAMS: Giants, Angels
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 2x Cy Young, 4x All Star
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Giants
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Lincecum was terrific early in his career.  He won the Cy Young Awards in his second and third Major League seasons.  Unfortunately, he completely fell apart after his fifth season.  He was never the same after that.


JUSTIN MORNEAU
TEAMS: Twins, Pirates, Rockies, White Sox
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: MVP, 4x All Star, 2x Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Twins
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Morneau's case is based on his MVP in 2006 and winning a batting title in 2014.  But his MVP was not really deserved and he did not come close to career numbers befitting a Hall of Famer.


JOE NATHAN
TEAMS: Giants, Twins, Rangers, Tigers, Cubs
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 6x All Star
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Twins
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Nathan actually has a better case than I thought.  For five seasons, he may have been one of the best closers in the game.  He had a resurgence for a couple of years after that as well.  If Billy Wagner ever gets elected, Nathan has to be considered as well.  He finished in the top five in the Cy Young vote twice and had a career 2.87 ERA and 377 saves.


DAVID ORTIZ
TEAMS: Twins, Red Sox
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 10x All Star, 7x Silver Slugger, ALCS MVP, World Series MVP
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Red Sox
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Yes.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Yes.

Arguably the greatest designated hitter of all time.  Ortiz hit over 500 home runs in his career, drove in over 1,700 runs, hit over 600 doubles and had a career line of .286/.380/.552.  He had some of his biggest moments on the biggest stage.  Only an allegedly failed PED test in 2003 when results were supposed to be anonymous and no record exists of what he actually tested positive for, causes concern for his candidacy.  That and the DH thing, but if Mariano Rivera is a unanimous Hall of Famer for getting just three outs every couple days, a DH should not be discounted just because he doesn't play the field.


JONATHAN PAPELBON
TEAMS: Red Sox, Phillies, Nationals
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 6x All Star
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Red Sox
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Papelbon has a bit of a lesser case than Joe Nathan.  He was certainly dominant, especially early in his career.  Papelbon though had his last season in 2016.  Had he kept going for a few more years, he might have had a stronger case.  As it was, he saved 368 games with a 2.44 career ERA.  He never came close to a Cy Young Award, but was second in the Rookie of the Year vote in 2006.


JAKE PEAVY
TEAMS: Padres, White Sox, Red Sox, Giants
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Cy Young, 3x All Star
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Padres
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Peavy is yet another example of a player on this ballot that was great early in his career, but whose numbers declined significantly over time.  Peavy was terrific through 2009, winning his Cy Young Award and leading the league in ERA and strikeouts twice, and wins once.  But he became a merely good pitcher after that.  He was a member of two World Championship teams though.


ANDY PETTITTE
TEAMS: Yankees, Astros
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 3x All Star
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Yankees
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Maybe by an Eras Committee

Pettitte was a member of five World Championship teams with the Yankees and finished in the top five of the Cy Young vote four times.  He also has some decent numbers in the postseason.  Despite all of this, he was seldomly an ace, and his career 3.85 ERA is not great.  That said, it would not shock me if he got in some day.


A.J. PIERZYNSKI
TEAMS: Twins, Giants, White Sox, Rangers, Red Sox, Cardinals, Braves
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 2x All Star, Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: White Sox
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Pierzynski was an offensive-minded catcher who hit 188 home runs in his career with a line of .280/.319/.420.  He did gather more than 2,000 hits, which is difficult as a catcher.  But he really has no reasonable argument for the Hall.


MANNY RAMIREZ
TEAMS: Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, White Sox, Rays
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 12x All Star, 9x Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Red Sox (maybe slightly over Indians)
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Yes.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Probably at some point.

One of the best right-handed hitters of his generation, Ramirez's legacy is marred by two PED-related suspensions late in his career.  I am not a believer that that should keep him out though.  He hit over 500 home runs, drove in more than 1,800 runs, and had a line of .312/.411/.585.  He was in the top five in the MVP race four times.


ALEX RODRIGUEZ
TEAMS: Mariners, Rangers, Yankees
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 3x MVP, 14x All Star, 2x Gold Glove, 10x Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Yankees
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Yes.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Probably at some point.

Another player whose candidacy is questionable due to PED issues.  A-Rod admitted to using for a few years and was suspended for the entire 2014 season.  Nevertheless, he had a terrific career, hitting 696 home runs, driving in 2,086 runs, and all of this from shortstop and third base.  He should get in eventually.  


SCOTT ROLEN
TEAMS: Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Reds
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Rookie of the Year, 7x All Star, 8x Gold Glove, Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Phillies, slightly over Cardinals
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Yes.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Yes.

Rolen was an exceptional defensive third-baseman.  His numbers are actually pretty comparable to some third-basemen already in the Hall.  He has been making big strides and looks to be on the cusp of election in the next couple years.  


JIMMY ROLLINS
TEAMS: Phillies, Dodgers, White Sox
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: MVP, 3x All Star, 4x Gold Glove, Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Phillies
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Rollins had several very good seasons with the Phillies when the team was one of the best teams in the league.  He even won the MVP in one season.  Unfortunately, his overall career numbers are fairly pedestrian, and just not enough to merit election.


CURT SCHILLING
TEAMS: Orioles, Astros, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Red Sox
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 6x All Star
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Phillies, or possibly blank
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Yes.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Maybe by an Eras Committee

Just a couple years ago, Schilling looked like a lock to get elected.  Unfortunately, his mouth keeps getting him in trouble and voters have been turning away from him.  Strictly from a baseball sense, he belongs, but overcoming off-the-field obstacles is a bit of a problem.


GARY SHEFFIELD
TEAMS: Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Tigers, Mets
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 9x All Star, 5x Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Marlins
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Maybe.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Possibly.

Sheffield was a dangerous hitter throughout his career.  He hit 509 home runs and had a line of .292/.393/.514 for his career.  He never really seemed like a true superstar during his career though and constantly moving around sort of hurts him.  I could see him getting in some day though.


SAMMY SOSA
TEAMS: Rangers, White Sox, Cubs, Orioles
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: MVP, 7x All Star, 6x Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Cubs
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Maybe.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Possibly.

Sosa hit more than 60 home runs three seasons in a row and hit 609 for his career.  He was one of the biggest stars in the game in the late 1990's.  But he also has a PED cloud over his head and was not quite as good a player other than the home runs.


MARK TEIXEIRA
TEAMS: Rangers, Braves, Angels, Yankees
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 3x All Star, 5x Gold Glove, 3x Silver Slugger
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Rangers, maybe?  Less time than the Yankees, but better numbers
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: No.

Teixeira was a very good player, but there are so many great sluggers at first base that his numbers just do not stand out.  He was seldomly thought of as one of the best players in the league, other than finishing second in the MVP race in 2009.


OMAR VIZQUEL
TEAMS: Mariners, Indians, Giants, Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 3x All Star, 11x Gold Glove
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Indians
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: No.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Maybe.

After some serious allegations emerged against Vizquel, voters are dropping him off their ballots in droves.  It looked like he had a decent chance after last year's vote, but that no longer seems as likely.  I never thought he should be in because he was a terrible hitter, and his defense was not close to as impressive as Ozzie Smith or Luis Aparicio.  Might as well let Mark Belanger in.


BILLY WAGNER
TEAMS: Astros, Phillies, Mets, Red Sox, Braves
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 7x All Star
IF ELECTED, CAP WOULD BE: Astros
WOULD I VOTE FOR HIM?: Yes.
WILL HE BE ELECTED?: Maybe.

Wagner was a dominant closer and his numbers, other than his saves total, compare favorably to peer Trevor Hoffman.  Wagner still saved 422 games and struck out 1,196 batters in 903 innings.  Wagner deserves a close look.


PREDICTIONS
1.  David Ortiz sneaks in.

2.  Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds both fall just short.

3.  Players who will not get five percent of the vote and will fall off the ballot will be: Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Torii Hunter, Tim Lincecum, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Jake Peavy, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Teixeira.  

4.  Bobby Abreu, Mark Buehrle, Tim Hudson and Jimmy Rollins will barely hold on.