Thursday, March 6, 2008
posted by Grizzly Adam at 9:28 PM | Permalink
Pat Dodson
Pat Dodson, 1987 Topps

Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Debut: 9/5/86
Final Game: 6/22/88

Career Line: .202/.314/.424

I have sometimes wondered what qualifies a player to earn a title on thier baseball card. Sometimes it is obvious, like Andy Benes was a #1 draft pick, so that's an easy one. But what about the ambiguous "future stars" title?

Pat Dodson came up through the Red Sox organization. He was a solid Minor League player. But in 3 "seasons" at the major league level he only had 99 career at bats in which he hit .202/.314/.424. However, those career stats are a little inflated thanks to a 12 at bat debut where he had 5 hits, 3 for extra bases, including 1 home run.

Was it that 12 at bat, 9 game stretch during the fall of '86 that earned him the future stars status? His OPS+ for those 9 games was 265.

Dodson played sparingly for 3 seasons. He was granted free agency in 1988, and never played an MLB game again. He appeared in just 52 games. At the Minor league level he hit a lot of home runs and he walked a lot. He didn't have a great average, but he was a typical 1980s power hitter--low average, big power. Once in the Big Show he struck out a lot. 33 times in 99 at bats.

On a somewhat positive note, he finished his career with no errors in the field, and never grounded into a double play. I suppose that is some saving grace to a 99 at bat career?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008
posted by Grizzly Adam at 7:35 PM | Permalink
Andy Benes
Andy Benes, 1989 Topps

Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Debut: 8/11/89
Final Game: 9/29/02

Career Line: 155-139 3.97

Andy Benes was the number one pick in the 1988 amateur draft. His junior year in college he was 16-3. He struck out 188 batters in 146 innings and walked only 36. He pitched 13 complete games, 8 of which were shutouts. He was the Baseball America college pitcher of the year.

He made his debut in 1989 for the Padres, and spent 5 years pitching in San Diego. His best years were in St. Louis in the late 90s, where he pitched for a winning team. But despite pitching for bad Padres teams, he still posted resectable WHIP's and K/9 ratios. He was above average in K/9 throughout his 14 year career. In 1995 he averaged just over 1K per inning, finishing the campaign with a 9.56 K/9. In 1994 he led the NL in Strikeouts with 189.

His career ERA+ was 104. Baseball Reference lists some of his comparables as: Kevin Appier, Ron Darling, Darryl Kile and Al Leiter.

He pitched his final game in 2002 at age 34.

Monday, March 3, 2008
posted by Grizzly Adam at 7:34 PM | Permalink
Brook Fordyce
Brook Fordyce, 1991 Upper Deck

Debut: 4/26/95
Final Game: 10/2/04

Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Career Line: .258/.309/.388

It is spring training time, and for many young prospects it marks a chance to win a spot on the big club. I thought I'd take a look at some prospects of the past, and how they did in the Major Leagues.

Baseball cards are notorious for labeling players. Especially young prospects. "Future Star", "Top Prospect", "Rated Rookie", "#1 Draft Pick" and other labels are often plastered on the front of these player cards. As if expectations are not already high enough for these players, card companies raise the bar by telling all of us with the use of fancy graphics, that "hey you better hold onto this card, because this kid is going to do great things!" It is great marketing. And in hindsight, these sort of cards are some of my favorites. Because the fact is, most of these so labeled players are lucky if they live up to the hype. Many fade away, and still some have legitimate careers. I love finding old prospect cards, and taking a closer look at the careers these players had.

I came across this card of Brook Fordyce. I remembered the name, but nothing of his career. A little research revealed why. His promising career never really happened. He bounced around the league, scoring multi-year contracts and promises of a starting job, but never really caught on. He was hampered by injuries, he didn't hit for power, he didn't walk much, but didn't strike out much either. He had 148 career extra base hits. His career OPS+ was 82.

He said, after signing a 3 year deal with Baltimore in 2001:

“I love the game, I have a lot of enthusiasm. I play the game hard. I come to play every day. That’s the way the game should be played. As long as you’re in the field, you don’t want to embarrass yourself. You should want to play hard. Hustle is part of the game.”

That's the same quote we hear a lot from mediocre players. Talk of hustle, hard work, playing the game "right". The fact is however, Fordyce just wasn't all that good. His best season was 2000, the year he split between the White Sox and Orioles. He hit .301/.341/.507 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI--all career highs.

He hung on for one more year with Tampa Bay after that 3 year deal expired in 2003, but it was his last in baseball. By age 34 he was done.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 4:30 PM | Permalink
Chuck Knoblauch
Chuck Knoblauch, 1991 Leaf RC

Debut: 4/9/91
Final Game: 9/27/02

Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Career Line: .289/.378/.406

Chuck Knoblauch was the 1991 Rookie of the Year, after being the 25th pick in the June 1989 amateur draft. From there he became a genuine Major League star. Through the mid-nineties he hit for average, got walked a lot, and stole bases. His best statistical year came in 1996 when he posted a .341/.448/.517 line. He finished in the top 10 at least twice in hits, runs, on base %, doubles, BB's, SB's, and triples throughout his career. He also played on 4 World Series winning teams ('91 Twins, 00-02 Yankees).

And then he hit Keith Olbermann's mom in the face with a baseball.

Sadly, Knoblauch's career is probably remembered more for his odd throwing woes, than his stellar job as a lead off hitter. But during the 90's he was one of the better second basemen in the league, and one of the hardest outs in baseball.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 10:27 AM | Permalink
Willie McGee
Willie McGee, 1989 Topps Big

Debut: 5/10/82
Final Game: 10/3/99

Bats: Both
Throws: Right
Career Line: .295/.333/.396

This is a great card of Willie McGee, even if his left arm is missing. It perfectly highlights the famous pained facial expression that McGee seemed to wear through his entire career. Every aspect of his game, weather it was walking to the plate to bat, or roaming the outfield for the Cards, he made look painful. But he was a good ballplayer. He played on some very good Cardinals teams during his career, and was the 1985 National League MVP, when he posted a .353/.384/.503 line along with 26 2B's, 18 3B's and 56 stolen bases. He finished his 18 year career in 1999 with 2,254 hits.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 9:40 AM | Permalink
Dave Parker
Dave Parker, 1987 Topps

Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Career Line: .290/.339/.471

The 1987 Topps set is one of my all-time favorites. I love the "wood paneling" border. It reflects the style of the times, also seen on station wagons and rambler housing.

Dave Parker is a classic '80s player. Big beards, thin stirrups, tight pants. In the early part of his career, he won a World Series title with the '79 Pirates. Toward the end of his career he won again with the '89 A's. I found it interesting that he played with both Willie Stargell, and Mark McGuire. Two of the greatest hitters of their respective era's. Parker was a fine hitter himself. He finished in the top 5 of the MVP voting 5 times in his career, winning the award in 1978 with a .334/.394/.585 line, along with 30 HR's and 117 RBI's 32 2B's and 20 SB's.

His career numbers are close enough to be considered for the Hall of Fame. But will today's inflated power numbers keep Dave Parker out? He finished his career with 339 home runs, 2, 712 hits and a career OPS+ of 121 and OPS of .810.

Monday, October 22, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 8:54 AM | Permalink
Bill Buckner
Bill Buckner, 1987 Sportflics

Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Career Line: .289/.321/.408

This is one of those cards that when you change the angle you are looking at it, the picture changes. It doesn't scan too well. The cruel thing about this card is that it shows Bill Buckner in two poses, one in the follow through of his swing, and the other, at first base about to field a harmless grounder. Perhaps the picture choice isn't the cruel thing, but instead that Buckner will never live down his error in the 1986 World Series. The truth is, Buckner had a fantastic MLB career. He played 22 seasons in The Show, amassing 2,715 hits. He won the 1980 batting title with a .324 average. Weirdly, he was only chosen to play in the All-Star game one time in his career, in 1981.

Despite a stellar career, Buckner is immortalized for a ball that went through his legs, in the biggest game in Red Sox memory It might be the most famous play in baseball history. Perhaps though, 21 years later, the baseball gods are leveling the playing field, as the Mets this year accomplished the biggest regular season collapse in history, and the Sox are back in the World Series.

Friday, October 19, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 5:06 PM | Permalink
Jose Oquendo
Jose Oquendo, 1991 Fleer

Bats: Both
Throws: Right
Career line: .256/.346/.317

Jose Oquendo was one of my favorite players because the guy played every position on the field. I once saw a blooper video of him pitching to himself, he hits a grounder to himself at short, and then throws to himself at first. The out ends the inning and we see him running off the field in catcher's gear. All cut together from game footage. In 1989 he became the first player since 1918 to play all 9 positions during the same season.

He was nicknamed the "Secret Weapon", I think because he could play anywhere rather effectively. Although I don't know that you'd want him on the mound in an elimination game.

He played 12 Big League seasons, and today is the third base coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.